After weeks of promotion and fervent speculation about what might be revealed, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s “no question off limits” interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on CBS Sunday night. Starting with how little she knew about the royals when she first started dating Harry and leading to the intense media coverage that surrounded her once she became a royal, the interview, as promised, was wide-ranging and deeply personal.
“I didn’t want to be alive anymore,“ Meghan told Oprah, looking back at the period of her time as a royal that Oprah suggested was a “breaking point.” Though she said she didn’t read the negative media coverage, she heard about it from friends, and “I realized it was all happening just because I was breathing. Describing thoughts that were “clear and real and frightening.” Meghan said she sought help within “the institution” of the monarchy, but was told she couldn’t get any because she was not a paid employee of the royals. Before an event at the Royal Albert Hall in early 2019, she said, she told Harry she didn’t feel safe being left home alone. Looking back at the photos from that night, she said, “what I see is how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine. We are smiling and doing our job, but we are both just trying to hold on.”
Mental health has been a major focus of both Meghan and Harry’s charitable work, as well as Prince William and Kate Middleton. Harry, William, and Kate launched the Heads Together campaign in 2016, and Harry had previously opened up about how he coped with his mother’s death. Harry and Oprah have also announced a documentary project devoted to the subject.
When Harry joined for his portion of the interview, he said “I went to a very dark place as well, but I wanted to be there for her.” And he added that he didn’t go to his family members to look for help for Meghan because “that’s not a conversation that would be had. I guess I was ashamed of admitting it to them. I don’t know whether they would have the same feelings or thoughts. It’s a very trapping environment that a lot of them are stuck in.”
Later in the interview, Harry confessed he himself felt “trapped“ as a royal—“I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped.” Meeting Meghan, he said, was what allowed him to see a way out.
Though there were reportedly concerns with Buckingham Palace that Meghan might criticize the royals, or even the Queen, she shared exclusively warm anecdotes about her time with the monarch, including sharing a lap blanket on their way to a joint engagement. “The queen has always been wonderful to me,” Meghan said. “I really loved being in her company.”
Harry opened up more about his current relationship with his father, who he said at one point had stopped returning his calls, and William. Asked about his father Harry paused for a long time and appeared visibly emotional responding: “There’s a lot to work through there. I feel really let down because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie’s his grandson. But at the same time, of course, I will always love him.” He had far less to say about William: “I love William to bits. He’s my brother, we’ve been through hell together. We were on different paths.” When Oprah followed up later, Harry clarified “The relationship is space, at the moment.”
The member of the royal family who may have loomed the largest, it turns out, was Princess Diana, whom Harry referenced repeatedly when discussing his wariness about the media. Asked how she would feel about how his life had turned out, Harry suggested she would be angry about how he and Meghan were treated by the palace, but “all she’d ever want was for us to be happy.”
Oprah pressed for details on the long-rumored “rift” between Meghan and Kate, including the much-speculated-about incident over flower girl dresses before Meghan and Harry’s wedding. Meghan confirmed that it really was a conversation about flower girl dresses, and someone really did make someone else cry—except “the reverse happened.” Careful to emphasize that Kate “is a good person” and did what Meghan says she would have done in that situation—sent flowers and apologized—Meghan said “what was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn’t do but that happened to me. Everyone in the institution knew it wasn’t true.”
She also said that when people involved in planning her wedding offered to go on the record to set the story straight when it hit the tabloids months later, they were told not to. “Why not?” asked Oprah. “That’s a good question,” Meghan responded, with a meaningful pause.
Later in the interview, she called the narrative around her supposedly making Kate cry “the beginning of a real character assassination.”