Duchess Meghan details effects of intense media scrutiny, facing suicidal thoughts
In the highly anticipated second drop of the “Harry & Meghan” docuseries, Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry reflected on Meghan’s mental health struggles, particularly the suicidal thoughts she said she faced during her pregnancy with their son Archie.
In episode four, one the three final episodes of the series that arrived Thursday, the couple discussed intense media scrutiny Meghan received from the press during that time in 2018 and how the coverage impacted her mental health.
The couple announced their pregnancy in October 2018, right at the start of their tour of Australia, their first overseas tour as a married couple. They said that following the tour, during which they received glowing reviews, they started to see Meghan get negative press coverage as her public popularity rose.
“The issue is, when someone who’s marrying in, who should be ‘a supporting act,’ is then stealing the limelight or is doing the job better than the person who is born to do this, that upsets people,” Harry said. “It shifts the balance because you’ve been led to believe that the only way that your charities can succeed and the only way that your reputation can be grown or improved is if you’re on the front page of those newspapers. But the media are the ones who chose who to put on the front page.”
Meghan said she was “under the delusion” at the time that the public didn’t believe what was printed in tabloids. She said it wasn’t until a woman confronted her during a walkabout in Liverpool about her relationship with her father that she started to realize people read into the tabloid coverage, regardless of its accuracy.
“It was the first time that I went, ‘Oh my god, people actually believe this stuff,'” Meghan said. “And then my entire center was rocked to its core.”
“The lies, that’s one thing — you kind of get used to that when you live within this family — but what they were doing to her and the effect that it was having on her,” Harry said. “Like, enough of the pain, enough of the suffering. No one sees what is happening behind closed doors.”
Meghan, who has previously opened up on facing suicidal thoughts before stepping away from her senior royal role, said that, at the time, she thought, ‘It was like, ‘All of this will stop if I’m not here,’ and that was the scariest thing about it because it was such clear thinking.”
Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, detailed her devastation at her daughter’s struggle. “I remember her telling me that, that she had wanted to take her own life, and that really broke my heart because I knew,” she began. “Well, I knew that it was bad.”
“But to just constantly be picked at by these vultures, just 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,” she said. “And I can’t protect her. H [Harry] can’t protect her.”
Harry said he was “devastated” by Meghan’s struggles but admitted he felt he didn’t “deal with it particularly well.”
“I knew that she was struggling,” he said. “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 dealt with it as institutional Harry, as opposed to husband Harry, and what took over my feelings was my royal role,” he continued. “I had been trained to worry more about, ‘What are people going to think if we don’t go to this event, we’re going to be late,’ and looking back on it now, I hate myself for it. What she needed from me was so much more than what I was able to give.”
Meghan again alleged that she sought help from the royal institution but did not receive any. “They were concerned how that would look for the institution,” Meghan claimed in the docuseries.
In the couple’s 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan alleged that along with seeking support from “one of the most senior people” of the royal “institution,” she also went to human resources and was told there was nothing that could be done, because she was not a “paid employee of the institution.”
Following the interview with Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth released a statement in which she shared, “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,” the statement continued. “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.”
In the interview with Winfrey, Meghan said she reached out to one of the best friends of Harry’s late mother Princess Diana for support while she was struggling.
“I didn’t know who to even turn to in that,” Meghan said. “And one of the people that I reached out to, who has continued to be a friend and confidant, was one of my husband’s mom’s best friends, one of Diana’s best friends, because it’s like who else could understand what it’s actually like on the inside.”
Members of the royal family have not commented on Harry and Meghan’s docuseries. Read more on the biggest revelations from the six-part series, “Harry & Meghan,” here.
If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 [TALK]