Harry and Meghan say palace raised ‘concerns’ about skin color of their child
The moment everyone in the world has been waiting for — except, perhaps, the press office at Buckingham Palace — has arrived: Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have spilled the royal tea to Oprah Winfrey in “Oprah with Meghan and Harry,” a CBS special.
In the highly anticipated two-hour interview, Meghan and Harry sat down with the onetime queen of daytime to talk about the factors that contributed to their decision to step away from royal life in early 2020. The couple, who are expecting their second child this summer, spoke about how a lack of support from the royal family — particularly for Meghan as a woman of color in an overwhelmingly white institution — combined with the relentless attacks of the British tabloid press to bring about their decision to step away from their royal roles and forge a new path in California.
Throughout the interview, the Sussexes took pains to distinguish between their family members as individuals and the corporate institution surrounding the monarchy, which they refer to as “the firm.” They spoke in complimentary, almost glowing terms about Queen Elizabeth and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Even Prince Charles was treated with sympathy. Their most damning allegations were leveled at functionaries and family members who were left unnamed.
Below are the biggest takeaways from an interview loaded with bombshells.
Some members of the family raised concerns about how dark their baby’s skin might be when it was born
Meghan said that while she was pregnant with Archie, she and Harry were informed that their child was not going to have a title of prince or princess — a departure from what she said was typical protocol — and would therefore not receive security.
Winfrey asked her whether race might have played a factor in this decision, and Meghan gave what she called an “honest answer” — that during these discussions about their child’s title there were “also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
When asked for more details, Meghan said there were “several conversations” with Harry about “what that would mean and what that would look like.”
Meghan did specify the conversations were with “family.”
“They were concerned that if he were too brown, that that would be a problem?” Winfrey asked.
“If that’s the assumption you’re making,” said Meghan, “I think that’s a pretty safe one.”
She declined to identify the specific person or people who had said these things. “I think that would be very damaging to them,” she said. Later in the conversation, Harry also declined to share specifics about the discussion.
Meghan expressed disappointment in how she was treated as a woman of color in the royal family, particularly after she toured a number of Commonwealth countries and met many young women of color like her and realized “how much it meant to them to be able to see someone who looks like them in this position,” she said. “I could never understand how it wouldn’t be seen as an added benefit and a reflection of the world today.”
Meghan was suicidal and asked for help but was told it would be bad for “the institution”
The most troubling news from the special is that, while pregnant with Archie, Meghan says she was driven to the the brink of suicide by the isolation and sense of helplessness as she faced withering attacks in the press. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought,” she said. “I went to the institution, and I said I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said that I 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.”
Harry says he was cut off financially by the royal family and has had to use his inheritance from Princess Diana
The couple has drawn criticism for striking deals with Netflix and Spotify over the last year, with some suggesting they want celebrity without the tedious burden of royal duties.
But Harry said the deals were “never part of the plan” initially and were suggested to him as a pragmatic solution “when my family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us.” They were cut off in the first quarter of 2020, he said, and they were able to start over in the U.S. only because of an inheritance from his mother.
“I think she saw it coming, and I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process,” he said. “For me, I am 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.”
Kate made Meghan cry over flower girl dresses, not the other way around
Meghan said an early turning point in her relationship with the royal family came about six months after her wedding. At the time, reports emerged in the tabloids that she made her sister-in-law cry over a disagreement involving the flower girl dresses at her wedding to Harry. Meghan said “the reverse happened” — that Kate had in fact made her cry over an unspecified issue involving said dresses — and that when she asked for help from the communications team in killing the story, they refused to do so.
But Meghan doesn’t blame Kate. “She’s a good person,” she said. “So much of what I have seen play out is this polarity. If you love her, you don’t have to hate me, and if you love me, you don’t need to hate her.”
Prince Charles stopped taking Harry’s calls
In the days before Harry and Meghan announced they were going to be stepping away from royal duties, they say they were in contact with both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles multiple times and that no one was “blindsided” by their decision, as has been claimed. But Harry also says during this period his father stopped taking his calls. When asked why, Harry said it was “because 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 got to his point, but I have got to do something for my mental health, for my wife’s and for Archie’s as well, because I could see where it was headed.”
Harry and Meghan say they’ve watched “some of” “The Crown”
The subject came up when Harry said that things really took a turn after he and Meghan toured Australia. “It was the first time the family got to see how incredible she is at the job and that brought back memories,” he said of his wife.
Harry said, “I’ve watched some of it,” prompting laughter from Meghan. (Likely translation: They’ve watched all of it.)
As to why Meghan’s winning performance on the tour would be a problem for the family, Harry said only, “I wish that we would all learn from the past.”
Harry and Meghan are having a girl
“To have a boy and then a girl. What more could you ask for?” Harry said. Indeed!
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times, a Lookout content partner.