By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor
“I realized it was all happening, just because I was breathing,” Meghan Markle, the mixed-race Duchess of Sussex, who opened up to Oprah Winfrey about racism, colorism and lack of protection when she married Prince Harry in the British Royal Family.
While Harry and Meghan’s wedding was one of the hottest television experiences of 2018, since officially leaving “the institution”’ of the Royal Family, the two sat down with Winfrey and opened up immediate instances of racism, mental instability and feeling trapped and unprotected.
Throughout the entire CBS special, Meghan implied that her race was a major factor in challenges with the Royal Family and British press. While she insisted she doesn’t read stories about herself or relationship with Harry, accusatory headlines have filled tabloids across the world. Some headlines praising her sister-in-law Kate Middleton for doing things such as cradling her pregnant belly and eating avocado, turned into negative headlines about vanity and deforestation in regards to Meghan. There was also a story circulating that Meghan made Kate cry about flower girl dresses.
Winfrey gave Meghan an opportunity to set the record straight about headlines and more. For starters, apparently Kate made Meghan cry. Meghan also clarified that she thought she was being protected from that negative press because the institution did that for other members of the Royal Family regularly.
“Not only was I not being protected, but 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 told Oprah passionately.
The most disturbing of the interview, if it is true as Meghan and Harry insist- as members of “the institution” were not interviewed- is the racism that was happening within the institution.
Meghan described a welcoming environment among the Royal Family, and grandmotherly vibes from Her Majesty the Queen, her husband’s actual grandmother. However the things she was told by “the institution” and Harry made her feel trapped and unsafe, and moreover concerned about the safety of her child.
“They were saying they didn’t want him to be a prince or a princess, not knowing what the gender would be, which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn’t going to receive security,” Meghan said.
“The idea of our son not being safe and also the idea that the first member of color in this family not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be,” the mixed-race Duchess added. “When you’re the grandchild of the monarch, so Harry’s dad becomes King, automatically Archie and our next baby would become prince or princess.”
She said that the institution was going to go as far as change a convention that required for the King’s grandchildren to be princes and princesses. This royal convention, established by the Queen’s grandfather, King George V, actually only applies to the grandchildren of the direct heirs of the current throne, and thus would not apply to Archie until his grandfather, Prince Charles, became King. However, the Queen issued a letter ensuring that all of William’s children would be titled as princes and princesses, which she did not do for Archie.
“But also it’s not their right to take it away. So even that convention I was talking about, while I was pregnant, they said they want to change the convention for Archie- well why,” Meghan questioned.
“In those months while I was pregnant, around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title, and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born,” she told Winfrey. “There’s several conversations about it with Harry… potentially [about how dark he could be] and what that could look like.”
All of this stress of racism, lack of protection and feeling trapped led Meghan to serious thoughts of taking her life.
“I was really ashamed to say it at the time and admit it, especially to Harry because I know how much loss he’s suffered, but I knew if I didn’t say it, that I would do it, but I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear, and real and frightening constant thought,” Meghan, who is now expecting her second child, told Winfrey.
Then expecting her first child, Meghan asked the institution for help.
“I went to the institution… and I was told that I couldn’t and that it wouldn’t be good for the institution,” she said. “I went to the most senior person to get help, and I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help and I know personally how hard it is to not just voice it, but to be told no. And so I went to human resources.” But Meghan was met with another “no,” “There’s nothing we can do to help you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.”
Harry asked for help to no avail as well. “I was trapped and I didn’t know I was trapped,” he said. “Trapped within the system. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don’t get to leave and I have compassion for them.”
“I could see history repeating itself and when I say history repeating myself I’m talking about my mother,” Harry told Winfrey, referring to his mother’s tragic death in a car crash in 1997 as the paparazzi followed her in a frenzy.
With the lack of protection for their family and mental health, the two had to go. They first went to Canada, part of the Commonwealth, thinking to continue the work of the royal family, but when they lost their protection there, the two knew their family was in danger.
“Inciting so much racism really, it heightened the risk level because it wasn’t just caddy gossip. It was bringing out a part of people that was racially charged, and that changed the level, that changed the level of death threat and everything,” Meghan said.
Right before the lockdown, the two fled Canada for Los Angeles, where Tyler Perry provided his home and security as temporary refuge for a few months.
However, the racist institution could not keep them down. Their official royal titles have been dropped, but they said they are still passionate about doing good work and serving others. They moved, began their own foundation and media company Archewell and the two say they are happy as they await the birth of their baby girl.
Meghan said she opened up because she wanted people to know, “there’s another side and know that life is worth living.”
“We are thriving,” Meghan said.