Oprah Winfrey’s well-advertised interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, at last aired on Sunday night — and it was as revealing as the commercials promised it would be.
In January 2020, Harry and Markle announced their decision to step down as working members of the royal family, following several years of intensely negative media portrayal — particularly against Markle — that also prompted speculation about the couple’s relationship with other members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II.
Earlier this month, Markle became the subject of new allegations that claim she bullied members of her staff while part of the royal family. The Queen has since called for an investigation into the claims, while a spokesperson for Markle said the Duchess is “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself.”
Winfrey’s conversation with Harry and Markle was filmed before those allegations came to light, thus, they weren’t discussed in the interview. But the extremely candid Q&A was filled with other stunning revelations about Markle’s experience with the royal family, and the emotional upheaval she and Harry experienced in recent years. Read on for the evening’s biggest bombshells:
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* Before the interview got into heavier territory, Markle reflected on the day she married Prince Harry — which was not the day that nearly two billion people watched her walk down the aisle at Windsor Castle. Rather, unbeknownst to most, she and Harry exchanged vows in a private ceremony several days earlier, with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding over their union.
* Several months after the Duke and Duchess got married, tabloid headlines began to circulate that claimed Markle made Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge (and Markle’s new sister-in-law), cry in the days leading up to the wedding ceremony, due to an issue regarding the flower girls’ dresses. But, as Markle divulged to Winfrey, “The reverse happened.” The flower girls’ dresses had indeed been a point of contention, she said, but it was Middleton who made Markle cry, and not the other way around.
Per Markle, Middleton apologized for her actions, and Markle forgave her, but she remained concerned about why “the institution” — as Markle referred to Buckingham Palace and the people associated with it during the interview — didn’t step in to correct the false narrative being portrayed in the media.
* Upon learning that Markle was pregnant with her first child, members of the institution allegedly informed her and Prince Harry that their son or daughter would not be made a prince or princess — which would be a curious breaking of protocol for new members of the royal family. What’s more, the couple was told that their child would not have physical security, which concerned Markle greatly given the intense negative treatment she’d been receiving. Per Markle, no explanations were given for the lack of a royal title or a lack of security for baby Archie.
* According to Markle, during her first pregnancy, at least one member of the institution expressed concerns about how dark her baby’s skin would be. (Markle is biracial.) She did not, however, name the person who brought that up to her, explaining that it would be quite “damaging” to that person to identify him or her. Relatedly, after Archie was born, no one asked Markle and Harry to take the traditional photos with their newborn outside the hospital, Markle said.
* In one of the interview’s most sobering moments, Markle shared with Winfrey that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore” at the height of the public scrutiny against her, and she admitted to having suicidal thoughts that she described as “methodical” and very unlike herself; it was this emotional low that ultimately prompted her and Harry’s decision to step down as working members of the royal family. In fact, as Markle shared, she went to a senior member of the institution to ask for some kind of help with the anguish she was experiencing and was told that none could be given, as it would harm the institution. She said she had a similar experience with human resources, which said that Markle could not receive help because she wasn’t a paid member of the institution.
* Just when everyone needed a little levity, the Duke and Duchess provided some: They’re having a girl!
* Once Harry joined the interview, he had more light to shed on the uncomfortable family dynamics surrounding his and Markle’s choice to step down. During that time, his father — Prince Charles — stopped taking his calls, and he and Markle were cut off financially by the royal family in early 2020; they supported themselves with the inheritance Harry got from his late mother, Princess Diana. (“I think she saw it coming,” Harry said of his mother’s financial support.)
At the time of the interview, Harry and Prince Charles had gotten back on speaking terms, but Harry admitted he felt “really let down” by his father’s response to the turmoil. “There’s a lot of hurt that’s happened,” he said. “I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”
* Harry also went so far as to say he was “trapped” by the royal institution, confirming that he would likely have never stepped back from the royal family if it hadn’t been for Markle. “I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” he shared. “Trapped within the system. My father and my brother — they are trapped. They don’t get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.”
* When asked if she had any regrets about the events of recent years, Markle said she had one: “Believing them when they said I would be protected.”
And while this interview was airing, Netflix’s The Crown won Best Drama Series at the Critics’ Choice Awards, which was bizarre on an entirely new level.
What did you think of Sunday’s tell-all interview?