Duchess Meghan opens up to Oprah Winfrey about her mental health while she was a senior royal

By Zach Harper

In an emotional moment during Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry's interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex opened up about her mental health and the media pressure she was under while a senior member of the Royal Family.

Tearing up, Meghan revealed she had been having thoughts of suicide and self-harm during this difficult period.

"I was really ashamed to say it and to admit it to Harry, because I know how much loss he has suffered... but that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought," she shared.

Please note there are mental health resources listed at the bottom of this story.

Meghan revealed Harry reacted by "cradling" her, and soon after she told him what she was going through, the two stepped out to the premiere of Cirque du Soleil's TOTEM at Royal Albert Hall. She said one of her friends had sent her photos from the event, with a message that the two looked incredible. Meghan dazzled at the event, wearing a navy sequin Roland Mouret gown. She was pregnant with Archie at the time.

Heartbreakingly, the duchess told Oprah she was "weeping" when the lights went out during this performance. Photo: © Paul Grover - WPA Pool/Getty Images

But Meghan told Oprah how she saw something much different when she looked at the images: She said she noticed how tightly her husband was grabbing her hand. She shared that she was crying when the lights went out during the performance.

"And that's, I think, so important for people to remember, is you have no idea what's going on for someone behind closed doors. No idea," she said, adding it always "takes so much courage" for someone to get help for their mental well-being.

"Even the people that smile and shine the brightest lights," she added. "You need to have compassion for what is actually potentially going on."

This isn't the first time Meghan has opened up about difficulties during this period. While the Sussexes were on tour in South Africa in October 2019, journalist Tom Bradby interviewed them for a documentary about that journey. He asked Meghan how she was doing, and if things had been "a struggle," and she said yes.

The Sussexes are no strangers to highlighting mental health. Harry has long since spoken out about his, saying his emotional well-being was greatly affected by the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

"I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12 and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years has had a quite serious effect not only on my personal royal role, but also my work as well," Harry told Bryony Gordon on her Mad World podcast in 2017. "I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions."

The prince went on to say instead of seeking help, he chose to respond by "sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would it help?... I was the typical 20, 25, 28-year-old going around going, 'Life is great. Life is fine.'"

Diana hugs William and Harry on the Royal Yacht Britannia in Toronto in 1991. Photo: © Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

Harry later told Bryony the help of Prince William led him to start going to therapy. He now speaks candidly about his own mental health as a way of encouraging others to get help and destigmatize mental health issues.

Indeed, Harry and Oprah are putting together a series about mental health for Apple TV+. Much of the duke's work with the Invictus Games has involved supporting the mental health of soldiers, former service members and wounded warriors as they reintegrate into society. And his Heads Together initiative, started in 2017 with William and Duchess Kate, has helped people throughout the U.K. get help through its Shout text messaging program, which allows people to send an SMS for crisis support 24 hours a day.

It's not easy to admit you need help, and while difficult, it is the first step to feeling better and is an act of courage. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please seek help. Call the Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-833-456-4566. You can also text HOME to 686868 anywhere in Canada to access free help 24 hours a day if you or someone you know is in crisis. You can find more resources through the Centre for Suicide Prevention's website.

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