“Not many people have asked if I’m okay,” reveals Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle in an excerpt from the ITV documentary “Harry and Meghan: An African Journey.” The emotion of the newlywed and young mother was clear in her voice as she confirmed that she, “isn’t really okay.”
Although Markle may have been accustomed to being in the spotlight from her time as an actress, it did not prepare her for the scrutiny she now faces as a member of the royal family. Since her wedding, she has endured criticism from the general public as well as columnists on everything from her clothing choices to her parenting style.
As seen with other royal women such as Kate Middleton and Princess Diana, being subjected to the spotlight can prove to be both difficult and potentially dangerous.
During the filming of “Harry and Meghan: An African Journey” the Duke of Sussex returns 22 years after the passing of his mother, Princess Diana, to the same mine field in Angola she famously walked through. Although he is happy to be finishing what his mother started, he reveals to ITV that he is also reminded of all of the bad things that come with his position.
“Every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” says Prince Harry, whose mother died when he was just 12 years old in a car crash attempting to escape from the paparazzi.
In 2017 Prince Harry revealed in an interview with British news source The Telegraph, that for almost 20 years after losing his mother he “shut down all his emotions.” It took him until his late 20s to seek help for the “total chaos” that he felt finally coming to terms with his mother’s death. He also revealed that living in the public eye made him feel as though he could be “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”
It is for this reason that he responded so strongly in reaction to the relentless negative press and invasion of privacy his wife has received over the past year. The duke released a statement on his entire family’s relationship with the media and an explanation of why they have sought legal action against New Group Newspapers which publishes The Sun, the Daily Mirror and News of the World. Meghan Markle is also taking legal action against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday after the newspaper decided to publish a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
In Harry’s statement to the public he wrote, “In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year.” The photographs of the letter remain accessible to the public. A spokesperson for the Mail on Sunday defended the reporting of the story saying, “The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously. Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”
For Meghan to speak so candidly about her mental health was different than anyone would expect from a royal, who are taught to smile and wave through any situation. The video that took the internet by storm is a reminder to the British press that she is not just a member of the royal family, but a mother, a newlywed and a human being.
In Harry’s statement to the press he says, “my deepest fear is history repeating itself.” When a woman with as much influence as Meghan opens up about her own struggles, no matter how different her circumstances might be, women everywhere are more likely to speak up. That kind of courage ensures that we are leaving history far behind. It is time the British media catches up.