Weeks after it was confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “will not be returning as working members of the royal family,” Meghan has sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a stunning two-hour interview.
And – supported by her husband, Prince Harry – the duchess has finally spoken “her truth” in the process. About the tabloid “monster machine”, about the damaging impact her time as a working royal has had upon her mental health, and about the intense racial hostility she experienced within the royal family, too.
“It was all happening just because I was breathing,” she said, breaking down in tears at one point. “I just didn’t want to be alive any more. That was a clear, real, frightening and constant thought.”
Filmed in the garden of a friend’s home in California, the interview felt incredibly intimate. And, shutting down the social media commentary around the size of the fee commanded by the couple for the interview, Winfrey made it abundantly clear that the duke and duchess had not been paid to sit down with her.
“We [now] have the ability to make our own choices,” explained Meghan.
“I couldn’t have said yes to you [before],” she said, referring to her time as a working royal. “That wasn’t my choice to make.
“So as an adult who lived a really independent life to then go into this construct that is different than I think what people imagine it to be, it’s really liberating to be able to have the right and privilege in some ways to be able to say ‘yes’.”
Of course, Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A Primetime Special isn’t due to screen on ITV until 9pm tonight (courtesy of Harpo Productions/CBS screen in the UK), some 24 hours after it debuted via CBS in America.
Until then, here are the 7 most important moments, revelations, and takeaways from the interview.
The royal family were allegedly worried about the colour of Archie’s skin
Early on in the interview, the duchess recalled becoming pregnant with Archie, and told Winfrey that members of the royal family talked to Harry about the skin colour their child would have.
“Were they were worried that if he was too brown that would be a problem?” asked Winfrey.
“If that’s the assumption you are making I think that feels like a pretty safe one,” she said. “It’s really hard to understand right? The Commonwealth is a huge part of the monarchy.”
She added: “I know how important representation is. I know how you want to see someone who looks like you in certain positions. I could never understand how it wouldn’t be seen as an added benefit and a reflection of the world today.”
However, when asked who had raised the subject of her future child’s skin, the duchess said she would not be publicly naming them.
“I think that would be very damaging to them,” she said. “That was relayed to me from Harry. That was a conversation that family had with him and I think that it was really hard to see that as compartmentalised from everything else.”
Harry echoed this, insisting that he would never reveal the identity of the person who had expressed those concerns to him.
“That conversation I am never going to share but at the time, at the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”
Queen Elizabeth II was always kind to Meghan
While a great many headlines have claimed that this interview would see Meghan level criticism on Queen Elizabeth II, the duchess made a point of distinguishing between members of the royal family and “the people running it.”
“The Queen for example, has always been wonderful to me. I just really loved being in her company,” she said, recalling what it was like to travel with HRH to royal engagements.
“She has a blanket that sits across her knees because it was chilly and she said, ‘Meghan, come on,’ putting [the blanket] across my knees as well,” said Meghan with a smile.
“It made me think of my grandmother.”
Meghan was allegedly told that she couldn’t seek psychiatric help
During the interview, Meghan reflected on the enormous sense of grief she felt during her time as a working royal, noting that she lost her [relationship with] her father, lost a baby in a miscarriage and “nearly lost my name”.
“I just didn’t want to be alive any more. That was a clear, real, frightening and constant thought.”
However, when she went to the personnel department at the height of her despair, Meghan said she was told: “My heart is going out to you, but there’s nothing we can do because you’re not a paid member of the institution.”
She added that other members of the royal household had told her flatly that she couldn’t seek psychiatric help because it wouldn’t be good for the institution.
It is for this reason, Harry added, that he decided to formulate a plan to ease the pressure: stepping back as working royals.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” the prince told Winfrey, referring to his late mother, Princess Diana – who died in a 1997 crash after her car was followed by paparazzi on motorbikes.
“For me, I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you with my wife by my side.”
“There’s a loss of identity but I’m still standing,” Meghan added. “My hope for people in the takeaway from this is to know that there’s another side, to know that life is worth living.”
Meghan reminded the royal family of Princess Diana, according to Harry
During his conversation with Winfrey, Harry insisted that the royal family’s attitude towards his wife changed after her successful tour of Australia – which he believes reminded his relatives of his late mother.
“[They saw] how effortless it was for Meghan to come into the family… and just be able to connect with people,” he said.
“I just wished that we would all learn from the past.”
There is no feud between Meghan and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Winfrey asked the duchess about a story that she had made her sister-in-law cry in the run up to her wedding.
“No, no the reverse happened,” said Meghan. “A few days before the wedding she was upset about something [relating to the dresses worn by the flower girls].
“It made me cry and it really hurt my feelings,” she continued. “But she owned it and she apologised and she brought me flowers and a note apologising… she’s a good person.
“If you love me you don’t have to hate her. If you love her you don’t have to hate me.”
Harry and Meghan were married before the royal wedding
Ahead of their wedding at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on 19 May 2018, Meghan and Harry went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked if he would conduct their marriage vows with them privately.
“No one knows [this] but we called the archbishop and we just said, ‘Look, this thing is a spectacle for the world. But we want our union between us,’” said Meghan.
“The vows that we have framed in our room were just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Meghan accused Buckingham Palace of failing to protect her
Recalling how she had been an advocate for women’s rights before she joined the royal family, Meghan said: “The irony of the last four years. I’ve advocated for so long for women to use their voice and I was silent.
Winfrey asked: “Were you silent or were you silenced?”
“The latter,” she replied. “Everyone in my world was given a very clear directive from the moment people knew Harry and I were dating to always say no comment. My friends, my mum and dad… it was always through the lens of, and we’ll protect you.”
The duchess, however, accused ‘The Firm’ of failing to live up to its side of the bargain.
“My friends would call me and say, ‘Meg, this is really bad.’ I’d say, ‘Don’t worry I’m being protected.’ That was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that 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 but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”
The royal family has yet to issue a response or statement on any of the claims made by Meghan and Harry during their conversation with Winfrey. In fact, The Sunday Times has said that the queen will not be watching the interview, and that the palace will respond only if it seems individual members have come under attack.
Oprah With Meghan And Harry: A Primetime Special will screen on ITV at 9pm tonight and on ITV Hub, Courtesy of Harpo Productions/CBS.