On March 7, Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah for an interview that detailed just how poorly she was treated as a royal, both by the press and by the royal institution itself. 

Part of the interview covered the incessant racist attacks that Meghan faces by the British tabloids, where they try to put her at odds with other members of the royal family (often Kate Middleton) and attempt to paint her in a bad light for everything she does.

Even things like holding her baby bump, something all pregnant individuals do, was seen as an opportunity for attack by the press. This information was disgusting but unsurprising to anyone who’s paid attention to the media coverage of Meghan.

The bombshell moments came when Meghan talked about the treatment of her and her child Archie by the royal family and “The Firm.” Some of her comments felt eerily similar to those made by Diana Spencer in the famous interviews she participated in before her death, where she detailed the lack of support she had from the family/the royal institution and how isolated she was. 

The Firm was a new concept to me while watching this interview. For those unfamiliar, it’s a nickname for the royal institution staff who handle the business side of the monarchy. The Firm organizes and runs everything for the monarchy. They also control the royals’ schedules and as Meghan revealed, royals’ access to things such as their own driver’s licenses and passports.

It’s their job to protect her from the media attacks and correct false headlines, something they do for every member of the royal family. But they weren't doing anything to stop the increasingly disparaging stories about Meghan, despite the strong relationship Harry says The Firm has with the press. 

There was also little action when Meghan sought out help for her mental health struggles. During the interview, she admitted to having suicidal thoughts while pregnant with her first child, Archie, but said that despite her and Harry asking that she be allowed to seek professional help multiple times, she was denied. Meghan said she was unable to seek this treatment on her own because The Firm had her car keys and identification.

Some of the most shocking moments were about the behavior of royal family members, as Meghan and Harry revealed that an unnamed member “raised concerns'' to Harry during Meghan’s first pregnancy over how dark the skin of their child would be. 

The family also tried to change royal convention to ensure Archie specifically wouldn’t get a royal title, despite making exceptions for his cousins to get their titles early. A lack of title also means that he would receive no protection or security. 

It’s horrifying that Meghan was denied mental health treatment while she was suicidal. Anyone who needs mental health help should be given those resources. But because The Firm thought it wouldn’t be good for the monarchy’s image, she was left without any professional help, an incredibly dangerous situation. 

It’s apparent that the only thing the royal institution is concerned with is the monarchy’s image, though ironically for them, they would have a much better image today if they had done the right thing.

There’s also the fact that they had the power to control where Meghan went and whether she could seek this treatment herself. I would have assumed that Meghan would have no problems obtaining professional help should she need it, as she is wealthy and should theoretically be able to surpass the barriers many have in getting needed help. The amount of control The Firm has over these people’s lives, according to the interview, is concerning to say the least.

I thought this was going to be the most surprising information revealed by Meghan, but by far the biggest shock of the interview was the treatment of Archie and the comments about his skin color by an unnamed royal. 

The way Meghan and Harry’s child was talked about was disgusting, especially given that the family member framed their comments to Harry as “raising a concern”. Though we don’t know who said that, these actions and the response of the palace after the interview (which paraphrased was this is concerning but “recollections may vary”) have made it clear the racism within the monarchy and that as an institution, being anti-racist is not a priority for them. 

Maybe this should have been unsurprising, since this institution was created largely by those who colonized so much of the world that “the sun never set” on their empire. 

But given the information revealed in this interview and in Diana Spencer’s interviews, it’s evident that The Firm does a lot of work to hide any information that could be damaging to the royal image, unless someone like Meghan or Diana is willing to speak out about how they have been treated and face the backlash of doing so.

As Americans, most of us probably pay little attention to the British royal family, aside from maybe watching new seasons of The Crown. But in light of the stories we have heard from both these women about the way the monarchy operates and the mental health problems it caused them, it’s clear that this is a toxic environment that places image above all else.

One of the saddest aspects of the interview was that while she was trying to tell the truth about the past five years of her life and shed light on the mistreatment she’s faced during it, Meghan was still having to hold back in order to avoid more attacks by the press or backlash from the royal family. It was clear to me while watching the interview that Meghan was choosing her words very carefully, with long pauses before each answer, and her refusal to go into details about subjects that could be damaging to the royal family.

With all the bombshells from the interview brought to light, it’s not a surprise that Meghan and Harry wanted out. The fact that they needed to leave to ensure that their family was safe physically and mentally highlights the deep issues with the monarchy and with the press which continues to attack them.

Sofi Olliver is a contributor. 

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