The Duchess of Sussex accused the royal family on Sunday night of inciting an atmosphere of racial hostility so intense that she approached suicide while pregnant with her first child.
In a series of startling revelations, Meghan told Oprah Winfrey during a hotly anticipated two-hour interview that members of the royal family openly expressed concern about how dark her son Archie’s skin would be, that they went to great lengths to deny him the royal title that would normally be his right. as the grandson of the monarch and who refused to provide him with security.
When the tabloid papers began to openly entice Meghan, no one from the royal household moved a finger to defend her or reconsider the decision on Archie’s safety, she said. She felt utterly unprotected from tabloid onslaught and undermined by what she called a “firm” – an apparatus that surrounds the royal household – that repeatedly refused her appeals for help and discouraged her from leaving the house for months.
“It all happened just because I was breathing,” Meghan said, breaking at one point in tears and encouraging Winfrey to do the same. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. It was a clear, real, frightening and constant thought. “
Asked if she was thinking about her voting background or American nationality or the fact that she divorced when she joined the royal family, Meghan replied, “I thought about it because they made me think.”
Both Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, made an effort to praise Queen Elizabeth and did not point fingers directly at individuals. Instead, they portrayed family members trapped in an institution that defines them and terrified, above all, of the tabloid “monster machine,” as Meghan called her, who could turn on them at any moment as she turned on her.
Still, the report they both gave – about a family that initially welcomed Meghan with open arms, to give a completely different tone as soon as she got pregnant and started earning praise for her composure as a public figure – seemed likely to cause a stir in Buckingham Palace after a week of intense sniping ahead of the broadcast of the interview.
One episode that Meghan described as a turning point came months after a fairytale wedding to Harry at Windsor Castle (three days after the Archbishop of Canterbury formally married them in a private ceremony), when the tabloids reported that his sister … father-in-law , Duchess of Cambridge, cries.
The true story, Meghan said, was the other way around – that Kate made her cry, but later apologized and offered her flowers. She was shocked not only that the tabloids reversed the story but also that no one in the palace denied its veracity.
Meghan said her biggest regret was believing in the royal household when they said they would protect her. From an early age, she revealed, she was suggested to pursue an acting career because there was no money that could put her on the royal payroll.
When, at the height of her despair, she went to the HR department, she told her that she had been told, “My heart is going to you, but there is nothing we can do because you are not a paid member of the institution.”
Other members of the royal household told her smoothly that she could not seek psychiatric help because that would not be good for the institution. Prince Harry said that the attitude of his relatives was that they all went through something similar and that they only needed to fix it.
Harry, however, disagreed. “What was different for me was the racing element,” he said. “I said, guys, this isn’t going to end well.”
In the interview, Harry and Meghan reviewed photos of a public appearance at the Royal Albert Hall when it was widely seen that Meghan looked dazzling in the later stages of her pregnancy. But she said it was clear up close that Harry was actually holding her hand dear life. Meghan did not come because she wanted to face the public, but because she was afraid of what she might do to herself if left alone.
That morning she told her husband about her suicidal thoughts. “I was ashamed to say it,” she told Winfrey, “ashamed to admit it, but I knew I would do it if I didn’t say it.”
Harry tied her up, she said, and over time began to devise a plan to ease the pressure and ensure that the tragedy that befell his mother, Princess Diana, would not happen again.
The couple – who also revealed that they will have a baby girl in the summer – they announced in January 2020 that they would resign from their royal duties. They went to Canada first, thinking they could still play a role while in Commonwealth country, but the royal family stripped them of security – citing a “status change”, according to Harry – just as the first Covid-19 blockade loomed.
Feeling exposed and unprotected, the couple first moved to Los Angeles, where film producer Tyler Perry invited them to stay at his home and provide him with their own insurance, before buying a home in a gilded enclave on Montecito Hill, outside of Santa Barbara. where Winfrey makes her own home. The interview was recorded on the garden terrace of a mutual friend near both of their houses.
The couple’s comments come at the end of an unfortunate week between them and Buckingham Palace. Allegations were made Wednesday that Meghan mistreated two personal assistants from the Sussex household and undermined the trust of a third staff member.
A spokesman for the couple dismissed the claims as a “calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation”, but the palace said it would investigate the allegations.
The Sunday Times said the Queen would not be watching the interview and reported that the palace would only respond if individual members were attacked in the interview.
Harry said the family broke them financially when they moved to the US, and only the money he inherited directly from his mother allowed them to start a home and negotiate deals with Netflix and Spotify, indicating a completely different future – as entertainment producers – from the one they expected.
The couple said their relationship with several members of the royal family was strained. Harry defined his relationship with his older brother William with one word, “space.” He said that his father stopped receiving him for a while and that “there was a lot of work there”. “I feel really disappointed,” he said of Prince Charles. “A lot of injuries happened.”
Helen Sullivan contributed to the reporting