Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, from left, and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, from left, and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking about expecting their second child during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7 as a two-hour exclusive primetime special on the CBS Television Network. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Prince Harry, left, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaking about expecting their second child during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” airs March 7 as a two-hour exclusive primetime special on the CBS Television Network. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)

In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Harry and Meghan described painful palace discussions about the colour of their son’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led the Duchess of Sussex to contemplate suicide.

The interview with Oprah Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations likely to reverberate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Harry told Winfrey that he felt trapped by royal life and was surprised that he was cut off financially and lost his security last year. He also said he felt his family did not support Meghan, who acknowledged her naivete about royal life before marrying Harry, as she endured tabloid attacks and false stories.

Meghan, who is biracial, described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to incredulously ask “What?”

While Winfrey sat in silence, Meghan said she struggled to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalize” those conversations.

Meghan, the actor formerly known as Meghan Markle who starred in the TV drama “Suits,” said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security.

Meghan said processing everything during her pregnancy was “very hard.” More than the “prince” title, she felt the most troubled over her son’s safety and protection.

“He needs to be safe,” a teary-eyed Meghan recalled. “We’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, whatever it’s going to be. But if you’re saying the title is going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of click bait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”

The interview was broadcast in the United States a full day before it will air in Britain. The revelations aren’t over: Winfrey teased unaired bits of the interview would be shown Monday morning on CBS.

In a rare positive moment in the interview, Harry and Meghan revealed their second would be a girl. The interview opened with Winfrey gushing over Meghan’s pregnancy and lamenting that COVID-19 protocols kept them from hugging.

Winfrey at various points in the interview ran through headlines about Meghan and at one point asked about the mental health impact. Meghan responded that she experienced suicidal thoughts and had sought help through the palace’s human resources department, but was told there was nothing they could do.

“I was really ashamed to say it at the time and a shame to have to admit it to Harry, especially because I know how much loss he suffered,” she said. “But I knew that if I didn’t say it that I would do it. And I just didn’t, I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Harry, too, said there are lasting impacts about Meghan’s treatment and his relationship with his family.

“There is a lot to work through there,” Harry said about his relationship with his father. “I feel really let down. He’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson. I will always love him, but there is a lot of hurt that has happened.”

Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind.

In response to a question from Winfrey, Harry said he wouldn’t have left royal life if not for his wife. He said their relationship revealed the strictures of royal life.

“I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped,” Harry said. “I didn’t see a way out.

“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said, before adding, “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”

Harry acknowledged that he does not have a close relationship presently with his brother William, who is heir to the throne after their father, Prince Charles.

Harry disputed rumours that he intentionally blindsided his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, with his decision to split. He suspects the rumours came from the institution.

“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”

Meghan, too, was complimentary toward the queen, despite saying at one point she realized some in the palace were willing to lie to “protect other members of the family.”

“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.

Sunday’s interview special opened with Meghan describing how naïve she was about the ground rules of royal life before she married her husband, Harry, nearly three years ago. “I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said. She also noted that she did not know how to curtsy before meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, and didn’t realize it would be necessary.

“I will say I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said. “It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.”

Meghan said she and Harry were aligned during their courtship because of their “cause-driven” work. But she did not fully comprehend the pressure of being linked to the prestigious royal family.

“There was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like,” she said. “And it’s so different because I didn’t romanticize any element of it.”

The couple married at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later. Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess.

At the top of the interview, Winfrey said no topic was off limits and that Meghan and Harry were not being paid for the special.

In Britain, the interview is seen as poorly timed. It will air while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip remains hospitalized in London after undergoing a heart procedure.

It is unclear what public reaction, if any, the queen and other royal family members will have to Sunday’s interview. The U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported that the queen would not watch it.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can seek help from the Canada Suicide Prevention Service online at crisisservicescanada.ca. Phone 1-833 456-4566. Text — 45645 (4 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET)

___

Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this report.

Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Royal familyvideo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some bystanders with fire extinguishers helped keep the fire under control. Photo courtesy Suzie Thomas
Bystanders keep fire from spreading near McIvor Lake turnoff

‘Just be vigilant and careful,’ says Campbell River fire chief

The Pier Street Farmers Market will once again take up residence on Sundays from May to Septmber at the parking lot across from the Community Centre in downtown Campbell River for 2021. Mirror File Photo
Pier Street Farmers Market returns to Cedar Street parking lot for 2021

…and it’s hoped that the addition of artisans this year will make it even better

Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Council going ahead with removing Spirit Square stage covering

But mayor acknowledges need for ‘welcoming, warm place with support services’

A small fire on North Rendezvous Island is the first wildfire of the season in the Campbell River area. Officials are asking people to take caution when burning during these dry conditions. BC Wildfire Dashboard
‘Conditions are tricky at the moment’ warns Coastal Fire Centre

Small fire on North Rendezvous Island first of the season for Campbell River area

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read