Meghan and Harry on racism, suicide and walking away in their bombshell interview with Oprah

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey.
Photo: Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese via Getty Im
  • Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss everything from racism within the royal family to Charles and William cutting them off after their exit from the firm.
  • Oprah with Meghan and Harry aired on CBS in the US on Sunday, and in South Africa on Monday. Watch the repeat on Saturday, 13 March at 16:00 on M-Net (DStv 101).
  • Here, Channel24 Royal Editor Bashiera Parker breaks down the key moments from Harry and Meghan's interview.

It's been a whirlwind year for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The couple, who stepped down from royal duties in January 2020 following intense pressure from the UK tabloid press, has since moved to the US and set up a new life with their son, Archie. Harry and Meghan have remained silent for the most part but controversy continued to follow them.

In an unprecedented move, the couple, who was officially cut off from the royal family on 22 February, sat down with US talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

In Oprah with Meghan and Harry, the Duchess of Sussex said: "As an adult who lived a really independent life, to then go into this construct – that is different than I think what people imagine it to be – it's really liberating to be able to have the right, and the privilege in some ways, to be able to say, 'Yes, I'm ready to talk'."

Here, we break down the key moments from Harry and Meghan's interview.

"You've said some pretty shocking things here," Oprah said in the no-holds-barred interview. They discuss racism within the royal family, Meghan and Kate's very real feud, the duchess wrestling with suicidal thoughts and Harry revealing his family financially cut him off.

The real reason Archie didn't receive a title

There's been much speculation as to why Archie didn't get a title from the queen. It was thought Harry and Meghan declined a title for the royal born on 6 May 2019. But Meghan said in the interview: "They didn't want him to be a prince or princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and (said) that he wasn't going to receive security.

"In those months when I was pregnant... we have in tandem the conversation of, you won't be given security, not gonna be given a title and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born."

Meghan didn't share the name of the person within the firm who had those concerns. "I think that would be very damaging to them," she said.

Prince Harry, who later joined the interview, added: "That's a conversation I am never going to share. I'm not comfortable sharing that."

Meghan on considering suicide

While Meghan was pregnant with Archie, she said she wrestled with suicidal thoughts.

"I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember how he [Harry] just cradled me."

The 39-year-old, who is expecting her second child – a girl, she shared with the talk show host – is embroiled in an HR scandal from 2018, which resurfaced days before the interview. Meghan said she went to seniors in the institution to ask for help – just as Diana did.

"I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said, 'my heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there's nothing we can do to protect you because you're not a paid employee of the institution'. This wasn't a choice. This was emails and begging for help, saying very specifically I am concerned for my mental welfare."

Asked if she was thinking of harming herself or was having suicidal thoughts, she said: "Yes. This was very, very clear... and very scary."

With regards to the media scrutiny, Prince Harry later said: "My biggest concern was history repeating itself, and I've said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself, but more perhaps more definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in, and you add social media and when I'm talking about history repeating itself I'm talking about my mother."

Meghan Markle, Oprah Winfrey
Meghan Markle speaks to Oprah Winfrey.

Harry on whether he told his family about his plans to step away

"I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?" Prince Harry said of his plans, prior to stepping away from the firm.

Asked why Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls, he said: "By that point, I took matters into my own hands, it was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's got to this point, but I've got to do something for my own mental health, my wife's and for Archie's as well."

Meghan on her feud with Kate Middleton, and a newspaper story that she made her cry over flower girls' dresses

"That was a turning point." Meghan said: "The reverse happened. A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something, pertaining to... the flower girl dresses, and it made me cry. And it really hurt my feelings."

She added: "There wasn't a confrontation and... I don't think it's fair to her to get into the details of that because she apologised, and I've forgiven her. What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do, but that happened to me."

'Were you silent or were you silenced?'

"The latter. Everyone in my world was given a very clear directive from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating to always say no comment," Meghan responded to Oprah, before adding that she believed she was being protected by the royal institution.

"It was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family. But they weren't willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband."

Asked if she was not supported by the powers that be, she said: "There's the family and then there's the people that are running the institution. Those are two separate things and it's important to be able to compartmentalise that because the queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me."

Would Harry have stepped away from the royal family had it not been for Meghan?

"The answer to your question is no," Harry said. "I wouldn't have been able to because I myself was trapped.

"I was trapped but I didn't know I was trapped. Like the rest of my family are, my father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave and I have huge compassion for that."

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey.

Meghan on allegations that she had manipulated the whole situation

"Can you imagine how little sense that makes? I left my career, my life, I left everything because I love him, and our plan was to do this forever."

Meghan said on her wedding day it felt like "an out-of-body experience". "I think we were both really aware, even in advance of that, this wasn't our day, this was the day that was planned for the world," she said, revealing they'd gotten married in secret days before.

"I will say I went into it naively because I didn't grow up knowing much about the royal family," Meghan said.

Oprah with Meghan and Harry aired on CBS in the US on Sunday, and in South Africa on Monday. Watch the repeat on Saturday, 13 March at 16:00 on M-Net (DStv 101).

"Greater than any fairy tale that you've ever read," said Meghan during the bombshell interview, "I think [Harry] saved all of us. He ultimately called it. He made a decision that saved my life and saved all of us. But you need to want to be saved."

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) can be reached at 0800 21 22 23 or 0800 456 789 24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

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