Meghan Markle Says Trying to Cope With Media Scrutiny Has Been 'Damaging'

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Meghan Markle is getting candid and honest about her battle and struggle with being the target of media scrutiny as the Duchess of Sussex.

Journalist Tom Bradby joined Markle and Prince Harry on their recent 10-day royal tour of Africa, and spoke with the pair for the documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, which aired in the U.K. on Sunday.

During their trip, Markle emotionally opened up to Bradby about how being in the media spotlight has been "really challenging," and admitted that she was warned about the intense tabloid industry in England by her British friends when she first started dating the Prince.

"It's hard. I don't think anybody could understand that, but in all fairness, I had no idea," she recalled. "When I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, 'I'm sure he's great, but you shouldn't do it, because the British tabloids will destroy your life.'"

Markle said that, as an American, the situation was different and the press works in a different way than across the pond. "I didn't get it," Markle admitted, adding that her relationship with the press has "been complicated."

"I would say, any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging, and then when you have a newborn, you know -- and especially as a woman, it's a lot," Markle shared of her role in the tabloid crosshairs. "So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed… a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Markle and her royal husband tied the knot on May 19, 2018, and the pair welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison, less than a year later, on May 6. The entire time -- before their wedding and long after their baby was born -- the pair have been constantly hounded by paparazzi, written about in the media and have been the subjects of supposed exposes.

The pair announced on Oct. 1 that they were finally pursuing legal action against Associated Newspapers -- owners of the Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and more -- after the Mail on Sunday published a private, handwritten letter that Markle wrote to her estranged father.

During the documentary, Markle also thanked Bradby for asking about how she's been feeling, explaining, "Not many people have asked if I'm OK." She also confirmed that she's "struggling" with the attention.

Markle explained that, for the most part she's "really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip," but that it's been draining and difficult to maintain.

"I tried, I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging," she shared. "The biggest thing I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that's the part that's really hard to reconcile."

When Bradby asked Markle if she feels she'll survive the pressure she's been under, the duchess replied that she wants more for her life than just surviving. 

"I have said for a long time ... it's not enough to just survive something, right? That's not the point of life. You've got to thrive," she explained. "You've got to feel happy."

For Markle, being the victim of what she claims to be fabricated stories crosses a line from simply being scrutinized into a territory of harmful deceit.

"When people are saying things that are just untrue and they're being told they're untrue but they're allowed to still say them, I don't know anybody in the world that would feel like that's OK," Markle said. "And that's different than just scrutiny…. That's a different beast. That's really just a different beast."

During their trip to Africa, the former Suits actress proudly identified as a woman of color during her speech at Cape Town’s Nyanga township, and she opened up to Bradby about her black heritage -- as well as her disappointment that it's still seen as a defining (and often divisive) aspect in the English press and the narrative of her relationship with her husband.

"I would hope that people -- the world -- will get to a point where you just see us as a couple who is in love," Markle shared. "Because I don't wake up every day and identify as being anything other than who I've always been. I'm Meghan and I married this incredible man, and this, to me, is just part of our love story," 

Despite the challenges, the false headlines, the scrutiny and the public pressure, Markle said that, at the end of the day, she always has the important things in her life to turn to.

"The good thing is I've got my baby and I've got my husband, and they're the best," Markle shared.

See more on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's lawsuits against numerous publications and outlets in the video below.

Harry & Meghan: An African Journey will air in the U.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 10 p.m. ET /PT on ABC.


Meghan Markle on Bullying & Prince Harry on 'Rift' With William: Revelations From Their Africa Documentary

Meghan Markle Opens Up About Struggles of Being a Royal and New Mom

Prince Harry Reassures Meghan Markle About Her Post-Baby Body 5 Months After Giving Birth

Elton John Praises Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for Suing UK Tabloids

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