On Sunday night, the highly anticipated interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially aired, dividing people all around the globe and rocking the institution of the Royal Family.
The two-hour CBS interview pulled in an estimated 17.1 million viewers when it aired. To put that into perspective, that was more viewers than both last September’s Emmy awards and last week’s Golden Globes put together, according to Deadline.com. In the interview, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed explosive allegations about the Royal Family, claiming that the couple experienced racism and that Meghan was treated callously and coldly by the family. As the institution of the British Royal Family continues to struggle to modernize, these allegations could rupture the precarious public image that is managing to keep the legacy together.
In the interview, Meghan and Harry spoke candidly with Oprah about everything from racism to mental health problems in the Royal Palace. At one particularly striking moment, Meghan expressed that she experienced suicidal thoughts during her time in the Royal Family. She claimed that she had experienced “character assassination” which drove her to the point of self-harm, according to NBC. “Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he has suffered, but I knew that if I didn’t say it, then I would do it,” Meghan said. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
When Meghan expressed these feelings to what she calls “The Firm,” she was greeted with an insensitive and callous response. The Duchess allegedly went to the royal human resources department, where she admitted that she needed help and asked for mental health treatment. She was then told that there was nothing which they could do for her, because she was not “a paid employee of the institution.” She then went to other senior residents of the royal household for help— to no avail. Meghan was allegedly told that her seeking treatment at a mental health facility “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” At one point, she was even criticized, and it was implied that she was bringing these mental health difficulties on herself.
In other striking moments in the interview, the couple opened up about the racism which they endured in the palace. While not explicitly stated, the couple implied that racism was what drove them away from the royal family. Meghan, who identifies as bi-racial, was apparently shocked to find out that her son, Archie, would not be given the title of prince, and would therefore be denied security and protection— even though he is the great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II. And in arguably the most shocking moment in the interview, Meghan told Oprah that a member of the royal family came to Harry with concerns over their son’s skin color while she was pregnant.
Meghan’s time in the royal family has always been marked by the racism which she has endured— both in the hands of the public and internally. When the couple officially began dating in 2016, Prince Harry came to the defense of his partner, releasing a public statement that called out the racist and sexist press which Meghan was receiving. Prince Harry has continued to come to her defense, both during their marriage and after the birth of their son Archie.
Throughout the interview Prince Harry spoke candidly about his strained relationship with the rest of his family following their separation from royal duties. However, there seemed to be one person who continued to have his back— the late Princess Diana.
Listening to the prince divulge about his struggles in the royal family, one’s mind moves to the struggles endured by his own mother almost 25 years ago. Prince Harry revealed that he felt an intense connection between his late mother’s struggles with the press and what his wife was going through. “My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” the prince said, referring to the tragic death of his mother back in 1997. Prince Harry believes that it was thanks to his mother that he and his family were finally able to get out. After being completely cut off financially by the royal family, the prince lived off of Diana’s inheritance as they began their lives in Los Angeles. “Touching back on what you asked about what my mum would think of this, I think she saw it coming,” Prince Harry told Oprah. “I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process.”