Meghan Markle's Mental Health Struggles Reminded Prince Harry of His Mother

"My biggest concern was history repeating itself."

In the year since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they would be stepping back as senior members of the British royal family, the tabloids have taken it upon themselves to portray the so-called "Megxit" as some conniving ruse by a couple determined to make the royals' lives difficult. But in their no-holds-barred interview with Oprah Winfrey on March 7, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex finally set the record straight, sharing that, in fact, their decision was an extremely tough one made only after they felt they had exhausted all other options.

After Meghan shared in a one-on-one conversation with Oprah that she had experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of the wildly negative and often racist coverage of her by the British tabloids (not to mention their social media troll audiences), Harry joined the interview to note that watching his wife's mental health worsen due to the press attention was disturbingly reminiscent of his own mother's struggles two decades before. In August 1997, when Harry was only 12 years old, Princess Diana was killed when the car she was in crashed while trying to escape a fleet of relentless paparazzi.

When Oprah asked what the "tipping point" was that led the couple to officially step back from the royal family, Harry said, "I was desperate. I went to all the places I thought I should go to ask for help; we both did, separately and together."

That help never came, he said, even as the "constant barrage" of negative attention only grew and worsened. "My biggest concern was history repeating itself—I've said that before on numerous occasions, very publicly. And what I was seeing was history repeating itself, but perhaps, or definitely, far more dangerous, because then you add race in, and you add social media in," he said. "And when I talk about history repeating itself, I'm talking about my mother."

Harry continued, "When you can see something happening in the same kind of way, anybody would ask for help, ask for the system of which you are a part of—especially when you know there's a relationship there [with the press]—that they could help and share some truth or call the dogs off, whatever you want to call it." After doing so, though, he and Meghan received "no help at all," he said. Instead, they were "told continuously, 'This is how it is, this is just how it is, we've all been through it,'" he shared, which was the final straw for them.

Later in the interview, Oprah asked Harry how his mother might feel about his and Meghan's decision to forge their own path, separate from the royals. "I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out and very sad," he said. "But ultimately, all she'd ever want is for us to be happy."

Andrea Park

Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.