Who are Gayle King, Janina Gavankar and the other friends defending Harry and Meghan?

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7-min read

Watch: Harry's talk with William and Charles was 'not productive', says US TV presenter

As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle settle down to a new life in Los Angeles, they have pulled in a network of friends and confidantes around them to play an important role.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have laid out their side of what happened while they were senior royals, in a two-hour interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey – but that does not mean there won't be more revelations to follow in the days and weeks ahead.

In the two weeks since the interview first aired, friends of the couple have already shared additional information.

Here are the people who appear to be in the know with the Sussexes.

Gayle King

King, 66, is one of the co-presenters of CBS This Morning, which airs every day and covers news and entertainment.

She is also the editor at large of O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine, and has a radio show every Thursday evening on Sirius XFM.

King and Winfrey are best friends, and have known each other for more than 40 years.

It's not clear when King met Meghan, but her link could have come via Winfrey.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 10: James chats with Gayle King from his garage on THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN, scheduled to air Wednesday, June 10, 2020 (12:37-1:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Gayle King on The Late Late Show With James Corden in June 2020. (CBS via Getty Images)

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King was in the UK covering Harry and Meghan's wedding for CBS but was not a guest at any part of the day, unlike Winfrey, who did make it to the guest list.

King was invited to Meghan's baby shower for Archie in New York, and revealed that she bought her a present but did not say what.

She said of the party: "A good time was had by all."

Of the gift, she said: "If I told you, you know, I'd have to kill you. I got something I think is very nice."

King was born in Chevy Chase, Maryland, US, and spent part of her childhood in Turkey.

She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Maryland.

CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 10:  Oprah Winfrey (R) and Gayle King in the audience during the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Mike Nichols held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 10, 2010 in Culver City, California. The AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Mike Nichols will premiere on TV Land on Saturday, June 25 at 9PM ET/PST.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)
Oprah Winfrey (R) and Gayle King in June 2010. They have been best friends since the 1970s. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)

She has worked in broadcast journalism for decades, and that is how she and Winfrey met. The two women worked for a Baltimore TV station and when a snowstorm hit, Winfrey let King stay over and borrow clothes when she couldn't get home.

They reportedly stayed up all night talking and have been close ever since.

How has Gayle King defended Harry and Meghan?

King spoke about the royal couple in the days after their interview with Winfrey aired on CBS.

On her radio show, she revealed that Harry had spoken to Prince Charles and Prince William, but said the chats were "not productive".

She also said no one from the Royal Family had spoken to Meghan since the Oprah interview had aired.

King also said the interview would not have aired when it was scheduled if Prince Philip, the Queen's husband, had died.

Philip, 99, was in hospital when the couple's programme was on.

It has been widely reported that King ould not have made the comments unless Harry and Meghan had agreed to it, which has led to criticism from some that King is acting as their mouthpiece.

Journalist and former editor Piers Morgan tweeted: "Hi @GayleKing - rather than acting as your Sussex friends’ PR mouthpiece to facilitate their ongoing public trashing of our Royal Family, how about doing your job as a journalist and ask them about all the lies they told in @Oprah’s interview?

"America should hear THE truth."

Watch: Janina Gavankar claims there are many emails and texts to support Meghan's claims

Janina Gavankar

A friend of Meghan's, Gavankar revealed details about how the couple were feeling after the Winfrey interview aired.

She appeared on This Morning on ITV from her home in LA, and said she had watched the special with Harry and Meghan.

Gavankar, 40, is a musician and actor who has known Meghan for 17 years.

Born in Illinois, US, Gavankar has a degree in theatre performance from the state's university in Chicago.

She is probably best known for her roles in Star Wars: Battlefront II and The L Word.

Gavankar said in 2020 that her and Meghan's friendship had been "over FaceTime" for many years, because of the nature of their jobs.

She attended the royal wedding in Windsor, and also took the photograph of Meghan, Harry and Archie that was featured on their Christmas card in 2019.

They are clearly taking advantage of living closer together again now, given that Gavankar was able to spend 7 March with the family as the programme aired.

What has Janina Gavankar said to defend Meghan and Harry?

Gavankar chose to appear on This Morning to defend the couple, saying they had "proof" that Meghan was not a bully after allegations were made against her in The Times.

Meghan denies bullying staff while she was a senior royal.

World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 09/12/2017  – Actress Janina Gavankar. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Janina Gavankar in 2017. The actor has known Meghan for about 17 years. (Reuters/Danny Moloshok)

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Speaking of the interview with Winfrey, Gavankar said: "It was finally a chance to tell their truth.

"Meghan has always been a very open person but that all changed when she joined the family.

"We watched as a wall was built around her, and it wasn't her choice.

"I wanted to defend her, but we were told never to make a comment because the institution would protect her."

Gavankar said she was speaking on her own behalf, but that Meghan knew she was going on the show.

Who else has supported the couple?

Many of Meghan's friends have shared messages of support for her on social media.

Most of those who have defended Meghan are her former co-stars on Suits, the show she was on for several seasons before she quit to marry Harry.

(Left to right) Alexis Ohanian, Serena Williams and Abigail Leigh Spencer take their seats in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. Saturday May 19, 2018. Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
Alexis Ohanian, Serena Williams and Abigail Leigh Spencer in St George's Chapel for Meghan Markle's wedding. Williams and Spencer have spoken to defend Meghan. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via Reuters)

Abigail Spencer, who attended their wedding in Windsor, said before the interview aired: "Meg walks the walk. She’s a doer. In the face of darkness, she shows up in light and in love. When they go low, she goes high. Again and again.

"She works tirelessly – and often quietly – for the causes she believes in. She writes her own speeches. She and Harry are an incredible team. They are dedicating their lives to lifting up and amplifying those who do not have a voice for themselves."

Patrick J Adams, who played her love interest on the show, tweeted of Meghan: "From day one she was an enthusiastic, kind, cooperative, giving, joyful and supportive member of our television family. She remained that person and colleague as fame, prestige and power accrued."

He went on to call her a "powerful woman with a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic".

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 11:  Patrick J. Adams poses at a photo call for the Second Stage play
Patrick J. Adams in March 2020. He worked with Meghan for several seasons of Suits. (Bruce Glikas/WireImage)

Tennis player Serena Williams is rarely drawn into talk about her friend Meghan, often telling journalists "nice try" when they ask probing questions about her.

But she did share a message of support on Instagram in the wake of the interview, which was captioned: "I am so proud of you for being so brave. I know it is never easy. You are strong - both you and Harry. I love you. I adore you. Your friend S."

She has also called Meghan her "selfless friend", who "teaches me every day what it means to be noble".