In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was stunningly candid about her experience of life in the British Royal family. She spoke about the toll of losing her independence, her struggle with suicidal ideation, her relationship with her new relatives, and the fallout from her and Prince Harry's decision to step back as working royals in 2020.
But she was cautious about one thing: naming names.
Yes, she singled out Queen Elizabeth II for her welcoming nature and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for her grace in apologising after a pre-wedding disagreement between them. But when pointing to those responsible for isolating and alienating her, the Duchess referred instead to something called "The Firm".
Watch: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on The Firm's reaction to her interview.
It was 'The Firm', she said, that advised her not to go out for lunch with her friends because the tabloids was already "over-saturated" with coverage about her.
It was 'The Firm', Prince Harry said, who showed them a lack of support in the face of racist vitriol hurled at the Duchess in the media.
And — in one of the standout moments of the interview — it was 'The Firm', the Duchess said, that was "playing an active role" in "perpetuating falsehoods" about her and the prince.
So what is this apparently nefarious force? Let's take a look.
What is The Firm?
'The Firm' is a term typically used to refer to the core members of the Royal family. It's credited to Queen Elizabeth II's father, King George VI, who is reported to have remarked that the Royals are "not a family, we're a firm".
After all, they function much like a business. There's a CEO (the monarch), a line of succession, salaries, staff, human resources, public relations management, and so on.
'The Firm' is often used in that context, when referring to the business-like operations of the family, and therefore isn't exactly considered a term of endearment.
In her infamous 1995 BBC Panorama interview, Prince Harry's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, used another term...
"I don't think many people will want me to be queen. Actually, when I say 'many people', I mean the establishment that I'm married into," she said. "Because they've decided I'm a non-starter."