Back when she was just an American actress who just so happened to be falling for a certain extremely high-profile prince, Meghan Markle's friends warned her not to marry Prince Harry. If Meghan's British friends had it their way, she might have never become the Duchess of Sussex and blessed us all with adorable Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. But don't get it twisted — Meghan's British friends weren't trying to sabotage her or keep her from committing to someone she was clearly in love with. Instead, they were reportedly trying to protect her from the British tabloids.
“When I first met my now-husband my friends were really happy because I was so happy, 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’,” she told journalist Tom Bradby during the documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, which aired on ITV on Sunday, Oct. 20.
While her friends tried to warn her of what was ahead, Meghan admitted to Bradby that, as an American, she "very naively" underestimated how cruel British tabloids could really be. “I’m not in tabloids. I didn’t get it, so it’s been complicated,” she admitted.
What hurt and surprised Meghan the most about the treatment she received from the British tabloids was the unfairness. “The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is hard to reconcile," she explained to Bradby.
This transition into British public life has reportedly not been easy for the former Suits star. Bradby asked Markle if she would say she's OK, and her response was heartbreaking.
"Look, any women — especially when they're pregnant — you're really vulnerable, so that was made really challenging," she said with what appeared to be tears in her eyes. "Then, when you have a newborn, especially as a woman, it's a lot. You add this on top of just trying to be a new mom and trying to be a newlywed — well, also, thank you for asking. Not many people have asked if I'm OK, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."
When Bradby responded by asking if, in short, it would be fair to say her answer was no, that she's not OK, Markle responded by simply saying, "Yes."
In order to cope with the difficulties of royal life, Meghan admitted she tried adopting the stereotypically British attitude of a "stiff upper lip." But she says that didn't work for her.
"In all honesty, I have said for a long time to H – that’s what I call him – it's not enough to just survive something, right? That's not the point of life. You've gotta thrive, you've gotta feel happy," she explained. "I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried. But I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging."
That strategy hasn't protected Harry from getting hurt by the tabloids, either. “Part of this job, and part of any job, like everybody, is putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff, but again, for me and again for my wife, of course there is a lot of stuff that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue,” Harry told Bradby, adding that he "will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum."
When it comes to his mental health, Harry shared maintaining a sense of happiness requires constant upkeep on his part. "It's management. It's constant management," she explained. "I thought I was out of the woods and then suddenly it all came back. This is something that I have to manage."
Harry and Meghan took the first step in fighting for their own right to "thrive," as Meghan put it, by suing Associated Newspapers for unlawfully publishing a private email Meghan sent her father.
"I will always protect my family and now I have a family to protect," Harry told Bradby in the documentary. Here's to hoping that the two manage to stick up to their bullies and find the happiness they deserve.