London: Meghan, the wife of Prince Harry, accused the British royal family of racism, lying and pushing her to the brink of suicide in an explosive televised interview that looks set to shake the monarchy to its core.
The 39-year-old, whose mother is Black and father is white, said she had been naive before she married into the family in 2018 but that she ended up having suicidal thoughts and considering self-harm after pleading for help but getting none.
She added that her son Archie, now aged one, had been denied the title of prince because there were concerns within the royal family about how dark his skin might be. “They didn’t want him to be a prince,” Meghan said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on CBS late on Sunday. She said there had been “conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born”.
Meghan declined to say who had aired such concerns, as did Harry, who said his family had cut them off financially and that his father Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, had let him down and refused to take his calls at one point.
Buckingham Palace has yet to comment publicly on the interview, which aired in the early hours of Monday morning in Britain.
Meghan cast the British royal family as uncaring and mendacious, and accused Kate – the wife of her husband’s brother Prince William – of making her cry before her wedding.
While the family including Prince Charles came in for open criticism, neither Harry nor Meghan attacked Queen Elizabeth directly. Still, Meghan said she had been silenced by “the Firm” – which Elizabeth heads – and that her pleas for help while in distress at racist reporting and her predicament had fallen on deaf ears.
“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,” Meghan said, wiping away tears.
‘Really let down’
Harry and Meghan’s announcement in January 2020 that they intended to step down from their royal roles plunged the family into crisis. Last month, Buckingham Palace confirmed the split would be permanent, as the couple looks to forge an independent life in the United States.
Harry, 36, said they had stepped back from royal duties because of a lack of understanding and that he was worried about history repeating itself – a reference to the 1997 death of his mother Diana. “I feel really let down,” Harry said of his father. “My family literally cut me off financially.”
Harry denied blindsiding Queen Elizabeth, his grandmother, with his decision to shun life within the monarchy but added that his father stopped taking his calls at one point. “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?”
Their detractors say the couple want the glamour of their privileged positions without the dedication it requires or scrutiny it brings.
To their supporters, their treatment shows how an outdated British institution has lashed out against a modern, biracial woman, with undertones of racism.
Lies and tears
There have also been allegations of bullying against Meghan which first appeared in the Times newspaper in the build-up to the couple’s appearance. Buckingham Palace said it would investigate the claims, adding it was “very concerned”. In response to the report, a spokeswoman for Meghan said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself”.
Meghan told Winfrey that people within the royal institution not only failed to protect her against malicious claims but lied to protect others. “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,” Meghan 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.”
Meghan denied a newspaper story that she had made Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, cry before the wedding and said it was a turning point in her relations with the media. Asked if she made Kate cry, Meghan replied: “The reverse happened. A few days before the wedding she [Kate] was upset about something, pertaining to, yes, the issue was correct, about the flower girl dresses, and it made me cry. And it really hurt my feelings.”
Meghan said she had not realised what she was marrying into when she joined the British monarchy. “I will say I went into it naively, because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said.
She explained she was not being paid for the interview.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers they can call to speak in confidence. Icall, a counselling service run by TISS, has maintained a crowdsourced list of therapists across the country. You could also take them to the nearest hospital.