Everything you need to know about the Meghan and Harry interview
All anyone has been talking about recently is the royal drama stemming from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s explosive interview with Oprah, which aired Sunday, March 7, 2021(if you missed it, it is available to stream for free on CBS.com). In the interview, they revealed why they left behind royal duties and gave the public a look into what life is like for them now.
Confused about this complicated timeline? Here’s a guide to everything you need to know that happened before, during, and after the interview.
What happened before?
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (yes, they’re still called Duke and Duchess) got married on May 19, 2018, in a grand royal wedding, complete with all the traditional pomp and circumstance.
Soon after, the royal couple announced that they were pregnant with their first child in October 2018; baby Archie was born May 6, 2019.
However, things weren’t exactly happily ever after for the couple. British tabloids were constantly tearing Meghan apart, with disparaging headlines. Meghan even sued a British tabloid company for releasing a private letter to her father. Many compared her to Kate Middleton, Prince William’s wife.
On January 18, 2020, Harry and Meghan announced they were taking a step back from the royal family via Instagram, citing “intense scrutiny” and wish for a more “independent life” as their primary reasons. The arrangement would be reviewed in twelve months. The couple moved to Canada and then relocated to Los Angeles in March, near the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What was the interview about?
Throughout the interview with Oprah, Meghan and Harry went into great detail about why they left royal duties and what life was as a royal.
Meghan said she was “naive” entering the royal family and had no preparation for her role. As an American, she had an “image [of the royal family] that was so far from reality.” She thought they were no different than any other L.A. celebrity but soon realized that it was a “completely different ballgame.” She didn’t even know how to curtsy, learning five minutes before first meeting the queen.
The Duchess also went into detail about what living under such intense scrutiny was like. For example, she made it clear that the rumor she made Kate Middleton cry was not true and that, in fact, the “reverse happened.” She said the tabloids were constantly pitting her and Kate against each other because they wanted to create a “villain and hero” narrative.
Meghan expressed disappointment that the royal family didn’t stand up for her, saying “They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband”, with her biggest regret being believing them when they said they would protect her.
One of the largest bombshells of the night was that there were “concerns and conversations” over the then unborn baby’s skin tone when Meghan was pregnant with Archie. Certain unnamed members of the “Institution” were concerned over what “the children will look like.” Meghan was shocked when she heard of these concerns and said she’d thought a person of color in the family would be a benefit, since a large portion of the British Commonwealth was of color.
Another concern of Meghan’s was the fact that Archie would receive no title, and therefore, no security. She was afraid that because of all the racism pushed by the tabloids, she and Archie would be vulnerable to the attacks. She also revealed the family offered no explanation as to why Archie wouldn’t receive a title, while other royal children did.
Another main talking point of the interview was Meghan’s mental health struggles. After her and Harry’s tour of Australia in October of 2018, while she was pregnant, things were “starting to hurt.” The Duchess told Oprah that life felt “unsurvivable” and she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore.” It got to the point where it wasn’t abstract ideas, it became “methodical.” Meghan explained she reached out to the institution for mental health resources, but was told she couldn’t receive any because she wasn’t a “paid employee” of the palace anymore.
At this point in the interview, Harry joined Meghan and Oprah to discuss why they left. He had no intention of ever “blindsiding” the Queen and had tremendous respect for her. He also revealed he had no intention of completely abandoning royal duties, but just wanted to have a more junior role in the family.
When they moved to Canada in late 2019, they came with the intention of representing the Queen. However, this all changed when the Daily Mail leaked their address and the COVID-19 pandemic started. When they announced their departure, they lost their security and were cut off financially, forced to live off of Harry’s inheritance from his mother, Princess Diana.
They no longer felt safe in Canada and were forced to quickly move into media mogul Tyler Perry’s home in Los Angeles in March of 2020, who provided them with security. The Duke and Duchess then moved into their own home in Santa Barbara that summer.
Harry noted that one of his biggest concerns was that he did not want history repeating itself, referring to Princess Diana’s struggles with mental health and her dying in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi. What felt different this time for him was the “race element”, that the racism his wife was experiencing wasn’t only affecting her, but it also affected others who looked like her around the world.
When Oprah asked what the simplest reason for their departure was, he said “A lack of support and a lack of understanding.”
Harry also spoke of his relationship with his family, saying the Queen and him were closer than they were “in years”, including zoom calls with baby Archie, but he had a lot to work through with his brother and father.
On a lighter note, the couple announced that they were expecting a baby girl due this summer and they plan to use their time to expand on their foundation Archewell.
What happened after the interview?
There was a strong reaction to the interview, with 17.1 million viewers in the U.S. and Harry and Meghan’s approval rates both dropping in the U.K. and the U.S.
In February, before the interview aired but after it was recorded, it was announced that Meghan and Harry have officially decided not to return to royal duties and they will lose their royal patronages and honorary military appointments. However, this doesn’t mean they are cutting off ties with the family. Buckingham Palace has made it clear that they are still considered family.