Yes, the British tabloids did make Meghan Markle’s experience as a member of the royal family an extremely troubling one, but they weren’t the reason she and Prince Harry stepped back from their royal duties. It was the Palace.
That was the major takeaway from Meghan and Prince Harry’s buzzy CBS primetime special interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired on Sunday night. The conversation was not a messy one, but rather an opportunity for the couple, now living their lives in Los Angeles as a growing family of four, to speak their truth. The truths just so happened to be eye-opening. They were especially damning for Buckingham Palace, or “the firm” (which she made an effort to clarify is separate from the royal family and protects the “institution” that Queen Elizabeth leads), painted as operating more as a machine to protect only certain royals, and not with very much compassion for what Meghan went through.
From conversations had about how dark their children would be to finding out that Harry was financially cut off, these were some of the biggest bombshells from the Prince and Dutchess’s sit-down with the queen of talk.
She Didn’t Do Her Research
While many of us run to Google to look up an everyday man whose advances we’re considering entertaining, Meghan admitted that she never looked Harry up as they were getting to know each other romantically. According to her, everything she needed to know about the prince, he told her. She admitted that she went into their relationship quite naively, looking back on things.
She even recounted the first time she met Queen Elizabeth and was asked “Do you know how to curtsy?” on the way to the meeting by Harry because it was the protocol when being in her majesty’s presence to practice such a gesture. Meghan assumed that such airs would only have to be put on when outside, living in front of the world, but that private family moments would be different. She was, of course, wrong and promptly told by Harry, “It’s the queen.”
Dutchess Kate Middleton Made Her Cry, Not the Other Way Around
Meghan was asked to address a story that was passed around by U.K. press claiming that she had an interaction with Kate Middleton that ended with the Dutchess of Cambridge in tears. According to her, it was the other way around.
In the days leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry and all that spectacle that would come with it (the couple revealed they actually married three days before the public ceremony to have something for themselves by the way), Meghan was going through a lot. She was publicly having issues with her father, who had a heart attack after taking staged photos for money ahead of the nuptials. In the stress of things, there was some sort of disagreement about the dresses for the flower girls and Meghan ended up being upset to the point of tears.
While Kate apologized to her privately for the incident, and those in the Palace, aka, “the firm” knew the truth, they didn’t bother to set the record straight publicly to take the heat off of Meghan. When asked why, Meghan told Oprah, “That’s a good question.”
She claimed that was a “turning point” where she began to feel like she wouldn’t be protected by the Palace, despite them telling her she certainly would be.
Things Took a Turn After Her Pregnancy Was Revealed
One of the big red flags that she literally wouldn’t be protected by “the firm” was that after her pregnancy was made public, those in the Palace didn’t want Meghan and Harry’s child to be a prince or princess. They also offered no security for the unborn child after birth, which was frightening for Meghan and Harry. Stories about her were getting more out of hand, which they believed could play into the threats against them.
It was also jarring to her that the first member of color born into the royal family would not be receiving a title in the way that all the other grandchildren had received them. One can’t help but wonder if Archie’s Black roots played a role in that, and that’s when she shared that a royal family member had “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born” with Harry. There were actually “several conversations” at that on what it would mean and look like. Later on in the special, Harry wouldn’t share with whom he had those conversations.
She Wanted to Kill Herself
A very shocking revelation shared was that things got so bad not only with the press treatment of Meghan, but also with the restriction in place for where she could go and what she could do because of “oversaturation” of her in the press, that she wanted to take her own life. She asked for help from the Palace because “I knew if I didn’t say it that I would do it.”
However, her going into treatment, as she was allegedly told, wouldn’t be a good look for the institution.
Feeling like there was something that could still be done, she went to HR. They were encouraging and understood her pain, but they said “’there’s nothing we can do because you’re not a paid employee of the institution,’” according to her. That was a true catalyst in their decision to step back from royal duties — not only the hit her mental health had taken, but the lack of desire by “the firm” to aid her in getting well. And no, she couldn’t just get up and drive or call an Uber to take herself to get mental health treatment. The palace had her passport, her drivers license and even her keys. She felt, and probably was, pretty much trapped.
She Was Silenced by the Palace
According to Meghan, she was told from the very beginning that when it came to dealing with the U.K. press, it was always the best thing to do to not offer comment on matters, no matter how damaging they could be to one’s reputation. She did as she was told because she was made to believe that she would be protected by the palace. Instead, she says, she was effectively silenced.
“I’ve advocated for so long for women to use their voice and then I was silent,” she told Oprah, saying she her biggest regret was believing the palace would stand up for her.
“I believed that and I think that was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to worsen that I really 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.”
They Got Some Serious Support From Tyler Perry
After the couple stepped back from senior royal duties and moved out of England, they initially settled in Canada. The plan was to try and stay in a Commonwealth Realm where they could still do their work but more so on a part-time basis, and with room to breathe. Instead, “the firm” said thanks but no thanks, and because of their “change in status,” they lost their security as they were no longer official members of the royal family.
Tyler Perry of all people though stepped up and not only allowed the couple, who was trying to pick up and move to Los Angeles after their plan didn’t work, to stay in his home. In addition to that, he gave them security before they were able to figure out a plan forward for their family.
Prince Harry’s Relationship With His Grandmother Is Great but That’s About It
When Prince Harry was still living in the U.K. with his wife and son, he tried to take matters into his own hands to protect Meghan from the press and to seek aid in regards to not only her mental health but also his own. He admitted to finding himself in a “dark place” based on the treatment of his wife. The response to him sharing that he was worried that history would repeat itself and Meghan could end up like his late mother, Princess Diana of Wales, was “this is how it is.”
Because of that mindset, his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls. He is working on fixing that relationship he said, and noted that the relationship with brother Prince William is one of “space” right now, but he believes time would heal all wounds. As for his relationship with Queen Elizabeth, he says they’ve talked more now than they did when he was in the U.K., and the two were always close.
Things Changed When the Attention Was Too Favorable of Meghan
Something brought up that was interesting was that while the initial press of Meghan wasn’t great, she received a lot of love worldwide (including from Black folks here).
She received so much love during travels in other countries that Prince Harry felt things took a turn upon their return to the U.K. because her connection with people felt familiar. He thinks the connection she made with people, specifically during their work on their Australian tour in 2018, was so effortless that it gave the Palace cause for pause. If that doesn’t make sense to you, know that it didn’t make sense to the couple either.
If There Was More Support, They Would Have Remained in the Royal Family
Overall, there was not only a lack of support from the Palace, but also a lack of public support from Prince Harry’s family. He noted that the fact that they were quiet, perhaps concerned that the British tabloids would turn on them, deeply disappointed him.
“No one from my family ever said anything,” he said in regards to the years of abuse Meghan received. Even members of Parliament shared their outrage over the “Colonial” coverage of Meghan in the press, but the royal family stayed quiet. They were so quiet in their support that Harry felt almost ashamed at the idea of telling them about what he and Meghan were going through emotionally.
They Have Watched The Crown and Other Last Post-Royal Life Updates
The couple is in a great place now. They’ve found a cushy home in LA, down the street from Oprah actually. They’ve inked a number of deals, which is important because Prince Harry was cut off from his family financially. The baby they have on the way is a girl, which they’re understandably excited about. And for the record, yes, they’ve watched a few episodes of Netflix’s The Crown.
Overall, they’re happy to be able to live their life authentically now, which a part of the reason they agreed to do the interview with Oprah, despite how “the firm” might feel or react in response (and we know what their reaction has been already). She said she didn’t know how they could expect silence “if there is an active role the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.”
“I’m not going to live my life in fear,” she added.