Meghan and Harry’s secret wedding that wasn’t
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's claims of a secret wedding days before their televised nuptials have been brought into question.
During a bombshell interviewwith Oprah Winfrey, which aired on Sunday night in the US, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed they had chosen to be married in secret by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the garden of their Kensington Palace apartment days before their 2018 globally televised wedding took place.
"No one knows that but we called the Archbishop [of Canterbury] and we just said 'this thing, this spectacle is for the world but we want our union between us,'" Markle said.
"The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury."
"Just the three of us," Prince Harry added.
But following the claims, the couple have been forced to clarify the comments, saying the top-secret ceremony was simply a private exchanging of vows.
"It was a small thing, but something they were keen to do between themselves," a source close to the couple said.
"They exchanged their vows before the Archbishop in a personal, private ceremony, but their official marriage was very much on the day of the royal wedding."
According to Diana Saxby, a leading celebrant the UK, private celebrations and intimate exchanging of vows are becoming more popular among young couples because it allows them to share more personal vows.
Diana Saxby, who arranges civil ceremonies at Clivedon House in Berkshire, where Meghan stayed the night before her wedding, said: "What Meghan and Harry had three days before their wedding is best described as a private blessing or celebration," Saxby told The Sun.
"It wouldn't have been legally binding, but it will have allowed them to write their own vows and make it more personal … Couples can write their own vows and the ceremony can be 'officiated' by whoever they want. Sometimes they are religious, sometimes not, and they can be very formal or very relaxed," she said.
The royal family are all members of the Church of England, which requires followers to marry in a certified place of worship. All marriages within the UK also require the presence of at least two witnesses.
The couple's May 19 wedding was watched by 1.9 billion people around the world.
MEGHAN AND HARRY: FULL TRANSCRIPT
OPRAH: We can't hug, everybody is double- masked and has face shields. You look lovely. Do you know if you're having a boy or a girl?
Meghan: We do this time. I'll wait for my husband to join us and we can share that with you.
Oprah: That would be really great. Before we get into to it, I just want to make clear to everybody that, even though we're neighbours, I'm down the road, you're up the road, we're using a friend's place. There has not been an agreement, you don't know what I'm going to ask, there is no subject that's off limits and you are not getting paid for this interview.
Meghan: All of that's correct.
Oprah: I remember sitting in the chapel - thanks for inviting me, by the way. I so recall this sense of magic. I never experienced anything like it. When you came through that door, you seemed like you were floating down the aisle. Were you even inside your body at that time?
Meghan: I've thought about this a lot. It was like having an out-of- body experience I was very present for. The night before, I slept through the night entirely, which is a bit of a miracle, and then woke up and started listening to Going To The Chapel, to make it fun and light and remind ourselves this was our day. We were both aware in advance of that this wasn't our day, this was the day planned for the world.
Oprah: Everybody who gets married knows you're really marrying the family. But you weren't just marrying a family, you were marrying a 1,200-year-old institution, you're marrying the monarchy. What did you think it was going to be like?
Meghan: I would say I went into it naively because I didn't grow up knowing much about the Royal Family. It wasn't part of something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn't something that we followed. My mum even said to me a couple of months ago, 'Did Diana ever do an interview?' Now I can say. 'Yes, a very famous one', but my mum doesn't know that.
Oprah: But you were aware of the royals and, if you were going to marry into the royals, you'd do research about what that would mean?
Meghan: I didn't do any research about what that would mean.
Oprah: You didn't do any research?
Meghan: No. I didn't feel any need to, because everything I needed to know he was sharing with me. Everything we thought I needed to know, he was telling me.
Oprah: So, you didn't have a conversation with yourself, or talk to your friends about what it would be like to marry a prince, who is Harry, who you had fallen in love with . . . you didn't give it a lot of thought?
Meghan: No. We thought a lot about what we thought it might be. I didn't fully understand what the job was: What does it mean to be a working royal? What do you do? What does that mean? He and I were very aligned on our cause- driven work, that was part of our initial connection. But there was no way to understand what the day-to- day was going to be like, and it's so different because I didn't romanticise any element of it. But I think, as Americans especially, what you do know about the royals is what you read in fairytales, and you think is what you know about the royals. It's easy to have an image that is so far from reality, and that's what was so tricky over those past few years, when the perception and the reality are two different things and you're being judged on the perception but you're living the reality of it. There's a complete misalignment and there's no way to explain that to people.
Oprah: With every family things get serious when you're brought in to meet the grandmother or the mother. The grandmother is the matriarch and, in your situation it's the Queen.
Meghan: She was one of the first people I met. The real Queen.
Oprah: What was that like? Were you worried about making the right impression?
Meghan: There wasn't a huge formality the first time I met Her Majesty The Queen. We were going for lunch at Royal Lodge, which is where some other members of the family live, specifically Andrew and Fergie, and Eugenie and Beatrice would spend a lot of time there. Eugenie and I had known each other before I knew Harry, so that was comfortable and it turned out the Queen was finishing a church service in Windsor and so she was going to be at the house. Harry and I were in the car and he says, 'OK, well my grandmother is there, you're going to meet her'. (I said) 'OK, great'. I loved my grandmother, I used to take care of my grandmother. (He said) 'Do you know how to curtsey?' 'What?' 'Do you know how to curtsey?' I thought genuinely that's what happens outside, that was part of the fanfare. I didn't think that's what happens inside. I go, 'But it's your grandmother'. He goes, 'It's the Queen!'
Meghan: And that was really the first moment the penny dropped?
Oprah: Did you Google how to curtsey?
Meghan: No, we were in the car. Deeply, to show respect, I learned it very quickly right in front of the house. We practised and walked in.
Oprah: Harry practised?
Meghan: Yeah, and Fergie ran out and said, 'Are you ready? Do you know how to curtsey? Oh, my goodness, you guys'. I practised very quickly and went in, and apparently I did a very deep curtsey, and we just sat there and we chatted and it was lovely and easy and I think, thank God, I hadn't known a lot about the family. Thank God, I hadn't researched. I would have been so in my head about all of it.
Oprah: (What) you're sharing with us is that you were no more nervous as a regular person who goes to meet somebody's grandmother.
Meghan: I had confused the idea. I grew up in LA, you see celebrities all the time. This is not the same but it's very easy, especially as an American, to go, 'These are famous people'. This is a completely different ball game.
(Cut to them and Oprah at their house)
Oprah: What are you feeling here (their home)? What's the word?
(Oprah narrates) The day after our interview, I stopped over to Harry and Meghan's new home.
Meghan: Hi, Guy (dog).
Oprah: Hi, Guy.
Meghan: Yeah, Guy's been - Guy's been through everything with me.
Oprah: Yeah, from the beginning, from the very first date, yeah?
Meghan: If Guy, I mean, I had him in Canada. I got him from a kill shelter in Kentucky.
(In Harry and Meghan's hen coop)
Meghan: Hi, girls!
(Oprah narrates) We put on wellies to feed the hens Meghan and Harry recently rescued from a factory farm. 'I love your little designer house here. Archie's chick inn. Oh, how cute is that.'
Harry: She's always wanted chickens.
Meghan: Well, you know, I just love rescuing.
Oprah: So, this is a part of your new life? What are you most excited about?
Meghan: Whoop! You're OK . . .
Oprah: What are you most excited about in the new life? What are you most excited about? Here, chick, chick, chick, chick.
Meghan: I think just being able to live authentically.
Meghan: Right? Like this kind of stuff. It's so, it's so basic, but it's really fulfilling. Just getting back down to basics. I was thinking about it - even at our wedding, you know, three days before our wedding, we got married . . .
Meghan: No one knows that. But we called the Archbishop, and we just said, 'Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us'. So, like, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that was the piece that . . .
Harry: Just the three of us.
Harry: Just the three of us.
Meghan: Just the three of us.
(Back to Oprah)
Oprah: You know, the wedding was the most perfect picture, you know, anybody's ever seen. But through that picture that we were all seeing, behind the scenes, obviously, there was a lot of drama going on. And soon after your marriage, the tabloids started offering stories that painted a not-so-flattering picture of you in your new world. There were rumours about you being 'Hurricane Meghan'.
Meghan: I hadn't heard that.
Oprah: So, there were rumours about you being Hurricane Meghan, for the departure of several high-profile palace staff members. And there was also a story - did you hear this one? - about you making Kate Middleton cry?
Meghan: This I heard about.
Oprah: You heard about that. OK.
Meghan: This was . . . that was . . . that was a turning point.
Oprah: That was a turning point?
(Oprah narrates) Six months after Harry and Meghan's wedding, headlines began to swirl about a rift between Meghan and her sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. It was reported that Meghan had left Kate "in tears" over the bride-to-be's "strict demands" over flower-girl dresses.
Meghan: The narrative with Kate - which didn't happen - was really, really difficult and something that . . . I think that's when everything changed, really.
Oprah: You say the narrative with Kate, it didn't happen. So, specifically, did you make Kate cry?
Oprah: So, where did that come from?
Oprah: Was there a situation where she might have cried? Or she could have cried?
Meghan: 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. What was shocking was . . . what was that, six, seven months after our wedding?
Meghan: That the reverse of that would be out in the world.
Oprah: The story came out six, seven months after it actually happened?
Oprah: So, when you say . . .
Meghan: I would have never wanted that to come out about her ever, even though it had happened. I protected that from ever being out in the world.
Oprah: So, when you say the reverse happened, explain to us what you mean by that.
Meghan: A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining - yes, the issue was correct - about flower-girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings. And I thought, in the context of everything else that was going on in those days leading to the wedding, that it didn't make sense to not be just doing whatever everyone else was doing, which was trying to be supportive, knowing what was going on with my dad and whatnot.
Oprah: This was a really big story at the time, that you made Kate cry. Now you're saying you didn't make Kate cry, Kate made you cry. So, we all want to know, what would make you cry? What . . . what were you going through? You were going through all of the anxiety that brides go through putting their wedding together and going through all of the issues with your father: Was he coming? Was he not coming?
Oprah: And there was a confrontation over the . . . the dresses?
Meghan: It wasn't a confrontation, and I actually don't think it's fair to her to get into the details of that, because she apologised.
Meghan: And I've forgiven her.
Meghan: What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do but that happened to me. And the people who were part of our wedding going to our comms team and saying, 'I know this didn't happen.' I don't have to tell them what actually happened.
Meghan: But I can at least go on the record and say she didn't make her cry. And they were all told the same . . .
Oprah: So, all the time the stories were out that you had made Kate cry . . . you knew all along, and people around you knew that that wasn't true?
Meghan: Everyone in the institution knew it wasn't true.
Oprah: So, why didn't somebody just say that?
Meghan: That's a good question.
Meghan: I'm not sharing that piece about Kate in any way to be disparaging to her. I think it's really important for people to understand the truth.
Meghan: But also I think, a lot of it, that was fed into by the media. And I would hope that she would have wanted that corrected, and maybe in the same way that the Palace wouldn't let anybody else.
Meghan: Negate it, they wouldn't let her, because she's a good person. And I think so much of what I have seen play out is this idea of polarity, where if you love me, you don't have to hate her. And if you love her, you don't need to hate me.
Oprah: Mm-hmm. You know, there were several stories that compared headlines written about you to those written about Kate.
Oprah: Since you don't read things, let me tell you what was said.
Oprah: There were stories where Kate was being praised for holding her baby bump.
Meghan: Oh, gosh, have I done it since we've been sitting down?
Oprah: Yes, you've been doing it the whole time.
Meghan: Probably. OK.
Oprah: Kate was praised for cradling her baby bump, and the headline about you doing the same thing said, 'Meghan can't keep hands off her baby bump for pride or vanity'.
Meghan: What does it have to do with pride or vanity?
Oprah: Well, I'm just - I'm just telling you about the stories, OK?
Meghan: OK, I hear you.
Oprah: Then there was a whole online piece about this: 'Kate eating avocados to help with morning sickness'.
Meghan: (Laughs) I heard - OK, I heard about the avocado one.
Oprah: But you were eating avocados . . .
Meghan: And fuelling murder, apparently.
Oprah: Wolfing down a fruit linked to water shortages, illegal deforestation and environmental devastation. There was, seems . . . there seems to be . . . there was a . . .
Meghan: That's a really loaded piece of toast. (Laughter) I mean . . . you have to laugh at a certain point, because it's just ridiculous.
Oprah: That's good: 'That's a loaded piece of toast.' It's about deforestation and . . .
Meghan: Oh, man!
Oprah: Oh, wow! So, do you think there was a standard for Kate in general and a separate one for you? And if so, why?
Meghan: I don't know why. I can see now what layers were at play.
Meghan: And, again, they really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain.
Oprah: Yeah. You came in as the first mixed-race person to marry into the family, and did that concern you in being able to fit in?
Oprah: And did that concern you in being able to fit in? Did you think about that at all?
Meghan: I thought about it because they made me think about it.
Meghan: Right? But at the same time now, upon reflection, thank God all of those things were true. Thank God I had that life experience. Thank god I had known the value of working. My first job was when I was 13, at a frozen yoghurt shop called Humphrey Yogart.
Meghan: I've always worked. I've always valued independence. I've always been outspoken, especially about women's rights. I mean, that's the sad irony of the last four years . . . is I've advocated for so long for women to use their voice, and then I was silent.
Oprah: Were you silent? Or were you silenced?
Meghan: The latter.
Oprah: So, how does that work? Were you told by the comms people, or the, I don't know, the institution? Were you told to keep silent? How were you told to handle tabloids or gossip? Were you . . . were you told to say nothing?
Meghan: Everyone from . . . everyone in my world was given very clear directive, from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating, to always say, 'No comment'. That's my friends, my mom and dad.
Meghan: And we did.
Meghan: I did anything they told me to do - of course I did, because it was also through the lens of, 'And we'll protect you'. So, even as things started to roll out in the media that I didn't see - but my friends would call me and say, 'Meg, this is really bad' - because I didn't see it, I'd go, 'Don't worry. I'm being protected'.
Meghan: I believed that. And I think that was . . . that was really hard to reconcile because it was only . . . it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to under-stand that not only was I not being protected, but 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.
Oprah: So, are you saying you did not feel supported by the powers that be, be that The Firm, the monar-chy, all of them?
Meghan: It's hard for people to distinguish the two because there's . . . it's a family business, right?
Meghan: So, there's the family, and then there's the people that are running the institution. Those are two separate things. And it's important to be able to compartmentalise that, because the Queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me. I mean, we had one of our first joint engagements together. She asked me to join her, and I . . .
Oprah: Was this on the train?
Meghan: Yeah, on the train.
Meghan: We had breakfast together that morning, and she'd given me a beautiful gift, and I just really loved being in her company. And I remember we were in the car . . .
Oprah: Can you share what the gift was? Or . . .
Meghan: Yes. She gave me beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace. And we were in the car going between engagements, and she has a blanket that sits across her knees for warmth. And it was chilly, and she was like, 'Meghan, come on' and put it over my knees as well.
Oprah: Oh, nice.
Meghan: Right. Just moments of . . . and it made me think of my grand-mother, where she's always been warm and inviting and . . . and really welcoming.
Oprah: So, OK, so she made you feel welcomed?
Oprah: Did you feel welcomed by everyone? It seemed like you and Kate . . . at the Wimbledon game where you were going to watch a friend play tennis . . .
Oprah: Was it what it looked like? You are two sisters-in-law out there in the world, getting to know each other. Was she helping you, embracing you into the family, helping you adjust?
Meghan: I think everyone welcomed me.
Meghan: And, yeah, when you say, 'Was it what it looked like?', my under-standing and my experience of the past four years is it's nothing like what it looks like. It's nothing like what it looks like. And I . . . and I remember so often people within The Firm would say, 'Well, you can't do this because it'll look like that. You can't'. So, even, 'Can I go and have lunch with my friends?' 'No, no, no, you're oversaturated, you're every-where, it would be best for you to not go out to lunch with your friends'. I go, 'Well, I haven't . . . I haven't left the house in months'.
I mean, there was a day that one of the members of the family, she came over, and she said, 'Why don't you just lay low for a little while, because you are everywhere right now'. And I said, 'I've left the house twice in four months. I'm everywhere, but I am nowhere'. And from that standpoint, I continued to say to people, 'I know there's an obsession with how things look, but has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now, I could not feel lonelier'.
Oprah: Hmm. You were feeling lonely, even though your prince . . . you're in love, you're with him.
Meghan: I'm not lonely . . . I wasn't lonely with him.
Meghan: There were moments that he had to work or he had to go away, there's moments in the middle of the night. And so, there was very little that I was allowed to do.
Meghan: And so, yeah, of course that breeds loneliness when you've come from such a full life or when you've come from freedom. I think the easiest way that now people can understand it is what we've all gone through in lockdown.
Oprah: Yeah, well, everybody can certainly relate now.
(Cuts to footage of interview with ITV's Tom Bradby in South Africa in October, 2019)
Meghan: . . . asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.
Bradby: And the answer is, would it be fair to say, 'Not really OK', as in it's really been a struggle?
(Back to Oprah)
Oprah: Well, I would have to say, in South Africa, when the reporter stopped and asked, 'Are you OK . . ?'
Oprah: And, whooo, we all felt that. Why did that question strike such a nerve? What was going on with you, internally at that time?
Meghan: That was the last day of the tour. You know, those tours are . . . I'm sure they have beautiful pictures and it looks vibrant, and all of that is true. It's also really exhausting. So, I was fried, and I think it just hit me so hard because we were making it look like every-thing was fine. I can understand why people were really surprised to see that there was pain there.
Meghan: Because we were doing our job. Our job was to be on and to smile. And so, when he asked me that, I guess I had felt that it had never occurred to anyone that I, that I wasn't OK, and that I had really been suffering. And I had known for a long time and had been asking the institution for help for quite a long time.
Oprah: Help for what?
Meghan: After we had gotten back from our Australia tour - which was about a year before that - and we talked about when things really started to turn, when I knew we weren't being protected. And it was during that part of my pregnancy, especially, that I started to understand what our continued reality was going to look like.
Oprah: What kind of protection did you want that you feel you didn't receive?
Meghan: I mean, they would go on the record and negate the most ridiculous story for anyone, right? I'm talking about things that are super-artificial and inconsequential. But the narrative about, you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination. And they knew it wasn't true. And I thought, well, if they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?
Meghan: Separate from that, and what was happening behind closed doors was, you know, we knew I was pregnant. We now know it's Archie, and it was a boy. We didn't know any of that at the time. We can just talk about it as Archie now. And that was when they were saying they didn't want him to be a prince or a princess - not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol - and that he wasn't going to receive security.
Meghan: It was really hard.
Oprah: What do you mean?
Meghan: He wasn't going to receive security. This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy, where I'm going, 'Hold on a second'.
Oprah: That your son - and Harry, Prince Harry's son was not going to receive security?
Meghan: That's right, I know.
Oprah: How . . . but how does that work?
Meghan: How does that work? It's like, 'No, no, no. Look, because if he's not going to be a prince, it's like, OK, well, he needs to be safe, so we're not saying don't make him a prince or a princess - whatever it's going to be . . .
'But if you're saying the title is what's going to affect their protec-tion, we haven't created this monster machine around us in terms of clickbait and tabloid fodder. You've allowed that to happen, which means our son needs to be safe'.
Oprah: So, how do they explain to you that your son, the grandson, the great-grandson of the Queen . . .
Oprah: . . . is not going to have . . . he wasn't going to be a prince? How did they tell you that? And what reasons did they give? And then say, 'And so, therefore, you're not . . . you don't need protection'.
Meghan: There's no explanation.
Meghan: There's no version. I mean, that's the other piece of that . . .
Oprah: Who tells you that?
Meghan: I heard a lot of it through Harry and then other parts of it through conversations with . . .
Meghan: . . . family members. And it was a decision that they felt was appropriate. And I thought, well . . .
Oprah: Was the title . . . was him being called a prince, Archie being called a prince, was that important to you?
Meghan: If it meant he was going to be safe, then, of course. All the grandeur surrounding this stuff is an attachment that I don't personally have, right? I've been a waitress, an actress, a princess, a duchess. I've always just still been Meghan, right? So, for me, I'm clear on who I am, independent of all that stuff. And the most important title I will ever have is Mom. I know that.
Meghan: But the idea of our son not being safe, and also the idea of the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be . . . You know, the other piece of that conversation is, there's a convention - I forget if it was George V or George VI convention - that when you're the grandchild of the monarch, so when Harry's dad becomes king, automatically Archie and our next baby would become prince or princess, or whatever they were going to be.
Oprah: So, for you, it's about protection and safety, not so much as what the . . . what the title means to the world.
Meghan: That's a huge piece of it, but, I mean, but . . .
Oprah: . . . and that having the title gives you the safety and protection?
Meghan: Yeah, but also it's not their right to take it away.
Meghan: Right? And so, I think even with that convention I'm talking about, while I was pregnant, they said they want to change the convention for Archie.
Meghan: Well, why?
Oprah: Did you get an answer?
Oprah: You still don't have an answer?
Oprah: You know, we had heard - the world, those of us out here reading the things or hearing the things - that it was you and Harry who didn't want Archie to have a prince title. So, you're telling me that is not true?
Meghan: No, and it's not our decision to make, right?
Meghan: . . . even though I have a lot of clarity on what comes with the titles, good and bad - and from my experience, a lot of pain.
Meghan: I, again, wouldn't wish pain on my child, but that is their birthright to then make a choice about.
Oprah: OK, so it feels to me like things started to change when you and Harry decided that you were not going to take the picture that had been a part of the tradition for years and . . .
Meghan: We weren't asked to take a picture. That's also part of the spin, that was really damaging. I thought, 'Can you just tell them the truth? Can you say to the world you're not giving him a title, and we want to keep him safe, and that if he's not a prince, then it's not part of the tradition? Just tell people, and then they'll understand?'
Meghan: But they wouldn't do that.
Oprah: But you were . . . you both, obviously, were aware that had been a part of the tradition? And there was a . . . was there a specific reason why you didn't want to be a part of that tradition? I think many people interpreted that as you were both saying, 'We're going to do things our way. We're going to do things a different way'.
Meghan: That's not it at all. I mean, I think what was really hard . . . so, picture, now that you know what was going on behind the scenes, right? There was a lot of fear surrounding it. I was very scared of having to offer up our baby, knowing that they weren't going to be kept safe.
Oprah: You certainly must have had some conversations with Harry about it and have your own suspicions as to why they didn't want to make Archie a prince. What are . . . what are those thoughts? Why do you think that is? Do you think it's because of his race?
Oprah: And I know that's a loaded question, but . . .
Meghan: But I can give you an honest answer. In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time . . . so we have in tandem the conversation of 'He won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title' and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born.
Meghan: And . . .
Oprah: Who . . . who is having that conversation with you? What?
Meghan: So . . .
Oprah: There is a conversation . . . hold on. Hold up. Hold up. Stop right now.
Meghan: There were . . . there were several conversations about it.
Oprah: There's a conversation with you . . ?
Meghan: With Harry.
Oprah: About how dark your baby is going to be?
Meghan: Potentially, and what that would mean or look like.
Oprah: Whoo. And you're not going to tell me who had the conversation?
Meghan: I think that would be very damaging to them.
Oprah: OK. So, how . . . how does one have that meeting?
Meghan: That was relayed to me from Harry. Those were conversations that family had with him. And I think . . .
Meghan: It was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.
Oprah: Because they were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem? Are you saying that?
Meghan: I wasn't able to follow up with why, but that - if that's the assumption you're making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand, right? Especially when - look, I - the Commonwealth is a huge part of the monarchy, and I lived in Canada, which is a Commonwealth country, for seven years. But it wasn't until Harry and I were together that we started to travel through the Commonwealth, I would say 60 per cent, 70 per cent of which is people of colour, right?
Meghan: And growing up as a woman of colour, as a little girl of colour, I know how important representation is. I know how you want to see someone who looks like you in certain positions.
Meghan: Even Archie. Like, we read these books, and now he's been - there's one line in one that goes, 'If you can see it, you can be it'. And he goes, 'You can be it!' And I think about that so often, especially in the context of these young girls, but even grown women and men who, when I would meet them in our time in the Commonwealth, how much it meant to them to be able to see someone who looks like them . . .
Meghan: . . . in this position. And I could never understand how it wouldn't be seen as an added benefit . . .
Meghan: . . . and a reflection of the world today. At all times, but especially right now, to go - 'how inclusive is that, that you can see someone who looks like you in this family, much less one who's born into it?'
(Oprah narrates) When Meghan joined the Royal Family in 2018, she became the target of unrelenting, pervasive attacks. Racist abuse online aimed at Meghan Markle. There were undeniable racist overtones. This stands apart from the kind of coverage we've seen of any other royal.
There was constant criticism, blatant sexist and racist remarks by British tabloids and internet trolls. We have seen the racism towards her play out in real time. Referring to her as 'straight outta Compton'. The daily onslaught of vitriol and condemnation from the UK Press became overwhelming and, in Meghan's words, 'almost unsurvivable'. (Back to Oprah)
Oprah: 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: 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.
Meghan: And, look, 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's suffered. But I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it. And I . . . I just didn't . . . I just didn't want to be alive any more. 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. And I called . . .
Oprah: So the institution is never a person. Or is it a series of people?
Meghan: No, it's a person.
Oprah: It's a person.
Meghan: It's several people. But I went to one of the most senior people just to . . . 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.
Meghan: 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'.
Meghan: This wasn't a choice. This was emails and begging for help, saying very specifically, 'I am concerned for my mental welfare'. And people going, '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.
Oprah: Wow! 'I don't want to be alive any more,' that's . . .
Meghan: I thought it would have solved everything for everyone, right?
Oprah: So, were you thinking of harming yourself? Were you having suicidal thoughts?
Meghan: Yes. This was very, very clear.
Meghan: Very clear and very scary. And, you know, I didn't know who to even turn to in that. And one of the people that I reached out to, who's continued to be a friend and confidant, was one of my husband's mom's best friends, one of Diana's best friends. Because it's, like, who else could understand what's . . .what it's actually like on the inside?
Oprah: Did you ever think about going to a hospital? Or is that possible, that you can check yourself in some place?
Meghan: No, that's what I was asking to do.
Meghan: You can't just do that. I couldn't, you know, call an Uber to the palace.
Meghan: You couldn't just go. You couldn't. I mean, you have to understand, as well, when I joined that family, that was the last time, until we came here, that I saw my passport, my driver's licence, my keys. All that gets turned over. I didn't see any of that any more.
Oprah: Well, the way you're describing this, it . . . it's like you were trapped and couldn't get help, even though you're on the verge of suicide. That's what you are describing. That's what I'm hearing.
Oprah: And that would be an accurate interpretation, yes?
Meghan: That's the truth.
Oprah: That's the truth.
Meghan: You know, and if you think about . . . it was one of the things that . . . it stills haunts me is this photograph that someone had sent me. We had to go to an official event. We had to go to this event at the Royal Albert Hall, and a friend said, 'I know you don't look at pictures, but, oh, my God, you guys look so great . . .'
Meghan: . . . and sent it to me. And I zoomed in, and what I saw was the truth of what that moment was, because right before we had to leave for that, I had just had that conversation with Harry that morning, and it was the next day that I talked to the institution.
Oprah: You had the conversation 'I don't want to be alive any more'?
Meghan: No, and it was . . . it wasn't even, 'I don't want to'.
Oprah: And then, you . . ?
Meghan: It was like, 'These are the thoughts that I'm having in the middle of the night that are very clear . . .'
Oprah: Yes, clarification.
Meghan: '. . . and I'm scared, because this is very real. This isn't some abstract idea. This is methodical, and this is not who I am'. But we had to go to this event, and I remember him saying, 'I don't think you can go'. And I said, 'I can't be left alone'.
Oprah: Because you were afraid of what you might do to yourself?
Meghan: And we went, and that . . .
Oprah: I'm so sorry to hear that.
Meghan: . . . and that picture, if you zoom in, what I see is how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine. You can see the whites of our knuckles, because we are smiling and doing our job, but we're both just trying to hold on. And every time that those lights went down in that Royal Box, I was just weeping, and he was gripping my hand.
Meghan: And then, it was, 'OK, intermission's coming, the lights are about to come on, everyone's looking at us again', and you have to just be on again.
Meghan: And that's, I think, so important for people to remember is you have no idea what's going on for someone behind closed doors. You have no idea. Even the people that smile the biggest smiles and shine the brightest lights, it seems, to have compassion for what's actually potentially going on.
Oprah: I know. The public is looking at you. And to think that you, earlier in the day, had said to Harry that you didn't want to be alive any more.
Meghan: Yeah. And just hours before, just sitting on the . . . the steps in our cottage . . .
Meghan: . . . just sitting there and then going, 'ok, well, go upstairs and put your make-up bag in your sink and try to pull yourself together'.
Oprah: Nobody should have to go through that.
Meghan: And, you know, Harry and I are working on this mental health series for Apple, and we - yes, so - we, we, we hear a lot of these stories. Nobody should have to go through that. It takes so much courage to admit that you need help.
Meghan: It takes so much courage to voice that. And as I said, I was ashamed. I'm supposed to be stronger than that.
Meghan: I don't want to put more on my husband's shoulders. He's carrying the weight of the world. I don't want to bring that to him. I bring solutions. To admit that you need help, to admit how dark of a place you're in.
Oprah: You've said some pretty shocking things here, revealing . . .
Meghan: I wasn't planning to say anything shocking.
Meghan: I'm just telling you what's happened.
Meghan: I'm sorry if it's shocked you! It's been a lot.
Oprah: I'm a little shocked.
Meghan: It's been a lot.
Oprah: How do you feel about the palace hearing you speak your truth today? Are you afraid of a backlash or their reaction?
Meghan: I mean, I think I'm not going to live my life in fear. You know, I think so much of it is said with an understanding of just truth.
Meghan: But I think, to answer your question, I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.
Meghan: That at a certain point, you're going to go, 'But, you guys, someone just tell the truth'. And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, I've lost . . . there's a lot that's been lost already.
Meghan: And I grieve a lot. I mean, I've lost my father. I lost a baby. I nearly lost my name. I mean, there's the loss of identity. But I'm still standing, and my hope for people in the takeaway from this is to know that there's another side.
Meghan: To know that life is worth living.
Oprah: OK. I'm so glad you see that now. We are going to take a break, y'all, and Harry's going to join us.
(Ads and back to Oprah)
Oprah: So, hi.
Oprah: Thanks for joining us.
Harry: Thanks for having me.
Oprah: You've been watching on the side, yeah?
Harry: Some of it.
Oprah: Yes. I want to say, first of all, let's say congratulations . . .
Harry: Thank you.
Oprah: . . . for the new addition to your family. Meghan said she wanted to wait until you were here to tell us, is it a boy or is it a girl?
Meghan: You can tell her.
Harry: No, go for it.
Meghan: No, no.
Harry: It's a girl.
Meghan: It's a girl.
Oprah: You're going to have a daughter. Wow.
Meghan: It's a girl.
Oprah: When you realised that and saw it on the ultrasound, what . . . what . . . what was your first thought?
Harry: Amazing. Just grateful, like any - to have any child, any one or any two would have been amazing. But to have a boy and then a girl, you know, what more can you ask for? But now, you know, now we - we've got our family. We've got, you know, the four of us and our two dogs, and it's great.
Oprah: Done. Done? Two is it?
Meghan: Two is it.
Oprah: Two is it.
Meghan: Two is it.
Oprah: And when's the baby due?
Meghan: In summertime.
Oprah: This summertime?
Oprah: So, you all have been living in sunny California now for . . .
Meghan: Since March.
Oprah: Since March, OK.
(Oprah narrates) In late 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan left the UK And moved to Canada. The couple says they chose Canada, a commonwealth of Britain, with the intention of continuing to serve the Queen. After their move, Harry and Meghan say security normally provided by the Royal Family was cut off. By March 2020, just days before the Covid lockdown began, Meghan, Harry and Archie relocated to Los Angeles, where media mogul Tyler Perry offered them his home as a temporary refuge. He also provided security.
Three months later they bought their own home and settled in the Santa Barbara area. Last spring, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex created their own foundation and media content company called Archewell.
Oprah: And so you stayed at Tyler Perry's house for several months.
Harry: Three months, I believe.
Meghan: Yeah, because we didn't have a plan. We needed . . . we needed a house and he offered security as well, so it gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we are going to do.
Harry: The biggest concern was that while we were in Canada, in someone else's house, I then got told at short notice security was going to be removed. By this point, courtesy of the Daily Mail, the world knew exact . . . our exact location. So suddenly it dawned on me, 'Hang on a second. The borders could be closed. We're going to have our security removed. Who knows how long lockdown's going to be? The world knows where we are. It's not safe. It's not secure'.
Meghan: Well, and also . . .
Harry: We probably need to get out of here.
Oprah: So, what security did you have at the time that was going to be removed?
Harry: We had our UK security.
Oprah: So you got word from overseas?
Oprah: That 'we're taking away your security'. Why were they doing that?
Harry: Their justification is a change in status, of which I pushed back and said, 'Well, is there a change of threat or risk?' And after many weeks of waiting, eventually I got the confirmation that no, the risk and threat hasn't changed but due to our change of status, (by) which we would no longer be official working members of the Royal Family, they're obviously . . . what we proposed was sort of part-time, or at least as much as we could do without being fully consumed because of, I think, what most of you guys have covered already.
Meghan: We actually didn't talk about that. It's been so spun in the wrong direction, as though we quit, we walked away, we . . . all the conversations of the two years before we finally announced it.
(Oprah narrates) In January 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan announced they would step back as senior members of the Royal Family. The swiftness with which they've taken this decision, only 18 months after they got married, has taken everyone by surprise, from the Queen all the way down.
The bombshell news sparked a worldwide media frenzy dubbed 'Megxit' by the British Press. Many reporters and viral posts blamed Meghan for the decision. In an official statement, Queen Elizabeth said: 'Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.' (Back to Oprah)
Oprah: OK, let me ask the question.
Oprah: So, over a year ago, you shocked the world. You announced you were stepping back as senior members of the Royal Family. And then the media reported that you had 'blindsided' the Queen, your grandmother. So here's a time to set the record straight. What was the tipping point that made you decide you had to leave?
Harry: Yeah, it was desperate. I went to all the places which I thought I should go to, to ask for help. We both did.
Harry: Separately and together.
Oprah: So you left because you were asking for help and couldn't get it?
Harry: Yeah, basically. But we never left.
Meghan: We never left the family and we only wanted to have the same type of role that exists, right? There's senior members of the family and then there are non-senior members. And we said, specifically, 'We're stepping back from senior roles to be just like several . . .' I mean, I can think of so many right now who are all . . . they're royal highnesses, prince or princess, duke or duchess . . . who earn a living, live on palace grounds, can support the Queen if and when called upon. So we weren't reinventing the wheel here. We were saying, 'OK, if this isn't working for everyone, we're in a lot of pain, you can't provide us with the help we need, we can just take a step back. We can do it in a Commonwealth country'. We suggested New Zealand, South Africa . . .
Harry: Take a breath.
Oprah: Yeah. And you wanted to take a breath from what specifically? Let's be clear.
Harry: From this . . . this constant barrage. My biggest concern was history repeating itself and I've said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself. But more, perhaps. Or definitely far more dangerous because then you add race in and you add social media in. And when I'm talking about history repeating itself, I'm talking about my . . . my mother.
Harry: When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help, ask the system of which you are a part of - especially when you know there's a relationship there - that they could help and share some truth or call . . . call the dogs off, whatever you want to call it. So to receive no help at all and to be told continuously, 'This is how it is. This is just how it is. We've all been through it' . . . and I think the biggest turning point for me was the . . . and it didn't take very long. It was actually right at the beginning . . . was, OK, this union . . . us, me, being . . . having a girlfriend was going to be a thing. Of course it was. But I . . . I never expected, or I never thought . . .
Oprah: Because she was mixed race?
Harry: No, just . . . just the two of us to start with. I hadn't really thought about the mixed-race piece because I thought, well . . . well, firstly, you know, I've spent many years doing the work and doing my own learning. But my upbringing in the system, of which I was brought up in and what I've been exposed to, it wasn't . . . I wasn't aware of it to start with. But, my god, it doesn't take very long to suddenly become aware of it.
Oprah: Yeah, because you said you really weren't aware of unconscious bias and all that that represents . . .
Oprah: Until you met Meghan.
Harry: Yeah. You know, as sad as it is to say, it takes living in her shoes - in this instance, for a day, or those first eight days - to see where it was going to go and how far they were going to take it.
Oprah: And get away with it?
Harry: And get away with it and be so blatant about it. That's the bit that shocked me. This is . . . we're talking about the UK Press here, right? And this . . . the UK is my home. That is . . . that is where I was brought up. So yes, I've got my own relationship that goes back a long way with the media. I asked for calm from the British tabloids - once as a boyfriend, once as a husband and once as a father.
Oprah: So when I ask the question, 'Why did you leave?' the simplest answer is . . ?
Harry: Lack of support and lack of understanding.
Oprah: So, I want clarity. Was the move about getting away from the UK Press? Because the Press, as you know, is everywhere. Or was the move because you weren't getting enough support from The Firm?
Harry: It was both.
Oprah: Did you blindside the Queen?
Harry: No. I've never blindsided my grandmother. I have too much respect for her.
Oprah: So where did that story come from?
Harry: I hazard a guess that it probably could have come from within the institution.
Meghan: So, I remember when you talked to her several times about this over . . .
Harry: Two years.
Meghan: Two years. But even the night before, days before, with the statement coming out, I remember that conversation.
Oprah: So, how do you know she wasn't blindsided? Because the way it was presented through the Press is that suddenly you made this announcement. She didn't know it was coming.
Harry: No, I . . . when we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father and - before he stopped taking my calls - and he said, 'Can you put this all in writing what your plan is?'
Oprah: Your father asked you to put it in writing.
Harry: Yeah. He asked me to put it in writing and I put all the specifics in there, even the fact that we were planning on putting the announcement out on January 7.
Oprah: So you just said that your dad stopped taking your calls. Why did he stop taking your calls?
Harry: Because I took matters in . . . by that point, I took matters into my own hands. It was like, 'I need to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's gotten to this point but I've got to do something for my own mental health, my wife's and for Archie's as well'. Because I could see where this was headed.
Meghan: To have sat back and not said that for so long, it just feels really . . .
Oprah: To have been silenced all this time.
Harry: Been three and a half, four years. Or longer, actually.
Meghan: We were saying . . . gosh, it must have been years ago we were sitting in Nottingham (Nottingham Cottage, where Harry lived as a bachelor and when first married) . . . I was sitting in Nottingham Cottage and The Little Mermaid came on. Now, who watches . . . who as an adult really watches The Little Mermaid? But it came on and I was like, 'Well, I'm just here all the time, so I may as well watch this'. And I went, 'Oh, my god! She falls in love with the prince and because of that, she has to lose her voice'.
Meghan: But by the end, she gets her voice back.
Oprah: Gets her voice back.
Oprah: And this is what happened here? You feel like you got your voice back?
Oprah: So, you . . . you're stepping back out of frustration and you just need to get out. And, you know, you heard Meghan share with us all . . .
Oprah: The moment that she came to you, had the courage enough to say out loud . . .
Oprah: 'I don't want to live any more.'
Oprah: And you didn't know what to do?
Harry: I had no idea what to do. I wasn't . . . I wasn't prepared for that. I went . . . I went to a very dark place as well. But I . . . I wanted to be there for her and . . .
Meghan: Also, we didn't leave right that minute, right?
Harry: I was terrified.
Meghan: We still . . . that's almost a year after.
Oprah: So then did you tell other people in the family, 'I have to get help for her. We need help for her'?
Harry: No. That's just not a conversation that would be had.
Harry: I guess I was ashamed of admitting it to them.
Harry: And I don't know whether . . . I don't know whether they've had the same . . . whether they've had the same feelings or thoughts. I have no idea. And it's a very trapping environment that a lot of them are stuck in.
Oprah: You were ashamed of admitting that Meghan needed help?
Harry: I didn't have anyone to turn to.
Harry: You know, we've got some very close friends that . . . that have been with us through this whole process but for the family, they very much have this mentality of, 'This is just how it is. This is how it's meant to be. You can't change it. We've all been through it'.
Oprah: 'We've all been through the pressure. We've all been through being exploited'?
Harry: Yes. But what was different for me was the race element, because now it wasn't just about her, but it is about what she represents. And therefore it wasn't just affecting my wife. It was affecting so many other people as well. And that's . . . that was the trigger for me to really engage in those conversations with Palace . . . senior Palace staff and with my family to say, 'Guys, this is not going to end well'.
Oprah: And when you say 'end well', what did you mean?
Harry: For anyone it's not going to end well. Because the way that I saw it was there was a way of doing things but for us - for this union and the specifics around her race - there was an opportunity, many opportunities, for my family to show some public support.
Harry: And I guess one of the most telling parts - and the saddest parts, I guess - was over 70 Members of Parliament, female Members of Parliament, both Conservative and Labour - came out and called out the . . . the colonial undertones of articles and headlines written about
Meghan. Yet no one from my family ever said anything over those three years. And that . . . that hurts. But I also am acutely aware of where my family stand and how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them.
Oprah: Turning on them for what? They're the Royal Family.
Harry: Yes, but it's . . . there is this invisible . . . what's termed or referred to as the 'invisible contract' behind closed doors between the institution and the tabloids, the UK tabloids.
Oprah: How so?
Harry: Well, it is . . . to simplify it, it's a case of if you . . . if you as a family member are willing to wine, dine and give full access to these reporters, then you will get better press.
Oprah: What do you care about better press if you're royal?
Harry: I think everyone needs to have some compassion for . . . for them in that situation, right? There is a level of control by fear that has existed for generations. I mean, generations.
Oprah: But who's controlling whom? It's the institution. From our point of view, just the public. It's . . .
Harry: Yeah but the institution survives based on that, on that perception. So actually, if you don't . . .
Oprah: So you're saying there's this relationship that Meghan was speaking of . . . it's like, symbiotic. One lives or thrives because the other exists.
Oprah: That's what you're saying.
Harry: That's the . . . that's the idea.
Meghan: Well, see, I think there's a reason that these tabloids have holiday parties at the Palace. They're hosted by the Palace, the tabloids are. You know, there is a construct that's at play there. And because from the beginning of our relationship, they were so attacking and inciting so much racism, really, it changed our . . . the risk level, because it went . . . it wasn't just catty gossip. It was bringing out a part of people that was racist in how it was charged. And that changed the threat. That changed the level of death threats. That changed everything.
Oprah: So, tell me this: You said a moment ago, it hurts that your family has never acknowledged the role that racism played in here. Did you think she was well received in the beginning?
Harry: Yes. Far better than I expected. (Laughter) But, you know, my grandmother has been amazing throughout. You know, my father, my brother, Kate and . . . and all the rest of the family, they were, they were really welcoming. But it really changed after the Australia tour, after our South Pacific tour.
Meghan: That's when we announced we were pregnant with Archie. That was our first tour.
Harry: But it was also . . . it was also the first time that the family got to see how incredible she is at the job. And that brought back memories.
Oprah: I'm thinking, because I watch The Crown OK? I watch The Crown. Do you all watch The Crown?
Harry: I've watched some of it. You've watched some of it?
Meghan: I've watched some of it.
Oprah: But there's this . . . I think it was the fourth season, actually, where there is an Australian tour. So, is that what you're talking about? It brought back memories of that? The Australian tour.
Oprah: Where your father and your mother went there, and your mother was bedazzling. So, are you saying that there were hints of jealousy?
Harry: Look, I just wish that we would all learn from the past. But to see the . . . to see how effortless it was for Meghan to come into the family so quickly in Australia and across New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, and just be able to connect with people in such a . . .
Oprah: But . . .
Harry: I know, I know, I know, I know. But it's . . .
Oprah: Why, I mean, why wouldn't everybody love that? Isn't that what you want? You want her to come into the family and to, as the Queen said at one point, the way that Meghan had basically, not her words, been assimilated into the family.
Harry: Yeah, I think, you know, as we talked about, she was very much welcomed into the family, not just by the family, but by the world.
Harry: Certainly by the Commonwealth. I mean, here you have one of the greatest assets to the Commonwealth that the family could have ever wished for.
Oprah: I just can't . . . I'm kind of going back to this. So, then, you're in Canada because you had stepped back. Your Firm says you're no longer going to have protection. So, did you ask for that? Because did you want . . . were you trying to have it both ways? You wanted to step back but also keep your foot in royal business, it seems.
Harry: It's interesting that you talk about it being, you know, 'Have it both ways' on the . . . on the security element. I never thought that I would have my security removed, because I was born into this position. I inherited the risk. So that was a shock to me. That was what completely changed the whole plan.
Oprah: So, that you as Prince Harry are going to have your security removed.
Meghan: Yeah. And I even . . . and I even wrote letters to his family saying, 'Please, it's very clear the protection of me or Archie is not a priority. I accept that. That is fine. Please keep my husband safe. I see the death threats. I see the racist propaganda. Please keep him safe. Please don't pull his security and announce to the world when he and we are most vulnerable'. And they said it's just not possible.
Oprah: Mm-hmm. I think what we really have got to clear up here is because one of the stories that continues to live, either through rumours or social media, out in the world, is that you, Meghan, are the one who manipulated, calculated, and are responsible for this Megxit.
Meghan: Oh, my gosh. It's amazing how they can use Meg for everything.
Oprah: Yes. There are even stories that you knew all along that this was going to happen. You went through the whole process, and it was all intentional to build your brand.
Meghan: Can you imagine how little sense that makes? I left my career, my life. I left everything because I love him, right? And our plan was to do this for ever.
Meghan: Our plan . . . for me, I mean, I wrote letters to his family when I got there, saying, 'I am dedicated to this. I'm here for you. Use me as you'd like'. There was no guidance, as well, right? There were certain things that you couldn't do. But, you know, unlike what you see in the movies, there's no class on how to . . . how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal. There's none of that training. That might exist for other members of the family. That was not something that was offered to me.
Oprah: So, nobody tells you anything?
Oprah: Nobody prepares you?
Meghan: Nobody even . . .
Harry: There's . . .
Meghan: Sorry, but even down to, like, the National Anthem. No one thought to say, 'Oh, you're American. You're not going to know that'. That's me late at night, Googling how . . . what's the National . . . I've got to learn this. I don't want to embarrass them. I need to learn these 30 hymns for church. All of this is televised. We were doing the training behind the scenes, because I just wanted to make them proud.
Oprah: OK, but here's the question: Do you think you would have left or ever stepped back were it not for Meghan?
Harry: No. The answer to your question is no.
Oprah: You would not have?
Harry: I wouldn't have . . . I wouldn't have been able to, because I myself was trapped as well. I didn't see a way out.
Oprah: She felt trapped, you were trapped?
Harry: Yeah, I didn't see a way out.
Oprah: But you'd this life, your whole life. This has been your life your whole life.
Harry: Yeah, but, you know, I was trapped, but I didn't know I was trapped.
Harry: But the moment that I met Meg, and then our worlds sort of collided in the most amazing of ways, and then to see how . . .
Oprah: Please explain how you, Prince Harry, raised in a palace and a life of privilege - literally, a Prince . . . how you were trapped.
Harry: Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that.
Oprah: Well, OK, so the impression of the world - maybe it's a false impression - is that, for all these years before Meghan, you were living your life as a royal, Prince Harry . . . the beloved Prince Harry and that you were enjoying that life. We didn't get the impression that you were feeling trapped in that life.
Harry: Enjoying the life because there were photographs of me smiling while I was shaking hands and meeting people? Like, I'm sure you guys have covered some of that. That's . . . that's a part of the job. That's a part of the role. That's what's expected. No matter who you are in the family, no matter what's going on in your personal life, no matter what's just happened, if the bikes roll up and the car rolls up, you've got to get dressed, you got to get in there. You wipe your tears away, shake off whatever you're thinking about and you got to be on your A-game.
Oprah: Mm-hmm. What would you think your mum would say about this stepping back, this decision to step back from the Royal Family? How would she feel about this moment?
Harry: I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out, and very sad. But, ultimately, she'd . . . all she'd . . . all she'd ever want is for us to be happy.
Oprah: You wanted freedom from . . . from that life? You wanted freedom to make your own money. You wanted freedom to make deals with Netflix and Spotify. But you also wanted to serve the Queen?
Harry: Yeah, we didn't want to . . . we didn't want to give up, or we didn't want to turn our backs on the associations and the people that we . . . that we've been supporting.
Meghan: But also, Oprah, it exists.
Harry: Yeah, it exists. But, also, the Netflix and the Spotify, they're all . . . that was never part of the plan.
Oprah: Because you didn't have a plan?
Meghan: We didn't have a plan.
Harry: We didn't have a plan. That was suggested by somebody else by the point of where my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford . . . afford security for us.
Oprah: Wait. Hold . . . hold up. Wait a minute. Your family cut you off?
Harry: Yeah, in the first half, the first quarter of 2020. But I've got what my mum left me, and, without that, we would not have been able to do this.
Harry: So, you know, touching back on what you asked me, what my mum would think of this, I think she saw it coming. And I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process. And, you know, for me, I'm . . . I'm just really relieved and happy to be sitting here talking to you with my wife by my side. Because I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for her going through this process by herself all those years ago, because it's been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other.
Oprah: What's your relationship like now with your family?
Harry: I've spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done for many, many years.
Oprah: Do you all have Zoom calls?
Harry: We did a couple of Zoom calls with Archie.
Meghan: Sometimes, yes, so they can see Archie.
Harry: My grandmother and I have a really good relationship . . .
Harry: . . . And an understanding. And I have a deep respect for her. She's my Colonel-In-Chief, right? She always will be.
Oprah: Your relationship with your father? Is he taking your calls now?
Harry: Yeah. Yeah, he is. There's a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like, and this is . . . and Archie's his grandson. And . . . but, at the same time, you know, I, of course I will always . . . I will always love him, but there's a lot of hurt that's happened. And . . . and I will continue to . . . to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship. And, but they only know what they know, and that's the thing. I've tried to . . .
Meghan: Or what they're told.
Harry: Or what they're told. And I've tried to educate them through the process that I have been educated.
Oprah: Because is it like being in a big royal bubble?
Oprah: Yeah. And your brother? Relationship? Much has been said about that.
Harry: Yeah, and much will continue to be said about that. You know, as I've said before, I love William to bits. He's my brother. We've been through hell together. I mean, we have a shared experience. But we . . . you know, we're on . . . we're on different paths.
Oprah: Well, what is particularly striking is what Meghan shared with us earlier, is that no one wants to admit that there's anything about race or that race has played a role in the trolling and the vitriol, and yet Meghan shared with us that there was a conversation with you about Archie's skin tone.
Oprah: What was that conversation?
Harry: That conversation I'm never going to share, but at the time . . . at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked.
Oprah: Can you . . . can you tell us what the question was?
Harry: No. I don't . . . I'm not comfortable with sharing that.
Harry: But that was . . . that was right at the beginning, right?
Oprah: Like, what will the baby look like?
Harry: Yeah, what will the kids look like?
Oprah: What will the kids look like?
Harry: But that was right at the beginning, when she wasn't going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff. Like, there was some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.
Oprah: So, in conclusion, if you'd had the support, you'd still be there?
Harry: Without question.
Harry: I'm sad that . . . that what's happened has happened, but I know, and I'm comfortable in knowing, that we did everything that we could to make it work. And we did everything on the exit process the way that . . . the way that it should have been done.
Meghan: With as much respect.
Harry: With as much respect.
Meghan: And, oh, my God, we just did everything we could to . . . to protect them.
Oprah: So, what do you say to the people who say you came here, you made these multimillion-dollar deals and that you're just money-grabbing royals?
Harry: First off, this was never the intention.
Harry: And we're certainly not complaining. We . . . our life is great now. We've got a beautiful house. We've got a beautiful . . . I've got a beautiful family. And the dogs . . . the dogs are really happy. But at the time, during Covid, the suggestion by a friend was, 'What about streamers?'
Meghan: Yeah, we genuinely hadn't thought about that before.
Harry: We hadn't thought about it. So there were all sorts of different options. And, look, from my perspective, all I needed was enough money to be able to pay for security to keep my family safe.
Oprah: Mm. How will you use Archewell as a means of speaking to things that are important to you in the world?
Meghan: I think in creating . . . I mean, life is about storytelling, right? About the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we're told, what we buy into. And . . . and for us to be able to have storytelling through a truthful lens, that hopefully is uplifting, is going to be great knowing how many people that can land with. And being able to give a voice to a lot of people that are under-represented and aren't really heard.
Oprah: Any regrets?
Meghan: This morning, I woke up earlier than H and saw a note from someone on our team in the UK saying the Duke of Edinburgh had gone to the hospital.
Meghan: But I just picked up the phone and I called the Queen just to check in.
Oprah: You check in?
Meghan: Just like, I would . . . you know . . . that's what we do. It's like, being able to default to not having to every moment go, 'Is that appropriate?'
Harry: For so many in my family, what they do is . . . there's a level of control in it, right? Because they're fearful of what the papers are going to say about them.
Harry: Whereas with us, it was just, like, just be . . . just be yourself. Just be genuine. Just be authentic. Just go and do what it is. If you get it wrong, you get it wrong. If you get it right, you get it right.
(Oprah narrates) On February 19, 2021, Buckingham palace released a statement announcing it was agreed that Prince Harry and Meghan would not return as working members of the Royal Family. Harry and Meghan's royal patronages and Prince Harry's honorary military titles would be returned to the Queen. The Queen's statement was released after our interview took place. (Back to Oprah)
Oprah: Your exit agreement with the Royal Family, it's . . . that is coming up at the end of this month.
Harry: The decision is, I think. Yeah, I mean, the decision - what, as of last week, or whatever it was - is that they will be removing everything.
Oprah: Are you hurt by that decision?
Harry: I am hurt. But at the same time I completely respect my grandmother's decision. I would still love for us to be able to continue to support those associations, albeit without the title or the role.
Oprah: Could you be as satisfied now, doing this through your own organisation, Archewell?
Meghan: Well, we . . . this is what we're doing, right? We're still doing it. We're still going to always do the work. But I also think it's important for you or everyone to know this decision that was made about patronages and all of that was before anyone knew that we were sitting down with you.
Meghan: I think that it's . . . I can only imagine . . .
Oprah: I heard a story that you're getting punished now. Those were being taken away because you did sit down with me.
Meghan: Yeah, but that was . . . those letters, those conversations, that was . . . that was finalised before anyone even knew that we were going to sit down. So that's just not true.
Oprah: All right, tell me this. Harry, what delights you now in your everyday experience and the things that you actually cherish in your life here with Archie and Meghan?
Harry: This year has been crazy for everybody. But to have outdoor space where I can go for walks with Archie, and we can go for walks as a family and with the dogs, and we can go on hikes - we'll go down to the beach, which is so close - all of these things are just . . . I guess, the highlight for me is sticking him on the back of the bicycle in his little baby seat and taking him on these bike rides, which is something I was never able to do when I was young. I can see him on the back and he's got his arms out and he's like, 'Whoo!' chatting, chatting, chatting, going, 'Palm tree! House!' and all this sort of stuff. And I do . . . I think to myself . . .
Oprah: What's his new favourite word? What's his favourite word now?
Meghan: Oh my gosh, he's on a roll. In the past couple weeks it has been hydrate, which is just hysterical.
Harry: But also, whenever everyone leaves the house, he's like, 'Drive safe'.
Meghan: 'Drive safe'.
Harry: Which is really . . .
Meghan: He's not even two yet!
Oprah: You said that your brother was trapped. You said that you love your brother and always will love your brother. You didn't tell me what the relationship is now, though.
Harry: The relationship is space at the moment. And, you know, time heals all things, hopefully.
Oprah: Any regrets?
Harry: No. I mean . . . no, I think we've done . . . I'm really proud of us, you know? I'm so proud of . . . I'm so proud of my wife. Like, she safely delivered Archie during a period of time which was so cruel and so mean. And every single day, I was coming back from work, from London, I was coming back to my wife crying while breastfeeding Archie. That's coming from someone who wasn't reading anything. And as she touched on earlier, if she had read anything, she wouldn't be here now. So we did what we had to do - and now we've got another little one on the way.
Meghan: I have one. My regret is believing them when they said I would be protected. I believed that. And I regret believing that because I think, 'had I really seen that that wasn't happening, I would have been able to do more'. But I think I wasn't supposed to see it. I wasn't supposed to know. And . . . and now, because we're actually on the other side, we've actually not just survived but are thriving. You know, this . . . I mean, this is miracles. I . . . yeah, I think that all of those things that I was hoping for have happened . . . and this is in some ways just the beginning for us. You know, we've been through a lot. It's felt like a lifetime. (Laughs.) A lifetime.
Oprah: So, your story with the prince does have a happy ending?
Meghan: It does.
Meghan: Yeah. (Laughs.) It really did.
Oprah: It has a happy ending because you made it so.
Meghan: Yeah, greater than any fairytale you've ever read.
Oprah: Greater than any fairytale.
Meghan: Yeah, yeah.
Oprah: What you've described here today - being trapped and not even being aware of it and all the things that had transpired, and then she comes into your life and then you're doing therapy - do you think in some way she saved you?
Harry: Yeah. Without question. There was . . . there was a bigger purpose. There was other forces at play, I think, throughout this whole process. I'm the last person to think, 'Ooh!' You know? But it's undeniable when these things have happened, where the overlap is. So yeah, she did. Without question she saved me.
Meghan: And I would . . . I would . . . I mean, I think that's lovely. I would disagree. I think he saved all of us, right? He ultimately called it and was like, 'We've got to find a way for us, for Archie'. And you made a decision that saved . . . certainly saved my life and saved all of us. But, you know, you need to want to be saved.
Oprah: Well, thank you for sharing your love story. We can't wait for the big day some time this summer.
Meghan: Yes, indeed.
Oprah: Sometime this summer.
Oprah: Thank you both for trusting me to share your story.
Originally published as Meghan and Harry's secret wedding that wasn't