The Duchess of Sussex says “concerns” were raised about baby Archie’s skin colour before he was born and she had suicidal thoughts during her time in the Royal Family.
In a two-hour interview aired in the US – Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A Primetime Special, the couple made a series of bombshell claims – including Harry saying Prince Charles had at one point stopped taking his calls, and alleging he had been “trapped” in the royal system, “like the rest of my family”.
The couple also discussed racism, with Harry saying it “hurt” that his family did not speak out against articles “with colonial undertones” written about his wife.
Meghan told Winfrey she married into the royals “naively, because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the Royal Family”.
While the couple were respectful of the Queen, with Meghan saying she had “always been wonderful” to her, the interview will no doubt have shocked the Royal Family.
Key points from the bombshell interview
• Meghan revealed she had suicidal thoughts and said: “I just didn’t want to be alive any more”
• The couple alleged a member of the Royal Family raised “concerns” about Archie’s skin colour
• Harry said Prince Charles stopped taking his calls when the couple left the UK
• He denied that he had “blindsided” the Queen with the news the couple were stepping down
• The duke claimed he had been “trapped” in the royal system – “like the rest of my family”
• Meghan denied reports she made Kate cry ahead of her wedding – claiming “the reverse happened”
• The couple revealed they are expecting a girl – and that they were married three days before their big ceremony
• Tennis star Serena Williams and poet Amanda Gorman were among stars posting support for Meghan
In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan announced plans to step back as senior members of the Royal family. In this exclusive clip, they tell @Oprah they were then invited to spend time with his grandmother, the Queen, but the plans abruptly changed citing she’s “busy all week.” pic.twitter.com/dLhq0SAgfN
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) March 8, 2021
Speaking about her pregnancy with baby Archie, Meghan claimed the Royal Family did not want him to be a prince or offer him security.
Asked why by Winfrey, she said there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.
Winfrey asked if her son being “too brown” would be a problem, to which Meghan replied: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one”.
Under rules set down by George V, Archie cannot be a prince because he is too far removed from the line of sucession, but he will be entitled to become a HRH or prince when Prince Charles takes the throne.
Sky News will air a special programme, Harry & Meghan: The Royal Rift, at 7pm tonight
However, she declined to say who raised the concerns, saying that would be “very damaging to them”.
She added: “That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations the family had with him, and I think it was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.”
Meghan also told Winfrey she struggled with her mental health due to the intense pressures of being in the Royal Family, and that she had suicidal thoughts. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more,” she said.
“And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember, I remember how [Harry] just cradled me and I was… I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
Meghan revealed she is “haunted” by a photograph of herself at a red carpet event at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2019, which the couple attended just after she had the conversation with Harry.
“A friend said, ‘I know you don’t look at pictures, but oh my god, you guys look so great’, and sent it to me,” the duchess said. “I zoomed in and what I saw was the truth of what that moment was, because right before we had to leave for that, I had just had that conversation with Harry that morning.”
Meghan said Harry suggested she did not attend the event, but that she did not want to be left alone.
‘I was weeping’
“And we went. And that picture, if you zoom in, what I see is how tightly his knuckles are gripped around me. You can see the whites of our knuckles because we are smiling and doing our job, but we are both just trying to hold on.
“Every time those lights went down in that royal box, I was just weeping.
“[Harry] was gripping my hand and it was, ‘Okay an intermission’s coming, the lights are about to come on, everyone’s looking at us again’ … and you had to just be ‘on’ again.
“You have no idea what’s going on for someone behind closed doors. You’ve no idea. Even the people that smile the biggest smiles and shine the brightest lights, it seems.”
The duchess was also asked about headlines written about her and the Duchess of Cambridge, including one story alleging Meghan made Kate cry.
“The reverse happened,” Meghan told Winfrey, later clarifying that Kate had “really hurt my feelings” a few days before the wedding, but that she had apologised and is “a good person”.
It was not a “confrontation” and it would not be “fair” to Kate to go into detail, she said, but added that it was “hard to get over” being blamed for something she did not do.
‘It’s a girl’
“Everyone in the institution knew that wasn’t true,” she continued, and said she hoped Kate “would have wanted that to be corrected”.
Asked if she thinks there was a separate standard for her and Kate, and if so why, Meghan said: “I don’t know why. I can see now what layers were at play there.
“And again they really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.”
Meghan, who is pregnant with her second child, spoke to Winfrey on her own at the beginning of the chat, with Harry joining for the second half – with the couple revealing together that they are having a girl.
Asked by Winfrey why they chose to step down from their roles as senior royals, Harry said: “Lack of support. And lack of understanding.”
Harry denied that he “blindsided” the Queen with the news, saying he has “too much respect” for his grandmother, and said they have a good relationship.
Asking for help
However, he said that his father, Prince Charles, had “stopped taking my calls” at one point when he left the UK.
Asked about the “tipping point” which led to the couple leaving, Harry said he was “desperate”.
He continued: “I went to all the places which I thought I should go to, to ask for help – we both did, separately and together.”
Winfrey asked: “You left because you were asking for help, and didn’t get it?”
Harry replied: “Yeah. Basically. But we never left.” Meghan added: “We never left the family.”
The programme started with clips from the couple’s wedding, which the Duchess of Sussex described as an “out-of-body experience” – and revealed that the couple were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before the formal ceremony.
Both said that Meghan felt welcomed initially, but things changed later on.
‘I was trapped’
Harry told Winfrey he feels “really let down” by the Prince of Wales “because he’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like, [and] Archie’s his grandson.
“But at the same time – I will always love him – but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.
“But they only know what they know, or what they’re told.”
Asked whether he would have stepped down from his role if not for Meghan, Harry said “no”.
He continued: “I myself was trapped. I didn’t see a way out. I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped.”
Winfrey pushed Harry to explain, to which he replied: “Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave.”
Angry and sad
Harry said he has “huge compassion” for their circumstances. Asked by Winfrey what his mother, Diana, would say if she was alive, Harry said: “I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out, and very sad.”
Speaking about his relationship with his brother, William, Harry said that at the moment it is “space”.
The interview aired as Prince Philip, 99, recovers in hospital from a heart procedure, prompting critics to say it should have been delayed out of respect.
Viewers in the UK will be able to watch the programme on ITV at 9pm tonight.
‘What we saw last night was extreme’
“This was so heavily hyped, and you know why, because it is one of the most anticipated interviews in recent years,” said Sky’s royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills.
“But it certainly was more explosive than I was anticipating. When you have those allegations about race – suggestions that members of the family were asking about Archie’s skin before he was even born.
“I think also suggestions that Meghan at times felt so stifled, so trapped by the institution that she felt suicidal and yet she went to people with in the palace and said ‘Can I go for help?’ and they said ‘No it won’t be good for the image’.
“I think all of these are allegations that the palace cannot simply roll out that mantra ‘never complain, never explain’.”
Mills said she had spoken to people within the palace last week who said it would take something pretty extreme for them to change that line of “no comment”.
She added: “I think what we saw last night was extreme.”
‘A big one for Americans to digest’
Sky US correspondent Greg Milam watched the interview as it aired in America.
“We watched with a couple of women, African-American women, and there was a gasp when they heard, particularly that discussion about conversations and concerns about how dark baby Archie’s skin might have been when he was born,” he said.
“Bearing in mind the conversation about race in the US, you can see how incendiary that sort of discussion would be viewed here in America and some of the reaction to that particular issue would suggest that.
“It’s created a lot of anger and a demand for answers from the palace, even from here in America.”
He cited reaction from Meghan’s friend Serena Williams and the poet made famous at Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman.
Milam said: “An Oprah moment on a Sunday night on primetime TV is a big one for Americans to digest.”
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK