Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview: Duchess ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’ at darkest moments

Lizzie Edmonds
·9-min read
<p>Meghan has opened up about her mental health in times of intense scrutiny</p> (CBS)

Meghan has opened up about her mental health in times of intense scrutiny

(CBS)

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she struggled with suicidal thoughts after joining the Royal Family in an emotional exchange with Oprah Winfrey.

An interview between Meghan, 39, and the US chat host was broadcast in America on CBS in the early hours of the morning.

It will be shown on ITV tonight at 9pm.

In the wide-ranging interview, Meghan spoke about how the pressure of scrutiny impacted her mental health and made her have suicidal thoughts.

She also claimed there were “conversations” about her son Archie’s skin tone, discussed her relationship with the Duchess of Cambridge and how she and Prince Harry secretly wed three days before the formal ceremony in May 2018.

Winfrey asked about how Meghan coped with life in the public eye and the intense media scrutiny.

Winfrey asked: “You’d said in a podcast that it became almost unsurvivable, and that struck me because it sounds like you were in some kind of mental trouble. What was actually going on? Almost unsurvivable sounds like there was a breaking point.”

Meghan replied: “Yeah, there was. I just didn’t see a solution. I would sit up at night, and I was just like I don’t understand how all of this is being churned out and again I wasn’t seeing it, but it’s almost worse when you feel it through the expression of my mom or my friends or them calling me crying just like ‘Meg, they’re not protecting you’.

“And I realised that it was all happening just because I was breathing. And, I was really ashamed to say it at the time, and ashamed to have to admit it, to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he suffered.

“But I knew that if I didn’t say it that I would do it, and I just didn’t…I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.

“And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember, I remember how he just cradled me and I was… I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere. And I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”

Asked explicitly by Winfrey if she was thinking of self-harm and having suicidal thoughts at some stage, Meghan replied: “Yes. This was very, very clear.

“Very clear and very scary.

“I didn’t know who to turn to in that.”

She said she later reached out to one of the best friends of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Meghan said she also asked the palace to seek professional help, and said she no longer had access to personal effects such as her passport after joining the family.

“All that gets turned over,” she said.

Winfrey asked Meghan: “So the institution is never a person, or is it a series of people?”

Meghan said it is “a person” and also said it is “several people”, adding: “I went to one of the most senior people just to get help.

“And that you know… I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help.

“And I know personally how hard it is to not just voice it, but when you voice it to be told ‘no’. And so I went to human resources, and I said I just really, I need help, because in my old job there was a union, and they would protect me.

“And I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said ‘My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution’. This wasn’t a choice. This was emails and begging for help, saying very specifically ‘I am concerned for my mental welfare’.

“And people were like ‘oh yes yes it’s disproportionately terrible what we see out there to anyone else’, but nothing was ever done. So we had to find a solution.”

Meghan recalled being “haunted” by a photograph from an official event with Harry at the Royal Albert Hall while she was pregnant.

She said: “Right before we had to leave for that (event), I had just had that conversation with Harry that morning.”

Harry and Meghan at the Royal Albert Hall when the Duchess was at her lowestPA Archive
Harry and Meghan at the Royal Albert Hall when the Duchess was at her lowestPA Archive

Winfrey replied: “That you don’t want to be alive anymore?”

Meghan said: “Yeah. It was like: These are the thoughts I am having in the middle of the night that are very clear, and I’m scared because this is very real. This is methodical, and it is not who I am.”

Meghan appeared tearful when she told Winfrey that Harry suggested she did not attend the event, but Meghan said she told her husband she “can’t be left alone”.

She said: “Every time those lights went down in that royal box, I was just weeping. He was gripping my hand and it was ‘Okay an intermission’s coming’ … and you had to just be ‘on’ again. You have no idea what’s going on for someone behind closed doors. Even the people that smile the biggest smiles and shine the brightest lights, it seems.”

Meghan said she hoped the message people would take from the interview was “know there’s another side, to know that life is worth living”.

She said: “I have lost my father, I lost a baby, I nearly lost my name, there’s the loss of identity,” but added: “I’m still standing.”

Meghan said there were “several conversations” about her son Archie’s skin tone, adding revealing who was involved in the talks “would be very damaging to them”.

During a discussion about one-year-old Archie and his role in the royal family, Meghan told Oprah there had been “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born”.

A stunned Winfrey asked “who is having that conversation?”

Meghan said there were “several conversations” with Harry about Archie’s skin tone and “what that would mean or look like”.

Pushed by Winfrey on who had those conversations, Meghan said: “I think that would be very damaging to them”.

She added: “That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations the family had with him, and I think it was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.”

Harry, Meghan and Archie during their tour of AfricaPA Wire
Harry, Meghan and Archie during their tour of AfricaPA Wire

Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, Meghan said: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”

Speaking about her son, Meghan suggested she and Harry wanted Archie to be a prince so he would have security and be protected.

The duchess expressed her shock at “the idea of our son not being safe”, and the idea of the first member of colour in the royal family, not being titled in the same way as other grandchildren.

Archie, who is seventh in line to the throne, is not entitled to be an HRH or a prince due to rules set out more than 100 years ago by King George V.

He will be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.

As the first born son of a duke, Archie could have become Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s subsidiary titles – or have been Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, instead at the time of his birth, a royal source said Harry and Meghan had decided he should a regular Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.

During the interview Meghan was asked about reports of a falling out between herself and the Duchess, 39.

Reports around the time of the royal wedding in May 2018 suggested Meghan had upset Kate over the dresses for the flower girls.

Oprah asked the Duchess: “Was there a situation where she (Kate) might have cried? Or she could have cried?”

But the Duchess of Sussex replied: “No, no. The reverse happened. And I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised.

“And she brought me flowers and a note, apologising. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it.”

Meghan said the reports she had reduced the Duchess of Cambridge to tears were a “turning point”, and insisted it was Kate who made her cry.

It was not a “confrontation” and it would not be “fair” to Kate to go into detail, she said, adding it was “hard to get over” being blamed for something she did not do.

Meghan said “everyone in the institution knew that wasn’t true” and she hoped Kate “would have wanted that to be corrected”, adding “she is a good person”.

The Sussexes with the Cambridges this time last yearPA Wire
The Sussexes with the Cambridges this time last yearPA Wire

She also criticised what she described as a “polarity” in the coverage of her and Kate - and discussed several specific incidents.

Winfrey told Meghan there were several stories that compared headlines written about her to headlines written about the Duchess of Cambridge, including stories where Kate “was being praised for holding her baby bump”.

Winfrey said the headline about Meghan cradling her bump said “Meghan can’t keep hands off her baby bump for pride or vanity”.

Meghan said: “What does it have to do with pride or vanity?”

Winfrey said: “Well I’m just telling you about the stories.”

Winfrey said there was an online piece about Kate eating avocado to help with morning sickness, and another about Meghan eating avocados which said the fruit was “linked to water shortages, illegal deforestation and environmental devastation”.

Meghan replied: “That’s a really loaded piece of toast.”

She added: “You have to laugh at a certain point because it’s just ridiculous.”

Asked if she thinks there was a separate standard for her and Kate, and if so why, Meghan said: “I don’t know why. I can see now what layers were at play there.

“And again they really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.

“If you love her [Kate] you don’t have to hate me,” she said.

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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