On Thursday, Netflix released volume two of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s docuseries, Harry & Meghan. In the final three episodes, the couple reflects on how they were treated by the press and the royal family, and their last moments as senior royals.
In episode four of the series, Harry and Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mother, recalled how they felt after the duchess revealed she was struggling with thoughts of suicide.
“I remember her telling me that, that she had wanted to take her own life. That really broke my heart,” Ragland said, adding that she blamed the media’s constant criticism of Meghan. “I knew, well, I knew that it was bad, to just constantly be picked at by these vultures, just picking away at her spirit that she would actually think of not wanting to be here. That’s not an easy one for a mom to hear. And I can’t protect her. H can’t protect her.”
Harry then spoke of his own response to his wife’s mental health struggles, revealing that he was “devastated” when he learned how Meghan was feeling.
When looking back on the time period and how he handled the revelation, Harry said he “hates” himself because he believes he “dealt with it as ‘institutional Harry’ as opposed to ‘husband Harry’”.
“I was devastated,” Harry said. “I knew that she was struggling. We were both struggling, but I never thought that it would get to that stage. And the fact that it got to that stage, I felt angry and ashamed. I didn’t deal with it particularly well,” he continued. “I dealt with it as ‘institutional Harry’ as opposed to ‘husband Harry’. And what took over my feelings was my royal role.”
The duke said his response was due to a lifetime of worrying about “what are people going to think”.
“I’d been trained to worry more about what are people gonna think if we don’t go to this event, we’re gonna be late,” he said. “Looking back on it now, I hate myself for it. What she needed from me was so much more than I was able to give.”
Harry was also critical of his family’s response to Meghan’s struggles, claiming that they “knew how bad it was,” and yet questioned why she couldn’t “just deal with it”.
“They thought why couldn’t she just deal with it as if to say: ‘Well, you know, everybody else has dealt with it. Why can’t she deal with it?’ But this was different. It was really different,” he recalled.
Harry then claimed that, even if Meghan’s situation hadn’t been different, the response was telling of the need for a change in how the royal family deals with such situations.
“But actually if you strip all that away and say, ‘Okay fine, it was exactly the same.’ So do we still believe that she should have just sucked it up like other members of the family? Or does one think that maybe it’s about time that we stop?” he added.
Meghan also condemned the Palace’s reaction, adding: “I wanted to go somewhere to get help, but I wasn’t allowed to. They were concerned about how that would look for the institution.”
The duchess publicly revealed she had suffered from suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant with son Archie during her and Prince Harry’s sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021.
At the time, she said that she was “ashamed to say it” and “ashamed” to have to tell her husband.
“But I knew that if I didn’t say it, then I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” she said.
This is not the first time that Harry has expressed regret over his handling of the situation. He previously revealed, while speaking with Winfrey in his Apple TV+ docuseries The Me You Can’t See, that he feels “somewhat ashamed” over the way he reacted to his wife’s suicidal thoughts.
“Because of the system that we were in and the responsibilities and the duties that we had, we had a quick cuddle,” he recalled of the night Meghan told him about her suicidal thoughts. “And then we had to get changed and jump in a convoy with a police escort and drive to the Royal Albert Hall for a charity event and then step out into a wall of cameras and pretend as though everything is okay.”
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, the Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email email@example.com, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.
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