Prince Harry: 'It all changed after the Australia tour'

 

IN the opening minutes of a highly anticipated interview with Oprah, Meghan Markle revealed she entered into royal life naively.

"I went into it naively, because I didn't grow up watching the royal family," Meghan says, as Oprah asks what she thought entering the marriage.

"I didn't do any research. I'd never looked up my husband online - everything I needed to know, he was telling me.

"I didn't fully understand what the job was - what was needed of me. There was no way to understand what the day to day was."

"The perception and the reality were two seperate things.

Prince Harry later joined the interview where he revealed the couple are expecting a girl. He also detailed his concerns about history repeating itself and referenced his mother Princess Diana. 

A photograph of Prince Harry and wife Meghan released by the couple to confirm the pregnancy.
A photograph of Prince Harry and wife Meghan released by the couple to confirm the pregnancy.

Harry says after he and Meghan decided to step down from the royal family, he was told at short notice that the couple's security would be removed.

"They said it was because of the change of status - I asked if there was a change of threat." There wasn't, and Harry feared for his family living with no security protection.

The couple say they "never left" the royal family, but instead wanted to step down from being senior royals "to take a breath" - perhaps in a country like New Zealand. They say that request was denied.

"My biggest concern was history repeating itself," Harry says, referring to his mother's death: "To receive no help at all and to be told 'This is just how it is, we've all been through it'"…

Oprah asks Harry to tell her in the simplest terms why he left.

"Lack of support and lack of understanding," says Harry, who denies he "blindsided" the Queen with his decision: "I have too much respect for her." He says he spoke to her over a two-year period about stepping down.

He also had multiple "conversations with my father - before he stopped taking my calls."

Wait. Whoa. Why did Prince Charles stop taking his son's calls?

"Because I took matters into my own hands," he says.

Harry says his family were very supportive of Meghan at the start, but "it all changed after the Australia tour."

Oprah says this reminds her of The Crown - which Harry concedes he's "seen some of."

Meghan was an intensely popular new addition to the royals during that tour - Harry describes her as "one of the greatest assets" the royal family could have wished for - but suggests her sudden popularity bred jealousy among other royals.

LIFE IN THE STATES

Harry says life now has a sense of freedom he's never experienced - one of his favourite things is taking Archie on the back of his bicycle, the sort of sweet, simple pleasure he says he was never given as a child.

Oprah asks how his relationship with his brother, Prince William, is now.

"The relationship is 'space', at the moment. Time heals all things.

Are there any regrets?

"No. I'm really proud of us. I'm really proud of my wife," he says, remembering he used to come home to Meghan "crying while breastfeeding Archie" - life's better now.

Meghan's one regret: "Believing them when they said that they were protecting me. Now, we've not just survived but are thriving. All those things I was hoping for have happened."

Oprah wraps up the two-hour special with a voiceover teasing viewers that there'll be even more unseen Harry and Meghan moments on CBS tomorrow.

'I THINK SHE SAW THIS COMING'

Harry says the royal family cut him off financially in the first half of 2020, "but I've got what my mum left me. I think she saw this coming."

Oprah asks what his relationship is like with the family now.

"I've spoken more to my grandmother in the past year than I have for many many years. I have a deep respect for her.

Prince Charles is taking his calls now. "There's a lot to work through there. I feel really let down, because he's been through something similar. Archie's his grandson. I will always love him, but there's a lot of hurt that's happened. I will continue to make it one of my priorities to heal that relationship."

And his brother?

"Much will continue to be said about that. I love William to bits… but we were on different paths," he says.

 

SECURITY STRIPPED FOR HARRY

Meghan reveals she wrote letters begging the institution, saying even if she and baby Archie weren't to receive security any more, that they not pull Prince Harry's security. "I've seen the letters, I've seen the death threats," she says, explaining that she was desperate for at least one of them have some level of protection.

Meghan denies she was the architect of "Megxit," saying she approached the job wanting to do well (she notes she was given no training though, having to stay up late and night and desperately try to learn the British national anthem so she didn't embarrass herself in public). But on the flipside, Harry says he never would've left without her: "I was trapped but I didn't know I was trapped."

Oprah's sceptical. How is a prince, born and raised in a castle, "trapped?"

He says he was "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."

Harry says it's a mistake to think he was enjoying life in the royal family because you've seen him smiling and shaking hands in photos: "That's part of the job." He thinks his mother would be "furious" about Megxit, because of the lack of support received that led them to take this drastic action.

Harry says when Meghan came to him revealing she was struggling, he too "went to a dark place."

He admits he didn't approach his family for help or support - "I guess I was ashamed. It's a very trapping environment that they're stuck in. The family have a mentality of, 'This is how it is, you can't change it, we've all been through it.' But what was different here was the race element. That triggered the conversations with my family and palace staff where I said: 'This is not going to end well.'

He says it "hurts" his family never spoke out publicly in support of Meghan, but he is "acutely aware of how scared they are of the tabloids turning on them."

He says people should have compassion for the royals, who are "scared" of speaking out in case the press turn on them.

 Picture: CBS
Picture: CBS

Earlier in the interview, Meghan told Oprah the Queen was one of the first people she met when being introduced to Harry's family. 

"She was one of the first people I met," says Meghan of the Queen, explaining that there wasn't a "huge formality" to their first meeting and that they got on well.

But before they met, Harry had a question that shocked her: "Do you know how to curtsy?"

"That was the first moment that the penny dropped," says Meghan, explaining she'd assumed that sort of formality only happened in public.

"I met her, and apparently did a very deep curtsy - I don't remember it.

"Thank GOD I didn't know a lot about the family… I'd be so in my head. I grew up in LA, you see celebrities all the time - this is not the same. It's a completely different ball game."

Meghan also revealed she and Prince Harry were married secretly three days before the big public wedding.

She said she's looking forward to "just getting back down to basics," before revealing she and Harry secretly wed three days before their actual wedding ceremony. "Three days before our wedding, we got married. No-one knows that - the spectacle was for the world."

Now to rumours that Meghan was "hurricane Meghan" around the time of the wedding, and that she made Kate Middleton cry. Meghan calls that rumour "a turning point."

"The narrative with Kate which didn't happen was really difficult," she says, insisting she didn't make Middleton cry. In fact: "The reverse happened. I don't say that to be disparaging - it was a really hard week. She sent me flowers, she apologised. But six, seven months after our wedding, the reverse (story) happened? I would never have wanted that to come out for her."

Meghan explains a few days before the wedding, Kate was upset about something relating to dresses at the wedding "and it made me cry."

"I don't think it's fair to go into the details because she apologised and I've forgiven her," says Meghan of her altercation with Kate Middleton before her wedding. She explains that what really hurt was that the reverse story was what emerged publicly months later - that she made Kate cry. She appears to suggest it was Kate's camp who leaked it.

"I would hope she would've wanted that corrected…. she's a good person. If you love me you don't have to hate her, and if you hate me you don't have to love her."

Oprah reads a few more headlines to Meghan, showing the difference in her and Kate's treatment from some sectors of the media.

"I can see what's at play there… They seem to want a narrative of a hero and villain," says Meghan.

"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." We did, because it was also through the lens of "We'll protect you."

"It was only once we were married and everything started to worsen, that I realised not only were we not being protected, they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family."

Meghan says the Queen has "always been wonderful to me," and says it's important to distinguish between the family and the institution as she talks about her issues with the royal family. Touching private moments with the Queen "made me think of my own grandmother."

Meghan says of the family that "everyone welcomed me," but "the firm" were a lot tougher. She was banned from going for lunch with friends and criticised for "being everywhere right now."

"I have left the house twice in four months - I am everywhere but I am nowhere right now." She says she was "lonely" during those times: "There's very little that I was allowed to do. When you've come from freedom..."

HARRY REVEALS SECOND CHILD IS A GIRL

With Harry joining the interview, he reveals they're expecting a daughter. Harry says it's "amazing - to have a boy and then a girl, what more could you ask for."

They both agree the family will be complete: "Two is it," says Meghan.

MEGHAN'S PAIN BEHIND THE PICS

Meghan describes an event she and Harry attended at London's Royal Albert Hall when she was struggling with suicidal thoughts - trying to put on a brave face for the cameras, when Harry thought she wasn't well enough to be there.

But she said she had to attend: She wasn't sure what she'd do if she was left alone, having confessed to her husband that she didn't want to be alive anymore.

Meghan recalls "weeping" when when the lights went down at the event, and Harry gripping her hand tightly to get her through.

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

Meghan says there was a "breaking point" as the pressure mounted in her new role as a royal.

"It was all happening just because I was breathing. I was ashamed to admit it at the time, and admit it to Harry because of how much loss he's suffered, but I knew that I didn't want to be alive anymore. That was a very real, clear, constant thought. He just cradled me. I went to the institution and said I needed help, and I was told it wouldn't be good for the institution."

"I went to human resources and said 'I need help'. In my old job there was a union that would protect me. They said 'My heart goes out to you, but you're not a paid employee of the institution'."

Meghan confirms she was having suicidal thoughts, and that one person who helped was one of Princess Diana's friends.

She repeatedly asked for treatment or to go to a hospital for her mental health, but her requests were denied. And she couldn't take herself: When she entered the royal family, it was the last time she say "my passport, my keys - all that stuff gets turned over."

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

ARCHIE WASN'T GOING TO RECEIVE SECURITY

Meghan claims that in the final months of her pregnancy with Archie, those in the royal institution said that, because Archie wouldn't be a prince, he'd be afforded no security.

"Our son needs to be safe," says Meghan, clearly still baffled by the decision.

She says there was "no explanation" as to why Archie would not be a prince, as tradition would dictate. "It was a decision they felt was appropriate."

"All the grandeur surrounding this is an attachment I don't personally have," says Meghan, but "the idea of our son not being safe - and the first member of colour in this family not being titled in the same way as other grandchildren…"

"It's not their right to take it away. When I was pregnant they said they want to change that convention, for Archie."

She denies that she and Harry didn't want Archie to be a prince: "It's not true, and it's not our decision to make."

"I was very scared of having to offer up my baby, knowing they weren't going to be kept safe," says Meghan.

Meghan says there were palace "concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born."

Oprah is momentarily speechless. "What? What? Who is having that conversation with you?"

Meghan says she won't reveal who had the conversation: "I think that would be very damaging to them. That was relayed to me, that was Harry's conversations with family." Meghan says the assumption was that there were concerns her mixed race child could be "too dark."

'IT WAS OUR JOB TO BE ON AND SMILE"

Oprah asks about the famous South African tour interview, when new mum Meghan admitted on camera she was "not ok."

"We were making it look like everything was fine - our job was to be on and smile. When he asked me that, I guess it had never occurred to anyone that I wasn't OK and I was suffering."

She says she'd been asking "the institution for help for a long time," since returning from the couple's Australian tour.

"They would go on the record and negate the most ridiculous story for anyone. But the narrative about making Kate cry was the beginning of a real character assassination, and they knew it wasn't true" - but wouldn't correct it.

QUEEN GIVES SPEECH BEFORE MEGHAN, HARRY INTERVIEW

The Queen has spoken out just hours before Meghan's Oprah interview, praising "dedication to duty" in a Commonwealth Day address alongside other royals on the BBC.

Her Majesty delivered several barbed comments in a special broadcast called A Celebration for Commonwealth Day, which referred to "testing times" and featured Kate and William, Prince Charles and Camilla and Prince Edward's wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

The hour-long program took place to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday - and comes ahead of Meghan's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, which airs on CBS in the United States at 8pm-10pm ET on Sunday (12pm-2pm Monday AEDT).

The rival broadcasts by the royal family and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex land amid huge controversy over Megan and Harry's decision to give a tell-all interview on Palace life.

The Duchess of Sussex is also facing allegations of bullying aides during her time as a working royal, which she strenuously denies, with a spokesperson for the couple saying it is "no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining the Duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and the Duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience."

Last month, the Sussexes officially stepped back from royal duties, after announcing they were expecting their second child. Meghan has also won a privacy battle against a UK newspaper over a letter she sent her father, Thomas.

Originally published as Queen gives speech before Meg interview


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