By Maler Suresh and Thza Kanapathipillai
The Royal Interview has been deemed “explosive,” “eye- opening,” and “shocking.” Others believe the interview to be a selfish manipulation of the facts, staged to harm the royal family’s image. Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, coaxed revelation after revelation from the couple. Among them:
The pressures of performing Royal duties and maintaining the Royal image led Markle to have suicidal thoughts.
Markle revealed that she considered suicide while pregnant with her son Archie. The life of an upper member of the Royal family was extremely isolating and lonely, especially for Markle, who was under intense, and largely racist and misogynistic, media scrutiny. “I thought it would have solved everything for everyone” said Markle in regards to her suicidal thoughts. Markle also told Winfrey of how she approached a senior member of the royal family for help, only to be rebuffed with the reasoning that it would be “bad for the institution.” She didn’t tell Harry of the dark place she was in until she felt it absolutely necessary. “I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry…” she said, “But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore, and that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.” In the interview, Harry spoke about going to a dark place as well. “I wanted to be there for her,” he said. From the royal institution, Meghan and Harry received no support, and they missed their opportunity to not only uplift the couple from the brink of self-harm, but, as Harry tells Winfrey, “there was an opportunity, many opportunities, for my family to show some public support” to those people who see themselves in Meghan’s struggle.
Markle was subject to racist attacks and questioning by the media and the Royal family.
The tabloid coverage by the British media has relentlessly gone after Markle, which of course is racially motivated, especially when compared to the media coverage of Kate Middleton or the other royals. The racist harassment and misogyny from the press has put blame on Markle for every possible thing, whether it be her features, fashion, pregnancy, and every move she makes. Reporters like Piers Morgan also argue that it is not racist to talk about Markle’s “exotic DNA”, while blatantly disregarding the colonial roots of these terms. As discussed in the interview, there were even concerns about the skin color of her child by the Royal family and the press. Her own child would not be given the title of prince and would be denied security protection, which concerned Markle because of the racial harassment she has experienced ever since becoming a royal.
Prince Harry felt “let down” and “trapped” by his family.
When asked if he would have stepped back from royal duties had he not met Meghan, Prince Harry honestly answered that he would not have. “I was trapped,” he said, “but I didn’t know I was trapped.” Speaking about his father and brother, Harry said, “They don’t get to leave” and he has “huge compassion for that.” Later adding, “They only know what they know, and that’s the thing: I’ve tried to educate them through the process I have been educated.” Prince Harry is making it his priority to heal the relationship between him and his father, who is once again taking his calls. However, there has been a lot of hurt on both sides. Referring to the way the media relentlessly attacked his mother, Princess Diana, Harry says, “I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar.” Regardless, Prince Harry emphasized the love he has for his father and brother although they may be “on different paths.”
The Royal family made no attempts to redeem Markle in the eyes of the public or the media.
When it came to saving face, the Royal family were more willing to lie to protect other members of the Royal family, but were not willing to protect Meghan and Harry with the truth. The Palace did not provide support for Meghan when she was facing racial harassment from the media, and when she was going through serious mental health issues that left her feeling suicidal. In addition to these issues, when Meghan and Harry stepped back from royal duties, they had been cut off financially and had no security. The money that Harry has is what Princess Diana had left for him, and with Harry and Meghan stepping away as working Royals, they were worried for their safety because of the threats Meghan had received and with no security detail. Harry has spoken about an “invisible contract” between the family and tabloid press, where there is this power structure controlled by the fear of the tabloids.
The couple has been cut off financially.
As members of the royal family, Meghan and Harry should have been earning money each year in exchange for carrying out official engagements. However, Harry notes that “There was some real obvious signs” before the couple even married that this financial support might not come easily, including suggestions that Meghan continue acting “because there wasn’t enough money to pay for her.” At the beginning of 2020, when the couple moved to the United States, Harry says they were “literally cut off financially.” Their life in the States is supported by money Princess Diana left for her son “without that,” Harry says, “we would not have been able to do this.”
Responses to the interview from the Royal family have been unfulfilling at best. The short statement released from Buckingham Palace effectively says that the Royal family has no plans of instituting long-term solutions for the prevention of racism or offering help to maintain mental health. The Royal family has addressed in the statement that the issues raised, “are taken very seriously” and “will be addressed by the family privately”. Prince William has also responded to the press that the Royal family is “very much not a racist family.” That one line statement is already problematic considering that Prince William cannot account for the whole family when discussing the issue of race especially since Meghan Markle has experienced racism by the institution.
The Royal interview is more than a recounting of family drama. It shows the normalization of racism and the taboo around mental health that still exists in some of the highest institutions. Buckingham Palace should implement solutions to alleviate the pressures of Royal life, and they should be willing to actively prevent history from repeating itself.