When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle spoke to Oprah in an interview that aired last month, the couple made so many shocking comments about race and mental health that some of the more subdued revelations have taken some time to fully unpack. For the most part, this has turned into media outlets fact-checking the couple’s claims, such as Meghan’s comment that the couple exchanged their vows in private before their May 2018 wedding. Though tabloids have called it a “lie” because the ceremony was not their legal wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed last week that he did meet with couple “a number of times” privately before their public ceremony, which was in fact the legal one.
To royal biographer Andrew Morton, whose biography of Princess Diana made headlines in 1992, the comparisons that the couple made to Diana’s time in the palace weren’t completely off the mark. Speaking to the hosts of the PureWow podcast Royally Obsessed last week, Morton said he noticed some similarities but didn’t actually think that Meghan was stripped of her freedom. “When I was watching the interview, I was ticking off, ‘yes, sense of isolation, yes, sense of desperation,’” he said. “Exactly what Diana was saying to me. But then again, well, friends of mine have seen Meghan walking from Whole Foods supermarket on Kensington High Street with bags of food back to Kensington Palace.”
In explaining his reasoning, he mentioned another point of contention in the interview—that Queen Elizabeth and the royal family raised the prospect of Meghan carrying on her career as an actress, though Morton claims their motives were benign. “In fairness to the royal family, in fairness to the Queen, she did give them that opportunity to go wherever they pleased,” he said. “And also, they did say to Meghan, ‘If you don’t want to embrace royal duties full time, please be our guest and continue your acting career.’ Those opportunities were open to her.”
When Harry mentioned Meghan’s career in the Oprah interview, it came in the context of early comments about the skin color of his and Meghan’s potential children. “That was right at the beginning,” he explained to Oprah, “when she wasn’t going to get security, when members of my family were suggesting that she carries on acting, because there was not enough money to pay for her, and all this sort of stuff. Like, there were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard.”
To Harry, the idea that she continue acting had little to do with her desire to be free, but with the family’s willingness to accept her as a full, working member. Besides, there’s some evidence that Meghan was no longer interested in acting. In the biography Finding Freedom, authors Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durant report that she was interested in making a pivot to lifestyle television or humanitarian projects even before she met Harry. When the couple first announced their deal with Netflix last September, a spokesperson said that Meghan would not be making a return to acting. On Tuesday, Archewell Productions announced their first show—a docu-series about the Invictus Games, the Paralympic-style competition for wounded service members he founded in 2014. Only Harry will be making an on-camera appearance this time around.
Though some royal correspondents have mocked the idea of Meghan and Harry telling “their truth” in public, it’s been helpful to know how they experienced the events, many of which transpired largely in public. After watching the Oprah interview, it’s clear that the couple thinks their disagreement with the royal family comes down to how welcome Meghan really was during their years before their royal family.
To Morton, Harry and Meghan share some blame for the rift. “I think neither of them gave it the thought they should have done,” he said. “I think that famous warning from Prince William of ‘steady on, think about what you’re doing,’ that Harry bridled at, was probably meant more with affection.”
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