Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Detail What Led to Royal Exit: We Didn’t Blindside The Queen
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren't holding back when it comes to discussing the turmoil within the royal family that led to their decision to leave the U.K.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke about their royal exit during the 90-minute interview with Oprah Winfrey, Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special, on Sunday -- and said they didn't blindside Queen Elizabeth II with their big decision.
When Oprah asked Meghan if she was concerned about how the royal family would react to their tell-all interview, the duchess replied, "I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us. At a certain point, you're going to go, 'But, you guys, someone just tell the truth.' And if that comes with risk of losing things, I mean, there's a lot that's been lost already."
"And I grieve a lot. I mean, I've lost my father. I lost a baby. I nearly lost my name. I mean, there's the loss of identity. But I'm still standing, and my hope for people in the takeaway from this is to know that there's another side," Meghan added.
Harry said that ahead of their exit he was "desperate," having gone to the family for help, and not receiving it.
"But we never left the family," Meghan clarified, noting they only stepped back from their professional roles. "We were saying, 'OK, if this isn't working for everyone, we're in a lot of pain, you can't provide us with the help that we need, we can just take a step back. We can do it in a commonwealth country.' We suggested New Zealand, South Africa."
Harry said he was worried about repeating itself, citing his mother Princess Diana's death. He then discussed the U.K. press and their treatment of Meghan. He said his and Meghan's reason for leaving their roles was due to both the press and the lack of support within the royal family.
As for reports the couple blindsided the queen, Harry said he had conversations with his family ahead of their royal exit announcement last year... and at a point, his father stopped taking his calls.
"When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father and -- before he stopped taking my calls -- and then [he] said, 'Can you put this all in what your plan is?" Harry revealed.
"I put all the specifics in there, even the fact that we were planning on putting the announcement out on the 7th of January," he said, adding that Charles started ignoring him because, "By that point, I took matters into my own hands. It was like, 'I need to do this for my family.' This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's gotten to this point, but I've got to do something for my own mental health, my wife's, and for Archie's, as well, because I could see where this was headed."
However, Harry also shared that he didn't tell his family that Meghan needed help. He said it isn't a conversation people in his family had -- but also wished they expressed support for Meghan generally.
"The way I saw it was there was a way of doing things, but for us, for this union and the specifics around her race, there was an opportunity, many opportunities, for my family to show some public support," he said, adding that it was telling that members of Parliament publicly supported Meghan, but his own family did not.
Harry continued, sharing that his grandmother, father, Prince William and Kate Middleton were "really welcoming" to Meghan, "but it really changed after the Australia tour."
"It was the first time that the family got to see how incredible she is at the job, and that brought back memories," he said, implying there was jealousy over Meghan's success on the tour.
As for allegations that Meghan plotted to take Harry away from his family, Meghan said that wasn't the case.
"Can you imagine how little sense that makes? I left my career, my life. I left everything because I love him, right? And our plan was to do this forever. I mean, I wrote letters to his family when I got there, saying, 'I am dedicated to this. I'm here for you. Use me as you'd like,'" she said.
Harry, however, admitted he wouldn't have left the family without Meghan. "I was trapped, but I didn't know I was trapped," he shared. "Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are."
Days before the interview aired, allegations against Meghan from former Kensington Palace staffers went public in The Times, accusing the duchess of bullying. The staffers claimed Meghan "drove two personal assistants out of the household and was undermining the confidence of a third staff member."
A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry previously denied the allegation, calling it a "calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation" in a statement to The Times.
Buckingham Palace released their own statement following the allegations, saying, "We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article."
Harry previously opened up on The Late Late Show With James Corden about the conditions that led him to leave the U.K. and relocate to California in early 2020.
"We all know what the British press can be like and it was destroying my mental . I was like, 'This is toxic,'" Harry told British host Corden. "So I did what any husband and any father would do. I was like, 'I need to get my family out of here.'"
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