Well, the irony is thick: England’s royal family and the brutal tabloids that stalk them have always treated Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, the biracial, divorced and (gasp!) American woman with whom Prince Harry unexpectedly fell in love, like the Trojan horse that could destroy the monarchy from the inside. But as the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday proved, Meghan wasn’t actually a threat to the monarchy for any of those reasons — they just abused her so badly that she became one.
England’s royal family and the brutal tabloids that stalk them have always treated Meghan like the Trojan horse that could destroy the monarchy from the inside.
Oprah promised a bombshell tell-all primetime exclusive, and she delivered. A very pregnant Meghan told the world that when she was carrying her first child, Archie, someone in the royal family expressed to Harry “concerns about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.” She implied that the royal family decided to strip Archie of his title and, thus, his security detail — a breach from protocol — simply because he was biracial. Meanwhile, the royals did nothing to protect her or set the record straight when the tabloids, for instance, claimed Meghan had made Kate Middleton cry over a flower girl dress for the wedding, when Meghan says it was actually her sister-in-law who had made her cry. The press attacked the way Meghan cradled her baby bump and claimed without evidence that she was bullying the palace staff. And when she began to feel suicidal, while pregnant, “The Firm” (a nickname for the whole working institution of the monarchy) ignored her pleas for help.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan told Oprah. “I went to human resources and said, ‘I need help. In my old job there was a union, and they would protect me.’ They said, ‘There’s nothing we can do to help you.’ Nothing was ever done.”
Harry, whose mother, Princess Diana, was literally chased to death by the paparazzi, saw where the situation was headed. “My concern was history repeating itself,” he told Oprah. “And what I was seeing was history repeating itself. Then you add race in, and you add social media in, and when you add history in ... I'm talking about my mother.”
Seeking respite from the onslaught of bad press, the Sussexes said they originally planned to just step back from some of their official duties as senior members of the royal family. But negotiations quickly soured when Harry’s father, Prince Charles, stopped taking his son’s calls. “I feel really let down, because he's been through something similar,” Harry said. “He knows what pain feels like. And Archie's his grandson. I will always love him, but there's a lot of hurt that's happened.”
Harry and Meghan’s honesty was raw and powerful — a power confirmed by the rather transparent countermeasures taken by the The Firm before the interview even aired. In February, the palace announced that the Sussexes would be stripped of their titles and royal patronage appointments. Then the tabloids trotted out a barrage of anonymously sourced stories painting Meghan as a monster. They recycled the old story about her bullying staffers, called her out for having worn “blood money” earrings in 2018 that were given to her by the Saudi crown prince, and charged that her taste for avocado toast amounts to “fueling drought and murder.” The bizarre and desperate attacks only served to prove what the Sussexes told Oprah about the abuse they endured.
“I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent,” Meghan said. “If there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us, at a certain point you gotta go, You guys, just tell the truth. If that comes at a risk of losing things, well, there’s a lot that’s been lost already.”
It didn’t have to be this way. The British monarchy could have welcomed Meghan as a much-needed breath of fresh air into a stodgy, white and outdated institution. The Black gospel choir singing “Stand By Me” at the royal wedding in England really felt like it may be ushering in a new, more palatable era for the royal family. But instead of helping to modernize and diversify The Firm, in the end, Meghan had little choice but to expose its pernicious racism, bullying and unacceptable lack of HR standards.
And so for now, in the absurd war of Meghan vs. the British monarchy, Meghan appears to be winning. Diana left Harry enough inheritance that the two can continue to be absurdly wealthy in California and afford their own security without financial help from the palace. The couple have a baby girl on the way and say they’re happier than ever. Meghan said she feels like Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” “She falls in love with the prince, and because of that, she has to lose her voice,” she told Oprah in one of the more poignant moments of the interview. “But in the end, she gets her voice back.”