Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s eagerly awaited interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday delivered a series of bombshells about the couple’s treatment by the British royal family — and the U.K. tabloid press.
Winfrey spent most of the sit-down with Markle, the American actress and former “Suits” star who is expecting the couple’s second child (which Prince Harry disclosed will be a girl).
The CBS primetime interview blew up the internet, and likely Sunday’s TV ratings, and featured shocker after shocker — we hope you didn’t take a bathroom break.
But in case you did, we’ve got you covered…
1. Meghan Markle “naively” entered the royal family
Meghan Markle was an outsider on many counts when she agreed to marry Prince Harry — as a mixed-race woman, an American and a divorcée. “I went into it naively because I didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family,” she told Winfrey. “As Americans especially, what do you know about the royals? It’s what you read in fairy tales is what you know about the royals. It’s easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality.”
But she found the experience of entering the royal family — and surrendering her passport, drivers license and even her name — to be especially challenging. “When the perception and the reality are two different things and you’re being judged by the perception but you’re living the reality,” she said.
2. Markle’s intimidating first meeting with Queen Elizabeth
Markle recalled being surprised at how formal her first meeting was with Prince Harry’s grandmother — which happened at Windsor Castle shortly after they began dating. She recalled Harry telling her, “My grandmother’s there — you’re going to meet her… Right, do you know how to curtsy?”
Markle told Winfrey: “That was really the first moment that the penny dropped.”
As Markle explained, she naively thought that a private meeting with the queen could be as informal as meeting any other guy’s grandmother. “I thought genuinely that that was what happens outside — I thought that was part of the fanfare. I didn’t think that’s what happens inside. I said, ‘But it’s your grandmother.’ ‘It’s the queen.’”
After a quick tutorial with Harry and other member of the family, Markle said, “Apparently I did a very deep curtsy.”
3. Meghan Markle says she didn’t make Kate Middleton cry — “the reverse happened”
Markle disputed tabloid stories claiming she had made Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of heir-to-the-throne Prince William, cry ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry — a story that U.K. tabloids broke months after the May 2018 event.
The “Suits” alum said that, in fact, “the reverse happened,” with Markle’s sister-in-law, bringing her to tears during an argument about flower girl dresses. “A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something — the subject really was flower girl dresses — she made me cry and hurt my feelings,” Markle said.
But she has no hard feelings toward her sister-in-law, whom she said, “owned it and she apologized.” But when the incorrect story was reported months later, she said the palace wouldn’t let anyone speak out to correct it.
4. The palace wanted to strip Archie of his title and security — even before he was born
“They didn’t want him to be a prince,” the former “Suits” star told Winfrey about the royal family’s concerns when she became pregnant with her son, Archie. “Which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security.”
In addition, she said, “We have in tandem the conversation of, ‘He won’t be given security. He’s not going to be given a title.’”
Markle was also upset about the precedent — and optics of it. “The idea of the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be… it’s not their right to take it away,” she said. “They said they wanted to change that convention for Archie — well, why?”
5. Members of the royal family were worried about Archie and “how dark his skin might be”
Markle revealed that unidentified members of the royal family expressed concern about the skin color of their son, Archie.
She told Winfrey that while she was pregnant, unidentified members of Harry’s family shared “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” Markle, who identifies as mixed-race and whose mother is Black, declined to identify the royal family members, adding, “I think that would be very damaging to them.” She also added that the concerns were not raised directly to her but to Prince Harry.
On Monday’s “CBS This Morning,” Winfrey said that Harry had told her that neither his grandmother, the queen, nor his grandfather, Prince Philip, had participated in those conversations.
6. Markle contemplated suicide — and says the palace wouldn’t let her get help
The pressure of royal life and her treatment by the British tabloids became so intense that Markle said she considered suicide. “I just didn’t see a solution,” she told Winfrey. “I realized it was all happening just because I was breathing. I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to admit it to Harry, especially because I knew he had suffered. But I knew that if I didn’t say it — then I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. That was clear and real and frightening and constant thought.”
But when she attempted to get mental health care, Markle said the palace made it extraordinarily difficult. “I went to one of the most senior people to get help,” she said, asserting that she was told “there is nothing we can do to help you because you are not a paid member of the institution” and that getting treatment “wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
7. Prince Harry felt trapped — and worried about “history repeating itself”
Prince Harry gave some insight into his decision to leave the Royal family, talking about how trapped he felt and admitting that if it wasn’t for Markle, he probably would never have realized he was trapped — or been able to leave.
He also said the treatment of Markle by both the U.K. media and some members of the palace reminded him of the torment endured by his mother, Princess Diana. “My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” he said. “When I’m talking about history repeating itself, I’m talking about my mother.”
He also noted that the treatment of Markle was “far more dangerous” because of the additional factors of race and the rise of social media.
8. Meghan and Harry have been financially independent for a year
He also confirmed that he was cut off financially from his family in the first quarter of 2020. “I have got what my mom left me,” he said. “I think she saw it coming. And I certainly felt her presence throughout.”
While the press billed their decision to leave the U.K. and step away from official royal duties as “Megxit,” Harry insisted that the split was not a shock to the palace. “I’ve never blindsided my grandmother — I have too much respect for her,” he said.
9. Harry still feels “let down” by his father, Prince Charles
Harry also opened up about the current relationships with his family members, noting that he’s spoken more to his grandmother than he has in years and described his relationship with his brother, Prince William, as one of “space at the moment.”
He is more conflicted about his father, Prince Charles, who would not take his phone calls for some time. “I feel really let down,” Harry said. “Because he’s been through something similar, he knows what pain feels like, and he’s Archie’s grandfather. But at the same time, you know, of course, I will always love him. But there’s a lot of hurt that’s happening and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”