LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a wide-ranging interview aired Sunday, Harry and Meghan described painful discussions about the color of their son’s skin, losing royal protection and the intense pressures that led the Duchess of Sussex to contemplate suicide.
The interview with Oprah Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations.
Harry told Winfrey that he felt trapped by royal life and was surprised that he was cut off financially and lost his security last year. He also said he felt his family did not support Meghan, who acknowledged her naivete about royal life before marrying Harry, as she endured media attacks and false stories.
Meghan, who is biracial, described that when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.
In a rare positive moment in the interview, Harry and Meghan revealed their second would be a girl. The interview opened with Winfrey gushing over Meghan’s pregnancy and lamenting that COVID-19 protocols kept them from hugging.
The interview aired Sunday night in the United States, a full day before it will air in Britain. The revelations aren’t over: Winfrey teased additional bits of the interview would be shown Monday morning on CBS.
In response to a question from Winfrey, Harry said he wouldn’t have left royal life if he hadn’t married Meghan, but that it was their relationship that revealed the strictures of royal life.
“I wouldn’t have been able to, because I myself was trapped,” Harry said. “I didn’t see a way out.
“I was trapped, but I didn’t know I was trapped,” Harry said, before adding, “My father and my brother, they are trapped.”
Harry acknowledged that he does not have a close relationship presently with his brother William, who is heir to the throne after their father, Prince Charles.
The prince disputed rumors that he intentionally blindsided his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, with his decision to split. He suspects the rumors came from the institution.
“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” he said. “I have too much respect for her.”
Meghan, too, was complimentary toward the queen, despite saying at one point she realized some in the palace were willing to lie to “protect other members of the family.”
“The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said.
Winfrey at various points in the interview ran through headlines about Meghan and at one point asked about the mental health impact. Meghan responded that she experienced suicidal thoughts and had sought help through the palace’s human resources department, but was told there was nothing they could do.
Meghan said she grew concerned about her son not having a royal title because it meant he wouldn’t be provided security.
Meghan said digesting everything during while pregnant was “very hard.” More than the “prince” title, she was the most concerned about her son’s safety and protection.
“He needs to be safe,” a teary-eyed Meghan recalled. “We’re not saying don’t make him a prince or princess, whatever it’s going to be. But if you’re saying the title is going to affect their protection, we haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of click bait and tabloid fodder. You’ve allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe.”
Meghan said it was hard for her to understand why there were concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin color. She said it was hard for her to “compartmentalize” those conversations.
Harry, too, said there are lasting impacts about Meghan’s treatment and his relationship with his family.
“There is a lot to work through there,” Harry said about his relationship with his father. “I feel really let down. He’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie is his grandson. I will always love him, but there is a lot of hurt that has happened.”
Harry said the royal family cut him off financially at the start of 2020 after announcing plans to step back from his roles. But he was able to afford security for his family because of the money his mother, Princess Diana, left behind.
Sunday’s interview special opened with Meghan describing how naive she was about the ground rules of royal life before she married her husband, Harry, nearly three years ago. “I didn’t fully understand what the job was,” she said. She also noted that she did not know how to curtsy before meeting Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, and didn’t realize it would be necessary.
“I will say I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” Meghan said. “It wasn’t something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn’t something that we followed.”
As Meghan Markle, the actor starred in the TV legal drama “Suits.” She married Harry at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and their son, Archie, was born a year later.
Meghan said she and Harry were aligned during their courtship because of their “cause-driven” work. But she did not fully comprehend the pressure of being linked the prestigious royal family.
“It’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality,” she said. “And that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things. And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it. There’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people.”
At the top of the interview, Winfrey ran through several key points: that the production was following strict COVID-19 protocols, no topic was off limits and that Meghan and Harry were not being paid for the special.
Royal interviews that aren’t tied to a specific topic are rare, and prior televised sessions have often proved problematic. Prince Andrew’s 2019 BBC interview about his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to his own departure from royal duties after he failed to show empathy for Epstein’s victims.
Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal duties began in March 2020 over what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess.
In Britain, the interview is seen as poorly timed. It will air while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip remains hospitalized in London after undergoing a heart procedure.
It is unclear what public reaction, if any, the queen and other royal family members will have to Sunday’s interview. The U.K.’s Sunday Times newspaper, citing an anonymous source, reported that the queen would not watch it.
Kelvin Chan in London contributed to this report.
The latest on Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry, their first since stepping away from royal life:
Prince Harry says he was “trapped” in the royal family before Meghan helped free him.
Oprah Winfrey asked Harry in their interview airing Sunday night whether he would have stepped down from his royal duties if he had never met Meghan.
“I wouldn’t have been able to,” the Duke of Sussex replied, “because I myself was trapped as well” until “the moment that I met Meg.”
Meghan said allegations that the couple’s departure was due to her scheming made no sense.
“I left my career, my life. I left everything because I love him,” she said. “Our plan was to do this forever.”
Harry said “we did everything we did to make it work” and would never have left had the palace been supportive of Meghan.
Harry also said his family cut him off financially in early 2020 after they announced they were eschewing their duties, and that they were only able to depart because of the money left him by his mother, the late Princess Diana.
Harry says Diana would have been “very angry at how this has played out, and sad. But ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy.”
Meghan and Harry say their second child is a girl.
The two made the revelation in their interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on Sunday night, a rare positive moment in a conversation that dwelt mostly on their struggles within the royal family.
Their first child, son Archie, turns 2 in May.
Harry said “to have a boy and then a girl, what more can you ask for? But now we’ve got our family. We’ve got the four of us and our two dogs.”
Harry, wearing a gray suit as he sat next to his wife at a distance from Winfrey, joined the interview after Meghan talked to Winfrey alone.
He denied blindsiding the queen with the news that he and Meghan were stepping down from their royal duties, saying it was preceded by several conversations.
“I’ve never blindsided my grandmother,” Harry said. “I have too much respect for her.”
He did however say that his father, Prince Charles, has stopped taking his calls.
Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she had suicidal thoughts after marrying Prince Harry, and the palace prevented her from getting help.
Meghan told Winfrey in the interview airing Sunday night that she “just didn’t see a solution” to the mental suffering she had experienced since joining the royal family and that she told Harry she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
She said she went to a senior royal staffer and said she needed to get help for her mental health, but was told it would be bad for the family if she did.
She described the moment as a breaking point leading to her and Harry stepping aside from their royal duties.
Meghan said she “wasn’t planning to say anything shocking” during the interview, “I’m just telling you what happened.”
Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she realized soon after marrying Prince Harry that she learned that the institution of the royal family would not protect her.
In their pre-taped interview on Sunday night, Meghan told Winfrey that “not only was I not being protected, but they were 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.” She did not give specific examples.
She said when she was first pregnant with son Archie, there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” The statement led Winfrey to ask “What,” incredulously and sit in silence for a moment.
Meghan declined to say who had this conversation with Harry that he relayed to her, saying revealing their name would be “very damaging.”
Meghan also said she was stunned when she was told he would not be a prince and would not receive security from the palace.
Meghan said she did not worry about being a divorced, mixed-race American actress entering the British royal family, but later she “thought about it because they made me think about it.”
Meghan said it was not so much the royal family members themselves who treated her this way, but the people behind the institution.
She emphasized that the queen herself “has always been wonderful to me.”
Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that she didn’t “fully understand what the job was” when she married Prince Harry.
Winfrey’s hotly anticipated two-hour pre-recorded interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex began its airing on CBS in the U.S. on Sunday night, with Meghan sitting alone with Winfrey.
The two talked about the early days before the royal marriage, with Meghan saying “there was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like.
“That’s what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things,” Meghan said. “And you’re being judged on the perception, but you’re living the reality of it.”
Meghan also revealed that she and Harry were technically married a few days before the ceremony watched by the world.
After a brief intro with Winfrey narrating a recounting of the couple’s wedding and subsequent announcement that they were stepping down from their royal duties, Meghan walked into the backyard garden setting of the interview.
“You really are having a baby!” Winfrey shouted when she saw Meghan’s baby bump under her black empire-style dress.
Meghan said she would reveal the sex of the baby later in the interview when Harry joined them.
Winfrey and Meghan said they were at the home of a friend of Winfrey’s because they liked the setting.
They clarified that no questions would be off limits and that Meghan and Harry would not be paid for the interview.