As Harry & Meghan: An African Journey premiered on ITV in the United Kingdom on Sunday, more insight into the challenges facing the Sussexes’ courtship and eventual marriage were revealed. As Meghan disclosed in a clip last week, she’s ‘not really OK’ after enduring years of abuse from the British tabloids—which remained relentless even as she became pregnant with her first child. In the documentary, she admits that she was warned early in her relationship with Harry, but was naive about the extent of the abuse, saying, “it’s hard.”
“When I first met my now-husband, my friends were really happy because I was so happy,” Meghan told ITV’s Tom Bradby. “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; we don’t have that there...I didn’t get it.”
Harry echoed his wife’s concerns, reiterating the parallels between the current harassment his family is experiencing and the attention that ultimately resulted in his mother’s death.
“For me, and for my wife, of course, there is a lot of stuff that hurts, of course when a majority of it is untrue,” he told Bradby. “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
But as Meghan points out, it’s more than just a life-and-death issue; it’s a quality of life issue.
“It’s not enough to just survive something, right? That’s not the point of life. You’ve gotta thrive, you’ve got to be happy, and I think I really tried to adopt the British sensibility of the stiff upper lip,” she said, before exclaiming, “I tried! I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging.”
Meghan’s transparency about how that damage has affected her mental health, marriage, and new motherhood spawned an outpouring of support on social media, with the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan trending on Twitter after initial clips from the documentary emerged last Friday.
Nevertheless, the stress—which now includes litigation against several British tabloids—has necessitated a break for the Sussexes. ITV’s royal editor reported the family will take several weeks to themselves at the end of this year, including potentially spending Thanksgiving in the United States with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland.
But whether the Sussexes’ public admissions and fight for their reputation and family life result in a kinder, gentler British press remains to be seen.
“The biggest thing I know is that I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” said Meghan. “And that’s the part that’s really hard to reconcile.”