Meghan Markle considered taking her own life and received no support from the royal family in her moments of deepest pain, she told Oprah Winfrey in her blockbuster Sunday night interview.
In another bombshell, Meghan revealed the racism she faced at Buckingham Palace, telling Oprah that an unnamed royal household member had raised “concerns” when she was pregnant “about how dark” her son’s skin might be, and she was told that he wouldn’t be given security or made a prince.
Meghan told Oprah, “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this 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: “They were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince or a princess—not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol—and that he wasn’t going to receive security.”
Meghan said her suicidal feelings became so bad she felt she could not be left alone. The duchess wiped away tears as she recalled the trauma of having to be “on” at a public event, when she was feeling so traumatized and low.
In deciding to leave the royal family, with her and Archie, for a new life in California, Harry “made a decision that saved my life and saved all of us. But you need to want to be saved,” Meghan said.
Harry said Meghan had also “saved” him—“without question.” His mother Princess Diana would feel “very angry” about how the events of him and Meghan quitting the royal family had panned out, Harry said, and would ultimately want his family to be happy.
He revealed that the royal family had cut him and Meghan off financially, and that the family had been living off money from Diana, whose presence Harry said he had felt during the process of leaving the royal family. “She [Diana] saw it coming,” Harry said.
Meghan and Harry also revealed the sex of their expected baby to Oprah—it is a girl, and her birth date will be in the summertime.
Harry broke the news, saying it was “amazing.” He added: “I’m just grateful… to have any child, any one or any two would have been amazing. But to have a boy and then a girl, you know, what more can you ask for? But now, you know, now we—we’ve got our family. We’ve got, you know, the four of us and our two dogs, and it’s great.”
Harry said he felt “trapped” within the royal family and that Prince Charles and Prince William feel the same.
Meghan came close to tears as she told Oprah she contemplated suicide under the pressure of being a member of the royal family.
Asked if there was a “breaking point,” Meghan said, “I just didn’t, I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember, I remember how he (Harry) just cradled me. I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that ‘I’ve never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere.’ And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Meghan said she was told by palace officials “there’s nothing we can do to protect you, because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.” Meghan said she sent “emails” and was “begging for help… but nothing was ever done.”
Meghan said she thought that taking her own life “would have solved everything for everyone.”
Meghan said her suicidal thoughts were “very clear and very scary. And, you know, I didn’t know who to even turn to in that. And one of the people that I reached out to, who’s continued to be a friend and confidant, was one of my husband’s mom’s best friends, one of Diana’s best friends. Because it’s, like, who else could understand what, what it’s actually like on the inside?”
Meghan also claimed she had been “silenced,” and that she and Harry also married in secret three days before her public wedding ceremony.
Meghan told Oprah: “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 that they (the royal family) 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.”
Meghan said that she was told Archie would not receive official royal protection when he was born, and that Archie would not be titled in equal terms to other members of the family. “Why?” Meghan said. She never received a response.
Oprah asked Meghan why she thought convention would be changed for Archie, but Meghan said she was never given an explanation.
Oprah asked: “You certainly must have had some conversations with Harry about it and have your own suspicions as to why they didn’t want to make Archie a prince. What are—what are those thoughts? Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s because of his race?”
Meghan replied: “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this 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.”
A visibly stunned Oprah said, “What?”
Meghan said: “There were—there were several conversations about it.” Oprah said: “There’s a conversation with you… about how dark your baby is going to be?” Meghan replied: “Potentially, and what that would mean or look like.”
Meghan said the “concerns” about her baby’s skin color expressed by the monarchy were “relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him.” Oprah said: “Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?” Meghan said: “I wasn’t able to follow up with why, but that, if that’s the assumption you’re making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand, right?”
Prince Harry said he was asked “what the kids would look like” by an unnamed person within the palace in discussions which took place about their skin color.
Asked about the details of the “conversation” on the subject, Harry said, “That conversation I’m never going to share, but at the time, at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.” Oprah suggested someone had asked him, ‘What will the baby look like” and Harry agreed, “Yeah, what will the kids look like?”
Harry said the conversation happened “right at the beginning, when she wasn’t going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff. Like, there was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”
Harry said it “hurt” that nobody in his family acknowledged the racism that Meghan was subjected to in the U.K.
Harry said: “There was an opportunity, many opportunities, for my family to show some public support. And I guess one of the most telling parts and the saddest parts… was over 70 members of parliament, female members of parliament, both Conservative and Labor, came out and called out the colonial undertones of articles and headlines written about Meghan.
“Yet no one from my family ever said anything over those three years. And that, that hurts. But I also am acutely aware of where my family stand and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them.”
Harry said he felt “trapped” as a royal and said he would not have left the family were it not for Meghan. Asked directly if he would have left without Meghan by his side, he said: “No. The answer to your question is no…I wouldn’t have been able to.” Harry said, “I myself was trapped, as well. I didn’t see a way out.”
Oprah said: “Please explain how you, Prince Harry, raised in a palace and a life of privilege, literally, a prince, how you were trapped?”
Harry replied: “Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.”
Harry said “there is a lot to work though there” in regards to his relationship with father Prince Charles. “I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that's happened.”
He said his family were initially “really welcoming. But it really changed after the Australia tour, after our South Pacific tour… it was the first time that the family got to see how incredible she is at the job. And that brought back memories.”
He also said he was “cut off’ financially by the palace, and that in order to afford their security they had made big-money deals with Netflix and Spotify, but that it was never their “plan.”
Harry said the deals made with Spotify and Netflix were “suggested by somebody else at the point of where my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford, afford, security for, for us.” Oprah said: “Wait. Hold, hold up. Wait a minute. Your family cut you off?”
Prince Harry said: “Yeah, in the first half, the first quarter of 2020. But I’ve got what my mum left me, and, without that, we would not have been able to do this.”
Harry’s strongest and most direct criticism of any family member was reserved for his father. “There’s a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like… and Archie’s his grandson.”
Harry added: “Of course I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. And I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship. But they only know what they know, and that’s the thing.”
Asked about his relationship with William, Harry said: “As I’ve said before, I love William to bits. He’s my brother. We’ve been through hell together. I mean, we have a shared experience. But we, you know, we’re on different paths... The relationship is space, at the moment. And, you know, time heals all things, hopefully.”
Meghan also revealed that Kate Middleton had made her cry before her wedding, not the other way round as has been previously reported.
Meghan said Kate apologized and sent her flowers, and she did not believe Kate would want a false version of the story put out.
Meghan was responding to a question by Oprah about a report which emerged six months after the wedding, which said Meghan had left Kate “in tears” over an argument.
Meghan was asked by Oprah: “Did you make Kate cry?” Meghan replied, “No.” Oprah then asked: “Was there a situation where she might have cried? Or she could have cried?” Meghan responded, “No, no. The reverse happened. And I don't say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologized. And she brought me flowers and a note, apologizing. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it. What was shocking was—what was that, six, seven months after our wedding… that the reverse of that would be out in the world?”
Meghan said: “A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining—yes, the issue was correct—about flower girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings.”
Meghan added: “I would have never wanted that to come out about her ever, even though it had happened. I protected that from ever being out in the world.”
The interview comes after a fevered few days of claim and counter-claim, as Buckingham Palace and royal aides sought to fight back against the inference of clips released by CBS in advance of Sunday’s broadcast, and what they anticipated would be a thorough trashing by Meghan and Harry.
The palace has launched an investigation into claims Meghan bullied palace staffers, first reported by The Times of London. About a dozen staffers are reportedly “queuing up” to contribute testimony to the investigation. It was reported Sunday that Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife, may be asked to give evidence as she had witnessed staff being “berated” by Meghan. The Times reported that Meghan’s treatment of staff had left some in tears or traumatized, and others driven from their posts.
Meghan and Harry have denied the bullying claims, and said they were part of a “calculated smear campaign” in advance of Sunday’s highly anticipated broadcast. Their many supporters see Meghan as a victim of racism, and a wilful lack of understanding from an antic palace old-guard administration. A senior royal source told the U.K. Sunday Times that the royal family had “bent over backwards to be inclusive. It is absolutely wrong to say the Palace is institutionally racist. It really isn’t.”
Just before the interview aired, a source close to Prince Harry told the Telegraph that he was “determined to stand shoulder to shoulder” with brother Prince William at the unveiling of a statue of their mother Princess Diana on July 1, “whatever the fallout from his interview... in an attempt to move past their rift.”
Having wanted to explain why they left the royal family, Harry and Meghan Harry and Meghan “want to move on” from the Oprah interview and “consider the matter closed,” sources told the Telegraph.
One friend said: “It was something they felt they wanted and needed to do but now they have done it, they feel a line has been drawn under that chapter of their lives and they want to move on.”
Hours before the interview, the Queen, in a BBC special program to celebrate Commonwealth Day, emphasized “friendship and a spirit of unity” in her address, praising examples of “courage, commitment, and selfless dedication to duty” in Commonwealth nations and territories, notably by those working on the frontline, whether in healthcare or other public services.
“The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others,” the queen said in the gentle program, which was in marked dramatic contrast to the Harry and Meghan interview. Post-pandemic, she looked towards “a common future that is sustainable and more secure.”
The broadcast—a showcase of top royals, excluding Meghan and Harry—also featured Prince Charles talking about the importance of fighting to preserve the natural world; his wife Camilla speaking about child literacy, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward’s wife), and Prince William and his wife Kate talking to Commonwealth activists and campaigners about their work.
The question is, how quickly and honestly can the royals and Sussexes move on from any bad feeling and tensions.
In one advance clip of the Oprah interview, Meghan accused “the Firm”—a colloquial name for the royal family—of “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and Harry, after Oprah asked her, “How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today?”
Markle responded, “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. And if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.”
In another clip, Harry said he had decided to step back from the British royal family because he was fearful of “history repeating itself,” apparently referring to the tragic story of his mother, Diana. “I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side,” Harry said. “Because I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her [Diana], going through this process by herself all those years ago. It’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other.”
In another clip, Oprah said to Meghan that no subject was off-limits and told the couple, “You have said some pretty shocking things here.” Oprah also asks Meghan if she was “silent or silenced.” Winfrey appeared to reference a comment made by Meghan when she said that the trolling she received was “almost unsurvivable.”
Hours before the interview, the British press on Sunday unleashed a dizzying array of stories, mostly aimed at further discrediting Harry and Meghan before the interview was broadcast. The Sunday Mirror reported that Kate Middleton and Camilla Parker Bowles could be called to give evidence in the palace investigation into Meghan’s alleged bullying of staff.
The Sun on Sunday reported that palace aides were concerned Meghan would talk about her rift with Kate Middleton, and the infamous story that they had an argument, pre-Harry and Meghan’s wedding, over the fit of Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress.
However, the New York Post said that CBS insiders indicated Harry and Meghan would have only “kind words” for Kate and William in the interview.
If that remains true, it corresponds with the Sunday Telegraph reporting that William and Kate privately remain “hopeful of a reconciliation” with Harry and Meghan—whatever they say in the documentary tonight. A friend of Meghan’s told the Sunday Times that she would accuse courtiers in the Oprah interview of not noticing she was suffering from poor mental health. Given this—while accepting Meghan was difficult to work for—it was “incredibly dangerous” of the palace to attack Meghan, the friend said.
The Sunday Times also reported that Meghan had “gone mental” at an assistant over a shade of red of some blankets ordered as gifts for friends. Before the couple’s wedding, “half of the staff threatened to quit,” a former aide to one of the most senior members of the royal family claimed. Another palace source said, “the entire household was on the verge of quitting... it was drama, drama, drama with those two.”
According to the Telegraph, staff began to call Harry “The Hostage” before the wedding, after the infamous, much-written-about clash over the tiara the Queen loaned Meghan, which Meghan wanted to wear for a pre-wedding hair appointment. This request was refused as it was made on short notice, leading Harry to allegedly shout, “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.”
The Sunday Times reported that the Queen would not stay up to watch the interview, which courtiers have called a “circus.” “I don’t think anyone should expect Her Majesty to stay up and watch the interview. She won’t,” an aide said. “The mood in the family is: can everyone just shut the hell up, and can we get on with the day job?” one aide said—an ironic attempt at lofty contempt given the amount of effort aides had put into trashing Harry and Meghan in the media on the day of the interview itself.
Harry had previously told James Corden in an interview for The Late, Late Show that the British press created a “difficult environment” that was destroying his mental health, but insisted he “didn’t walk away” from the royal family. “It was stepping back rather than stepping down.”
“I did what any husband, what any father would do,” Harry told Corden. “It’s like, ‘I need to get my family out of here.’ But we never walked away.” He added, “I will never walk away. I will always be contributing.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741