Unearthed Prince Harry Interview from 2017 Reveals He Already Wanted Out of the Royal Family—But Stayed for One Reason

He and wife Meghan Markle eventually left their roles as senior royals in 2020.

Prince Harry attends King Charles' Coronation
(Image credit: Getty)

Meghan Markle gets the lion’s share of the blame for her and husband Prince Harry’s exit as working members of the royal family in 2020, but it was Harry who initially wanted out of the royal family, The Daily Mail reports.

“The prince had spoken of his feelings of disengagement and frustration some years earlier, not long after meeting the woman who would go on to become the Duchess of Sussex,” the outlet reports.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an engagement together in 2017

(Image credit: Getty)

All the way back to six years ago, comments from Harry revealed he “wanted out” of the royal family and yearned for an “ordinary life,” calling life inside the monarchy a “goldfish bowl” and admitting he had come close to a breakdown on several occasions. Yet he stayed primarily out of loyalty to the late Queen Elizabeth, his grandmother: “I spent many years kicking my heels and I didn’t want to grow up,” he said in an interview with journalist Angela Levin. “I felt I wanted out, but then decided to stay in and work out a role for myself.”

He also revealed in the extraordinarily candid interview that “no one in the royal family wants to be King or Queen,” and “we want to make sure the monarchy lasts and are passionate about what it stands for. We feel that the British public and the whole world needs institutions like this, but it can’t go on as it has done under the Queen. There will be changes and pressure to get them right. Things are moving so fast, especially because of social media, so we are involved in modernizing the monarchy.”

Prince Harry kisses his grandmother Queen Elizabeth on the cheek

(Image credit: Getty)

This interview took place in June 2017, not quite a year after meeting Meghan and over five years before Her late Majesty passed away last September at the age of 96. The conversation took place before he had even proposed to Meghan; inside a year they would be married. And though Harry and Meghan’s step back was two and a half years away, it already seemed to be percolating: “I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one, too,” he said. “We don’t want to be just a bunch of celebrities, but instead use our role for good.”

He continued “We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people and the monarchy we represent. There is so much negative in the world—we as a family try to bring something positive.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.