Prince Harry talks about shame in new mental health series with Oprah Winfrey, deals a new blow to the royal family
Documentary series 'The Me You Can't See' is available globally on Apple TV+
Prince Harry is once again emphasising that his family turned a blind eye to the struggles of his wife Meghan Markle, saying he will "never be bullied into silence".
In a new documentary series released on Friday on Apple TV+, the grandson of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II says he felt ashamed going to his family, because he knew "that I'm not going to get from my family what I need".
"I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, just got met with total silence or total neglect," Harry tells Oprah Winfrey in the emotional first episode of the show The Me You Can't See, which he co-produced with Winfrey.
The series comes out a day after the release of an independent inquiry in Britain that found that a BBC journalist used falsified documents to land a sensational 1995 sit-down with Princess Diana, the mother of Harry and his elder brother William. In the Panaroma interview she detailed her troubled marriage to Prince Charles.
Both Prince Harry and his spouse have detailed mental struggles, with Meghan saying she had suicidal thoughts in 2019.
The couple sat with Winfrey at length for a CBS interview broadcast in early March, triggering the royal family's biggest crisis since Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997.
Focused on combatting the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health, the new docuseries does not drop any new bombshells, but it sees the youngest son of Prince Charles and Diana deal a new blow to the Windsor family.
Prince Harry recently said returning to London to attend Prince Philip’s funeral last month meant once more facing a place where he felt trapped and hunted by cameras. It would be a test of his ability to cope with the anxiety that was bubbling up again.
“I was worried about it, I was afraid,” Harry told The Associated Press.
He said he was able to work through any trepidation using coping skills learnt in therapy.
“It definitely made it a lot easier, but the heart still pounds,” he said, revealing that he first saw a therapist approximately four years ago at the encouragement of then-girlfriend Meghan. They’d had an argument and she recognised his anger seemed misplaced.
In the new series, Prince Harry focuses criticism particularly on his father, who previously was accused of indifference towards his children.
"My father used to say to me when I was younger, to both William and I: 'It was like that for me, so it's going to be like that for you,'" the Duke of Sussex, 36, tells Winfrey.
"That doesn't make sense. Just because you suffered that doesn't mean that your kids have to suffer.
"In fact quite the opposite. If you suffered, do everything you can to make sure that whatever negative experiences that you had, you can make it right for your kids."
Prince Harry has spoken to his father several times since the CBS interview came out, notably after the funeral of his grandfather, according to British media.
But their relations remain tense.
The majority of Britons hold unfavourable opinions of Harry and Meghan, according to a recent YouGov poll, while Prince Charles's ratings have jumped.
Some British press accuses the couple of denouncing media treatment but also using coverage to boost their image.
In the series, Prince Harry says that as a boy he felt powerless to protect his mother, who was constantly hounded by the press.
He says his experience with therapy "equipped me to be able to take on anything" and especially helped him cope with the death of his mother when he was 12.
Being with Meghan, he says, helped him realise the importance of mental health: "I knew that if I didn't do the therapy and fix myself that I was going to lose this woman who I could see spending the rest of my life with."
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in January 2020 announced they would quit frontline royal duties. They relocated to California, where Meghan is from.
In The Me You Can't See, Harry says his greatest regret is not "making more of a stance earlier in my relationship with my wife and calling out the racism" the former actor faced from British press and social media.
The prince does not direct any accusations of racism towards his family in the documentary, though in March he said a relative was concerned over his son's skin colour before he was born.
That allegation shook Buckingham Palace, with his brother Prince William, jumping to defend the institution: "We're very much not a racist family."
Prince Harry’s self-work may be relatively recent but he and older brother William, The Duke of Cambridge, have long championed the importance of mental health. In 2016, Harry, William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, launched Heads Together, an initiative to speak up and not be ashamed to ask for help when mental well-being is at stake.
Their collective work led to interactions with people across the globe, from all walks of life, and they recognised a common thread. “Sharing your story in order to be able to save a life or help others is absolutely critical,” says Harry.
Winfrey was already working with Apple to develop a series on mental health when a conversation with Harry sparked the idea to join forces.
“We were having a conversation and I asked him, ‘What are the two most important issues you think facing the world today?’ And he said immediately, ‘climate change and mental health.’ She mentioned the project and Winfrey recalls him later saying: ‘Oh, by the way, if you ever need any help with that … give me a call.’ And I went and turned around and said, ‘What’s your number?’”
Winfrey’s partnership with Apple created a rare opportunity to reach the vast number of people who use the company’s devices, Prince Harry said.
“If that’s in a billion pockets on a billion screens, then maybe we can really start a global conversation about this,” he says.
The Apple Original multi-part documentary series delves into mental health issues and feature segments from athletes and stars, including Lady Gaga and Glenn Close. Other participants in the series include NBA players DeMar DeRozan and Langston Galloway, Olympic boxer Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs and chef Rashad Armstead.
– Additional reporting by AP and AFP
Updated: May 23, 2021 03:35 PM