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Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Harry and Meghan: entrapment, the media and the institution

TW: Discussions of racism

In an interview full of revelations, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sat down with Oprah Winfrey to describe royal life behind closed doors and the events that led to their withdrawal.

Meghan Markle spoke of her loneliness, despair and contemplation of suicide. 

“I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. 

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“I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. 

“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” 

The two-hour interview, first broadcast in the United States to 17.1 million viewers, focused on the illusion of a perceived fairy tale and the seemingly stifling reality.  

The interview involved issues of race, privilege and mental health, with haunting references to “history repeating itself” when it came to the protection of incoming royal family members. 

Meghan and Harry depicted an environment of entrapment and indifference when it came to support and guidance. 

Meghan spoke about her efforts to speak to senior royal staff about seeking medical help for her suicidal thoughts. 

She stated that she was rebuffed and denied such help as she was told it “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” 

When questioned further about the proactive steps the couple could take, Meghan revealed that her passport and driver’s license had been removed from her. 

At an official event at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018, Meghan described how she had decided to attend with Harry as she was afraid of what she would do to herself if she was left alone. 

She spoke of her sobbing when the lights were down in the theatre. 

When shown images of herself and Harry at the event, she described that she only sees Harry’s white knuckles gripping her hand. 

It had been earlier that day that she had first told Harry about her suicidal thoughts. 

Meghan revealed that “conversations and concerns” had been relayed to her husband about her unborn child’s potential skin tone. 

The couple would not name the specific member of the royal household who had been involved in the discussion. 

The admission provoked a “what?” from a seemingly stunned Oprah.  

After the interview’s airing, Oprah disclosed that Harry had asked for it to be made clear that the Queen and Prince Philip had not been involved in such discussions. 

In an emotional segment, Meghan described her concerns over Archie’s lack of a royal title, which would provide security protection for the child. 

She alluded to the couple’s perception of a racial undertone in the decision against providing Archie with a title. 

“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.” 

There has been media discussion around this topic, which has pointed out that this is not a break from protocol, as Archie is not the offspring of a future monarch. 

He will be entitled to a royal title when Prince Charles ascends to the throne. 

Meghan described the story involving allegations that she had made the Duchess of Cambridge cry during an altercation involving bridesmaid dresses as a “turning point” for her towards the media and in her understanding of the royal household’s so-called protection of her. 

She stated that the reverse had been true – it was Kate who was upset about the bridesmaid dresses and had hurt Meghan’s feelings, causing her to cry. 

Megan stated that she did not discuss the story to be disparaging to her sister-in-law, but to highlight her frustration at the royal household for failing to protect her by telling the truth, while lying to protect other members of the royal family. 

She did include that Kate had apologised with flowers and a note, with Meghan saying that she had forgiven her and that her sister-in-law was a good person. 

When Harry joined for the second part of the interview, Oprah questioned him about the current status of his relationships with his father and brother. 

Harry revealed that at a certain point, Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls. 

He said with astonishment that their security and financial resources had been cut off.

 He stated that it was inheritance from his mother that had sustained the family financially. 

Harry stated that he felt “really let down” by his father, “because he’s been through something similar,” referring to the media scrutiny and isolation experienced by his late mother. 

About his relationship with his brother, Prince William, Harry stated that, “the relationship is space, at the moment.” 

Prince Harry spoke of his feelings of entrapment within the royal system, and his compassion towards his brother and father who “remain trapped”. 

“Without question she saved me,” Harry said of Meghan.

In more light-hearted moments, the couple revealed they are expecting a baby girl, due in the summer. 

Meghan also revealed that the couple had engaged in a private marriage ceremony three days before the official wedding, presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a back garden. 

Meghan spoke of her initial warm meeting and encounters with the Queen, practicing curtseying moments before being first introduced to Her Majesty and sharing a blanket during their first joint engagement. 

Harry and Meghan were keen to emphasis their respect towards the monarch. 

Meghan disclosed in a casual moment with Oprah that she had called the Queen upon learning of the recent hospitalisation of Prince Philip. 

When it came to pinpointing the couple’s decision to step away from the royal family, the two explained that it was a combination of intense and false media criticism and a lack of support and understanding from within the royal household. 

Harry and Meghan are now living in California, with Oprah as a neighbour.

Image: Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons

By Lydia Willcocks

Lifestyle Editor