During a raw, deeply emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle revealed the onslaught of harassment she received as a member of the royal family led her to a mental “breaking point.” She sought help for suicidal ideation but told Winfrey, “Nothing was ever done.”
At the beginning of the CBS special Oprah With Megan and Harry, the tone was relatively light—Meghan admitted she didn’t grow up knowing much about the royal family, and so it was “easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality.”
But her eyes were quickly opened when she officially joined the family, and was subjected to horrific treatment by not only the media, but also by members of her new family.
“Yeah, there was [a breaking point],” Markle told Winfrey. “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 like, ‘Meg, they’re not protecting you.’ And I realized it was all happening just because I was breathing.”
She then described her experiences with suicidal thoughts, and the shame she felt when admitting them to her husband:
“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 just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.
“And I remember how [Harry] just cradled me and I was, I went to the institution and said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere, and they said I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
In teasers for the interview, Meghan spoke about how she felt about the Palace watching her interview and speaking up for the first time about her experiences working there. She revealed to Oprah what had been heavily speculated for years: that the Palace itself had played a role in the British tabloids’ years-long smear campaign against her and her husband Prince Harry.
“I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there was an active role that the Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,” Meghan said. “And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, I’ve—there’s a lot that’s been lost already.”
She shared with Oprah her reasoning for doing the interview, and specifically for speaking out about her mental health struggles. “I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help,” she said. “And I know personally how hard it is to—not just hard it is but when your voice is silenced, to be told no…This was emails, begging for help, saying very specifically I am concerned for my mental welfare…Nothing was ever done. So we had to find a solution.”
Harry admitted he, too, felt shame about Meghan’s suicidal thoughts, and shared he had no idea how to address her struggle. “I had no idea what to do,” he said. I wasn’t prepared for that. I went to a very dark place as well. And I wanted to be there for her. I was terrified.”
When Winfrey asked if he went to palace officials and senior members of the royal family for help, he said, “No, that’s just not a conversation that would be had.”
“Why?” Winfrey asked.
“I guess I was ashamed of admitting it to them,” he explained. “I don’t know whether they’ve had the same feelings or thoughts. I have no idea. It’s a very trapping environment that a lot of them are stuck in.”
“You were ashamed of admitting that Meghan needed help,” Winfrey clarified.
“Yeah. I didn’t have anyone to turn to.”
The harassment has not stopped since Harry and Meghan left the royal family. Mere days ago, Meghan’s communications team called out royal aides for instigating a smear campaign against the Duchess in the days leading up to her Oprah interview. The Times reported on Tuesday that a bullying complaint had been filed against Meghan in 2018. On Wednesday, Buckingham Palace announced it would be investigating that complaint.
In the Times article itself, Meghan’s communications team called out the report for what it is: a last-minute attack on Meghan’s character designed to undermine her Oprah interview.
Let’s just call this what it is—a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of The Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet. It’s 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 of recent years.
In a detailed legal letter of rebuttal to The Times, we have addressed these defamatory claims in full, including spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by the Crown.
The Duchess is saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma. She is determined to continue her work building compassion around the world and will keep striving to set an example for doing what is right and doing what is good.
If you or someone you know is at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to 741741 to message with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free.
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