The British are normally perceived as showing little emotion and maintaining a “stiff upper lip” in the midst of any personal crisis, and the royal family is no exception. Queen Elizabeth II only rarely opens up about herself, and she’s had only one sit-down TV interview in her entire 67-year reign, in 2018 (although we managed to find some juicy tidbits straight from her mouth). The royal family has also had a difficult relationship with the media – specifically the British tabloids – since the death of Princess Diana, who died in a car crash after being chased by paparazzi in Paris.
Today, the royal family wants publicity for the causes they champion, and they do grant interviews to reputable media outlets. But they are fiercely protective of their privacy and understandably want to avoid any more royal family scandals. The younger generation of royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, though, are more comfortable opening up about their personal lives and struggles – when they choose to, that is.
Prince Harry: “Everything I do reminds me of her”
In the recent documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, Prince Harry got very candid with ITV journalist Tom Bradby. In talking about the lingering trauma over losing his mother, Princess Diana, he describes it as a “wound that festers” and says he ends up remembering the worst aspects of her life instead of the best. “Every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back,” he said. His mental health is “constant management. I thought I was out of the woods, and then suddenly it all came back and I suddenly realised, ‘Actually, this is something that I have to manage.’” It’s impossible for him not to get choked up when he talks about his mother, saying, “Everything I do reminds me of her.”
Prince Harry: “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum”
In the documentary, which was broadcast in the United States on ABC, Prince Harry’s anger at the tabloid press is also very apparent. “Everything that [my mother] went through and what happened to her is incredibly raw every single day, and that is not me being paranoid – that is just me not wanting a repeat of the past,” he said, referring to his wife, Duchess Meghan, being attacked in the press. “I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum.”
In that vein, the Sussexes have recently taken legal action against a newspaper over the publication and alleged alteration to a private letter Meghan wrote. In a media statement, you can feel Prince Harry’s genuine emotion. “I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long,” he wrote of his wife. “My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”