In a tell-all interview, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle opened up about the misery and anguish they experienced in their past royal life and how they continue to face racism, and security and death threats as a new family living in California.
The couple’s two-hour prime time special with Oprah Winfrey, which aired on Sunday night on CBS, came more than a year after they announced their exit as members of the British royal family.
First to speak with Oprah alone, Meghan revealed the struggles she faced after moving to the United Kingdom and described “unfair” and bullying treatment of her by the British press. In the second hour of the interview, she was joined by her husband and together they spoke about their hardships as a couple dealing with intense public scrutiny, calling out the double standards of the palace as well as the lack of support they faced compared to other members of the family.
But in what was perhaps the biggest revelation, Meghan said that the royal life was extremely hard on her and drove her to thoughts of suicide.
“I couldn’t be left alone. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan told Oprah. She said she often experienced “methodical” and “frightening” thoughts about suicide at night, adding that she had approached Buckingham Palace officials for medical help but was turned away and told it would not be good for “optics”.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Here are more main highlights from the Harry and Meghan interview with Oprah.
Meghan’s suicidal thoughts
Nearly halfway through the course of the two-hour interview, Meghan said that royal life was so unbearable that it almost drove her to suicide. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she told Oprah. “It was a very clear and real and frightening thought. I couldn’t be left alone.”
She also said that she approached officials for help but was rebuffed and told that it would only damage the institution.
She then reached out to a friend of the late Princess Diana but still continued to have dark thoughts. “There’s a lot that’s been lost already. I grieved a lot. I lost my father, lost the baby, nearly lost my name and identity but I’m still standing,” Meghan said.
“The takeaway from this is that there’s another side, that life is worth living.”
“And this is an example of why people should be kind, since you never know what people are going through behind closed doors.”
Persistent racism against her and baby Archie
A bi-racial American actress, Meghan said her foray into the UK was received with racism and discrimination especially among the tabloids.
“They were inciting so much racism [against me]. It wasn’t just catty gossip, it was bringing out parts of people that were racist and that changed the level of threats and death threats, everything,” she told Oprah.
But the breaking point came when she was pregnant with their son Archie – she became part of conversations about “how dark” Archie’s skin would be, a comment which drew shock and disgust from Oprah.
“In the months when I was pregnant, all around the same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan said.
She refused to disclose who those people were.
On his part, Harry admitted that he hadn’t always been aware of the race issue but “didn’t take long” for him to become aware of it.
He also added that his family never acknowledged the level of racism and it only opened his eyes to the challenges and prejudices that his wife faced on a daily basis.
“We’ve all been through the pressure but what was different for me was the race element. It wasn’t just about her, it’s about what it represents,” he said.
“But for my family, they have the mentality of this is how it is. There were many opportunities for them to show some public support and call out colonial undertones of racist articles but no one said anything.”
He added: “But Meghan handled it all so well.”
The toxicity of UK tabloids
Harry and Meghan are no strangers to the British press, with thousands of front-page headlines that attacked Meghan for the same things which her sister-in-law Kate Middleton was praised for. Meghan was also solely blamed for their joint decision to step back from royal duties back in Jan. 2020.
She has been harshly criticized for her “lack of commitment” as a royal and had also been accused numerous times by the British press of driving a wedge between Harry and his family and tearing them apart.
“I left my career, my life, I left everything because I loved Harry,” Meghan said.
“Can you imagine how little sense that makes? I wrote letters to his family saying I was dedicated. There was no guidance for me, no class on how to speak, how to cross your legs, and how to be royal. No one thought to remember that I was American and might not know these things but I underwent training behind the scenes myself because I wanted to make them proud.”
Harry was blunt about his relationship with the UK press, given what his late mother Princess Diana had been put through.
“The UK is my home. It was where I was brought up and I have my own relationship with the tabloids and press that goes way back,” Harry said. “But I have appealed to them, once as a boyfriend, once as a husband, and once as a father – because I saw history repeating itself and was worried that my mother’s story would repeat itself in Meghan.”
The prince also revealed that their joint decision to step back as senior members of the royal family was to take a respite from the intense tabloid pressure, and was a serious decision that was discussed with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
“I would never blindside my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”
The double standards and Harry’s fear of history repeating itself
Security was still clearly a major concern with the couple after their departure as senior royals. The issue was raised several times with Oprah throughout the course of the primetime interview.
“We never left the family,” Meghan said about their joint decision to step down as senior members of the royal family.
“We weren’t reinventing the wheel, we just wanted to take a step back.”
Despite acknowledging his life of wealth and privilege, Harry also said that he inherited risks and was met with a lack of support and understanding from members of his family.
“I was desperate,” he said.
“I went to all the places I knew to ask for help.”
“I was desperate. I went to all the places I knew to ask for help.”
In another shocking reveal, Harry said that his father Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls because “he thought I took matters into my own hands.”
“It’s really sad that it’s got to this point but I had to do something for my own mental health, my wife as well as for Archie,” he said.
“My father and my brother are trapped. They don’t get to leave and I have huge compassion for that but I just wish that we would all learn from the past — my biggest concern is history repeating itself.
When you can see the same kind of thing happening in the same kind of way. To be told continuously this is just how it is.”
A baby girl is now on the way
Clutching a very visible and sizeable baby bump, Meghan revealed that the couple was expecting a girl, due in the summertime, and had waited until the interview to reveal the child’s gender.
Harry said with a laugh. “But what more could you ask for?”
The couple have not yet announced a name.
In November, Meghan revealed in an opinion piece for the New York Times that she had suffered a miscarriage.
The two-hour special included a segment showing a gleaming Meghan and Harry giving a tour to Oprah around their family grounds in California.
In it, Meghan talks about the children’s storybook classic “The Little Mermaid” and how much she related to Ariel’s character.
“She falls in love with a prince, just like I have, but loses her voice,” Meghan said.
“But at the end, she gets her voice back. And I know I will too.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide or struggling with dark thoughts, help is available. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone now or text START to 741741 to message with the Crisis Text Line.