Last year, Prince Harry, along with his wife Meghan Markle, an American actress who had received vicious treatment at the hands of the UK press left their life behind. During a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, told the TV host that her life as a royal was so miserable that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore”.
The interview was the first televised, sit-down interview the couple had given since leaving royal life last year. Shortly following their decision to step down from their royal roles, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, derailing any plans they might have had for speaking engagements or media tours relating to their new status as private citizens.
Markle, who is both American and black, was often subjected to extreme scrutiny at the hands of both the royal family and the British media. She told Winfrey that the palace was concerned about things like how often she went out to lunch with friends or how dark her son’s skin color was going to be. The press was not much better, often subjecting Markle to harsh criticism over things as minor as wardrobe choice or the exact wording she used in interviews.
As a royal, Meghan says, she didn’t have access to her passport, her driver’s license, or car keys. She was stifled from speaking freely like she wanted to, and had to suppress her usual outspoken nature. It’s easy to see, under this light, why Harry and Meghan would make the choice to leave the palace behind for a free, if less lavish, lifestyle.
Holding back tears, Markle told Winfrey that the racism she endured at the hands of the royal family and the British press, often containing “outdated, colonial undertones” made her so miserable that she began to have suicidal thoughts. She was even hesitant to tell Harry about it, as he lost his mother, Diana, in a car crash when he was very young.
When she finally admitted to him that she was feeling this way, Harry says he felt terrified. “I had no idea what to do, I went to a very dark place as well, but I wanted to be there for her,” he told Winfrey. After confronting the family about it, and telling them they could have done more to help, the couple resolved to leave royal life behind for good.