NOTE: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
In a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle went into great detail about her mental health and how it was impacted during her time with the royal family and a target of negative press.
The 39-year-old spoke to Winfrey on Sunday during a two-hour special titled Oprah With Meghan and Harry. In an emotional moment, Markle admitted that she previously experienced suicidal thoughts.
“I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”
She said she was ashamed to tell her husband, Prince Harry, at the time.
“I know how much loss he suffered… But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. And I just didn’t.”
She told the TV legend it was “very clear and very scary.”
Oprah asked if she considered a hospital or reaching out for help, but Markle said it wasn’t available. She described going to the “institution” — a.k.a. the “business” side of the royal family — which was made up of several people.
“I went to one of the most senior people just to get help. And that, you know, I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help,” she said.
“I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said… ‘I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution.’”
According to Markle, something that continues to haunt her is a photo taken of the pair at an event at the Royal Albert Hall in January 2019.
She said they attended the event the same day she spoke to Harry about experiencing suicidal thoughts.
She remembers her husband voicing concerns about her attending the event but her fear was what could potentially happen if she was left alone.
“If you zoom in (to the picture), what I see is how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine. You can see the whites of our knuckles because we are smiling and doing our job,” she said.
“But we’re both just trying to hold on. And every time those lights went down… I was just weeping.”
“It’s important for people to remember they have no idea what’s going on in someone’s life behind closed doors,” Markle said. “Even the people that smile and shine the brightest lights.”
“It takes so much courage to admit that you need help. It takes so much courage to voice that and I was ashamed. I’m supposed to be stronger than that,” she said.
“I don’t want to put more on my husband’s shoulders. He’s carrying the weight of the world. I don’t want to bring that to him, I bring solutions.”
Prince Harry added that while his family has experienced pressure being in the public eye, what was different for him was the “race element,” because it wasn’t just about Markle, but what she “represents.”
“Therefore, it wasn’t just affecting my wife, it was affecting so many other people as well,” he said.
Prince Harry said he is proud of his wife and highlighted her birth of Archie during a period of time “which was so cruel and so mean.”
When asked by Oprah if Markle saved him, Prince Harry responded saying she undeniably did, but Markle added that he not only saved her but their family as well.
“When he ultimately called it and was like, ‘We’ve got to find a way for us, for Archie. He made a decision that certainly saved my life and saved all of us.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
Crisis Services Canada’s toll-free helpline provides 24-7 support at 1-833-456-4566.
The toll-free Hope for Wellness helpline provides 24-7 support for Indigenous Peoples at 1-855-242-3310. Online chat services are also available.
Trans Lifeline operates a toll-free peer support hotline for trans and questioning people at 1-877-330-6366.
For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.