In her bombshell interview, Meghan Markle revealed her sense of isolation and suicidal thoughts while living in the UK. What will it take for people to believe that she struggled?
Warning: this post discusses mental health problems and may not be suitable for some readers.
Millions of us have seen the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey. If you haven’t watched it, you’ve probably read about it online and on social media.
The simple fact is this, you can’t escape the story and the vitriol that has followed in its wake.
Before I get into my defence of the Duchess’s mental health, let me make a couple of things clear. I’m not #TeamSussex or #TeamQueen. I’m not taking any particular side in this drama. Mistakes have been made all round and nobody is perfect or innocent.
Obviously, the couple have willingly sat down to discuss the reasons for ‘stepping back’ from their roles as senior members of the British royal family and yes, they live lives of great privilege. That being said, we shouldn’t belittle their experience and undermine the effect that a life in the spotlight can have on someone’s mental health.
A royal life comes at the cost of freedom
Imagine this. You’re an independent woman in her 30s, with a lucrative career and earnings under your belt. You have a comfortable life filled with social events, friends, travel, fashion and food. You live life on your terms.
Then, you meet a man. You marry him and join a family with a history and structure that stretches back over 1000 years. Suddenly, you can’t just go out with friends, take a trip, or use your voice to speak up for causes you believe in. Especially if they are in any way political.
The independent life that you have enjoyed is gone, and you now live in a bubble. In fact, it’s a gilded cage.
Meghan has revealed that she had to hand over her passport, driving licence and keys when she joined the family. Can you imagine what that’s like? It’s going to be a shock to the system of anyone.
An acting career does not make you a liar
Yesterday’s interview has garnered a lot of negative press in the UK. Meghan has been branded as a liar, and her previous career as an actor has been used as a reason to never believe a word that she says.
Her interview has been described as ‘the role of a lifetime’, and framed as a coordinated and completely fabricated attack on the royal family.
Her previous employment should have nothing to do with her feelings and emotions. This is a weak excuse.
COVID-19 has revealed the effects of isolation
At the height of the maelstrom when Meghan was pregnant, advisors told her to lay low. At this point, she was barely leaving her house (Frogmore cottage, which itself was a target of attacks by the press).
We know that not being able to leave our homes has disastrous affects on mental health. We’ve all had to live this reality for the past 12 months.
And yet when it’s at the expense of the tax payer (but now fully paid back), there is no sympathy for a woman who had to go through her first pregnancy alone.
Now, I haven’t forgotten about her star studded baby shower in New York. This came across as bad taste, but was it thrown in an effort to make up for the isolation that she endured prior to that? We may never know.
Wealth and privilege doesn’t solve everything
Another frequent argument against the Sussexes is that they are multi millionaires, living in a mansion in California. Therefore, they should shut their mouths and never complain about anything.
In response to this, let’s remember an old saying. Money doesn’t buy you happiness.
Mental health problems can affect anyone. In fact, 2 in 3 people have experienced some sort of mental health problem in their life. The fact that the royal family has previously advocated for open conversations and mental heath care makes Meghan’s proclamation even more staggering.
Personally, I have the suspicion that the firm will only acknowledge mental health problems after the fact, when they have been privately dealt with. Harry himself has been open about attending counselling decades after his mother’s death, and Kate only revealed her sense of loneliness as a new mother when her first child was about 4 or 5.
My final thoughts
Unfortunately for Meghan and Harry, their positions in life as royalty/celebrity will always be used against them. The damage has been done as far as the media and public are concerned.
In my mind, there’s no doubt that they’ve both suffered from mental strain in their lives. Have we forgotten the 12 year old boy who walked behind his mum’s coffin in front of millions? Have we not seen the opposite headlines that Meghan has been subjected to, in opposition to the ‘perfect’ Kate?
We will never know the truth of what goes on behind closed royal doors. There are several sides to any story and in this instance, we have The Sussexes, the royal family, the media and the truth.
Ultimately, there are those (who I will refrain from naming as attention is what they want) who will continue to target this couple. They will continue to ignore the sad lessens learned from the tragic deaths of Caroline Flack and Diana, Princess of Wales, whose lives were lost thanks to media intrusion and harassment.
It’s a sad situation, as I think Meghan and Harry showed promise in the early days of their life together. She had good, and frankly original ideas (her charity cookbook, capsule wardrobe collection and Vogue editorial are all great examples) and he was a champion for veterans. Now that they’ve spoken up and said their piece, I think they need to move forward and bring about the change that they say they want to make.
I hope they find peace and happiness with their growing family.