Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, members of the British Royal Family, opened up about their struggles and disappointment with the family in an exclusive tell-all interview with American talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Monday on CBS.
In a highly-debated move, the couple had stepped down from their royal responsibilities in 2020. During the interview, they revealed that they are expecting a girl, who will be their second child after their first-born son, Archie.
For the first time ever, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex talked about the gradually deteriorating mental health of Markle, a former American actor. She told Winfrey that when she informed “the Firm” or the Buckingham palace, about her condition, they refused to help her citing that she wasn’t “a paid employee at the firm”.
Calling her time as a working royal “almost unsurvivable”, Markle said that she realised much later that she was not being protected.
Stating that she had been having “suicidal thoughts”, she said: “I was ashamed to say it at the time… I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very real and clear and frightening and constant thought. And I remember how [Harry] just cradled me.”
According to Markle, Human Resource’s response to her situation was, “My heart goes out to you because we see how bad it is. But we can’t help you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.”
Revealing the royal family’s bias towards her biracial lineage, Markle said that the palace raised concerns about her son’s skin colour even before he was born. Choosing to keep the person anonymous, she said: “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.”
Talking about the Buckingham Palace’s strict protocols regarding her public appearances, Markle said that she wasn’t allowed to meet her friends because that would mean many public appearances, which as per the Suits actor, was “twice in four months.” This made her feel “trapped”, she said.
This, in addition to the British media tabloids’ harsh comments on Markle’s biracial roots despite Prince Harry’s constant request from refraining to do so, exacerbated the situation, she said.
“I wasn’t aware of it to begin with, but my God it doesn’t take you very long to become aware of it. I asked for calm from the British tabloids: once as a boyfriend, once as a husband and once as a father,” Prince Harry said.
He said that the lack of support from his family was one of the reasons why the couple left.
Stating that his family had many opportunities to show their support towards Markle, the Duke of Sussex said: “I’m acutely aware of where my family stand and how acutely scared they are of the tabloids turning on them. There is an invisible contract between the royal family and the tabloids. If you, as the family are willing to wine and dine with the press, you will get better coverage.”
The tabloid media and the Palace, co-exist through a relationship of “control by fear”, he said.
He said that he tried bringing up the topic of his insecurities in a couple of conversations with both his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, and his father, Charles, Prince of Wales. He said that his father stopped responding to his phone calls when he announced his decision to step down. The father and son have reconciled but, as per the couple, the damage is already done.
A divorce with the royalty meant letting go of everything that came with it, including security, or as the Palace administration put it, “change in status”. Prince Harry said he was stripped off of his security, including financial security, as the family cut him off financially from the first half of 2020. This resulted in the couple entering into deals with Spotify and Netflix. These deals, combined with whatever his late mother Diana, Princes of Wales, had left behind for him, helped the couple stay afloat after stepping down from their royal responsibilities.
Within a couple of hours after the interview went on air, support from the people like Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and others poured in for the couple, and against the racism that Markle and their child had to face.
Markle also disclosed that the couple had got married in a private ceremony on May 19, 2018, a couple of days before their public wedding.
The explosive interview comes at a time when Netflix’s series The Crown came under fire for the alleged misrepresentation of members of the royal family. The series’ fourth season has been facing controversy for its representation of Princess Diana and her complicated relationship with her husband Prince Charles and the rest of the members of the Royal Family. Prince Harry called it fiction “loosely based on truth” in a recent interview with James Corden on his show The Late Late Show, that aired on February 26.