Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has said in an interview that she was tempted to commit suicide following a rough treatment by the royal family and British tabloids. She said in the interview that the palace had failed to protect her despite her reaching out for support with her mental health.
The latest episode from what appears as a series of explosive revelations from Meghan, Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey was aired primetime in the US last night, making it as much an American concern as it is British.
Among the most shocking allegations Meghan made during the interview was that a member of the royal family had raised concerns with Prince Harry, her husband, over the skin colour of their baby. The royal kin had “conversations about how dark his skin might be” while Meghan was pregnant.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry has alleged that his father, Prince Charles, had stopped taking his calls and that the family had stopped paying for the couple’s security at the start of 2020. This had, on the face of it, motivated the couple’s decision to take on lucrative deals with Netflix.
Summary of key allegations from the interview
Mental health crisis
The Duchess of Sussex says she had suicidal thoughts during her time as a working royal. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how he [Harry] just cradled me.” She claimed she asked the palace for help and was denied it. “They said, my heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.”
The Duchess claimed that while she was pregnant with Archie concerns were raised with Prince Harry about the skin colour of their baby. “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of, ‘You won’t be given security, not gonna be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Meghan declined to name who expressed those concerns: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”
Harry refused to share the details of the conversation but, after prompting from Winfrey, said the questions was along the lines of: “What will the kids look like?”
Feud with Duchess of Cambridge
Duchess denied a newspaper story that she had made the Duchess of Cambridge cry before Meghan and Harry’s wedding, and said it was a turning point in her relations with the media. Asked if she made Kate cry, Meghan replied: “The reverse happened.”
Meghan said Kate was a “good person” but added: “A few days before the wedding she [Kate] was upset about something, pertaining to – yes the issue was correct – about the flower girl dresses, and it made me cry. And it really hurt my feelings.” She said Kate apologised at the time and brought her flowers.
Meghan was ‘silenced’
“Everyone in my world was given a very clear directive from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating, to always say no comment.”Advertisementhttps://736d47c6d0ecf49848c61790cb4ed8b7.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Meghan said she believed she was being protected by the royal institution.
“It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but … they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”
She agreed with Oprah’s that she had been “silenced” rather than “silent” from the moment she started dating Harry.
Asked if she was not supported by the powers that be, she said: “There’s the family, and then there’s the people that are running the institution, those are two separate things and it’s important to be able to compartmentalise that because the queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me.”
Prince Charles stopped taking Harry’s calls
Prince Harry said his father Prince Charles stopped taking his calls about the plan to step aside from royal duties. He denied blindsiding the Queen, saying he had too much respect for her. “I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?”
Asked why Charles had stopped taking his calls, Harry said: “By that point I took matters into my own hands, it was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It’s really sad that it’s got to this point, but I’ve got to do something for my own mental health, my wife’s and for Archie’s as well.”
Prince Charles is now taking his calls but “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened” and the pair have “lots to work through”, he said. “I feel really let down,” Harry said. “He’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like.”
Prince Harry has been cut off financially
He said he stopped receiving palace money in the first quarter of 2020. He said that needing to pay for his own security costs was part of the motivation behind the couple’s lucrative deals with companies including Netflix.
The only other money he has left, he said, is what was left to him by Princess Diana.
Meghan said the pair were not being paid for the Oprah interview.
Meghan revealed they married in private, three days before their public wedding ceremony on 19 May 2018. Meghan said they exchanged vows “just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury”.
It’s a girl
The couple revealed the gender of their second child. Harry said the baby, due in the northern hemisphere summer, is a girl. He said he felt “amazing, just grateful”. “To have a boy and then a girl what more can you ask for, we have our family.”Advertisement
The couple said this would be their last child. “Two is it,” they said.
Meghan rarely able to leave home
Meghan said she was barely allowed to leave the house, because people at “the Firm” – a term for the royal household – were so worried about “how things might look”.
“I know you’re worried about how it looks,” she told them, “but has anyone thought about how it feels?” Because she couldn’t have felt lonelier, she said.
Harry felt ‘trapped’
Oprah asked Harry whether he would have stepped back from royal duties were it not for Meghan. “No,” Harry said, he would not have. He said he was trapped, but that he didn’t know he was trapped.
Oprah asked exactly how he was trapped. “Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father, my brother, they are trapped,” he said.
The Queen is “wonderful”
It was not all bad all the time. Meghan said the Queen was always “wonderful” and remembered a train journey they took together when the Queen gave her some pearl earrings and a necklace, and shared a blanket with her.
Prince Harry said he had a really good relationship with his grandmother. “She’s my commander in chief.”
They have rescue chickens
Oprah interviewed the couple briefly at their Santa Barbara home. The interview took place in and around a chicken coop, filled with chickens they rescued from a factory farm. Oprah held a carton of eggs. Meghan held a small basket of eggs. The chicken coop said “Archie’s Chick Inn”.
Royal commentators were pranked into criticising the couple’s performance before they had seen the interview, with two YouTube stars setting up a fake media company and paying leading commentators, including the Queen’s former press secretary, to give their views days before the interview was broadcast. Some were also duped into discussing false topics supposedly covered in the Oprah interview, including Meghan’s support for a London donkey sanctuary and refusal to have the coronavirus vaccine.
Interestingly, Markle had some difficulty getting roles early in her acting career due to being “ethnically ambiguous” because “I wasn’t black enough for the black roles and I wasn’t white enough for the white ones”, she had said in an interview.