We’ve only just kicked off the month of March, but it’s hard to fathom a bigger interview in 2021 than Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince Harry’s highly-anticipated sit-down with Oprah Winfrey. It was only last month that the couple announced they would not be returning as working royals – instead opting to live their lives as private citizens and raise son Archie (and incoming baby No. 2) in sunny Montecito, California.
With an anticipated viewership that would rival the Super Bowl (which garnered a total of 96.4 million viewers, FYI), Oprah promised a no-holds-barred interview that would be frank, honest and get to the truth. Considering the enigma that is Britain’s royal family, any glimpse into the inner workings of The Firm is a moment worth witnessing.
Not since Princess Diana got candid with Martin Bashir in 1995 has there been so much hand-wringing inside the gilded halls of Buckingham Palace. Although we can’t speak to what exactly is happening among senior members of the royal family at this very moment, we can safely assume they’re all royally pressed. (How else to explain the influx of “Meghan is mean” stories that have suddenly resurfaced in the U.K. tabloids.)
Airing on Global in Canada, Oprah With Meghan and Harry delivered on its promises. Touching on everything from Markle’s first meeting with Queen Elizabeth and her relationship with Kate Middleton to Harry’s interactions with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, nothing was off limits.
The duchess revealed that there were ‘concerns about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he was born.’
Given the fact that they’ve been put through the public ringer, it was a only a matter of time before they broke their silence. Markle, in particular, was held to different standards than anyone else in the family right from the start because she was biracial, American, an actress, a divorcee. Marrying into a 1,200-year-old institution with a slew of outdated rules and regulations that would make any independent woman shake her head in disbelief, and it’s been an uneasy transition into royal life for Markle. Though, it’s not hard to understand why. The real miracle is how she’s managed to hold her head high with such grace in the face of a media maelstrom.
“I don’t know how they could expect after all this time, that we’d be silent,” she said.
These are the biggest bombshells we can’t stop thinking about:
There were “concerns and conversations” about Archie’s skin colour
Yes, you read that correctly – and we’re just as floored as you are. It was one of the biggest moments of the interview – one that left Oprah gobsmacked and speechless – and even though it happened nearly two years ago (prior to her son’s birth), you can still read the grief on Markle’s face.
The duchess revealed that there were “concerns about how dark [Archie’s] skin might be when he was born.” Although Markle wasn’t present for the conversation, the details were relayed to her via Harry who said it was broached to him by a senior member of the royal family. Although neither Markle nor Harry would go so far as dropping names (“it would be damaging to their reputation”, she said), Twitter was alight with theories, ranging from Charles and Philip to William. (Oprah has since clarified in her interview with CBS the following morning that, “[Harry] did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure I knew, and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother or grandfather that were part of those conversations.”)
The amount of anti-Black racism Markle’s faced in the British press has been appalling, right from the moment she made her public debut with Harry in 2016. (You’ll recall the BBC 5 presenter who was sacked after likening baby Archie to a chimpanzee upon his birth.) To also have to deal with it from supposedly loving in-laws must have been next level painful.
On the royal family deciding not to make Archie a prince
Remember how we all thought it was totally rad of Markle and Harry to forgo a royal title for Archie? Well, as it turns out, that was the narrative we were fed by the royal spin doctors who didn’t want us knowing the facts.
“They [the royals] were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince or princess, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” Meghan explained. “This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy where I was going, hold on for a second. They said [he’s not going to get security], because he’s not going to be a prince. OK, well, he needs to be safe so we’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, but if you’re saying the title is what’s going to affect that protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen which means our son needs to be safe.”
Markle also revealed that no explanation was given as to why Archie wouldn’t be given a title. He is currently the only great-grandchild of the queen and Prince Philip without a title or security detail. The duchess also added that it was concerning because Archie was “the first member of colour in this family [that] isn’t being titled in the same way as other grandchildren would be.”
It was actually Kate who made Meghan cry
We’ve all heard the story: in the leadup to Markle’s 2018 nuptials, she and Kate had a spat over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid dress that left Kate in tears. When Oprah broached the subject, Markle was quick to shut it down.
“No [I didn’t make her cry],” she said. “The reverse happened. And I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone because it was a really hard week [with] the wedding, and she was upset about it, and she owned it, and she apologized, and she brought me flowers and a note apologizing and she did what I would do. What was shocking was that six, seven months after our wedding, the reverse of that would be out in the world. I would’ve never wanted that to come out about her ever even though it had happened. I protected that from ever being out in the world.”
Meghan had suicidal thoughts, and was denied access to mental health care
You would think that the royal family would have learned, in the fallout from Princess Diana’s untimely death, that mental health issues should always be at the forefront of family matters. But when Markle found herself struggling with constantly being picked apart in the press, she was denied proper access to mental health care.
I went to one of the most senior people to get help. And I share this because there are so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help, and I know how hard it is to not just voice it but to be told no.
“I was told that I couldn’t [get help], that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” she told Oprah. “I went to one of the most senior people to get help. And I share this because there are so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help, and I know how hard it is to not just voice it but to be told no.”
She continued: “I just didn’t see a solution. I would sit up at night, and I was just, like, I don’t understand how all of this is being churned out. I realized that it was all happening just because I was breathing. I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered. 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.”
Charles stopped taking Harry’s calls for a time
It came up casually, and he almost said it flippantly, but it left our jaws on the floor. As Harry detailed the early days of his and Markle’s move to Vancouver in early 2020, he let it drop that he had been in frequent touch… until his dad stopped taking his calls. Admitting he was “disappointed” in Charles, Harry revealed that he saw “history repeating itself”, referring to his late mother, Princess Diana. Harry said he’d also turned to his family for mental and emotional support, but Charles cut off ties.
They’re having a girl!
In one of the more light-hearted and joyous moments in an otherwise dark and challenging interview, the happy couple revealed that their next bundle of joy was a girl. “To have a boy and then a girl, what more can you ask for?” Harry said. He added, “Now we’ve got our family. We’ve got the four of us and our two dogs and it’s great.”
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