The Duke of Sussex has said racism from the tabloid press that filtered into the rest of society was a “large part” of why he and his wife left the UK.
Prince Harry told Oprah Winfrey that the UK tabloid media is “bigoted” and creates a “toxic environment” of “control and fear”.
He said he thought the Prince of Wales had to “make peace with it”.
Meghan said social media had made the relationship with the press like “the wild, wild West”.
She described trying to protect her parents from a “media frenzy” and said it was “hard to reconcile” her father Thomas Markle working with the tabloids.
During the two-hour CBS special, to be screened in the UK on ITV at 21:00 GMT on Monday night and on ITV Hub, Courtesy of Harpo Productions/CBS, the couple covered a range of topics, including racism, mental health, their relationship with the media and Royal Family dynamics.
In other key revelations:
In previously unseen footage from the three hour 20 minutes interview, Oprah asked the prince if the couple left the UK because of racism. Prince Harry replied: “It was a large part of it.”
He said that shortly after the couple announced they would step back from royal duties, someone who was “friends with a lot of the editors” had warned him about their confrontational stance with the press: “Please don’t do this with the media, they will destroy your life.”
The conversation happened at a fundraising dinner in January 2020, a few months after Meghan sued the Mail on Sunday over a private letter and Prince Harry said he feared his wife would fall “victim to the same powerful forces” that he lost his mother to.
The friend of the editors told him: “You need to understand that the UK is very bigoted.” But the duke responded: “The UK is not bigoted, the UK press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids.”
Speaking to Oprah, the prince added: “But, unfortunately, if the source of information is inherently corrupt or racist or biased then that filters out to the rest of society.”
He said that “sadly” no-one in the family had said they were sorry that the couple felt they had to move away from royal life because they did not feel supported.
“The feeling is that this was our decision, therefore the consequences are on us.”
He said it was “really hard because I am part of the system with them, I always have been”.
Prince Harry said he is “very aware” that his brother Prince William “can’t leave that system but I have”.
Asked if William wanted to leave the system, he replied: “I don’t know, I can’t speak for him.”
Harry said the “relationship and that control and the fear by the UK tabloids, it’s a really, it’s a toxic environment”.
The duke said he will “always be there” for his brother and the rest of his family and he has “tried to help them to see what has happened”.
His father, the Prince of Wales, “had to make peace” with the relationship with the media.
But Meghan said she and the duke could not make peace with it themselves, saying it was “different” because of social media, describing it as “like the wild, wild West”.
In another unaired clip shared by broadcaster CBS on social media, Prince Harry said that in January last year the couple had an invitation to visit the Queen at Sandringham suddenly withdrawn by her private secretary, who said she was “busy all week”.
“When you’re head of the firm there are people around you that give you advice. And what has also made me really sad is some of that advice has been really bad,” said Harry.
Also in the unaired footage, the Duchess of Sussex said her treatment in the press had been worse than other royals, saying that although the Duchess of Cambridge being branded “Waity Katie” before her marriage to Prince William must have been “really hard”, it was “not the same”.
“If a member of his family would comfortably say ‘we’ve all had to deal with things that are rude’, rude and racist are not the same,” she said.
“And equally you’ve also had a press team that goes on the record to defend you, especially when they know something’s not true, and that didn’t happen for us.”
Meghan said there had been an “obsession about anything in my world”, including the media offering money to track down her parents.
“I did everything I could to protect both of them in that media frenzy for over a year,” she told Oprah.
Asked if it felt like a “betrayal” when she found out her father was working with the tabloids, Meghan said: “I’m just trying to decide if I’m comfortable even talking about that.”
She said her father had denied speaking to the media, even after they pleaded with him that if they used the Royal Family’s “leverage” to quash the story, they would not be able to use it to protect Archie from intrusive coverage later.
Meghan said his unwillingness to protect her or to think of her son “has really resonated, especially now as a mother”.
“I look at Archie, I think about this child, and I genuinely can’t imagine doing anything to intentionally cause pain to my child. I can’t imagine it, so it’s hard for me to reconcile that,” she said.