A year after Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a fairytale wedding, she said in an interview broadcast on Sunday night, her life as a member of the British royal family had become so emotionally unbearable that she was considering suicide.
At another point, family members told Meghan, a former biracial American actress, and Harry that they did not want the couple’s unborn child to be a prince or a princess and expressed concerns about to the dark color of the baby’s skin.
The revelations, made in a long-awaited CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey, were the most inflammatory of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, 39, who married at the Windsor home and discovered less of a fairy tale than what she described as cruel. loss of his freedom and identity.
“I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry,” Meghan said of her suicidal thoughts. “I knew if I didn’t say it, I would. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.
She said that although her husband was deeply concerned about her condition – firmly shaking her hand at public events – her efforts to seek medical help were rejected by palace officials, who were concerned about the impact on the institution. She described herself as some kind of prisoner in Kensington Palace.
“I couldn’t just call an Uber at the palace,” she says.
Meghan did not say which family member raised questions about her baby’s skin color, nor did it fully explain why the royal family did not automatically plan to confer a royal title, which would have ensured the safety of the child.
Other revelations were less revealing. Her sister-in-law, Kate, she said, brought her to tears in a clash over the flower girls’ dresses, rather than the other way around as had been widely reported. One of Meghan’s assistants said she shouldn’t go out to lunch with friends because she was overexposed, even though she had only left her residence twice in four months.
And Harry and Meghan have announced the happiest news that their second child, due this summer, will be a girl.
Meghan, her baby bump clearly visible, spoke casually and humorously about her first encounters with her future in-laws. She described learning to curtsy moments before being introduced to Queen Elizabeth II and insisted she knew nothing of what was to be expected of her as a serving royal .
“I haven’t done any research on what that would mean,” she says. “I have never searched for my husband online.”
For an American audience who took advantage of the palace plot depicted in the popular Netflix series “The Crown,” it was the equivalent of a juicy bonus episode. For the royal family, already concerned about the hospitalization of their patriarch Prince Philip, it was a painful reminder, a year after Harry and Meghan turned their backs on royal life, that the wounds of this rupture have not yet healed.
On both sides of the Atlantic, it was the most anticipated royal interview since Harry’s mother Princess Diana told the BBC in 1995 that “there were three of us in this marriage”, referring to her husband, Prince Charles, and her extramarital. relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he later married.
Like Meghan, Diana was a glamorous foreigner who brought a shower of stars to the Windsor home when she married Charles, only to become deeply unhappy within the confines of royal life. Unlike Meghan, her marriage fell apart amid competing allegations of infidelity, and as she spoke to the BBC reporter, Martin bashir, she said the palace viewed her as a “threat of some kind.”
A living bookend from her turbulent years in the royal family, Diana’s interview was a pop-cultural moment that drew one of the greatest British viewers in history, lived in parodies on “Saturday Night Live “and deepened the media’s unfathomable thirst for all things Diana. Two years later, she was dead in Paris, the victim of a car accident after a high-speed chase with photographers.
Harry brought up this tragedy with Ms Winfrey, saying of his wife’s recurring clashes with the tabloid press: “My biggest concern was that history repeats itself. He has long blamed reporters for his mother’s death and said one of the reasons the couple moved to California was to escape the media’s incessant scrutiny.
And yet the couple were seated there, in comfortable wicker outdoor chairs, in front of a low round table, perhaps the most recognizable television host in the country. Ms. Winfrey’s list of celebrity interviews includes Michael Jackson, Barack Obama, Kim Kardashian, and Donald J. Trump – and she is known to consider few things off-limits (in 1993, she asked an un-excited Mr. Jackson if he was a virgin). .
Meghan, however, presented the interview as a chance to reclaim her own narrative, after a period where she claims her reputation has been distorted by Hungry tabloid press feeds diet of lies by jealous courtiers of the palace.
Even Meghan’s wardrobe choice seemed calculated to telegraph the message of a fresh start. Her elegant black dress, designed by Giorgio Armani, featured a striking lotus flower motif that her staff said symbolized renewal and the will to live. She also wore a diamond tennis bracelet that once belonged to Diana.
But the couple’s efforts to revive their public image have not gone unchallenged at home. In the days leading up to the show, new allegations surfaced that Meghan had intimidated by members of its staff, reduce subordinate aides to tears and kick two personal assistants out of the palace. Meghan has dismissed the allegations as character assassination, while Buckingham Palace has said it will look into them.
“What is going on is an important struggle for control of the narrative,” said Peter Hunt, a former BBC royal correspondent. “What is our judgment on why Harry and Meghan left the royal family?” Do we take two hours from Oprah or do we believe these accusations of bullying? “
Meghan has no shortage of defenders. Patrick J. Adams, an actor who worked with her on the “Suits” television series, described her on Twitter last week as having “a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic.” The royal family, said Adams, has been “obscene” to promote bullying charges against them.
Critics have long detected a whiff of racism in the way some people react to Meghan, a biracial professional woman who had divorced before meeting Harry. Although initially delighted in their coverage of the couple, UK tabloids turned on them, posting unflattering stories about how they flew in carbon-emitting private jets and restricted access to their new son -born, Archie.
Some also point to the hypocrisy of Buckingham Palace investigating allegations of bullying against Meghan when Prince Andrew, the Queen’s second son and Harry’s uncle, refused to speak to US authorities about sex trafficking allegations by her late friend, the convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. .
While UK newspapers covered every conceivable angle of the interview, some made it clear that there were limits to the interest it generated. The Sunday Times in London reported that the Queen herself did not intend to watch the program, which is quite predictable as it will air after midnight London time. It will be broadcast Monday evening on the UK network ITV.
Others in Britain have tried to downplay its importance, pointing out that there are other more important things in the country: Schools are due to reopen on Monday and the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine continues at full speed. At least one prominent British leader has said he has no intention of standing.
“Of course I’m interested in all kinds of things all over the world,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday when asked about Harry and Meghan. “I think it’s pretty late in our time so I’m probably going to miss it.”
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the United States at 1-800-273-8255 (SPEAK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.