Meghan and Harry Oprah interview live: Harry feels 'really let down' by Prince Charles
Highly anticipated prime time two-hour special with Duke and Duchess of Sussex airs as transatlantic public relations war mounts
Meghan and Harry interview: what we learned
- Meghan said that she reached a point where she “just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very real and clear and frightening and constant thought.”
- Meghan said that Harry was asked by family how dark Archie’s skin might be. Oprah asked Meghan why they didn’t want to make Archie a prince. In the months leading up to Archie’s birth, there were not only conversations about how he would not be given a title, and there would not be security, but also about how dark her baby’s skin might be and “what that would mean or look like,” says Meghan. The conversation was had between Harry and a member or members of his family. It was relayed to her by Harry. Neither Meghan nor Harry would say who the conversation was with.
- Harry said Diana would be “angry and sad” at how things worked out. Oprah asked what Harry thought Diana would say about the couple stepping back. “I think she would feel very angry and sad at how this all panned out. But I think all she would ever want would be for us to be happy.”
- Harry has been cut off financially since the first half of 2020. The only money he has, besides extremely lucrative deals with companies including Netflix, is what was left to him by Princess Diana.
- Prince Charles at one point stopped taking Harry’s calls, but the pair are now speaking again. Harry says he still feels “really let down” by Prince Charles.
- It’s a girl. The couple are due to welcome a baby girl to the world some time later in the US summer. This will be their last child, they said.
- Meghan and Harry were married three days before royal wedding. Three days before the royal wedding, Meghan and Harry got married, just them and the priest. “Nobody knows this,” said Meghan.
Meghan and Harry Oprah interview: couple claims concerns were voiced about Archie's skin colour
Extraordinary interview paints picture of ongoing rift with the royal family, with claims the palace failed to protect the Duke and Duchess
Prince Harry and Meghan have described in explosive terms their relationship with the royal household in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Mon 8 Mar 2021 03.55 GMT
Prince Harry and Meghan have told Oprah Winfrey there were conversations in the royal family about the skin colour of their son Archie before his birth, a damning allegation that will send shockwaves through the institution and send relations with the palace to a new low.
In the extraordinary interview, the Duchess of Sussex said her time after becoming a royal was “almost unsurvivable” and she had suicidal thoughts. She claimed that the royal household did not allow her to seek help for her mental health. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very real and clear and frightening and constant thought.”
She agreed with Oprah that she had been “silenced” from the moment she started dating Prince Harry, that her staff were told to respond to all questions with “no comment” despite the early intense media pressure. She said they were not allowed to defend her.
Meghan said she was not told why Archie wouldn’t be offered security protection. She also said that Harry told her there had been conversations about how dark her baby’s skin might be and “what that would mean or look like”.
“In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so 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,” she said. Harry said he had been “shocked” by conversation but refused to reveal more details.
Harry – who also revealed they are due to have a girl in the summer – said his family had never taken the opportunity, as MPs had done, to criticise the press for the “colonial undertones” of the early coverage of his relationship with Meghan.
The prince ascribed this to the palace’s fear of the tabloid press, which led to him feeling “trapped within the system”. He said he had “compassion” for Prince Charles and Prince William, who were in the same situation, constrained by the “invisible contract” in which journalists are courted in return for favourable coverage.
Both Meghan and Harry spoke in glowing terms of the Queen. Meghan described her personal warmth – offering to share blanket to keep her legs warm – and Harry joked that he had spoken to his “commander in chief” more in the past year than for many years.
But Harry spoke of a breakdown in his relationship with his father, saying at one point Charles stopped taking his calls to discuss their separation from the royal family. Harry made clear they are now speaking again. “There’s a lot to work through,” Harry said. “I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like.”
Meghan also rejected tabloid press reports that claims she had made Kate cry in a much-publicised row over bridesmaids’ dressed before their 2018 wedding. She confirmed a dispute took place, but said Kate had made her cry, and had subsequently apologised and sent her flowers. She refused to reveal more details. But, she said: “The narrative of making Kate cry was the beginning of character assassination.”
The couple’s comments come at the end of an acrimonious week between them and Buckingham Palace. On Wednesday, allegations were made that Meghan had bullied two personal assistants out of Sussexes’ household and undermined the confidence of a third staff member.
A spokesperson for the couple dismissed the claims as a “calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation” but the palace said it would investigate the allegations.
CBS has released a trickle of brief clips from the Winfrey interview, notably Harry’s fear of Diana’s “history repeating itself” and Meghan suggesting the palace was playing an “active role” in “perpetuating falsehoods about us”.
Shortly before the screening of Sunday’s interview, the Queen spoke of the importance of “dedication to duty” in a television address.
In the pre-recorded message at a Commonwealth day service in Westminster Abbey – the event where last year Meghan and Harry made their last appearance before giving up royal duties – the Queen praised those across the Commonwealth who had put others first during the pandemic.
“Whilst experiences of the last year have been different across the Commonwealth, stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory,” she said.
“The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others,” she added.
The issue of service and duty became a point of contention after Meghan and Harry severed ties and gave up their roles as senior royals. They said in a statement last month: “We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Last month, Buckingham Palace said the couple had confirmed they would not “continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service”.
The Sunday Times said the Queen would not watch the interview and reported the palace would respond only if individual members were attacked in the interview.
Ahead of the Queen’s address, other senior royals – Prince Charles, Camilla, Prince William and and Kate – paid tribute to the world’s frontline workers during the Covid outbreak in a series of special video clips.
A Raw Look Behind Palace Doors as Meghan and Harry Meet With Oprah: Live Updates
In a two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle made dramatic disclosures, including that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark” her son’s skin might be.
What We Learned From Meghan and Harry’s Interview
The Sussexes accused the royal family of failing to protect them, both emotionally and financially.
Sarah Lyall Tariro Mzezewa
By Sarah Lyall and Tariro Mzezewa
March 8, 2021
Updated 3:12 a.m. ET
Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, had been teased for days. So it was a shock to find when it aired Sunday night that it included a number of explosive revelations about the couple and their fraught relationship with the British royal family.
Here are the main takeaways:
Meghan said that life as a royal had made her suicidal.
Over the years, Harry has openly discussed mental health, grief and other issues that, in the past, were taboo coming from a royal. But audiences have rarely heard Meghan talk about her own mental health, with the exception of a 2020 article in The New York Times’s Opinion section about her miscarriage.
One of the most revelatory moments of the CBS interview broadcast on Sunday night came when Meghan talked about contemplating suicide while living and working as a member of the British royal family.
“I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry,” she said of her suicidal thoughts. “I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Meghan said that at one point she asked a senior royal about the possibility of seeking inpatient care, and was told that would not be possible because it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
The interview provided a reminder that Harry and Meghan weren’t afraid to talk about the mental health challenges they have dealt with, and their responses to Ms. Winfrey’s questions underscored a message they seemed keen to send to the world: In some capacity or another, they will continue doing work similar to what they were doing as members of the royal family.
Ultimately, hearing Meghan talk about navigating life in the palace with Harry as the sole source of support confirmed something that has seeped its way into news coverage of the couple over the past year: They say they did not receive adequate support from Harry’s family when they were struggling and seeking assistance.
She was subjected to relentless racist attacks.
From the beginning, the couple said, the tabloids were vicious to Meghan, making unabashedly racist comments about her. The question of her race also infused her relationship with the royal family, the couple said. They believed it might have been a factor in the family’s decision not to grant their son, Archie, a title or to provide security protection for him.
In one of the most shocking moments in the interview, Meghan mentioned a conversation Harry had with a member of the royal household while she was pregnant with their firstborn.
“We have in tandem the conversation of ‘He won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title’ and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” Meghan said.
Harry said that someone had expressed worry about, as he put it, “what will the kids look like?”
Britain’s children minister, Vicky Ford, said in response that such comments were unacceptable. “There is absolutely no place for racism in our society,” she said in an interview with Sky News.
Of his father, Harry said, ‘I feel really let down.’
One of the most memorable moments of Harry and Meghan’s wedding is the image of Prince Charles, Harry’s father, walking Meghan down the aisle and Harry saying to his father, “Thank you, Pa.”
The moment earned Charles supporters around the globe for appearing to be a loving father and father-in-law who was taking in his new daughter-in-law at a moment when her own father wasn’t showing up for her.
How things have changed.
It was striking to hear Harry describe his father as not taking his phone calls and asking him to put things into writing when he and Meghan were weighing taking a step back from their roles as senior royals. Harry later said that Charles was now taking his calls again, but that “there’s a lot to work through there.”
“I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar,” Harry said, referring to the way the news media had hounded his mother, Princess Diana.
Prince William was barely mentioned in the interview, but when he did come up, Harry said that their “relationship is space, at the moment.”
More than once, both Harry and Meghan drew distinctions between the queen and the rest of the royal family. They told stories of interacting with her during their time in London and after stepping back from their roles as senior royals. There was a decipherable shift in tone, however, when discussing others, particularly William; his wife, Kate Middleton; and Charles.
The royal family failed to correct the false narrative around her, Meghan said.
The tabloid stories came one after the other, Meghan said: About her diva-like behavior, about how she had bullied her staff, about her supposed rift with her sister-in-law, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Not only were they not true, Meghan said, but the royal family did nothing to correct them.
She came to understand, she said, that the royal family was “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.”
In a particularly resonant example, she said, the tabloids reported, long after her wedding, that she had made Kate cry before the lavish event over the bridesmaid’s dress that Kate’s daughter was meant to wear. In fact, Meghan said, it was Kate who made her cry.
Kate apologized and sent her flowers, Meghan said. But when the tabloid reports came out, no member of the royal family made an effort to correct the record.
“I’m talking about things that are super artificial and inconsequential,” Meghan said. “But the narrative about, you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination. And they knew it wasn’t true.”
She added, “I thought, well, if they’re not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?”
‘My family literally cut me off financially.’
Most members of the royal family receive money each year from the family coffers in exchange for carrying out official engagements. But when he introduced Meghan to the family, Harry said, that arrangement already seemed to be in jeopardy.
Members of his family suggested that she continue acting, “because there wasn’t enough money to pay for her,” Harry said. “There was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”
He and Meghan said they pleaded with the royal family to pay for security for them and their son, only to be refused each time.
Then, when he and Meghan moved to the United States, Harry said, the royal family stopped giving them money.
“My family literally cut me off financially,” Harry said. When Oprah pressed him on the point, he amended it to “the first half, the first quarter of 2020,” leaving open the question of whether any money had arrived after that.
In any case, he said, speaking of his life in the United States, “I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this.”
At another point, Harry described feeling “trapped” in his life before being with Meghan and noted that, “without question, she saved me.”
Tiffany May contributed reporting.
Sarah Lyall is a writer at large, working for a variety of desks including Sports, Culture, Media and International. Previously she was a correspondent in the London bureau, and a reporter for the Culture and Metro Desks. @sarahlyall
Tariro Mzezewa is a travel reporter at The New York Times. @tariro
Here is tomorrow’s Daily Mail front page, giving a sense of how this will play out in the British press: