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In A 2-Hour Prime-Time Interview, Oprah Talks To Meghan And Harry


Membership in the British royal family means agreeing to stay on script about that life or stay silent. Last night, in an interview with Oprah, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry didn't just go off script; they ripped the whole thing up. On CBS, the Duchess of Sussex said being a member of the royal family was so unbearable she considered taking her own life. Markle said when she tried to look for help, the palace said she couldn't.


MEGHAN MARKLE: 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.

MARTIN: By institution, Markle means the royal family, palace officials, the crown - all of it. Kristen Meinzer is a royal watcher and author, and she joins us now to talk about all the revelations in this interview. Hi, Kristen.

KRISTEN MEINZER: Hi there, Rachel.

MARTIN: There were so many huge moments in this interview. I mean, it was hyped a lot by Oprah and her team, and it sort of lived up to it. I mean, Meghan Markle's revelation in particular about her depression - what did she say put her in that dark place?

MEINZER: Oh, well, she said that she felt incredibly unprotected. She felt lonely. She was forlorn. There was a four-month period at one point where she'd only left the palace twice. But there were so many racist, sexist, terrible stories in the media about her out there, so the firm said, no, we don't want you out and about because the more they see you, the more they'll write about you. So she was just trapped at home for months and months and months.

And again, she felt very unprotected, even though they promised her we'll protect you; we'll protect you. They weren't really protecting her. They weren't making corrections of any stories that were vicious about her. They weren't speaking out against racism. They were just letting everything fester, while making minor corrections about inconsequential things with other members of the family.

MARTIN: I mean, let's talk more about how racism came up in this conversation. I mean, Meghan is biracial. I mean, she got specific. She said the royal family actually expressed concerns about the shade of the skin color of their son?

MEINZER: Yes. Before Archie was even born, they were having conversations with Harry about that. And Harry confirmed that was the case. He was the one relaying those stories to Meghan. They didn't want to name names. They didn't want to say who in the family had those concerns about Archie's complexion. But they said the racism was real.

And they also, according to Harry, are not especially enlightened when it comes to matters of race. So, I mean, I guess that's not surprising, considering their thoughts on his complexion. And the fact is - and Meghan says this in the interview - his complexion and her complexion would have only served to make the royal family a little bit more like the Commonwealth. Over half the people in the Commonwealth are not white, and having somebody who looks a little bit more like them is not a bad thing.

MARTIN: Why is this interview happening now?

MEINZER: Well, I know a lot of people are trying to report this, especially in the U.K., as if this is an opportunistic thing. But, you know, they let the one-year period pass, the agreed-upon period with the queen, where they began to separate themselves from the family and they had time to, you know, reconsider stepping back from their senior roles. And now that that one-year period has passed, they're allowed to tell their own stories. Up until now, they haven't been allowed to. For the past five years, everything has been through the filter of the firm.

And now they can set the record straight on certain things. They can make clear where they were coming from. And I think it was a really smart move for them, partly because there's a lot of curiosity, and people are thirsty for this kind of content. But now that they have to support themselves, it's important that they, you know, put themselves out there in the best way they can...


MEINZER: ...Because they are completely financially cut off from the firm at this point.

MARTIN: And by the firm, we mean the institution again - the crown, the family itself. I mean...

MEINZER: Yes, exactly. Because, you know, the family is different from the firm. The firm is all the business dealings. The family is who you get together with at Balmoral Castle and open gifts with everyone.

MARTIN: Got it. Just quickly - how is the royal family responding?

MEINZER: Well, I think that they're going to stay quiet on this, to be honest with you. You know, they never like to complain, never like to explain over large things. And something that both Meghan and Harry made clear is the royal family is very afraid of the press.

MARTIN: Kristen Meinzer, thank you so much. Kristen is an author and co-host of the podcast "When Meghan Met Harry."

We also want to note, if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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