In March 2021, Meghan Markle made headlines when she told Oprah that the pressure during her time in the royal family made her feel suicidal. She spoke about a specific event, a January 2019 trip to a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall, as a night where she opened up to Prince Harry about her feelings, before they left for the event. Photos showing Meghan and Harry looking poised despite, as she told Oprah, “how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine,” became a symbol of the difference between the couple’s public composure and private turmoil.
In the fourth episode of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan, Harry opens up about that period in their relationship, expressing regret for the way he handled Meghan’s admission at the time. “I was devastated, I knew that she was struggling—that we were both struggling—but I never thought that it would get to that stage. And the fact that it got to that stage, I felt angry and ashamed. I didn’t deal with it particularly well. I dealt with it as institutional Harry as opposed to husband Harry,” he said. “What took over my feelings was my royal role. I had been trained to worry more about ‘What are people gonna think if we don’t go to this event? We’re going to be late.’ Looking back at it now, I hate myself for it.” He added, “What she needed from me was so much more than I was able to give.”
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, also opened up about her memories of that period, using the nickname “H” that Meghan and her friends use for Harry. “I remember her telling me that—that she’d wanted to take her own life,” she said. “And that really broke my heart because I knew that it was bad, but to constantly be picked at by these vultures, picking away at her spirit, that she would actually think of not wanting to be here. That’s not an easy one for a mom to hear, you know, and I can’t protect her. H can’t protect her.”
In the episode, Meghan reiterated her claim to Oprah that she was unable to seek help because people in the palace were more concerned with optics. “I wanted to go somewhere to get help but I wasn’t allowed to,” she said. “They were concerned about how that would look for the institution.” Though some commentators have wondered why Meghan was unable to get help when she was, say, connected with Princess Diana’s friend Julia Samuel, a psychotherapist, the documentary puts the scene in context with the severe onslaught of negative press the couple was facing at that time.
Harry gets more explicit about the responses he heard from within the palace. “They knew how bad it was,” he said. “They thought, ‘Why couldn’t she just deal with it?’ As if to say, ‘Well, you know, everybody else has dealt with it, why can’t she deal with it?’”
In The Me You Can’t See, his 2021 Apple TV+ series coproduced with Oprah, Harry expressed similar feelings of regret about the way he handled the Royal Albert Hall night in particular. “Of course, because of the system that we were in and the responsibilities and the duties that we had, we had a quick cuddle and then we had to get changed to jump in a convoy with a police escort and drive to the Royal Albert Hall for a charity event.” He added that he and Meghan were eventually able to get into therapy.
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