Meghan Markle reflects on how being a mother is ‘the most important thing in my entire life’

Meghan Markle has opened up about how her life has changed since becoming a mother to her two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke candidly with parents about the negative impact social media has had on the younger generation in honour of World Mental Health Day. The panel discussion, titled “The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age”, marked Archewell Foundation’s first in-person event with non-profit organisation Project Healthy Minds.

The panel discussion, which took place on 10 October, allowed families to speak about building a safer online world for their children, as well as engage in conversations about creating positive changes and uplifting “our collective mental well-being” on social media.

According to People, the event also provided a platform for families who have experienced tragic loss connected to their child’s social media use, as Meghan and Harry have reportedly been working closely with these families.

“I can’t start without thanking all the parents, the mothers and fathers for being with us physically today, but also being on this journey with us for the last year, creating this community of shared experience,” Harry said, after taking the stage with Meghan in New York City. “We know it’s not easy for you guys to be here so thank you very much.”

The 42-year-old mother admitted that it was “impossible not to be in tears” hearing stories from the families “because it’s just that devastating”.

“Being a mom is the most important thing in my entire life - outside, of course, being a wife to this one,” she said, gesturing towards her husband of five years. Meghan admitted that she felt “fortunate” that for her two young children, Archie and Lilibet, the negative effects of social media wasn’t in their “immediate future” as of now. However, the duchess did feel “frightened” at how quickly social media is “continuing to change”.

“They say being a parent, the days are long but the years are short, so it worries me,” Meghan continued. “But I’m also given a lot of hope and energy by the progress we’ve made in the past year being able to have these incredible parents, these survivors of these experiences, share their stories and the more information gathering we’re able to do, the more we can move the needle a little bit.”

“Everyone is affected by the online world and social media,” she added. “We all just want to feel safe. I’m confident that with more ears and awareness and visibility of what is really happening, we can make some significant change together."

 (Getty Images for Project Healthy)
(Getty Images for Project Healthy)

As for Harry, he spoke about his own experience being a father to two young children in an increasingly online world. “I think for us, for myself and my wife, with kids growing up in a digital age, the priority here is to again turn pain into purpose and provide as much support as well as a spotlight and a platform for these parents to come together, to heal, to grieve and to also collectively focus on solutions so that no other family anywhere has to go through what they’ve been through,” he said.

The duke and duchess reportedly received a standing ovation when their panel on social media and mental health came to a close.

The panel came just hours after Harry and Meghan visited students at the Marcy Lab School, an innovative school founded in 2019, in Brooklyn, New York. The school, which offers students an alternative to the university path, aims to  help Brown and Black students become involved in the tech industry without having to pay for a four-year university.

“Everyone’s got their own story, a reason for being here, your life is still going to be filled with complications and challenges. And if one of you starts to go quiet, doesn’t show up, you need to find out why,” Harry told the group of students, as he encouraged them to rely on each other. “And remember to have fun! It has to be fun.”

Meghan also commended their aspirations for building a safer online space, as she told the students: “It’s a place where so much community can be built, but there’s also so much vulnerability. There’s a lot of saturation, and as parents, we can be hopeful knowing that your bright minds [are at work], knowing that they will be seen, valued and growing in the right direction. And that’s why it’s so important what you’re doing at the Marcy Lab.”

In 2020, Harry and Meghan launched their non-profit organisation, the Archewell Foundation, after stepping down from their roles as senior working royals. The couple has since been honoured for their work towards racial justice and mental health awareness.

Harry and Meghan, who tied the knot in May 2018, are parents to two children. They welcomed their son, Archie Harrison, in May 2019 and their daughter, Lilibet Diana, in June 2021.