The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As I watched the Oprah tell-all special with Meghan and Harry last week, I couldn’t help but think that this all felt a little too familiar. Many people, including myself, have gotten their fair share of Royal Family tea from The Crown on Netflix (and yeah, it may not be 100% accurate, but it’s good enough for me!) After watching this last season, I found myself in the depths of the internet, googling every single detail about Princess Diana. I’ve probably watched Diana: In Her Own Words about 42 times, and her BBC interview at least 43. And if I’ve learned anything from that, it’s that right now, Meghan is (sadly) replicating Princess Di.
There are many homages to Diana throughout the interview, some more apparent than others. First and foremost, Meghan is wearing one of Di’s bracelets. People Magazine reported that the reason was so that they could feel Diana’s presence throughout (and that gave me full body chills). Prince Harry himself said he feels history is repeating itself, and specifically in the way it did with his mother. The entirety of the interview echoed Diana’s infamous BBC interview, where she detailed her personal struggles within the palace. Both interviews shed light to the public on the private matters being dealt with on the inside. While Princess Di shared that her marriage was “a bit crowded” as Charles was having an affair, Meghan shared racist remarks from the Royal Family, as she’s biracial woman, along with mistreatment from the UK tabloids that the Royals turned a blind eye to.
A jarring similarly between the two women were their untold struggles with mental health, specifically depression. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to be surrounded by support systems that normalize speaking out when you need it most. There are no penalties, and surely no judgement, for sharing my struggles within my close circle. For the Royal women, this isn’t always the case.
In Meghan’s interview, she revealed to Oprah, and the world, that she had been having suicidal thoughts. Meghan shared that she “just didn’t want to be alive anymore…and that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.” Furthermore, when she shared these thoughts with the “institution,” they expressed to her that she couldn’t get any help and that it wouldn’t be good for the institution. Reread that sentence again. Getting help “wouldn’t be good for the institution.” (If you need to pick your jaw up from off the floor, take all the time you need).
“I went to one of the most senior people to get help. And I share this because, there are so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help, and I know how hard it is to not just voice it but to be told no,” she said.
In Diana’s situation, she told the BBC that she was offered treatment, but not support. Treatment is not what Princess Di needed; she needed time and space to adapt to the new role she had landed as a Royal. She bravely shared that after expressing how she felt to the family, she believed she was the first person to ever speak out to them regarding mental health. She said the situation was “obviously daunting because if you have never seen it before, how do you support it?” She went on to explain, “For instance, you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help, but it’s the wrong help you’re asking for. People see it as crying wolf or attention-seeking, and they think because you’re in the media all the time you’ve got enough attention.”
Meghan even shared that throughout her struggles, she confided in one of Diana’s good friends (cue the happy tears). When sharing her reasoning for speaking with the friend, she said, “Because it’s, like, who else could understand what it’s actually like on the inside?”
Another apparent similarity between the two interviews are both women’s naivety to what it really means to be apart of the Royal Family. As John Oliver once said, “I don’t think you need to have just seen the pilot episode of The Crown to get a basic sense that she might be marrying into a family that could cause her some emotional complications.”
And I mean, he’s not wrong. After watching The Crown, and even more specifically the last season, I was stunned to see how much is hidden from the public. In 1995, Diana recalled that this was the first time in history that a “regular citizen” was brought into the Royal Family. She shares feelings of being isolated, and feeling that she would either “sink or swim” within her duties. Fast forward 26 years, and the same conversation is happening with Meghan. As the second “regular citizen” to be married into the family, she didn’t have too much prior knowledge of the Royals and the duties of being a family member. “It’s easy to have an image of it that’s so far from reality and that’s what was really tricky over those past few years, when the perception and reality are different things and you’re being judged on the perception but you are living the reality of it, there’s a complete misalignment and there’s no way to explain that to people,” she said.
At the end of the day, I hope this interview serves as a movement for change within the “institution.” These two women’s stories parallel each other in the most upsetting ways. I’m in no way saying the Queen is evil, or we should all hate Kate, but I don’t think a slight modification in the Royal Family system would hurt anybody.