Trigger Warning: This article discusses depression, abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Please protect your mental health.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, you are not alone. Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK can help.
The much-anticipated airing of Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah opened their supporters and detractors alike to weeks of speculation as to what information they would reveal and what the fallout would be. The ‘Firm‘, as they will hitherto be called in this article, decided a preemptive strike was in order to negate anything Meghan might reveal about her treatment and experiences behind palace walls. Palace aids ‘dredged up’ 3-year-old emails, contacted a Times reporter and the tried and true method of a smear campaign took off, again. The alleged victims remained nameless, the context of the alleged events never made clear, yet the public razing continued. Business as usual for the Firm, who has sought, through the cooperation and glee of the UK press, to malign Meghan’s character ever since she won Harry’s heart.
The day finally came. Meghan, heavily pregnant (and beautiful, I might add) sat with Oprah and revealed, what I can only describe as her harrowing experience with the machinery of the Firm. I was not prepared.
This was not the easy-going Meghan the public was accustomed to seeing. This was a woman angry, defiant and deeply hurt. The heavy eye makeup she wore did not hide the daggers in her eyes as she relayed her story, nor did it hide, at times, the tears she would not let fall. Even Meghan’s tone of voice, usually, consistently soft and pleasant, had an edge to it. While she would, respectfully, use phrases like ‘the Firm’ or the ‘Institution’, her tone said ‘those m*ther f**king bastards’. Her telling, literally, sucked the air out of me. My emotional response was visceral. The calculations of the Firm to minimize, dehumanize and silence Meghan is the stuff you only see and hear about in movies, courtrooms and from survivors of domestic violence. The Firm basically said ‘we gave you your fairytale wedding, you’re living on palace properties, now go sit in a corner and be quiet until we call you, only for her to be punished time and again for performing above and beyond the others.
Punished for ‘simply breathing’.
In an environment such as that, how can one maintain a healthy mental attitude? If anyone has ever experienced a constant barrage of verbal and emotional abuse, you truly start to forget who you are. Sad to say, I have experienced something like this firsthand. First, as a child, from my mother, then as an adult by my husband and his family. Although I was able to physically remove myself from both situations, the mental, emotional, and spiritual toll it takes on you still reverberates through your psyche. I can well relate to the emotional abuse Meghan experienced from her father before she met Harry only to marry into a family that was just as emotionally abusive. The light of hopefulness and enthusiasm in your mind’s eye constantly shrinking until it’s a mere pinprick is absolutely debilitating. You truly start to believe the world would be better off if you were just…gone.
Harry also suffered, but for far much longer. The Firm instilled in him from birth that he really didn’t matter. He was ‘the spare’ with red hair. They convinced him he was not very smart and his only contribution was to stand behind his brother and not make a spectacle of himself. The Firm paraded him when they needed him and embellished his misdeeds to protect his father and his brother from their own. The love of his mother, Princess Diana, the hatred for the tabloid press and I’m sure, a desire to, symbolically, throw two middle fingers up to the Firm were what drove him. He too, had an edge in his voice when he spoke of the circular relationship between the press and the Firm. One hand washes the other and each does as they are told. For Harry and Meghan to meet, with shared histories of broken homes, emotional abuse by a parent, and a deeply rooted desire to do good in the world is my modern-day example of divine intervention. They needed each other and they didn’t even know it.
Since the airing of their interview with Oprah, and subsequently released portions not included, the UK press and media have scrambled to excuse or minimize their role in the gaslighting, racist, and misogynistic coverage of Meghan. (the exception being Piers Morgan, of course) Their soft tones of dismay and words of sympathy and commiseration, dragging out black and brown guest journalists, commentators, and experts to explain why the treatment of Meghan is all the ‘ists’ you can put in a sentence, and how upset the Queen must feel to have all this drama with her poor husband in the hospital. You could see clearly in their careful wording, they were waiting on the Firm for further instruction. The statement released today essentially provided their answer:
The UK media have carte blanche’ to continue with the mission assigned.
This brings me back to Harry and Meghan’s tone that I mentioned earlier. The post-traumatic stress they suffer is still evident, but now they have spoken their peace to the Firm and to the world in the only way their voices were sure to be heard. Harry and Meghan are fiercely protective of each other and their children in a way that can only be forged by going through the fire together and coming out on the other side. They are hopeful and more determined than ever to build the life they want for themselves and their family. Whatever happens to the Firm in the aftermath is no longer their concern.