The year was 1776, and Americans took down British monarchy by spilling tea. Today, in 2021, an American spilled tea, and the monarchy was toppled again. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, joined Oprah Winfrey in a highly-anticipated interview, and reader, no one was prepared for her stunning revelations. She talked about the racism she experienced from the royal family. The viciousness, half-truths, and untruths from the tabloid stories. How her mental health was deeply affected, especially during her pregnancy, and how she felt no protection from the institution of the monarchy. Markle told her truth as candidly and plainly as possible; to be clear, she didn't make the royal family look bad. Their actions towards her, Archie, and Harry, makes them look bad.
It was a masterclass in interview journalism. Winfrey was keen to remind the audience that no questions were off-limits, and that Markle and Harry had not received the questions prior to taping. With her empathy, she was able to provide a comforting space for the couple to reveal some of the most challenging times in their lives, but Winfrey also made sure that she obtained answers to her questions, circling back to prior conversation when needed and giving them a chance to rebut specific criticisms. Thanks to Winfrey's outstanding work, Markle and Harry dropped bombshells that will reverberate in the halls of Buckingham Palace. Here are some of the most surprising moments.
Please note that this story discusses suicidal ideations. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Kate Middleton made Markle cry at her wedding, not the other way around.
After Markle and Harry's wedding, the British tabloid mill hit the ground running. Reports abounded that Markle and Middleton got into a fight over flower girl outfits, with a verbal confrontation leading Middleton to tears. Not only did Markle deny this story, she revealed that Middleton made her cry. "I don't say that to be disparaging to anyone," Markle said. But "[Middleton] owned it and she apologized and I've forgiven her...what was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do, but that happened to me."
No one prepared her for her new role.
One would assume that, as a new member of the family, Markle would have been given regimented instruction in the minutiae of royal protocol. Instead, she was given no direction, and essentially had to learn all of the rituals and traditions on the fly. "Unlike what you see in the movies, there's no class on how to speak, how to cross your legs, how to be royal," she said. When Markle first met the queen, she learned how to curtsy a few moments being introduced to Her Majesty. She described late-night Google sessions to learn English civic basics, including Anglican hymns and the lyrics to "God Save the Queen."
Markle experienced suicidal thoughts while pregnant with Archie.
The stress and tension of royal life reached a breaking point for Markle when she was pregnant. In a particularly harrowing conversation, Markle tells Winfrey that she dealt with suicidal ideations in her second trimester. "I just didn't want to be alive anymore," she admitted. "And that as a very clear, and real, and frightening constant thought."
Most heartbreaking, unfortunately, was the reaction she received from the royal staff. "I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help...and I was told that I couldn't. That it wouldn't be good for the institution." Let that sink in: Markle was denied access to critical mental healthcare while she was pregnant because it would reflect poorly on the monarchy.
They took her passport.
They took her passport. She was stuck on that island!
There was a conversation about Archie's skin color.
When Winfrey is speechless, you know the tea is burning up the kettle. Markle revealed a truly disturbing racist incident, when an unnamed senior member of the royal family discussed with Harry "how dark" Archie's skin color would be, and "what that would look like." Winfrey's shock has already inspired memes and reaction gifs, but her disgust is shared by, well, the entire planet. Somehow, this revelation is deeply unsurprising.
When she brought up the incident to Harry, he insisted that he would not talk about it further.
The "invisible contract."
As Harry explains, the British tabloids and the royal family are intertwined in an uneasy symbiosis. He calls it the "invisible contract," and essentially, the two institutions use one another to further their goals. The royals are "terrified" of negative press, said Harry, and systematically works to curry favor with the tabloids for favorable coverage. Markle said that Buckingham Palace holds holiday parties for royal reporters.
Markle and Harry are having a girl!
Let's end with some good news. At the beginning of the interview, Markle teased that they knew the sex of their child. She declined to spill the beans until Prince Harry joined the hot seat, so they could announce it together. With Archie, their new baby girl, and lots of dogs, the couple said that their family was complete and likely wouldn't have any more kids. Markle is expecting to give birth "sometime this summer."