(LONDON) — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, gave an unprecedented glimpse into the struggles they face as newlyweds and new parents under the glare of the public spotlight.
“It’s hard,” Duchess Meghan told ITV News at Ten anchor Tom Bradby for the documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.” “I don’t think anybody could understand that.”
“In all fairness I had no idea, which probably sounds difficult to understand and hear,” said Meghan, who was the California-born star of “Suits” when she met Harry. “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.’”
Tune into “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” hosted by “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m. ET, on ABC Television Network.
“And I very naively — I’m American. 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,'” said the duchess. “I didn’t get it. So it’s been, yeah, it’s been complicated.”
“Harry & Meghan: An African Journey” — which airs in the U.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 10 p.m. ET, on ABC Television Network — follows the couple during their 10-day tour of Southern Africa earlier this month.
High moments on the tour — which included their son Archie’s meeting human rights activist Desmond Tutu and Meghan’s engaging with women in South Africa as a “woman of color and as your sister” — are featured in the film. Yet, the documentary also explores what has been happening behind the scenes for the couple.
Bradby later described Harry and Meghan in an essay about the documentary as “a couple who clearly feel under the most extreme pressure and seem, at times, to be buckling beneath it.”
Meghan spoke candidly to Bradby about what she described as unfair treatment by some members of the British press.
“The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought that this would be easy but I thought it would be fair,” she said. “And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile but, I don’t know, just take each day as it comes.”
Meghan, who has seen endless headlines splashed about her family and herself, also brought up fairness when asked about the counter argument that, yes, she faces public scrutiny but she also lives a life of power and privilege.
“If things are fair, that completely tracks for me if things are fair,” said Meghan, who wed Prince Harry last year. “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 okay. 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.”
“And I think the grass is always greener,” Meghan added. “You have no idea. It’s really hard to understand what it’s like. I know what it seems like it should be. It’s a very different thing. That’s okay. The good thing is I’ve got my baby and I’ve got my husband and they’re the best.”
When asked whether she thinks she can continue on with the pressures of her very public life, Meghan described an ongoing conversation she says she has with Harry.
“I’ve said for a long time to H — that’s what I call him — it’s not enough to just survive something. That’s not the point of life,” Meghan said. “You’ve got to thrive. You’ve got to feel happy.”
“I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried. I really tried,” she added. “But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
The documentary was underway at the same time that Harry and Meghan announced legal action by Meghan against a British tabloid over privacy concerns.
Shortly after they left South Africa, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Harry had also started legal action against some U.K. media outlets with regard to “the illegal interception of voicemail messages.”
Before any of that was made public, Harry spoke to Bradby about the pressures he feels to protect his family today, more than two decades after the 1997 death of his mother Princess Diana in a Paris car crash that involved paparazzi.
“My mum clearly taught me a certain set of values of which I will always try and uphold despite the role and the job that sometimes that entails, if you know what I mean,” Harry said. “But I think, I will always protect my family and now I have a family to protect.”
“So everything that she went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day and that’s not me being paranoid that’s just me not wanting a repeat of the past,” he said. “And if anybody else knew what I knew, be it a father, be it a husband, be it anyone, you’d probably be doing exactly what I’m doing as well.”
One of the most poignant moments of Harry and Meghan’s trip came when Harry retraced Princess Diana’s footsteps at a former active landmine minefield in Angola.
Harry described his mom’s death to Bradby as a “wound that festers.” He said dealing with the pressure of his royal life and the grief over his mother’s death is something that takes “constant management.”
“I thought I was out of the woods and then suddenly it all came back and I suddenly realized, no, actually this is something that I have to manage,” he said. “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 but, again, for me and for my wife of course there’s a lot of stuff that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue.”
“But all we need to do is focus on being real and focus on being the people that we are and standing up for what we believe in,” Harry continued. “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
Harry has in the past credited his older brother, Prince William, with encouraging him to seek help for his mental health in the years after their mom died.
British tabloid headlines have more recently suggested a rift between the two brothers, the only children of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Harry addressed the rumors in his interview with Brady.
“Part of this role and part of this job and this family being under the pressure that it’s under … stuff happens,” he said. “But look we’re brothers. We’ll always be brothers.”
“We’re certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him and as I know he’ll always be there for me,” Harry added. “We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy but I love him dearly.”
“The majority of the stuff is created out of nothing but as brothers it’s just as I said, you have good days, you have bad days,” he said.
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