Meghan Markle tells Oprah she felt suicidal and accuses UK royal family of racism

Bombshell interview covers Archie's skin colour, Harry let down by Charles and how Kate made Meghan cry

The Duchess of Sussex said racism and Buckingham Palace’s refusal to let her seek treatment for suicidal thoughts led to the couple leaving the British royal family.

In one of the biggest bombshells of the tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, the couple claimed a member of the royal family asked "how dark" her son Archie's skin colour would be.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also pinpointed an incident in which the Duchess of Cambridge allegedly made Ms Markle cry was a turning point in their relationship with the royal family.

In another damaging claim, Prince Harry revealed that his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls when he wanted to step back, saying he felt "let down" by him.

The highly anticipated interview was far more accusatory than expected and risks morphing into the biggest crisis to hit the monarchy since the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

Ms Markle painted a picture of a toxic environment that took an enormous toll on her mental health, saying that she came close to suicide while pregnant with her first child.

“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she said. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”

Ms Markle said that Buckingham Palace’s refusal to rebuff false claims that fuelled negative press against her worsened her depression.

In the two-hour interview broadcast on primetime television in the US, she tearfully recalled how she found the situation “unsurvivable”, while recounting Prince Harry cradling her after she told him the extent of her deteriorating mental health.

Prince Harry said Ms Markle’s mixed-race heritage fuelled much of the negative press, and the couple claimed that members of the royal family voiced concerns about how dark their son’s skin tone would be, during the duchess’s first pregnancy.

I saw history repeating itself because you add racism, and you add social media in

Prince Harry

The couple refused to divulge who made these comments, as doing so would be too “damaging” to the individuals in question.

However, they said that the family’s conversations with Prince Harry over his unborn child’s skin tone occurred at the same time that the royals decided that the child would not receive the title of prince or princess.

“That was when they were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince or princess – not knowing what the gender would be – and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” said Ms Markle. “This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy.”

On Monday morning, Oprah said the comments were not made b the Queen or Prince Philip. She said on CBS This Morning that when the cameras were down, Harry made it clear to her it was neither of "his grandparents".

Speaking of her conversations with the palace, Ms Markle said: “We haven’t created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder.

“You’ve allowed this to happen, which means our son has to be safe.”

Prince Harry expressed anger that no one in his family came to Ms Markle’s defence amid negative press coverage, even though 72 British Members of Parliament condemned the “colonial” coverage of the duchess.

He repeatedly drew parallels to the criticism his wife faced to the scrutiny his mother, Princess Diana, endured in the lead-up to her death in 1997.

“I saw history repeating itself, because you add racism, and you add social media in,” he said.

Despite the toll on her mental health, Ms Markle claimed Buckingham Palace refused to let her seek medical treatment.

“I went to human resources and I said I really need help because at my old job there was a union and they would protect me,” said Ms Markle.

“They said, 'My heart goes out to you and I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.'”

“This wasn’t a choice,” she said. “This was me begging for help and saying I’m concerned for my mental welfare.”

Meghan said that she felt "haunted" by a photograph from an official event she attended with Harry at the Royal Albert Hall while she was pregnant.

"Right before we had to leave for that (event), I had just had that conversation with Harry that morning," Meghan said.

Winfrey asked: "That you don't want to be alive anymore?"

An official photo from the 2019 event that the Duchess of Sussex said haunts her. Getty Images 
An official photo from the 2019 event that the Duchess of Sussex said haunts her. Getty Images 

"Yeah," Meghan confirmed.

She said that she attended the event with Harry that night because she felt she could not be "left alone" and recalled Harry gripping her hand tightly while in attendance at the Royal Albert Hall.

At one point she thought she "could not feel lonelier".

Meghan ultimately sought support from an unidentified friend of Princess Diana.

”It takes some much courage to admit that you need help - to admit how dark of a place you’re in,” she said.

Ms Markle claimed that she was told not to leave her home for months on end because the royal family’s communications advisers wanted her to keep a low profile amid all the negative tabloid coverage.

She compared the confinement to the Covid-19 lockdowns that much of the world has experienced in the past year.

“I couldn’t call an Uber from the palace,” she said. “When you join that family, that was my last time, until I came here, that I saw my driver’s licence, my passport, my keys. All that gets turned over.”

Ms Markle also said the communications team would not correct factually untrue stories about her, despite doing so for other members of the family.

For the first time, she rebuffed a widespread story that she had made Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and the wife of Harry's brother Prince William, cry in the lead-up to Ms Markle's wedding. Instead, she claimed, Ms Middleton had made her cry.

Prince Harry also denied reports that their decision to step back from their roles in the family “blindsided” the queen, claiming that he had had frequent discussions with her in the years leading up to the decision.

He also claimed that his father Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, had stopped taking his phone calls for a period of time.

"There's a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like," an emotional Harry said.

“I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened."

The couple also said that their relationship with the royal family will formally end at the end of the month and that their new child, who is expected this summer, is a girl.

Harry 'shocked' over skin colour question

Harr said he was "never going to share" which family member asked him about the colour of his unborn child's skin.

"But at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked," he said.

"That was right at the beginning when she wasn't going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting because there's not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff. There were some real obvious signs, before we even got married, that this was going to be really hard."

Meghan also declined to name who expressed those concerns: "I think that would be very damaging to them. That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations that family had with him."

Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, Meghan told Winfrey: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”

Meghan on Kate crying story: It was character assassination

It was sensational tabloid fodder: the story of how of Meghan made Kate Middleton cry after a bridesmaid dress fitting for Princess Charlotte.

And by Meghan's account - it was entirely fabricated.

"Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true," the duchess told Winfrey of the alleged incident, claiming that in reality: "The reverse happened."

Kate, she said, "was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised".

"A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining - yes, the issue was correct - about flower girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings."

Meghan called the incident "a turning point" in her relations with the royal family.

"The narrative about, you know, making Kate cry I think was the beginning of a real character assassination," she said.

"And they knew it wasn't true. And I thought, well, if they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?

"I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family."

Harry feels 'let down' by Prince Charles

Speaking candidly about his relationship with Prince Charles, Harry said had he felt "really let down" by his father throughout the painful episode - but that they were now talking to one another.

"There's a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like," an emotional Harry said.

“I will always love him but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened.

“My family literally cut me off financially. But I’ve got what my mum left me and without that we would not have been able to do this.”

He said Charles and Harry's older brother William were "trapped" by the conventions of the monarchy, but vowed he would "always love" his father.

"My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.

"Much will continue to be said about that ... as I said before, you know, I love William to bits, he's my brother, we've been through hell together and we have a shared experience. But we're on different paths."

Harry went on say that he and Meghan "did everything we could" to stay in the royal family.

"I'm sad that what's happened has happened, but I know, and I'm comfortable in knowing that we did everything that we could to make it work."

Harry denies disrespecting queen

Asked whether he told his family about his plans to step away from his royal roles and about a newspaper story that they had "blindsided" the queen with their decision, Harry said: "I've never blindsided my grandmother, I have too much respect for her."

Asked where the story came from, he said: "I'd hazard a guess that it probably could have come from within the institution.

"I had three conversations with my grandmother, and two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls. And then he said, can you put this all in writing?"

Asked why Prince Charles had stopped taking his calls: he said: "By that point I took matters into my own hands, it was like, I needed to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's got to this point, but I've got to do something for my own mental health, my wife's and for Archie's as well."

Harry says his mum would want him to be happy

Asked how his late mother would think about his split from the royal family in January 2020, Harry replied: “she would feel very angry with how this has panned out and very sad. But ultimately, all she’d have ever wanted is for us to be happy.”

Harry compared media behaviour to that faced by Princess Diana before her death in a Paris car crash in 1997.

"My biggest concern was history repeating itself, and I've said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself, but more perhaps more definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in, and you add social media and when I'm talking about history repeating itself I'm talking about my mother."

Updated: March 8, 2021 05:11 PM

SHARE

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read