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Harry, Meghan interview score big U.S. ratings

MEGHAN MARKLE, WIFE OF BRITAIN'S PRINCE HARRY] "...not only was I not being protected, but they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family. But they weren't willing, to tell the truth, to protect me and my husband."

The Prince Harry and Meghan sit-down tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired Sunday on the American CBS TV network turned out to be a ratings blockbuster.

Some 17.1 million Americans watched the bombshell two-hour interview, the broadcaster said on Monday, making it the biggest audience for any entertainment special since last year's Academy Awards.

The news sent shares of parent company ViacomCBS to an all-time high.

In the first public interview since Prince Harry and his wife stepped back from the British royal family a year ago, there were accusations of racism towards Meghan, a former American actress who is of mixed race... and claims Buckingham Palace failed to protect the couple from attacks in the UK press. The situation had become so intense - a teary-eyed Meghan confessed to Winfrey - that it drove her to suicidal thoughts.

[MEGHAN MARKLE, WIFE OF BRITAIN'S PRINCE HARRY] "I just didn't want to be alive anymore."

The no-holds-barred discussion of the royals also revealed a rift between Harry, his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince William.

The interview set off a media frenzy in the British press and across social media.

The hashag #HarryandMeghanonOprah was among the top five trending topics worldwide on Twitter during and after the broadcast.

And the craze is not likely to die down as the full interview is aired in Britain Monday night.

Buckingham Palace has yet to release an official statement.