This was the couple's first major interview since announcing their split from the royal family.

Oprah Winfrey interviewing Harry and Meghan Image: Twitter/Oprah Winfrey
news Interview Monday, March 08, 2021 - 08:54

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex talked about the struggles of living in the royal family in a highly-anticipated interview with US television personality Oprah Winfrey, which aired at 8 pm ET (0100 GMT) on Sunday. It's the couple's first major interview since announcing their split from the royal family.

The interview is divided into two parts — the first segment with Meghan alone, with Harry due to join his wife in a second part:

What did they say in the interview?

On relations with the royal family:

  • Meghan said the family and the people who run the institution are separate. She said the Queen has always been "wonderful" to her, always making her feel welcome

  • Oprah asked whether she chose to be "silent" or was "silenced," to which Meghan responded with "the latter." She added that while the palace was ready to lie to protect other members of the family, "they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband."

  • Harry said his father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his calls over his plans to step back from royal life.

  • He said his father and brother, Prince William, were “trapped” in their roles and couldn’t leave. He added that he feels sorry for them.

  • Harry said his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, would be “very angry and sad” at the way he and Meghan were treated. She would want them to be happy.

  • Harry reveals that he was cut off financially in the first quarter of 2020, but he received his mother’s inheritance. 

  • Harry said he has a strong relationship with the Queen. While his father is taking his calls again, it is his priority to heal that relationship.

On the British press:

  • Meghan denied British reports that she made her sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, cry. She said that the reverse was true.

  • Oprah read headlines that showed a double standard in reporting between Kate and Meghan

On racism:

  • Meghan said there were concerns about how "dark" her child would be. He would not be eligible for palace security as he was not a prince

  • Harry said that not one member of his family said anything about the racist articles that targeted Meghan. “That hurts,” he added

On mental health:

  • Meghan said she told the palace that she needed help for mental health concerns: “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

On their personal lives:

  • Prince Harry joined the interview and the couple revealed that they’re having a girl this summer.

  • Harry said he “wouldn’t have been able to” take a step back from the royal family without Meghan. She was his way out.

What to expect?

In an excerpt released ahead of the final broadcast, Prince Harry said separation from the British royal family had been very difficult for him and Meghan.

"My biggest concern was history repeating itself," Harry said, apparently referring to his mother Princess Diana, who was hounded by the British press and died at age 36 in a car crash in Paris.

"It's been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other," he added.

'They either have to be private citizens or royals'

Why is this a big deal?

In another excerpt from the interview, Oprah Winfrey said Meghan had turned her down for a similar interview ahead of the royal wedding. The Duchess said that she was in a much better place to talk about things after the couple stepped back from royal duties.

Public interviews like these are not common for the British royals, who have remained tight-lipped on numerous issues through the years. With Harry and Meghan indulging in this "tell-all" conversation, there is a lingering fear that the royal family’s image may be tarnished.

How has the Royal family reacted?

Queen Elizabeth II, Harry's grandmother, gave a televised address on Sunday, hours before the interview was aired. In a pre-recorded message from London, the British monarch talked about the importance of "dedication to duty" in an address to mark Commonwealth Day.

"Whilst experiences of the last year have been different across the commonwealth, stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every commonwealth nation and territory," she said.

Service and duty have been much talked about after Meghan and Harry stepped back from their roles as senior royals. In a statement last month, they said, "We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."

Reports suggest that the palace will only respond if individual members of the family are attacked in the interview.

Harry and Meghan's split from royal life

The couple stepped away from royal duties in March 2020, complaining about the British tabloids' treatment of Meghan. They cited what they described as bullying and racist attitudes toward the duchess, who is biracial.

They now live in Montecito, California, where they are neighbors of Winfrey.

Buckingham Palace late last month announced that the couple had finalized their separation from the royal family and will no longer be working members of the British monarchy. 

Last week, Buckingham Palace announced that it is investigating allegations that the duchess had bullied members of her staff — back in 2018 — forcing two of them to quit. However, critics have accused the British royals of keeping double standards over Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew, whose serious allegations were not addressed in public. 

This article first appeared on DW and can be found here.

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