What Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Told Oprah

From their secret wedding, to a heartbreaking lack of support from the royal family, to revealing the gender of their second child, Meghan and Harry left very little off the table in this two-hour interview.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Oprah in the interview

(Photo: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese)

Warning: This piece discusses suicidal ideation.

Audiences tuned in expecting royal tea, but Oprah Winfrey’s highly-anticipated interview with Harry and Meghan was so much more.

On March 7, CBS aired the highly anticipated sit-down interview between the queen of American television and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The two-hour event was pre-recorded in Santa Barbara, including a visit to the Sussexes’ home, and marks Harry and Meghan’s first time addressing the public since announcing they will no longer be working members of the royal family.

Airing in the U.S. as well as 68 countries around the world, Meghan and Harry’s interview was expected to draw a comparable number of viewers to Super Bowl Sunday. Oprah emphasized that “there’s no subject that’s off limits,” a vibe that was reminiscent of Princess Diana’s infamous 1995 interview with BBC Panorama where she spoke about everything from her history with bulimia to Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

In the weeks leading up to Meghan and Harry’s tell-all, tensions climbed to new heights. The couple drew criticisms for doing the interview while Prince Philip, Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather, remains in hospital. The Times of London then released a report pointing the finger at Meghan for wearing earrings from Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman days after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Times also reported multiple allegations that Meghan bullied palace staff, which Meghan has denied. The Palace responded by launching an investigation into the allegations—swift action, which many pointed out was never taken in response to Prince Andrew’s connection to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“Let’s just call this what it is—a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation,” a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a statement. Social media users, including Meghan’s former Suits co-star Patrick Adams, shared their outrage at what appeared to many as the palace scrambling to discredit the couple in advance of their interview with Oprah.

The CBS interview, which aired in Canada on Global, covered a lot of ground, and more than a few moments—including Meghan’s heartbreaking reveal that she was having suicidal thoughts and was refused help—were truly shocking. Here’s what you need to know.

Why did Meghan and Harry decide to speak out now?

Oprah first asked for an interview with Meghan and Harry before their 2018 wedding, but Meghan declined, saying it wasn’t the “right time.” When asked what makes now the right time, Meghan—who is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child—said that this type of interview wasn’t possible before, because she and Harry did not have the freedom to choose what interviewers they spoke to and what topics would be discussed.

“As an adult, who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and the privilege in some ways to be able to say yes,” she said. “I mean, I’m ready to talk…To be able to make a choice on your own and just be able to speak for yourself.”

The first time Meghan met the Queen

Meghan told Oprah that Queen Elizabeth II was one of the first members of the royal family whom she met. The couple was at Royal Lodge, the official residence of Prince Andrew, and the Queen happened to be finishing a church service in Windsor. Meghan described having to quickly learn how to do a curtsy, with the help of Harry and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, before going in to formally meet the Queen. After doing what Meghan says was a “very deep” curtsy, she says their conversation was “lovely and easy,” later noting that the Queen “has always been wonderful to me.”

Harry and Meghan were already married at their televised wedding

Meghan revealed that she and Harry got married three days before their televised wedding on March 19, 2018—where Oprah was only one of several celebrities in attendance and an estimated two billion people tuned in on TV. “We called the Archbishop and we just said, ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world. But we want our union between us,’” said Meghan explaining that their real wedding took place in their backyard with only Meghan, Harry and the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.

Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey speak in a garden

(Photo: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese)

Setting the record straight on her ‘feud’ with Kate

Prior to the wedding, tabloids reported that Meghan had made Kate cry over discussions related to flower girl dresses, fuelling speculation of a rift between the two. Meghan revealed that in reality, “the reverse happened.” According to Meghan, she was the one who was in tears over the dresses, a situation that Kate later owned and apologized for with flowers. When pressed, Meghan refused to give details over the details of the issue saying “I don’t think it’s fair to her to get into the details of that because she apologized and I’ve forgiven her.” However, Meghan said seeing the tabloids run wild with a story—a narrative that the palace and numerous people knew to be untrue—without being shut down by royal officials was a turning point. “I think that’s when everything changed,” she said.

The racist ‘concerns’ about Archie’s skin tone

It’s a reveal that made Oprah gasp. Meghan, who is the first Black member of Britain’s royal family (at least in modern times), told Oprah that while she was pregnant with Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Meghan did not reveal who exactly was involved, and said she heard a lot of the details through Harry. (Oprah has since clarified that the person in question was not the Queen or Prince Philip.) When Oprah asked Harry about what exactly was said, he stated, “That conversation I’m never going to share.”   

Meghan revealed that the racist conversations were happening at the same time as discussions about how Archie, who is now two, would fit into the royal family. “They were saying they didn’t want [the baby] to be a prince or princess, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” she says. She notes that it was particularly hurtful to her that her son, the first member of colour of the royal family, would not be treated the same as the other grandchildren and would not receive the title that is his birthright.

Meghan had suicidal ideations, and was refused help  

In a 2020 interview with Teenager Therapy podcast, Meghan described the online abuse she suffered after joining the royal family as “almost unsurvivable.” When Oprah asked if there was a breaking point, Meghan explained that she while she was pregnant, amid a constant barrage racist attacks in the media, she started to feel like there was no solution. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. That was a very clear and very real and frightening constant thought,” she said.

She describes feeling scared to tell Harry, particularly because of the losses he had already suffered in his life, “But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it.” The day she told Harry that her suicidal ideations were “very real” was the same day the couple was due to attend an event at Royal Albert Hall.

“I remember him saying, “I don’t think you can go,’” Meghan said, to which she replied, “I can’t be left alone.” When she sees the photos from that event, her eyes go directly to her hand clutched tightly in Harry’s because she says “we were both just trying to hold on.”

The following day, Meghan says she asked senior royals about the possibility of getting help, saying that she had never felt this way before and that she needed to go somewhere she could get inpatient care. “I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” said Meghan, clarifying that “the institution” in this instance was one person, who she did not name, but at times, the term also refers to several people. She said that while those within the institution validated she was receiving disproportionately terrible treatment in the media compared to other members of the royal family, “Nothing was ever done, so we had to find a solution.”

Why they chose to take a step back  

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan dropped a bombshell announcement that they would be stepping back from their royal roles, prompting several royal watchers and tabloids to blame Meghan for what was seen as the Duke and Duchess quitting their duties. The couple was clear that they never intended to leave, but rather were hoping to simply scale back their involvement to protect their mental health and their growing family.

“When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help,” said Harry. He continued that though the palace had the power to “call the dogs off or whatever you want to call it,” they received no help and were continuously told “this is just how it is.”

Harry admitted that he was not aware of his unconscious bias until he met Meghan. After their relationship went public, he says it didn’t take long for him to see “where it was going to go and how far they were going to take it…and get away with it and be so blatant about it.” Meanwhile, Meghan and Harry say that nothing was being done to shut these reports down. Harry recalled how 72 female members of parliament, from across the political spectrum, called out “the outdated colonial undertones” of the coverage around Meghan, “yet no one from my family ever said anything over those two years.”

The simplest answer as to why they left the U.K.? “Lack of support, and lack of understanding,” said Harry.

Meghan told Oprah that her only regret is “believing them when they said I would be protected.”

A wide shot of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Oprah speaking in a garden in the big CBS interview

(Photo: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese)

The real reason they left Canada for the U.S.

As members of the royal family, the need for security, particularly given the relentless press coverage about their whereabouts, seems obvious. However, Meghan and Harry revealed that safety was a main reason why they left Canada for the U.S. at the onset of the pandemic. They initially chose to settle in Canada intending to continue their royal duties in a less senior capacity, but after moving, their U.K. security, which is normally provided by the royal family, was rescinded. Harry explained that the justification for removing their security was “a change in status.” When he pushed back asking if there was a change to the level of risk he and his wife faced—which was notably high because of the racist coverage Meghan had received—he was told that the threat level had not changed, but since they were no longer official working members of the royal family, they would not be provided protection.

“I never thought that I would have my security removed because I was born into this position. I inherited the risk so that was a shock to me, that was what completely changed the whole plan,” said Harry. According to Meghan, at that time, Harry was receiving death threats, yet they were still denied security.

Seeing that the U.S.-Canada border was about to close and also, as Harry put it, that the world knew their exact location, they did not feel safe. Filmmaker Tyler Perry offered Harry and Meghan a home in Los Angeles as a temporary refuge and also provided security, prompting their last-minute move to California.

Harry was financially cut off  

After the move, the Duke and Duchess launched the Archewell Foundation. They have also signed a huge deal with Netflix and Spotify, and Prince Harry is working on a documentary for Apple TV+. These moves drew criticisms that the pair was looking to cash in on their fame, despite the perception that they left royal life wanting more privacy. Harry told Oprah that while they’ve been able to partner on exciting projects, “That was never part of the plan.”

Instead, Harry explains that it was a necessity because his family had cut him off financially in the beginning of 2020, and he needed to find a way to pay for their security. “But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that, we would not be able to do this,” said Harry. He went on to say that he believes that Diana saw the potential for something like this to happen, and he “certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process.”

Harry’s current relationship with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William

“I’ve spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done in many, many years,” said Harry, who said that the Queen has been “amazing throughout.” The couple said they even sign on for the occasional Zoom call with the Queen so she can see Archie. “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and understanding and I have a deep respect for her,” said Harry. “She’s my Colonel in Chief, right? She always will be.”

When asked about his father, Prince Charles, Harry paused and said, “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…but at the same time, of course, I will always love him.”

In addition to working towards healing that relationship, Harry said that the relationship with his brother, Prince William, is similarly strained at the moment. “The relationship is…space at the moment…time heals all things, hopefully,” he said.

New details about their second child

It’s telling that the gender reveal for Meghan and Harry’s second child—an announcement which would typically be a standout moment from a royal media interview—was barely a blip in this two-hour special. Meghan and Harry confirmed that their second child is due to arrive this summer and will be their first daughter. They also confirmed that they don’t plan to have any more children. “Two is it,” said Meghan.

How they’re doing now

Early in the interview, Meghan recalled relating to The Little Mermaid, a woman who has to give up her voice to marry a prince—but in the end, she finds her voice once again.

The couple told Oprah that after all they’ve been through, they are not just surviving, they’re thriving. Meghan and Harry are now living in their own home in Santa Barbara, where they have two dogs and several hens (who live in a coop called “Archie’s Chick Inn”), and most importantly, safety for their family. Meghan credits their chance at a happily-ever-after to Harry, saying that “He ultimately called it. He made a decision that saved my life and saved all of us.”

According to Meghan, the story of what they’ve been through and overcome together is “greater than any fairy tale that you’ll ever read.”

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, the Crisis Services Canada hotline offers immediate support, 24 hours a day: 1-833-456-4566.

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