Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s tell-all interview had viewers captive Sunday night, as they made several major revelations that showed what led to their decision to step back from the royal family, including the role racism played in Markle’s treatment from the palace and the U.K. media.
The royal couple sat down with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday in their first tell-all interview since announcing in January 2020 that they would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family. The couple spoke about the many reasons for their decision during the interview, such as the lack of protection and support given to them by the royal family and “the institution” — one of the terms Markle used to describe different facets of the British royal family.
Prince Harry and Markle revealed several major bombshells during the interview, such as the fact that Markle felt suicidal when she was pregnant with their son Archie and was refused help by the palace. The couple also revealed that when Markle was pregnant, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be.”
Here, WWD looks at 12 of the major revelations that came from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview. Read on for more.
1. Meghan Markle Was Frightened for Her Mental Health and Refused Help by the Institution
In one of the interview’s most emotional moments, Markle revealed that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore” as the U.K. tabloids’ scrutiny of her continued to intensify. She said she went to the institution seeking help for her mental health struggles but was told getting help or going to a facility “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
“It was these thoughts that I’m having in the middle of the night that are very clear and I’m scared because this is very real,” she said on how she told Prince Harry about her suicidal thoughts. “This isn’t some abstract idea. This is methodical and this is not who I am. But we had to go to this event and I remember him saying, ‘I don’t think you can go,’ and I said, ‘I can’t be left alone.’”
Later on, Prince Harry said he, too, tried to get Markle help through the institution but was denied any assistance. Markle said one of the people she confided in about her her mental health struggles was one of Princess Diana’s best friends because “who else could understand what it’s actually like inside?”
2. The Palace Had ‘Concerns and Conversations’ About Archie’s Skin Tone
Perhaps the biggest revelations was when Markle revealed that the palace had “concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born.” Markle said these conversations were relayed to her by Prince Harry. Both Prince Harry and Markle declined to reveal which palace officials and members of the royal family were involved in these conversations, saying it would be too damaging for them.
“The Commonwealth is a huge part of the monarchy,” Markle said. “I lived in Canada, which is a Commonwealth country, for seven years, but it wasn’t until Harry and I were together that we started to travel through the Commonwealth. I would say 60 to 70 percent of which is people of color. Growing up as a woman of color and a little girl of color, I know how important representation is. I know how you want to see someone who looks like you in certain positions.”
Prince Harry and Winfrey later revealed that these conversations did not include Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.
“That conversation I’m never going to share,” Prince Harry said. “At the time it was awkward. I was a bit shocked. That was right at the beginning when [Markle] wasn’t going to get security and members of my family suggested she should carry on acting because there’s not enough money to pay for her and all this sort of stuff. There was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”
3. Prince Harry Was Concerned With ‘History Repeating Itself’
When asked why they ultimately decided to step down from the royal family, Prince Harry and Markle said they weren’t getting the support and protection they needed, especially from the tabloids. Prince Harry also referenced fears related to his late mother.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” he said. “I’ve said that before on numerous occasions very publicly. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself, but more perhaps and far more dangerous because then you add race in and you add social media in. When I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother. When you see something happening in the same kind of way, anyone would ask for help, ask the system of which you are part of.”
4. Meghan Markle Said She Was Silenced by the Palace
Markle spoke about her history of using her platform to advocate for certain issues, especially women’s rights, and how the palace was impeding her ability to do so.
“I’ve always been outspoken, especially about women’s rights,” she said. “That’s the sad irony about the last four years is that I’ve advocated for so long for women to use their voice and then I was silent.”
Winfrey followed up Markle’s statement by asking whether she was silent or silenced. Markle responded with “the latter.”
5. Meghan Markle Thought She Would Be Protected by the Royal Family
Markle said that when she joined the royal family, she was told she would receive protection, especially from the media, but quickly saw that wasn’t the case.
“Everyone from my world was given very clear directive from the moment that Harry and I were dating to say, ‘no comment,’” Markle said. “That’s my friends, my mom and dad, and we did. We did anything they told us to do. Of course I did, because it was also through the lens of, ‘we’ll protect you.’ So even as things started to roll out in the media that I didn’t see, but my friends would call me and say, ‘Meg, this is really bad,’ I would go, ‘Don’t worry, I’m being protected.’ I believed that and I think that was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not protected, but that 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.”
6. Kate Middleton Made Meghan Markle Cry Leading Up to the Royal Wedding
Roughly six months after Prince Harry and Markle got married, tabloids circulated a story that Markle made her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, cry in the week leading up to the royal wedding because of Princess Charlotte’s flower girl dress. This was the beginning, and what Markle described as “a turning point,” in the U.K. tabloid’s coverage of the two royals, mainly pitting the two women against each other. Markle said, “[the tabloids] seem to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.”
Markle revealed during the tell-all interview that this incident did not happen, but rather it was Middleton that made Markle cry about the issue.
“What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that I not only didn’t do, but that happened to me,” Markle said. She also went on to say that the palace’s communications team would not correct the press over the false story. “I’m not sharing that piece about Kate in any way to be disparaging to her. I think it’s really important for people to understand the truth.”
Markle also stated that Middleton apologized for the incident and that she has forgiven her.
7. The Palace Refused to Give Archie Security or a Royal Title
When she was pregnant with Archie in 2019, Markle said royal protocol was changed so that he wouldn’t be given a royal title or the security typically given to those born into the royal family.
“He wasn’t going to receive security,” she said. “This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy, where I’m going, hold on a second. Because he’s not going to be a prince, OK, but he needs to be safe. So we’re not saying don’t make him a prince, but if you’re saying the title is what’s going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”
Markle went on to say the royal protocol has always been that the grandchildren of a monarch become prince or princess, so when Prince Charles ultimately becomes king, Archie would be granted the title of prince. She said that while she was pregnant, the palace was talking about changing this convention and didn’t offer an explanation as to why.
8. The Couple Called Out the Tabloids’ Racist Attacks on Meghan Markle
While talking about the U.K. tabloids’ intense scrutiny of the couple, they touched on the racist undertones of these false stories and how the institution’s reluctance to squash the artificial stories was a huge disappointment for them.
“For the family, they very much have this mentality of this is just how it is,” Prince Harry said. “That’s how it’s meant to be. You can’t change it. What was different for me was the race element because now it wasn’t just about her, but it was about what she represents. Therefore, it wasn’t just affecting my wife, it was affecting so many other people.”
Prince Harry then referenced how in October 2019, 70 female members of Parliament, both from the conservative and labor parties, wrote a letter of support for Markle that denounced the media’s treatment of her and “called out the colonial undertones about the articles and headlines” written about her. He also said this was an opportunity for his own family to voice their support for Markle, but no one did.
9. There’s an ‘Invisible Contract’ Between the U.K. Tabloids and the ‘Firm’
When asked about their portrayal in the U.K. media and the refusal of the palace to squash false stories, the couple talked about an “invisible contract” between the palace and the tabloids that may have posed a conflict.
“If you as a family member are willing to wine, dine and give full access to reporters, then you will get better press,” Prince Harry said. “I think everyone needs to have some compassion for them in that situation. There is a level of control by fear that has existed for generations.”
The couple did not offer specifics on who was controlling who or why the royal family would need to have this relationship with the press.
10. The Couple’s Decision to Step Down Did Not Blindside Queen Elizabeth II
After Prince Harry and Markle announced in January 2020 that they would be stepping down from their royal duties, news circulated that the royal family, particularly Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William, were shocked by the news.
Prince Harry, however, confirmed in the interview that his grandmother was not “blindsided” by the news the way the tabloids made it seem. He said while the couple was in Canada leading up to the announcement, Prince Harry spoke with the queen three times about their decision, and had spoken to his father about it “before he stopped taking my calls.”
11. Prince Harry’s Relationships With Prince Charles and Prince William Have Changed
Through the couple’s split from the royal family, the media’s coverage has partially focused on Prince Harry’s strained relationship with his father and brother, which the prince spoke about during the interview.
Prince Harry said while his father has started taking his calls again, “there’s a lot to work through there.”
“I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar,” he said. “He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson, but at the same time, of course, I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try to heal that relationship.”
When talking about Prince William, he said their relationship is “space at the moment.”
“As I said before, I love William to bits,” Prince Harry said. “He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together and we have a shared experience, but we are on different paths.”
12. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Having a Baby Girl
The royal couple, who announced on Valentine’s Day that they are expecting their second child, revealed during the interview that Markle is pregnant with a girl. She is expected to give birth this summer.
“To have any child, any one or two, would be amazing,” Prince Harry said, “but to have a boy and then a girl, what more can you ask for? But now we have our family. The four of us and our two dogs. It’s great.”
The couple also said they do not plan to have any more children after the birth of their daughter.
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