Meghan Markle says she wasn’t prepared for the intense media scrutiny that awaited her after marrying into the British royal family.
The Duchess of Sussex opened up to host Tom Bradby in ITV’s documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” which aired on Sunday in the UK and is scheduled to air Wednesday in the US on ABC.
The special aims to give audiences a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the couple’s recent royal tour of southern Africa.
When the British journalist asked the 38-year-old how she’s coping with the lack of privacy and ruthless tabloid rumors as a new parent, the former American actress replied she takes “each day as it comes.”
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit District 6 Museum on Sep. 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The pair are reportedly considering a move to Africa after a bitter battle with public life in the U.K.
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“I think the grass is always greener,” explained the former “Suits” star. “You have no idea. It’s really hard to understand what it’s like. I know what it seems like it should be, but it’s a very different thing.”
Markle said she and her husband Prince Harry have had conversations about being in the spotlight and all the negativity that comes with it.
“I have said for a long time to H, that’s what I call him, ‘It’s not enough to just survive something,’” said Markle. “’That’s not the point of life. You have to thrive. You have got to feel happy.’ I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a ‘stiff upper life.’ I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
The royal went on to tell Bradby she would be more understanding about the scrutiny if it were fair.
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Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex visits mothers2mothers during her royal tour of South Africa with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex on Sept. 25, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. Mothers2mothers (m2m) is an African not-for-profit organization with the vision of a healthy, HIV-free Africa. The organization trains and employs women living with HIV as frontline health workers across eight African nations.
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“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” said Markle. “And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.”
Markle said before she tied the knot with Harry, 35, some of her friends warned her that becoming a member of the royal family would mean being under the constant glare of the public spotlight and losing your privacy.
“In all fairness, I had no idea, which probably sounds difficult to understand and hear,” said Markle. “But when I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me, ‘I’m sure he’s great but you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life.’”
“And I, very naively — I’m American,” continued Markle. “We don’t have that there — [I said], ‘What are you talking about? That doesn’t make any sense. I’m not in any tabloids.’ I didn’t get it. So it’s been, yeah, it’s been complicated.”
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Markle also pointed out it’s been frustrating to see her name — along with her family’s — in headlines concerning stories she stressed just aren’t true.
“If things are fair, that completely tracks for me if things are fair,” said Markle. “If I do something wrong I’d be the first one to go, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. I would never do that,’ but when people are saying things that are just untrue and they’re being told they’re untrue but they’re allowed to still say them, I don’t know anybody in the world who would feel that that’s OK. And that’s different than just scrutiny. That’s, what would you call that? That’s a different beast. It’s really a different beast.”
In a clip previously released by ITV on Friday, Markle got candid with Bradby about the negative attention she has received from the media during her pregnancy and first months with Archie, who was born in May.
“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging,” said the 38-year-old. “And then when you have a newborn, you know. … and especially as a woman, it’s a lot.”
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“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed,” continued Markle while holding back tears. “It’s um… yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
When Bradby asked if it “would be fair” to say that she’s “not really OK, as in it’s really been a struggle,” Markle responded, “Yes.”
Still, Markle said Harry and their son have helped get through tough times.
“It’s OK,” she said. “The good thing is that I’ve got my baby and I’ve got my husband and they’re the best.”
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Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle hold their baby son Archie as they meet with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town on Sep. 25, 2019. The British royal couple are on a 10-day tour of southern Africa — their first official visit as a family since their son Archie was born in May.
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In the documentary, Harry also spoke out against the British tabloids for the “ruthless” treatment Markle has received “over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.”
“Look, part of this job and part of any job, like everybody, means putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff,” he explained. “But again, for me and my wife, of course, there’s a lot of stuff that hurts — especially when the majority of it is untrue.”
“All we need to do is focus on being real, focus on being the people we are and standing up for what we believe in,” said Harry. “I will not be bullied into carrying a game that killed my mom.”