Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry
The Duchess of Sussex has opened up about her suicidal thoughts during her time in the Royal Family and said there were concerns raised by a member of Harry's family before the birth of son Archie about "how dark" his skin colour might be.
In a deeply personal and explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan said she got to the stage where she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Meghan tells Oprah Winfrey she 'just didn’t want to be alive anymore'
Meghan was joined by Prince Harry for the bombshell interview, which was broadcast in the US overnight and will be aired in the UK on ITV on Monday at 9pm.
Other revelations from the two-hour interview included:
Charles ‘stopped taking Harry's calls’
Meghan’s battle with loneliness
Meghan said she was ‘silenced’ and accused royal family of failing to protect her
Worries that denying Archie a title could leave him without protection
Kate ‘made Meghan cry’ before her wedding
Asked explicitly by Oprah if she was thinking of self-harm and having suicidal thoughts at some stage, Meghan replied: “Yes. This was very, very clear.
“Very clear and very scary. I didn’t know who to turn to in that.”
She added: "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.”
She said she later reached out to one of the best friends of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Meghan said she also asked the palace to seek professional help, and said she no longer had access to personal effects such as her passport after joining the family.
“All that gets turned over,” she said.
She talked about going to "one of the most senior people" and how, she said, help was not at hand.
“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’. This wasn’t a choice," she said.
"This was emails and begging for help, saying very specifically ‘I am concerned for my mental welfare’.
“And people were like ‘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.”
ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship says it will take Buckingham Palace some time to respond to the Harry and Meghan interview
Claims there were concerns over how dark Archie’s skin would be
The Duchess of Sussex said when she was pregnant with Archie there were “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”
Meghan said there were “several conversations” with Harry about Archie’s skin tone and “what that would mean or look like.”
Pushed by Winfrey on who had those conversations, Meghan said “I think that would be very damaging to them.”
She added: “That was relayed to me from Harry, those were conversations the family had with him, and I think it was really hard to be able to see those as compartmentalised conversations.”
Winfrey later appeared on the CBS breakfast show to confirm ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship's understanding that it was neither the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh who had raised the issue.
She said: “He did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure I knew, and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother or grandfather that were part of those conversations.
“He did not tell me who was a part of those conversations.”
Asked whether there were concerns that her child would be “too brown” and that would be a problem, Meghan said: “If that is the assumption you are making, that is a pretty safe one.”
Meghan tells Oprah about “concerns and conversations' about Archie's skin colour
Oprah pressed Harry to disclose the content of a conversation Meghan referred to about Archie’s skin tone.
Harry said: “That conversion, I am never going to share. At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.”
He said he was “not comfortable” sharing the question he was asked by the unnamed person, but said it happened “right at the beginning” of their relationship.
He said members of his family suggested Meghan “carried on acting because there was not enough money to pay for her”.
He added: “There were some real obvious signs, before we even got married, that this was going to be really hard.”
Charles ‘stopped taking Harry's calls’
Harry said Charles “stopped taking my calls” during the build-up to the announcement that he and Meghan were leaving the royal family.
Taking aim at the media, Harry said: “I asked for calm from the British tabloids, once as a boyfriend, once as a husband and once as a father.”
He blamed a “lack of support and lack of understanding” for their decision to leave the royal family.
Oprah asked if they “blindsided” the Queen with the announcement they were leaving the family.
Harry replied: “No, I would never blindside my grandmother, I have too much respect for her.” Harry said he could “hazard a guess” on where the story came from – that it may have come “from within the institution.”
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Asked by Oprah how they knew the Queen was not blindsided, Harry said while in Canada he had “three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls.”
He said Charles asked for him to put his plan “in writing”. Harry said he had to act for the wellbeing of himself, Meghan and Archie.
He later added he is prioritising the relationship with his father, who he said is now taking his calls.
Meghan’s battle with loneliness
Meghan described how “people within The Firm” told her she was “everywhere”, and it was suggested by a member of the family that she “lay low” for a while.
Meghan told Oprah: “I said: ‘I have left the house twice in four months, I am everywhere but I am nowhere.’
“I continued to say to people: ‘I know there is an obsession with how things look, but has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now I could not feel lonelier’.”
She added: “There was very little that I was allowed to do. So, of course, that breeds loneliness.”
‘Silenced’ Meghan accused royal family of failing to protect her
Oprah asked Meghan: “Were you silent? Or were you silenced?”
Meghan replied: “The latter.”
Asked if she was told to say nothing, Meghan said: “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. And we did. 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 that 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’.
“I believed that and I think that was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected, but that 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.”
Meghan suggested she and Harry wanted Archie to be a prince so he would have security and be protected.
The duchess expressed her shock at “the idea of our son not being safe” – and the idea of the first member of colour in this family – not being titled in the same way as other grandchildren.
Archie, who is seventh in line to the throne, is not entitled to be an HRH or a prince due to rules set out more than 100 years ago by King George V.
He will be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when the Prince of Wales accedes to the throne.
As the first born son of a duke, Archie could have become Earl of Dumbarton – one of Harry’s subsidiary titles – or have been Lord Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, instead at the time of his birth, a royal source said Harry and Meghan had decided he should a regular Master Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Kate ‘made Meghan cry’ before wedding
Meghan said reports she had reduced the Duchess of Cambridge to tears were a “turning point”, and insisted it was Kate who made her cry.
Meghan said she did not want to be “disparaging to anyone” and claimed Kate apologised with flowers and a note “to take accountability.”
It was not a “confrontation” and it would not be “fair” to Kate to go into detail, she said, adding it was “hard to get over” being blamed for something she did not do.
Meghan said “everyone in the institution knew that wasn’t true” and she hoped Kate “would have wanted that to be corrected”, adding “she is a good person”.
She also criticised what she described as a “polarity” in the coverage of her and Kate.
“If you love her you don’t have to hate me,” she said.
Meghan also revealed she and Harry were married by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before the formal ceremony.
Racism and the tabloid press
In a further clip released by the broadcaster later in the day, Harry discusses how racism among British tabloids was also a driving factor behind their decision to quit.
Asked by Winfrey if the couple left the UK because of racism, Harry replied: “It was a large part of it.”
Recalling a conversation he had at a Sentebale fundraiser, he said he was urged by someone who is “friends with a lot of the editors”: “Please don’t do this with the media, they will destroy your life.”
He said he was told: “You need to understand that the UK is very bigoted,” to which he replied: “The UK is not bigoted, the UK press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids.”
Oprah With Meghan and Harry will be broadcast in the UK on ITV on Monday 8 March at 9pm. It will also be available on ITV Hub.
Who to contact if you or someone you know needs help
Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, by calling 116 123. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com
Papyrus offer support for children and young people under the age of 35 over the phone on 0800 068 41 41 between 9am – midnight every day of the year. If you would rather text you can do so on 07786 209697 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rethink Mental Illness offer practical advice and information for anyone affected by mental health problems on a wide range of topics including treatment, support and care. Phone 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm) or visit rethink.org
Campaign Against Living Miserably's (CALM) helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online. No matter who you are or what you're going through, it's free, anonymous and confidential.