Almost a year after their shocking departure from England, Prince Harry and Megan Markle broke the silence on their not-so-royal treatment at the hands of the monarchy.
In a two-hour interview with famed journalist and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey, the formerly royal couple held an expository conversation recapping their past years of hardship since marriage. From hateful prejudice at the hands of the media to Meghan’s suicidal thoughts while pregnant, every statement made by the family came as a shock.
Some of the most surprising statements were not about Markle or the media at all, though, but rather situations involving the inner workings and members of the royal family.
Meghan and Harry announced they’d be going public with the interview almost a year after their departure from England to Los Angeles. This came just weeks after their announcement of the second pregnancy. The interview premiered Sunday night and was hosted masterfully by Winfrey, whose credentials stem from hosting some of the most poignant interviews in pop culture history. It started out calm, but then immediately got into the dirt.
One of the most controversial stories surrounding Markle was that she was a bully to her royal counterparts, specifically Kate Middleton. Surrounding the week of the wedding, many news outlets reported that Markle and Middleton had an altercation over the dresses of the flower girls which was rumoured to cause Middleton to cry. Those outlets ran with the story and painted Markle to be the villain for months. It wasn’t until this interview that the public learned quite the opposite had occurred.
To America and Oprah’s disbelief, the disturbing secrets just kept coming. Markle later revealed that outside the prejudice of the general public and press, she and her baby, Archie, faced other forms of racism. She alleged that an undisclosed member of the royal family, though not the queen, questioned her about what color skin the child would have upon birth. Winfrey was speechless at this point, as was Markle. An aura of disbelief still surrounded the event, as one could not imagine such a prominent family still holding such racist, colorist values.
Though there were more horrific hardships that the couple shared, it was the impact of such actions that were the most unbearable to hear.
Constantly harassment outside and inside the royal family took its toll on the couple. Before their decision to move to America, they were both seeking help from mental health institutions, but to no avail. Markle described one night at the opera where she’d sob when the lights when down, only to stop when they came back up. Haunting photos from the night depict the pregnant princess smiling, hanging off the arm of her prince, but in reality, we learned that she was wanting to end her own life.
For the past years, the public has been merciless in its treatment towards the couple, but more so Meghan. After these dark truths have been revealed, it’s revolting to look back on the headlines and scandals that were all disproven in this two-hour segment. In the hardest times of their life together, Meghan and Harry could not seek shelter from the constant media bombardment and harassment, and even worse, they could not tell their side of the story. This interview has finally given them an opportunity to speak out and let the world what truly has been happening behind closed palace doors.
Are They Hypocritical?
Many are criticizing the couple after the interview due to the attention they have drawn to themselves. They cite the fact that Meghan and Harry wanted to “step out of the limelight” by moving to America only to go public with their grievances to the monarchy.
While, at a surface level, this paradox might seem true, there is a glaring fact many are overlooking. The couple could not possibly escape the public attention, specifically the sensationalist papers and news outlets, due to the constant paparazzi and general attacks in the press. They could not successfully lay low and were being involuntarily put under a spotlight even after their departure.
With this interview and their clarifications of all the recent controversies, they are not trying to just gain clout. They are reclaiming their voice and image, choosing to come back into the limelight voluntarily instead of being dragged into it mercilessly by the media. Yes, they are once again public figures in doing so, but even prior to it in L.A., they still were in the public eye, just against their will.
Meghan Markle has been one of the most discussed figures in pop culture since her engagement with the prince. She’d been painted as a villain for the most part of her time in the palace, but this interview gave her an opportunity to finally clear her name. As we saw with the “flower girl fight,” many situations in which Markle was villainized were actually the doing of royal family members such as Kate Middleton. Headlines like those, claiming Markle attacked Middleton, were what caused the family to be dragged back into the spotlight against their will. Markle’s re-telling of the story grants her justice after having her perspective constantly silenced.
Princess Diana was one of the most memorable and adored royal figures in modern history. She was the “people’s princess,” as she was in touch with the common people’s life in genuine ways. From being active in her children’s lives to taking them to get McDonald’s, she broke all the royal rules in a non-performative way. Many refused to communicate with—much less touch—A.I.D.S. victims at the time, but she was in the wards, gloveless, shaking their hands and working to raise funds to find a cure.
And in the end, many theorize that such behaviour catalyzed her tragic downfall, quite literally. Her Paris accident was clouded with conspiracy, all pointing towards the monarchy’s distaste for Diana and her royal divorce. Her rebellious behaviour was just a possible reason behind her death, though. A concrete reason behind her death was the constant hounding by the British press.
She was viewed by the British news outlets as an enemy to the monarchy—an untraditional disgrace to the royal name. Many blamed her failed marriage and erratic lifestyle on her, but in reality, her young, inexperienced age and heir-to-the-throne husband’s alleged mistress were the breaking factors in their tumultuous matrimony. And in the end, it was the paparazzi in the tunnel that caused the car to crash. They suffocated her with cameras and headlines until she literally took her last breath.
At her funeral, her brother, Earl Spencer, vowed to honour Diana’s legacy by protecting her boys, William and Harry, from similar cruel treatment. However, he wasn’t just referencing the press; he mentioned both the press and the royal family itself as threats to her boys.
And it’s safe to say Diana would be proud of Harry in the wake of this monumental interview. He voiced every issue she could unfortunately not, exposing not only what they’ve done to him and his wife, but what they did to his mother. The queen hardly mentioned Diana in her address of the accident and the family was cold to the princess in general, especially after her separation. Harry began experiencing similar shunning and disrespect in his time with Meghan in the palace, and instead of allowing the behaviour to continue silently as Diana so graciously did, he chose to take a stand. In doing so, he not only called out decades of prejudice and mistreatment but protected his family and honoured his mother’s life.
Can We Expect Change?
The queen has already issued a statement in response to the bombshell interview. However, it’s much more progressive than one would think.
In her statement, she claims she is beginning an investigation into the racial comments made by a member of the royal family and aims to rid the monarchy of prejudice. This is a big step for the family and England in general, considering their past of white dominance and not to mention centuries of colonization. (I fear many people have forgotten the nation’s origins.) We must wonder whether or not this progress is only being made due to increasing racial pressures facing the world right now.
Perhaps it is out of the genuine concern and a desire to do better. It is clear that the queen is somewhat fond of the couple, as she did claim they’d always loved family members. However, it is just suspicious that this sudden urge for investigation and riddance of racism never happened when Markle was being constantly degraded racially by the press and the British people.
Nonetheless, change is change. Even if its origins are grimy, change in the monarchy is much needed and has been a long, long time coming. This interview marks a turning point for the royal family and took immense courage on the part of Harry and Meghan. Speaking out against some of the most powerful and well-respected people in the world can seem daunting, but they successfully voiced their experiences. Its spotlight on the royal family has caused many to view them differently and demand a systematic change, and hopefully, the queen will keep her word.
Watch the interview on CBS.
Featured image via CBS