Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke on royal racism and mental health
By Sophie Boulter, Staff Writer
This article contains brief mentions of eating disorders and suicidal thoughts.
In a controversial interview with Oprah Winfrey on March 7, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry accused the royal family of racist behaviors. Meghan also accused officials at Buckingham Palace of ignoring her when she asked for help regarding her suicidal thoughts.
Queen Elizabeth II responded to these allegations in a statement on March 9. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning,” she said.
Prince William rejected the accusations on March 10. “We are very much not a racist family,” he said.
According to CNBC, the palace is holding “crisis talks” to minimize the fallout from the two-hour broadcast featuring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
In the interview, Meghan revealed that there were multiple conversations with an unnamed member of the royal family who expressed “concerns” regarding her son Archie’s skin color before he was born.
Harry said that the “constant barrage” of racist attacks directed towards Meghan from the media contributed to the couple’s decision to leave Britain and the institution of the royal family.
He confirmed that the family member who commented on Archie’s skin color was not the Queen or Prince Phillip.
Meghan also revealed that she had felt suicidal thoughts during her time as a working royal.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she said.
After reaching out to the palace for support, Meghan alleged that she was rebuffed.
Harry observed the parallels between Meghan’s situation and the experience of his mother, Princess Diana, within the royal family.
Princess Diana suffered from bulimia and depression during her time as a royal, and died in a car crash in 1997 after being pursued by paparazzi.
“My biggest concern was history repeating itself. I’m talking about my mother. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself — but far more dangerous because you add race in, and you add social media in,” Harry said.
The interview has proved controversial, inviting criticism and support for Harry and Meghan.
Piers Morgan, a U.K. television anchor, criticized the interview as being a “two-hour trash-a-thon of our royal family.” Morgan also expressed doubts regarding the accuracy of Meghan’s account of her time within the family.
Morgan left Good Morning Britain, an ITV news program he formally co-anchored, after being pressed for an apology for his comments on March 9. A day later, Morgan doubled down on his comments in a tweet.
“I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t,” he said.
Other commentators have argued that Meghan and Harry should not have criticized the royal family while Prince Phillip is ill in the hospital.
Contentious news source The Daily Mail described the interview as “self-absorbed,” “attention-seeking” and “vengeful.”
Supporters of the couple argue that the interview was courageous and exposed racism prevalent in the centuries-old institution. Celebrities including Serena Williams and Beyoncé have defended Meghan.
“I know firsthand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us,” Williams said.
“Thank you Meghan, for your courage and leadership,” Beyoncé wrote on her website.
The interview has left the British public divided.
A YouGov poll taken after the interview found that roughly one-third of Britons “say their sympathies lie mostly with the Queen and the royal household.”
22% of Britons “say they have more sympathy for Harry and Meghan,” and 28% “feel no sympathy for either of the royal camps.”
Oprah has largely been praised for her interview of the couple. Commentators praised her empathetic, probing interview style.
“That was the best interview I have ever watched,” New York University professor of journalism Jay Rosen tweeted afterward.