In an interview special that took up the bulk of CBS’ primetime lineup on Sunday, Meghan Markle told Oprah Winfrey that members of the British royal family expressed concern to her husband, Prince Harry, about the potential skin color of the couple’s first child.
Markle, who is Black and American, said that, while she was pregnant with son Archie, unidentified royals had “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born.” The comments, Markle said, were made to Prince Harry and relayed to her by her husband. But Markle declined to say who in the royal family voiced those concerns, saying “I think that would be very damaging to them.”
When Winfrey pressed Harry about the conversation about Archie’s skin color, he said, “That conversation I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.”
Harry wouldn’t hint at who asked him the offensive question, but he did say, regarding race, “There was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”
Markle said that she had contemplated suicide prior to the couple’s break from the royal family. “Yes,” she said, when Winfrey asked if Markle had had suicidal thoughts.
“I was really ashamed to say it at the time, ashamed to have to admit it to Harry — especially because i know how much loss he’s suffered,” Markle said of talking to her husband about her suicidal thoughts. “But I knew if I didn’t say it, that i would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive any more. That was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. I remember how he just cradled me.”
Markle described attending an event with Harry at Royal Albert Hall after Harry told her that, given her state of mind, he thought she shouldn’t go with him. “I don’t think I can be left alone,” Markle said she told her husband. After saying to officials within the royal family that she wanted to “go somewhere to get help,” Markle claimed that she “was told that I couldn’t, because it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” she said using a euphemism for the royal family.
Race and mental health were two touchstones of the lengthy and wide-ranging interview. Markle, known for her work as an actor on the USA series “Suits,” and Prince Harry of England were wed in May 2018. Last year, the couple announced they would step away from their royal duties. The two-hour sit-down special with Winfrey marks their first major television interview since separating from Harry’s famous family.
The two-hour session with Winfrey was full of real-world revelations about people who are often perceived to be living a fairy-tale life. The couple also used the platform of the highly promoted CBS interview, which is set to air in the U.K. on Monday, to reveal that their second child will be a girl who is due in the summer.
Harry said he has been cut off financially from his family since the first quarter of 2020, and that lucrative production deals that the couple has since signed with Netflix and Spotify were prompted by the need to pay for security that the royals have declined to provide to him and his family.
“That was never part of the plan,” Harry said. Financially, he said, he is dependent on the inheritance left to him by his mother, the late Princess Diana, who was similarly hounded by tabloids and paparazzi before her untimely death in 1997 at the age of 36.
Harry also made mention that his father, Prince Charles, at some point stopped taking his call and that the two are somewhat estranged.
“I’ve got what my mother left me, and without that, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Harry said of the family’s relocation to the Santa Barbara area.
Harry also indicated that some of the antipathy toward Markle within the royal family began to become pronounced after the couple made a trip to Australia that called to mind for many a similar trip that his mother and his father, Prince Charles, made when they were newlyweds. Markle proved a natural at the ambassador role of being a young royal. The clear inference was that other members of the Windsor clan were jealous of Markle’s popularity, an echo of the envy that Princess Diana also battled.
There was no escaping the fact that the dramatic chapter for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is unfolding around the same time that the latest season of Netflix’s Emmy-winning period drama “The Crown” tackled the 1980s and dawn of Diana, the U.K.’s beloved “People’s Princess.” Asked whether he’s ever watched “The Crown,” both Harry and Markle acknowledged, “We’ve watched some of it.”
Markle, born in Los Angeles, has been the subject of multiple racist smears in the U.K. press since she first began dating Harry several years ago. Harry pointed out bipartisan statements from members of Parliament decrying the “colonial undertones” of press commentary about Markle, “yet no one in the family did anything over those three years. That hurts.”
Harry and Markle insisted that they maintain a good relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, the revered 94-year-old monarch and Harry’s grandmother, and have had recent Zoom calls with her so that she can see her great grandson Archie. “I’ve spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done for many, many years,” Harry said. He added, “My grandmother and I have a really good relationship, and an understanding, and I have a deep respect for her.”
But of his father, Harry said that Charles “stopped taking my calls” during conversations more than a year ago about he and Markle’s plans to step back as senior royals. Though he says that he and Charles are now talking, “There’s a lot to work through there. I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like. And Archie’s his grandson. But at the same time, there’s a lot of hurt there.
In regard to his brother, Prince William, Harry said, “We’ve been through hell together. We have a shared experience. But we’re on different paths.” Pressed by Winfrey, Harry said, “The relationship is space at the moment. And time heals all things, hopefully.”
Markle also lifted the veil on her relationship with her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, who is married to Prince William. In response to U.K. tabloid reports that Markle had made Middleton cry, Markle told Winfrey that “the reverse happened.”
Markle told Winfrey that Middleton had been upset about something related to the flower girl dresses at Meghan and Harry’s 2018 wedding, at which Middleton’s daughter, Princess Charlotte, was a flower girl. Meghan didn’t go into detail but said that Middleton had apologized to her for getting upset, going so far as to write a note and bring her flowers in the days leading up to Meghan and Harry’s nuptials. “She’s a good person,” Markle said of Middleton. But Markle said she was angered when more than six months after the wedding the story spread in the tabloids that Markle had made Middleton cry. “I’ve forgiven her,” Markle said. “What was hard to get over was being blamed for something I didn’t do.”
Markle also described her first meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
Describing the moment she was told by Harry that she would need to curtsy to the queen upon meeting her, Markle told Winfrey, “I thought genuinely that that was what happens outside. I thought that was part of the fanfare. I didn’t think that was what happened inside. I said, ‘But it’s your grandmother.’ And he said, “’It’s the queen.’ That was the first moment that the penny dropped.”
Markle laughed as she described Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, Harry’s uncle, rushing out to greet her before the meeting and checking to make sure that she knew how to curtsy (she did not). But Markle described the meeting with the queen as “lovely and easy” and later told Winfrey, “The queen, for example has always been wonderful to me …I just really loved being in her company.”
The interview aired in the U.K. on ITV, which won the broadcast rights over competitors Sky and Discovery.
The interview aired shortly after The Times published a report stating that several royal aides asserting that one of Markle’s aides had made complaints of having been bullied by her. Buckingham Palace later announced that it would investigate the allegations; a spokesperson for Markle told People that she was “saddened” by the claims.