Yesterday morning, after I dropped the kids off at school, I set whatever I was planning to do aside and watched the Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry. It seemed like you could not exist on the internet yesterday without doing so. There were a lot of allegations in there billed as “shocking,” but I didn’t find any of them that surprising. The more shocking thing was that Meghan and Harry said them out loud.
Normally, I do not follow the Royal Family and I am not even close to an expert on the topic, but a few months ago, I listened to a five part series on the podcast “You’re Wrong About” about Diana, Princess of Wales. The podcast hosts described the Royal Family as trapped zoo animals, which I didn’t fully understand until I had listened to the series in its entirety. It’s hard to view the Queen, Charles, William, Kate and Harry as anything but privileged, but the existence described on throughout the series, especially through the lens of Diana, who was an outsider who thought she was stepping into a fairy tale, sounded unfathomably awful. She was isolated, lonely and by her accounts, in the midst of a mental breakdown, all while having to continually pretend that she was living a life of unimaginable luxury and purpose. It strikes me as similar to the concept of Instagram vs. Reality, except imagine all the people you are surrounded by expect you to act out the fantasy in real life too. Having the background of that podcast series made me much more prepared and inclined to believe Meghan and Harry’s story.
During the Oprah interview, there is a part where Harry talks about how everything took a turn for the worse after they came back from a tour of Australia. On that tour, Meghan had proved to be incredibly good at her job of being a Royal. Oprah asks why that would be a problem. Wouldn’t the Royals want Meghan to be good at her job? The question wasn’t really answered, but I saw a clip from an interview with Diana that spells out the answer perfectly.
She says, “I just don’t think I have many supporters in the [Royal Household]. They see me as a threat of some kind and I’m here to do good. I’m not a destructive person. I think every strong woman in history has had to walk down a similar path, and I think it’s the strength that causes the confusion and the fear. Why is she strong? Where does she get it from? Where is she taking it? Where is she going to use it? Why does the public still support her?”
Diana was also very good with the public early on and ultimately, that was held against her. I think almost every woman who has tried to work their way up in corporate America can relate to this, myself included. And I certainly believe that because Meghan is of mixed race, that made the perceived threat to the Royal family (or the institution of the Royal family) even more serious.
The similarities between Meghan and Diana are glaringly obvious. But I also see similarities between Meghan and the Obamas. When Barack and Michelle Obama became the President and First Lady of the United States, it was celebrated on the surface but it also signaled a very big shift in the cultural hierarchy. For many people, that was a problem. The Royals were happy to welcome Meghan in, but they recoiled once it looked like she could gain too much power. Power was in the form of being good at her job and in the form of children born into British Royalty. Hence the questioning of how dark their baby would look. I believe the Royal Family began to see the possibility of a much larger racial shift than just one woman of color.
It’s important to note that neither Harry or Meghan accuse the Queen of racism. They maintain that the family and “the firm” are two different things. In fact, Meghan spoke about always having very welcoming interactions with the Queen, including an instance when they were in the same car and the Queen offered to share a blanket that was draped over her knees for warmth. From an outsider’s perspective, I always assume when the press reports that the “Royal Family” feels X, this is coming directly from the Queen, because she is the highest ranking Royal. But Meghan and Harry suggest that the institution of the Royal Family is a business with far more value than the individual Royals themselves. The people running the institution are the ones making decisions, issuing statements and pulling the strings. They are also the ones who have an incredibly close relationship with the British tabloids, so it’s safe to assume that a lot of the Royal Family narrative is coming directly from the institution itself. Meghan points to the fact that the British press holiday parties are held at the palace. This symbiotic relationship is another reason why Meghan was so hurt by the treatment of the tabloids. Their source was most likely from within the palace walls. Not a service person or assistant looking to make a buck, like you might expect, but those running the entire show.
If Meghan’s claims are true that she tried to get help for suicidal thoughts and was denied support (I believe her), I think that was partially because the institution was afraid of what that would look like, but also because Meghan’s failure as a Royal helped maintain the status quo.
At the end of the interview, Meghan and Harry say that they barely survived the last few years even though they had each other, so they can’t even imagine how hard it was for Diana to deal with everything alone. I am glad that Meghan and Harry got out. It is the second act that Diana would have wanted. Sometimes changing an institution is not worth sacrificing yourself.
Did you watch the interview? Please share your thoughts!
Watching the Crown (while not FACT) did make it apparent that the Royals have almost NO control over their lives. Poor Princess Margaret couldn’t marry the man she loved. Elizabeth kept getting “advice” from cabinet members on WHY that marriage couldn’t happen. In season 4, the women of the Royal family are shown saying that Diana would have to learn to bend to the rules of the institution or she would have to break. It was a horrible scene. It goes to show that the people in power (men in power) work really hard to keep their status quo.
I agree. I think Harry said in his interview with James Cordon that while the Crown was fictional, it was pretty accurate in how it portrayed the pressures of being a royal. My suspicion is that the Royal Family thought they would be all progressive by allowing Harry to marry who he wanted (and a person of colour at that!), but when it came down to actually changing the institution to protect her, they decided it was a step too far. I also suspect that Harry and Meghan hoped that they could continue serving the people from afar, which was why they initially moved to Canada. But once it became clear that the palace would only accept their service on their terms, H&M decided they would need additional exposure in order to promote their causes in North America.
Not to dismiss her mental health or suicidal thoughts these are perfectly valid. However the claims she wasn’t helped by the HR department is more confusing! The royal family has never dismissed mental health. Harry, William and Kate have all done a lot of work around mental health awareness. Harry himself has openly received help for his mental health. He works with mental health charities. Meghan’s mother has worked in mental health. So why did Meghan feel that she needed to go to the HR department of a company she doesn’t work for when her husband, her mother could directly help and seek help for her. Her husbands responsibility was not addressed, they have not owned their own actions to not get help themselves. The perfect couple but he couldn’t make a phone call when his wife admitted she needed help because HE was embarrassed!
The individuals have done work around mental health, but that doesn’t mean the institution wants their largest headliner airing their own issues. It isn’t as though Meghan could check herself into a medical facility secretly. Ultimately, I think that these are people who lead VERY different lives than what we would call normal. Meghan even said that she thought because she knows the Hollywood world she would understand, but it was unlike anything she could have imagined.
Diana, Fergie, Harry, Meghan…… the fictional, but still loosely based in facts The Crown….. all have explained that the Royal Family has very little control over their own lives.
They aren’t locked up. They felt trapped but they are not trapped. They have cars, they have phones. She could have called for her help. She could have spoken to family. She told Harry she needed help and he did not make that call. The blame cannot solely be on other people. Harry has had help for his mental as well as other members of the family. I don’t see why it would “look bad” when it is something that they have spoken about so freely for many years. We don’t know what happened but it also doesn’t sit right that it was not possible to get help.
Meghan and Harry also wanted to remove themselves from the duties of the Royal Family. Move to another county and be financially independent. I fully respect their decision and understand why they dont want to be part of that life and they have a choice to leave. Harry has the choice because he is very unlikely to be king. They’ve said they’re leaving and they left. Nobody stopped them whether they wanted to or not. Now they’re complaining how they’ve been ‘financially cut off’ and their security is not being paid for. The Royal Family have security because they perform royal duties… that Meghan and Harry don’t want to do. They are a 36 and 39 year old, married adults, with a son. Harry is worth about $40million dollars in his own right. Meghan 2 million. Who want a chance to have freedom to speak and choose their own work. Is it a fair criticism that someone else is not supplementing their income?
Charles “briefly” stopped taking his calls…what is briefly? A couple or days? Weeks? Months? And why? When? There’s a pandemic on and Charles himself had covid maybe he was just ill? We don’t know. My point is they’ve lashed out without much detail in their comments. And while the fact they’re obvious hurt and angry this does not automatically make the others involved the bad guy.
Diana was killed by the press and public obsession. She is named and honoured. They can call their new daughter Diana or they can chose not to. They should not be expected or pressured into doing so. Not every person who loses a parent names their child after them for no other reason than they just didn’t want to!
I felt they explained it well when they said they wanted to take a step back from being senior members and revert to other Royals who still support the Crown. Seeing as Harry’s place in the line of succession has changed dramatically in the last several years, it seems sensible. I also thought his question of “has the threat decreased” was reasonable in regards to security. Having a tabloid blast a google map of your location at the same time that The Firm decides to pull your security probably felt unreasonable. Also, having a lot of money and having *access* to that money are two different things….. if your daily credit cards and accounts are closed out while borders all over the world are being closed, it seems like that would be a very scary and dramatic thing. I imagine getting access to the money and moving some of it into operating accounts takes a minute.
I am sure that neither Harry nor Meghan are perfectly innocent. However, history has shown that their claims aren’t out of the realm of possibility, either. Overall, they tried to be respectful of the family and individuals, while still calling out The Firm.
It is still complicated. The security is paid by tax payers money and they royal family are always under criticism that they live the life of luxury on tax payers money. (It individually costs us something like 75p a year in reality) However the security comes from the job. They cannot pay him money for a job he has left and it isn’t Charles who has physically cut him off. Charles as a father may well have helped, offered personally if he really needed the help and we cannot answer this or decide he didn’t. And again having means for funds available to him or not is again not the institutions fault. They still are not able to use tax payers money on a person who does not do the accompanying role. Harry would know this or at least expected it and should be part of their preparations of moving away from the position. Same as anyone on else deciding to change jobs.
I expect there are some truths to the things they said and that it is a hard lifestyle to live but there are protocols, traditions and expectations for a reason. And for someone like the Queen who has spent the best part of her life trying to improve things for her children, grandchildren but who still feels her history and heritage is important. For two people who speak so highly of her have just insulted everything she stands for. Thrown doubt and suspicion over thin claims many don’t even fact check on, it is terribly sad for them all. I just think they could have shared their story, and how they were treated by the press etc but they’ve personally attacked people they know can’t defend themselves.
I like your thoughts on the interview. I felt the same way. I also felt no real surprise at what they revealed. I was more upset by the fact that security was withdrawn from them. That is horrible! Yes to your final statement and conclusion!
This was such a great interview. I feel so bad for Meghan and Harry. Hopefully they can move on with their lives and be happy.
Meghan is AN IDIOT. How did she not know that she had to curtsey to the queen? I think she saw this whole fairy princess image when she got engaged to Harry, instead of actually doing her research.
Diana was a naivé young woman who had no choice. Meghan was 36 and knew what she was getting herself into.