Meghan Markle has taken part in her first televised interview since stepping back as a senior member of the royal family.
The Duchess of Sussex - who has confirmed she is expecting a daughter - joined veteran television host and interviewer Oprah Winfrey for a televised special entitled, Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special, which aired live in the US last night on Sunday March 7.
The interview then aired in the UK on ITV on Monday March 8 at 9pm and was watched by 11.1 million viewers, making it the most watched show in the UK so far this year, reports the Hollywood Reporter.
Following the former Suits actor's one-on-one with the celebrated TV personality, they were joined by Prince Harry - who opened up about being cut off financially from the monarchy and discussed the strain their decision to step away from 'The Firm' had put on his relationships within the family.
The couple's interview broke the mould by having two senior members of the royal family speak out so publicly, refusing to adhere to the 'stiff upper lip' behaviour historically followed by the institution.
On Tuesday 9 March, the Palace responded to the interview in a statement issued on behalf of the Queen saying:
'The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.
The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.
Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.'
Winfrey attended the Sussexes' royal wedding in May 2018 and the trio are now believed to be neighbours after the TV executive shared a present her 'neighbour M 👑' had given her for Christmas. Back in 2019, it was also announced that Winfrey and Prince Harry were working on an Apple TV series focussing on mental health together.
Here are 12 of the most shocking statements made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their groundbreaking interview:
1) Meghan discusses the toll taken on her mental health, says she experienced suicidal thoughts
One of the most devastating, shocking and emotional parts of the interview is when Meghan admitted to experiencing suicidal thoughts during her time with the royal family.
'I just didn't want to be alive anymore,' the Duchess told Winfrey.
When asked directly by the TV host if she was 'thinking of harming herself or having suicidal thoughts', Meghan answered candidly: 'Yes, this was very very clear and very scary, I didn't know who to turn to and [say]: "These are the thoughts I'm having in the middle of the night that are very clear and I'm scared because this is very real, this isn't some abstract idea, this is methodical and this is not who I am".'
Meghan continued, revealing that there was an occasion when she and Harry had to attend an event and her husband recommended she stayed home, but Meghan told him she had to go because she 'couldn't be left alone'. When Winfrey clarified if this was because she was 'afraid of what she might do to herself,' Meghan nodded and began to cry.
Meghan then referenced a picture taken on the night of that event - a Cirque du Soleil performance in January 2019, while Meghan was pregnant - after she had opened up to her husband about her mental health, saying if you 'zoom in you can see how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine, you can see the whites of our knuckles, because we are smiling and doing our jobs but we're both just trying to hold on... every time those lights went down in that royal box I was just weeping and he was just gripping my hand.
'I think it's so important for people to remember that you have no idea what's going on behind closed doors,' Meghan said, adding that in between bouts of 'weeping' when the lights came on and cameras were once again directed her way she would smile.
2) Meghan claims she went to the palace for mental health support
After opening up about the state of her mental health which came after the Duchess conveyed her loneliness as well as the toll of the abuse she suffered, Meghan said she went to 'the institution and said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said I had never felt that way before and need to go somewhere, and I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution'.
The Duchess added: 'Nothing was ever done.'
In an earlier clip of the interview, released last week by CBS, the Duke of Sussex also discussed mental health, drawing on parallels between the treatment of his mother, the late Princess Diana, and his wife, saying that he feared history was 'repeating itself'. The mother-of-two died in a car accident in 1997 while being pursued by paparazzi.
Holding his wife's hand, he added: 'For me, I'm 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 [Diana], going through this process by herself all those years ago.
'It’s been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other.'
3) Meghan said she went to the HR department of the Palace
After Meghan explained how she had gone to the Palace for mental health support because she was increasingly concerned about her mental state, the former actor said she then went to the HR department but was again told they would not be able to help because she wasn't a 'paid employee of the institution'.
'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 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.'
4) Meghan says she did not make Kate Middleton cry and, actually, 'the reverse happened'
When questioned by Winfrey about one of the main circulating tabloid rumours during Meghan's time in the royal family - that in the lead up to the wedding the bride allegedly made Kate Middleton cry during a discussion about flower girl dresses - Meghan said that wasn't the case and that actually 'the reverse happened', explaining that she was left crying after a conversation with the Duchess of Cambridge.
'Everyone in the institution knew that wasn't true,' Meghan said about the rumours she had made Kate cry.
Meghan suggested the incident did not cause long-lasting friction between the two Duchesses, with Kate later apologising, sending Meghan flowers and a note to reconcile.
'I don't say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding and she was upset about something but she owned it and she apologised and she brought me flowers and a note apologising, she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone,' said Meghan.
Adding that Kate was 'a good person', Meghan said she wasn't going to get into the details of the interaction - which she refused to call a 'confrontation' - because it wouldn't be fair to the Duchess of Cambridge as she apologised and Meghan forgave her.
5) Meghan says there were 'concerns and conversations' within the palace about Archie's skin tone
One of the most shocking claims made in the interview was when Meghan discussed 'concerns and conversations' that were happening while she was pregnant with her first child, Archie.
'Also, concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born... there was several conversations about it,' said a solemn Meghan, who added ing that these conversations were with Prince Harry, not her. Meghan then refused to divulge exactly who this conversation was between, adding it would be 'very damaging' to them.
When Harry joined, he also discussed the conversation, saying: 'That conversation, I am never going to share... At the time it was awkward, I was a bit shocked.'
Following the airing of the documentary in the US, Winfrey appeared on CBS the following morning to clarify that while Prince Harry had not shared the identity of the person who made the aforementioned comments, he wanted it know that it was not the Queen or Duke of Edinburgh.
Meghan also said that Archie was never offered the title of a prince, and consequently the security they had expected. Harry later joined and elaborated on this, suggesting that the reason the couple have since taken on partnerships with Netflix and Spotify are so that he can afford security for his family.
6) Prince Harry said Prince Charles stopped taking his calls
One of the most eye-opening revelations from Harry was about the state of his relationship with his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William.
Harry said that his father eventually stopped 'taking his calls' when Meghan and Harry were putting in place their plans to step back as working members of the royal family last year, while speaking with Winfrey,
'I had two conversations with my father before he stopped taking my calls... ' said Harry. '... there's a lot to work through there, I feel really let down because he's been through something similar and he knows what pain feels like and Archie's his grandson. But of course I will always love him.'
According to the BBC, Prince Harry added that he has a 'really good relationship' with his grandmother, the Queen and regarding his brother, Prince William said he 'loved him to bits', acknowledged the 'hell' the brothers have been through together, but reiterated what he said last year in an ITV news special, saying they are 'on different paths'.
7) The couple actually married days before the 2018 Royal Wedding
'Three days before our wedding, we got married,' Meghan told Winfrey while the three of them tended to chickens in a breakaway segment from the interview. 'No one knows that.'
The BBC reports that the couple were married by Archbishop of Canterbury days before the televised nuptials.
'We called the Archbishop and we just said, "look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world but we want our union between us... just the two of us in our backyard",' Meghan explained.
8) Meghan and Harry confirm they are expecting a baby girl
The couple have also chosen to publicly disclose the sex of their second child. Meghan and Harry confirmed they are expecting another baby on Valentine's Day, with the royal couple saying the second addition, who is due in 'summertime', would complete their family of four.
'To have a boy and then a girl, what more could you ask for?' said Harry.
9.) Meghan and Harry both confirmed they have watched The Crown
When Winfrey explained she had watched The Crown, specifically season four when Emma Corrin and Josh O'Connor's Princess Diana and Prince Charles head to Australia for what turned out to be a very successful tour, largely due to the public's adoration of Diana, the host asked the couple if they had seen the award-winning Netflix show.
'We've watched some of it,' the couple confirmed.
Last month, Harry told friend James Corden as part of a sketch in his Late Late Show that he believed the ideal actor to portray him in Peter Morgan's drama series would be Damian Lewis.
10.) Meghan and Harry phoned the Queen when the Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to hospital
In another breakaway scene to the trio tending to hens and chickens in 'Archie's chicken run', Meghan confirmed that the couple had telephoned the Queen after the Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to hospital on February 17.
Prince Philip, 99, has since undergone a 'successful' heart procedure and has been transferred back to King Edward VII hospital in London to recover.
11) The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reveal Archie's favourite words
Asked about the progress of the couple's eldest son Archie, who turns two-years-old in May, that surprisingly for a toddler is 'hydrate'. However, perhaps it is not entirely surprising given that Prince Harry revealed to Corden last month that his son's very first word was 'crocodile'.
Harry also told Winfrey that whenever anyone leaves the house Archie also adds: 'Drive safe!'
12) Meghan Markle on why she is speaking out
In a teaser trailer for the primetime interview with the couple, the television mogul asked Meghan how she thinks the palace would feel about their interview, to which Meghan responded by saying that the institution, who she referred to as 'The Firm', can’t expect them to remain silent if it had an 'active role' in perpetrating false stories and narratives about the couple.
'I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us,' said the Duchess, solemnly.
'If that comes with a risk of losing things, I mean there's a lot that's been lost already.'
The trailer came as an ongoing dispute between the Sussexes and Buckingham Palace has escalated in recent days. Last Wednesday, the Palace issued a statement saying it was 'clearly very concerned' over allegations published in The Times that a bullying report against the Duchess of Sussex had been made by a staff member in 2018 and that their HR teams would be 'looking into the circumstances outlined in the article'.
Spokespersons and lawyers for Meghan have responded by saying the Duchess is 'saddened by the 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'. The Sussexes' lawyers added that The Times was 'being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative... based on misleading and harmful misinformation', ahead of their interview with Winfrey this Sunday, according to the newspaper.
The full interview aired on ITV on Monday March 8 and is on ITV Hub, Courtesy of Harpo Productions/CBS.
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