Oprah Winfrey’s two hours sit-down interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which was recorded a month ago finally broadcasted on Sunday night in the USA. It was a complete revelation of the British monarchy and the way it treated Harry and Megan post their marriage. It ranged from severe issues like the British royals raising their apprehensions over the color of their son Archie, or Meghan being subjected to a state of severe mental health issues.
In 2018, Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, and almost everything related to her identity was questioned since the couple declared their engagement. Whether she was a biracial American and belonged to a simple family, or her unconventional family history, or her profession as an actor was a subject of disapproval amidst the British royals.
Thus, the couple officially gave up their royal duties and broke free from the monarchy in 2020.
History repeats itself
Harry recounted the death of his mother Diana in a car crash in 1997, wherein on numerous occasions he has mentioned his apprehensions about history repeating itself. In the Oprah interview, he stated, “And when I’m talking about history repeating itself, I am talking about my mother.” Thus, in relation to his marriage, he expressed his concern about something more dangerous than the event of history repeating itself.
Harry, hence talked about how he felt disturbed with the “lack of support and lack of understanding” from the royal family and that his “biggest fear was history repeating itself,” with the aggravating addition of race and social media to the situation.
Indian Express reported, “Diana’s troubles with the royal family only added to this persona. And, for all the excruciating scrutiny that she was subject to by the British tabloids, Diana and the press often shared a love-hate relationship.”
However, Meghan, on the flip, has been a major victim of receiving large racist hate.
Prevalent racism In the British monarchy
Meghan has been subjected to racism since her engagement, but the issue was not just restricted to tabloids and trolls about her. In an unfortunate turn of events, but perhaps not shocking, Meghan talked about the members of the monarchy raising concerns about the color of her yet-to-be-born son, Archie. Although she did not reveal the identity of the members, people in the palace engaged in conversations with her talking about how ‘darkly skinned’ Archie could be, and the future consequences of the same.
Meghan recalled that this occurred before Archie was born in 2019 and declined to reveal
about the people who made the remarks because it would be "very damaging" to them.
Harry mentioned that racism was a major reason why the couple moved to America from Britain. It is true that for a royal family that comes with a history of imperial conquests and colonization, racist behavior is a generational pattern. Thus, Harry believes that even though the ‘race element’ could be a chance for the royal family to display some public solidarity, it seemed that the monarchy was willingly practicing it.
In response to Megan’s revelations, Buckingham Palace responded with a statement. The statement "issued by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen" read:
"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan."The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately."Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."
Stripping away of security
The security privileges in the British Royals are not constant for everyone. While, some British royals have had security costing £500,000 per annum, despite the many racist death threats Meghan and Harry lost the right to their security privileges a little ahead of their official announcement about breaking off from the royal family.
In 2020, when the couple moved to Los Angeles, they lived in a home belonging to Tyler Perry and relied on the security he provided.
However, this issue of security provisions is much more deep-rooted.
“In those months when I was pregnant, we have in tandem the conversation of, 'He won't be given security. He's not going to be given a title, and concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born," she said, revealing that while the couple didn't say ‘no’ to the official photo when Archie was born, Markle was scared for his safety.
"I went to human resources (HR wing of the Palace) and asked for help and the person told me this. ‘My heart goes out to you because we see how bad it is. But we can't help you because you're not a paid employee of the institution'," revealed Meghan.
Gender reveal of their second child
The couple announced that their second child was going to be a girl, who is expected to arrive in summer. Harry remarked, “A boy and then a girl. What more could you ask for?”
Meghan talks about her mental health
Meghan’s mental health had begun deteriorating, coinciding with her first pregnancy, due to being subjected to such high scrutiny inside and outside the palace. In the interview, Meghan completely opens up about her vulnerable state of mind and how the situations pushed her to be suicidal. Revealing this constant frightening thought, she said, “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She also revealed she was disallowed from seeking professional help and treatment. Harry confirmed she didn’t receive any support from the royal family, stating that “it was not a conversation to be had.”
Meghan also stated that she was really ashamed to admit it to Harry as she was aware of how much he has suffered and this revelation would add to it.
As an example of her terrible mental state, she evoked a particular instance when she and Harry attended a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. While in public she wore a full-length blue gown and had a perfect smile adorned her face, Megan revealed that it was truly a facade. In the interview, she gave an insight into her mind frame when she said that she was weeping amidst the darkness of the hall, only to be smiling again when the lights were turned on. She stated that even though she ‘looked great’; she did not ‘feel great.’
Meghan’s disclosure of her suicidal tendencies has gained a positive response and has paved a way towards breaking the stigma about suicide. It was witnessed that Diana during her time who also faced such scrutiny and harassment had received similar support in the 1990s when she came out about her eating disorder and self-injuring tendencies.
In the interview, Harry mentioned that Diana saw his separation from the royal family eventually coming and that he said that he always felt her eternal presence throughout the intensive process over these months.
Oprah asks, what would Diana think of this? She would have been very angry with how this had played out and very sad, replies Harry. “But, ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy.”
Reports state that Harry and William inherited $8 million each from his mother’s assets. Hence, the couple based their decision on the inheritance she left Harry before her death. Thus currently to fund his family’s security, Harry reportedly uses a chunk of his inheritance from his mother’s side.
Interpersonal relations with the royal family
It is a well-known fact that the television portrayals of the royal families in sitcoms like The Crown have depicted the rightful picture of the members bound by the institutional rules and the idea of the Victorian sense of duty.
Harry, hence in the interview spoke about how he was stuck within the system and did not see the vices of it until he met and married Meghan. In that way, she saved him, he said. To which, Meghan responded, “You made a decision that certainly saved my life and saved all of us,” talking about the decision to step back from the royal family.
It is true that Harry shares strained relations with his brother and father now after this decision to step down from the royal family. He hopes that "time will heal" space in the relationship between him and his brother. He is unsure of his equation with his father as Harry feels "let down" by him when the family did make use of the multiple chances when they could have supported the Prince.
However, talking about his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, Harry said that he had never ignored her presence. “I have too much respect for her,” he said. Slamming all the public rumors, in the interview he revealed that Queen Elizabeth II has been publicly supportive of Harry and Meghan’s exit, understanding their “desire to create a new life as a young family.”
Meghan lacked any kind of freedom
One of the key takeaways from Oprah's interview was when she asked Megan “Were you silent or were you silenced?” “The latter,” Meghan said.
This occurred after Meghan’s account about how she was forced into isolation while several tabloids published stories about her, and Megan compared her situation similar to the quarantine people are compelled to practice because of the pandemic. She also described that after her entry into the royal family she was compelled to submit her passport, driver’s license, and keys and was always told to stay silent t to the press and public over controversies and false stories. She called this event a “sad irony” because Megan was a woman who actively encouraged other women to speak up against injustice, and here she was compelled to be silent.