Last week we thought James Corden’s fun double-decker bus interview with Prince Harry was going to be our best insight into the life that Harry and Meghan share, but tonight, Oprah’s no-holds-barred interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made our heads spin. The revelations in their two-hour, socially distanced interview with the iconic talk show host have given the world an unparalleled insight into the inner workings and moving parts of the royal family. There were tears, fears, anger, and such disappointment. But also, so much joy for their unique, growing family. We warn you that some of the details revealed may be triggering to some.
There has long been a conversation about the racist and prejudicial way the UK tabloids have handled their coverage of the Duchess of Sussex. Last week Meghan won her court case against one such tabloid for invading her privacy when it published her private letter to her father. But as Meghan very decidedly pointed out to Oprah, the constant onslaught from the tabloids began to affect her sense of self, and the institution that organizes everything around the royal family’s business made it a point to offer her no support. “Everybody was surprised to see that there was pain there. I guess I felt that it had never occurred to anyone that I wasn’t okay and that I was suffering,” she said, referencing that famous “are you okay” interview.
“Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and admit it to Harry because I know how much loss he’s suffered, but I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it -- I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she admitted to a shocked Oprah. “That was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how he just cradled me and I went to the institution and said I need to go somewhere to get help, I’ve never felt this way before, and I was told that I couldn’t, it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Saying that she then went to HR, the response there was, “My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is for you but there’s nothing we could do for you because you’re not a paid employee.”
When Oprah asked for clarification on whether Meghan had suicidal thoughts, Meghan replied, “Yes! This was very clear. Very scary. I didn’t know who to even turn to in that.”
Noting that her passport, wallet and keys were turned over to the “firm” and she didn’t have access to her things, she says she felt trapped and without help. Oprah was shaking her head in disbelief at hearing this news. She, and us, were absolutely horrified.
This is where both Meghan and Oprah get choked up - Meghan recalled an incident where they were to go to an event at the Royal Albert Hall, and she told Harry she couldn’t be left alone (because of what she might do to herself) so Harry gripped her hand so tightly all night to anchor her; so much so that in photographs, one could see the whites of their knuckles.
When Harry joined them later in the interview he shockingly admitted that he was ashamed of admitting to the “firm” that Meghan needed help. “I didn’t have anyone to turn to . . . My family has the mentality of, ‘this is just how it is.’”
Throughout the interview, Meghan (who admitted off the top that she never Googled her husband or did any kind of research into the ins-and-outs of royal life) reiterated that the institution never offered support or help when it came to royal protocol, or even protection in terms of security. She said she was promised security and protection that was never delivered – a factor that was exacerbated with the arrival of their son, little Archie. “They didn’t want him to be a prince,” she told Orpah. “He wasn’t going to receive security. This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy.”
Oprah replied with a shocked, “what?”
“There’s no explanation,” Meghan said adding that, “The first member of colour in this family not being titled the same way other grandchildren would be[…]When you’re the grandchild of the monarch, automatically Archie would become Prince.”
Explaining that if Archie were given a title, that would automatically grant him a security team, Meghan said her first duty as his mother was to protect him, but because of his race, they wanted to change royal protocols. “They want to change the convention for Archie.”
“In those months when I was pregnant, [there were] concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
“What?” Oprah blurted out. “Who is having that conversation?”
Both Meghan, and Harry who joined later, refused to reveal with whom this conversation was had, nor how the question of Archie’s skin was raised.
“That conversation I am never going to share,” Harry said. “It was awkward, I was a bit shocked.” He added that he feels uncomfortable sharing any more details than that.
“I lived in Canada, which is a commonwealth country, for 7 years,” Meghan said. “Travelling through the commonwealth, 60-70 per cent are countries of colour.”
And she said she saw, “how much it meant to them to see someone who looks like them to be in this position.”
When the couple first moved to Canada, Harry says that was when the “firm” stripped them of their security, coupled with The Daily Mail publishing their location, so security was top of their concerns.
“What I saw was history repeated itself,” he said, referring to the struggles of his late mother, Princess Diana, “but then you add race in and then social media in. I’m talking about my mother. The biggest turning point for me – [I knew] me having a girlfriend was going to be a thing. I hadn’t thought about the mixed-race thing. I spent many years doing the work and my own learning. It doesn’t take very long to suddenly become aware of [unconscious bias].”
The race element was different here, Harry said, because he believed there were many opportunities for the family to show Meghan support. Parliament condemned the racist overtones of the UK tabloids, specifically in their coverage of Meghan, but no one from the family spoke out in her defence. Harry said that the family is scared of the British tabloids turning on them - that there’s an invisible contract between tabloids and royals. If you as a family member give access to these reporters, you get better press coverage like a symbiotic relationship.
During the worst parts of their ordeal, Harry shared that the heir to the British crown, Prince Charles, cut off his son – both financially and in terms of communication.
In answering Oprah’s question concerning whether or not the couple blindsided Queen Elizabeth with their wish to take a step back from royal life, Harry replied that he had had many conversations with his grandmother and father about the issue. “When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two with my father, before he stopped taking my calls.”
Oprah of course could not let that bombshell slip by, so when she pressed him why that happened, Harry replied, “Because I took matters into my own hands […] I could see where this was headed.”
With that obvious reference to the way the British tabloids hounded his late mother, Lady Diana, and how the tabloids for years have been implicated in possibly causing her death, Oprah asked what Harry thought his mother might think about their retreat from royal life.
“I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out, and very sad, but ultimately all she’d ever wanted was for us to be happy.”
“My family cut me off financially in the first quarter of 2020,” Harry added, “but I have what my mother left me, and that got me through it.”
“She saw it coming,” he added, referring to Diana, noting that he can’t imagine what Diana went through alone all those years ago, because at least Harry and Meghan have each other.
“I’ve spoken more to my grandmother in the past year than I have in many years,” he said, making sure that everyone knows his family is still incredibly important to him, but in terms of his father, who is taking his calls again, the road is long.
“There’s a lot to work through there. I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like, and Archie is his grandson, but at the same time, I will always love him,” Harry frankly admitted. “There’s a lot of hurt that’s happened, but I will continue to make it one of my priorities to heal that relationship. They only know what they know, that’s the thing. Or what they’re told.”
It’s understandable that Meghan, who was not born a royal, would feel stifled and trapped by the new measures imposed on her as a royal, but for Harry, who was born into that world, to also feel that way was a shock for Oprah to hear.
Saying point-blank that he felt trapped within the system, but didn’t realize he was trapped, the wool fell from his eyes “the moment that I met Meg and our world’s collided in amazing ways….”
But Harry admitted very candidly that he wouldn’t have stepped back from the royal family and his royal obligations were it not for Meghan.
Harry described his feelings as being “trapped within the system. My father and my brother,” he added of Prince Charles and Prince William, “they are trapped. They don’t get to leave and I have huge compassion for that.”
Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, would only reveal the sex of the baby once Harry joined them in the interview, but they were very excited and glowing to reveal that little Archie is going to have a baby sister. They put their foot down saying “two is it” when it comes to the option of having more kids, and said that their baby is due sometime in the summer.
We all watched the big royal wedding on TV with hundreds of celebrities on the invite list (including Oprah) walking into the church. It was the wedding of the century. But Meghan revealed that wasn’t actually when they officially tied the knot.
“Three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that!” she gleefully said as she introduced Oprah to her rescue dogs. Turns out they tied the knot in their backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury – just the three of them. No celebs. No cameras. No glitz. Just love.
Of course, we couldn’t forget little Archie. While the two-year-old toddler is talking a lot, it’s his words that are, frankly, too cute for words. “Whenever someone leaves the house, he’s like, ‘drive safe!’” Harry laughed. Meghan giggled that he also says “hydrate” a lot, which makes her laugh every time. Raise your hand if you’d like your toddler to remind you to hydrate and drive safe. *Raises all the hands*
[video_embed id='2149462']Before you go: Prince Harry opens up to James Corden on ‘The Late Late Show’[/video_embed]