"It's what you read in fairy tales, you think is what you know about the royals, right?," Meghan told Winfrey in the two-hour interview. "So it's easy to have an image of it that is so far from reality."
"And that's what was really tricky over those past few years, is when the perception and the reality are two very different things and you're being judged on the perception but you're living the reality of it, there's a complete misalignment," added Meghan, who wed Harry in 2018 and stepped away from the royal family with him two years later, in 2020. "And there's no way to explain that to people."
Here are eight of the major revelations from Harry and Meghan's tell-all interview with Winfrey, their first joint interview since stepping away from their royal roles and leaving the United Kingdom.
Buckingham Palace has not yet responded to claims made by Meghan and Harry in their interview with Winfrey.
1. Harry, Meghan held wedding ceremony three days before their public wedding
While the public watched Prince Harry and Meghan wed on May 19, 2018, in a star-studded public wedding at St. George's Chapel, the couple held their own, private ceremony three days before that, Meghan told Winfrey.
"Three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that but we called the [Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby] and we just said, ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us," said Meghan. "The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Just the three of us."
"I think we were both really aware, even in advance of that, this, this wasn't our day," she said of her and Harry's May 19 wedding. "This was the day that was planned for the world."
The ceremony the public saw in St. George’s Chapel on May 19, 2018, though was when Harry and Meghan were officially married, according to Church of England and U.K. law.
2. Meghan was suicidal during her time as a royal
Meghan tearfully revealed there was a breaking point where she considered suicide before she and Harry decided to step away from their roles as senior working members of Britain's royal family.
"I just didn’t see a solution," Meghan told Winfrey. "I would sit up at night, and I was just like I don’t understand how all of this [press] is being churned out ... and I realized it was all happening just because I was breathing."
"Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered, but I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it," said Meghan, who recalled that Harry "cradled" her when she told him about her mental health struggle. "I just didn’t want to be alive anymore, and that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought."
The duchess recalled having that conversation with Harry the morning the two were to attend an event later that evening at Royal Albert Hall in London. When Harry said he didn't think Meghan, who was pregnant at the time, should go, Meghan recalled replying to her husband, "I can't be left alone."
"One of the things that, it still haunts me, is this photograph that someone had sent me," said Meghan, referring to a photograph of her and Harry at the January 2019, event. "A friend said, 'I know you don't like pictures, but oh my God, you guys look so great,' and sent it to me. And I zoomed in and what I saw was the truth of what that moment was."
"If you zoom in, what I see is how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine. You can see the whites of our knuckles because we are smiling and doing our job, but we're both just trying to hold on," Meghan told Winfrey. "And every time that those lights went down in that royal box, I was just weeping, and he was gripping my hand, and then it was, 'Okay, intermission's coming. The lights are about to come on. Everyone's looking at us again.'"
"And you have to just be 'on' again," she said. "That's I think so important for people to remember is you've no idea what's going on for someone behind closed doors. You have no idea. Even the people that smiled the biggest smiles and shined the brightest lights, it seems, to have compassion for what's actually potentially going on."
Meghan claimed she went to "one of the most senior people" of the royal "institution" and was not able to get help for her mental health. Meghan alleged she also went to human resources and was told there was nothing that could be done, because she was not a "paid employee of the institution."
"I share this because there are so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help, and I know personally how hard it is to not just voice it, but when you voice it, to be told no," said Meghan, who said later of her mental health struggle, "Nothing was ever done, so we had to find a solution."
"It takes so much courage to admit that you need help. It takes so much courage to voice that," Meghan told Winfrey. "And as I said, I was ashamed. I'm supposed to be stronger than that. I don't want to put more on my husband's shoulders."
Harry said he too "went to a very dark place" and also revealed he did not go to his family members with Meghan's mental health struggle because, he said, "That's just not a conversation that would be had. I guess I was ashamed of admitting it to them."
"And I don't know whether they've had the same feelings or thoughts," said Harry, who joined with his brother Prince William and sister-in-law Duchess Kate to launch the mental health-focused Heads Together campaign in 2016. "I have no idea. It's a very trapping environment that a lot of them are stuck in."
3. Harry relied on Princess Diana's money after his family cut him off financially
Harry told Winfrey that it was the money left to him by his late mom, Princess Diana, who died after a 1997 car crash in Paris, that allowed Harry and Meghan the freedom to forge their own way outside of the royal family.
According to Harry, the royal family "literally cut me off financially" in the first quarter of 2020, shortly after he and Meghan announced their plans to step down as senior, working royals.
"But I've got what my mum left me," Harry said of the money left for him in Diana's estate. "And without that, we would not have been able to do this."
Harry also said that his and Meghan's lucrative deals with companies including Netflix and Spotify were "never part of the plan," but became essential when he was told on "short notice" while staying in Canada with Meghan and Archie that their royal security protection would be removed because of their change in status as non-working members of the royal family.
After their stay in Canada, the Sussexes moved in March to California, where they stayed for several months in a home belonging to Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry, who gave them both his home and provided security.
"It gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we were going to do," Meghan said of their time in Perry's Los Angeles-area mansion.
When asked how Diana, who divorced Harry's father Prince Charles in 1996 after a tumultuous marriage, would feel about Harry and Meghan's situation today, Harry said he thought she would feel "very angry" and "very sad" at how things "panned out" but would ultimately just want the family to be happy.
"Touching back on what you were asking, what my mum would think of this, I think she saw it coming," Harry told Winfrey. "And I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process."
"And for me, I'm just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you, with my wife by my side," he added. "Because I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like for [Princess Diana], going through this process by herself, all those years ago, because it has been unbelievably tough for the two of us, but at least we had each other."
4. Harry, Meghan claim conversations were had about 'how dark' Archie's skin color would be
While media reports at the time of Harry and Meghan's son Archie's birth in 2019 said the couple chose not to give Archie a title, Meghan claimed to Winfrey it was the royal institution that decided whether or not to give their son a title that would include security protection.
"This went on for the last few months of our pregnancy, where I'm going, 'Hold on a second,'" Meghan said of the conversations around the decision, adding later there was "no explanation" for what she described as a "change in protocol."
Meghan said she and Harry were most concerned about Archie not receiving security without a title, and said the couple was not asked to take a picture with their newborn son outside the hospital after his birth, which was portrayed in the press at the time as a break in protocol dictated by the Sussexes.
"We weren't asked to take a picture. That's also part of the spin that was really damaging," said Meghan. "I thought, 'Can you just tell them the truth? Can you say to the world you're not giving him a title and we want to keep him safe, and that if he's not a prince, then it's not part of the tradition? Just tell people and then they'll understand,' but they wouldn't do that."
Along with conversations about Archie's title and security, there were also conversations with Harry ahead of his son's birth about "how dark" his skin might be, according to both Harry and Meghan.
Archie was the first American British biracial royal born in the U.K., and is also widely considered to be the first mixed race child born into the royal family.
When asked by Winfrey if the assumption is that if their son was "too brown, that would be a problem," Meghan replied, "I wasn't able to follow up with why, but that, if that's the assumption you're making, I think that feels like a pretty safe one, which was really hard to understand, right?"
Meghan declined to comment on who spoke with Harry about the subject, telling Winfrey, "I think that would be very damaging to them."
Harry also declined, saying, "I'm never going to share [details of the conversation]. But at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked."
He also said the topic was brought up early in his romance with Meghan, telling Winfrey, "That was right at the beginning, 'What will the kids look like?'"
"There were some real obvious signs before we even got married that this was going to be really hard," said Harry.
Winfrey said Monday on "CBS This Morning" that Harry later made clear to her his grandparents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, were not involved in the conversations about Archie's race.
"He did not share the identity with me but he wanted to make sure that I knew and if I had an opportunity to share it, that it was not his grandmother nor his grandfather that were a part of those conversations," Winfrey said.
5. Harry says Prince Charles stopped taking his calls
Harry claimed to Winfrey that his father, Prince Charles, stopped accepting his calls when Harry and Meghan were on an extended stay in Canada in late 2019 and planning their exit from their senior royal roles.
"When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father, before he stopped taking my calls, and then said, 'Can you put this all in writing, what your plan is?,'" Harry said. "He asked me to put it in writing, and I put all the specifics in there, even the fact that we were planning on putting the announcement out on the 7th of January."
When asked by Winfrey why his father stopped taking his calls, Harry replied, "Because I took matters in, by that point, I took matters into my own hands. It was like, I need to do this for my family. This is not a surprise to anybody. It's really sad that it's got to this point, but I've got to do something for my own mental health, for my wife's and for Archie's as well because I could see where this was headed."
Harry said today he still feels "really let down" by his father.
"There's a lot to work through there, you know?," he said of their relationship. "I feel really let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like, and Archie's his grandson. But at the same time, you know, of course, I will always love him."
"But there's a lot of hurt that's happened, and I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship," Harry added. "But they only know what they know ... or what they're told, and I've tried to educate them through the process that I have been educated."
Speaking of his relationship with his older brother Prince William, Harry said, "The relationship is space at the moment, and, you know, time heals all things, hopefully."
"I love William to bits. He's my brother. We've been through hell together, and we have a shared experience," Harry also said. "But we were on different paths."
Also in the interview with Winfrey, Harry described his father and brother as "trapped" in the royal family, like he was before meeting Meghan.
"Trapped within the system, like the rest of my family are," Harry said of his own state pre-Meghan. "My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave, and I have huge compassion for that."
6. Meghan viewed tabloid reports of her relationship with Duchess Kate as a 'turning point'
Several months after Harry and Meghan's wedding, tabloid reports emerged alleging that Meghan made her sister-in-law Duchess Kate cry over dresses for the wedding's flower girls, of which Kate's daughter, Princess Charlotte, was one.
Those tabloid reports, and the palace's apparent failure to correct the record, are what Meghan now describes as a "turning point" and a time "when everything changed."
When asked by Winfrey if she made Kate cry, as reported, Meghan replied, "No. No. The reverse happened, and I don't say that to be disparaging to anyone because it was a really hard week of the wedding and she was upset about something, but she owned it and she apologized and she brought me flowers and a note apologizing. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it."
"What was shocking was, what was that, six, seven months after our wedding that the reverse of that would be out in the world," said Meghan. "I would've never wanted that to come out about her ever, even though it had happened. I protected that from ever being out in the world."
Meghan claims people who were willing to go on the record to say that she did not make Kate cry were told not to by the royal communications team, and added of Kate, "And maybe in the same way that the palace wouldn't let anybody else negate it, they wouldn't let her, because she's a good person."
But Meghan said she saw the incident as the "beginning of a real character assassination."
"They would go on the record and negate the most ridiculous story for anyone, right? I'm talking about things that are super artificial and inconsequential," she said of the royal communications' team. "But the narrative about, you know, making Kate cry, I think was the beginning of a real character assassination. They knew it wasn't true, and I thought, "Well, if they're not going to kill things like that, then what are we going to do?'"
7. Harry, Meghan still have a close bond with Queen Elizabeth
Though Prince Harry told Winfrey a "lack of support" and "lack of understanding" led to his and Meghan's rocky departure from their royal roles, he still holds a great fondness for his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
"I've spoken more to my grandmother in the last year than I have done for many, many years," said Harry, revealing he and Meghan and Archie have video calls with the queen. "My grandmother and I have a really good relationship and an understanding, and I have a deep respect for her. She's my commander-in-chief, right? She always will be."
Harry also said the queen has been "amazing throughout" his relationship with Meghan, a sentiment echoed by Meghan, who said the queen was one of the first family members she met in her relationship with Harry.
"The Queen, for example, has always been wonderful to me," said Meghan, while describing the difference between the royal family and the royal institution. "I mean, we had one of our first joint engagements together. She asked me to join her."
"I just really loved being in her company," said Meghan, who added the queen gave her pearl earrings and a matching necklace for their June 2018 joint engagement. "And I remember we were in the car ... going between engagements and she has a blanket that sits across her knees for warmth, and it was chilly and she was like, 'Meghan, come on," and put it over my knees as well."
"It made me think of my grandmother, where she's always been warm and inviting and really welcoming," said Meghan.
Meghan also told Winfrey that when she learned Prince Philip had been hospitalized last month, she called Queen Elizabeth directly.
"I just picked up the phone and I called the queen, just to check in. You call. That’s what we do," she said, adding of her newfound freedom with Harry, "It’s like being able to default to not having to every moment go, ‘Is that appropriate?’"
8. Harry, Meghan are having a baby girl
Amid heavy revelations of mental health struggles and family tension, Prince Harry and Meghan shared some happy news in their conversation with Winfrey, that the child they are expecting is a girl.
"It's a girl," Harry told Winfrey, after Meghan waited for him to join the interview so they could share the news together.
"Amazing. Just grateful," Harry said of his own reaction. "To have any child, any one or any two, would have been amazing, but to have a boy and then a girl, I mean, what more can you ask for?"
"Now we've got our family," he said. "We've got, you know, the four of us and our two dogs."
Harry and Meghan confirmed that Meghan is due to give birth this summer and said they don't plan to have any more children after her arrival, saying, "Two is it."
Harry and Meghan first revealed they are expecting their second child on Valentine's Day, less than three months after Meghan opened up in a New York Times op-ed about a pregnancy loss the couple suffered last summer.
Harry and Meghan's second child will be the fifth grandchild for Prince Charles and the 10th great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth. The baby will also be the first senior royal baby born in the United States and the first great-grandchild of the queen to be born outside of the United Kingdom.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HELLO to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.