The royal family rift was just made public in the CBS broadcast of Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A Primetime Special aired Sunday night, March 7, and, according to the duke and duchess of Sussex, the reason behind Megxit was racism and the family not being there for them.
The two-hour tell-all featured Meghan Markle for the first half and then the couple came together for the final sixty minutes. Talk show hostess veteran Oprah Winfrey asked Meghan what she expected when she decided to marry royalty. “I can say I went into it naively,” the former actress stated, adding she never did any research on her husband-to-be or her in-laws. “There was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like.”
The Media and ‘Character Assassination’
The duchess painted a picture of marked differences in the way she was treated compared to her sister-in-law Kate Middleton before marrying her prince. The “turning point” Meghan said, which allegedly opened her eyes to how differently she was going to be treated – by both the family and the media – was when the tabloids blasted a story saying she had made Kate cry because of issues with the flower girls’ dresses a few days before her official wedding to Prince Harry (the couple actually had a private ceremony three days before the royal affair). Instead, the opposite was true the duchess of Sussex claimed, telling Oprah that Kate had made her cry, but then later brought her flowers and apologized for it. However, that “was the beginning of a character assassination,” Meghan said, referring to the media.
Cut to images of newspaper headlines flashed across the screen. Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, was seen holding her baby bump, which the press praised, but the other duchess did not receive such warmth. One headline read, “Why can’t Meghan keep her hands off her baby bump” while asking if it was pride or vanity that had her touching her belly.
Silent or Silenced?
Oprah asked the duchess “Were you silent or silenced?” to which Meghan responded, “The latter.” She talked about giving up everything to be with Harry, including her independence. “That was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything got worse,” she claimed. But she said she had not expected the life of royalty to be so restricted and said the public would understand it because they have been experiencing something similar due to the pandemic lockdown.
The media, however, was a challenge, Meghan said, especially because the family and the royal institution would not protect them. “They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they were not willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband,” the duchess complained. The situation became so severe that Meghan contemplated suicide, saying her life was “almost unsurvivable” and “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” The institution denied her request for mental health assistance and Prince Harry admitted he was too ashamed to go to his family with Meghan’s condition.
Racism in the Family
Meghan, who is of mixed race, said when she became pregnant questions arose about the child and what color skin it might have. The duchess admitted she never really heard the conversation directly, that it was only relayed to her through Harry. When questioned about such talk by Oprah, the prince answered, “That conversation, I’m never going to share.”
It was apparent that racism was a factor, Meghan claimed, since for whatever reason it was decided that the baby, Archie, would not carry the title of prince and he was not to receive security like the other royals. “The idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled” in the same way was shocking and hurtful, she said.*
Lack of protection from the media and the treatment of Archie led the royal couple to make the decision to step back from family duties. Both claim they did not intend to leave the family all together, but that they needed to, as Harry said, “Take a breath from constant barrage” because the prince feared that history was repeating itself, referring to his mother Princess Diana and her tragic death. “I think she [Diana] would feel very angry with how this has panned out,” Harry said.
Once leaving the United Kingdom, Harry said the family cut them off from security details while the whole world knew where they were living. Without the money Diana left for him, the prince said he would not have been able to survive financially and that agreeing to interviews and television was only to provide security for his family. “Netflix and Spotify, that was never part of the plan,” he claimed.
Leaving royal duties behind was liberating for the prince who stated, “I myself was trapped as well.” He added, “I was trapped, and I didn’t know I was trapped. Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are.”
The duke and duchess claim to have a great relationship with the queen, but that the relationship between Harry and his brother, Prince William, needed “space,” while it was a work in progress with his father, Prince Charles.
When asked if they were concerned about repercussions from the family over the interview, Meghan replied: “I don’t know how they could expect that after all this time we would still be silent.” As for any regrets, the duchess only had one: “My regret is believing them when they said we’d be protected.”
*Royal titles are usually reserved for the line of the first-born child, meaning Prince William’s family. Archie, however, is 7th in line for the throne.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.
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