OK, we can all retire the term “Megxit” now—yes, us here at The Root, too—even in jest. Meghan Markle’s difficult induction into the royal family and brutal treatment by the British press has long been presumed to be the impetus behind the Sussexes’ exodus from the England to California, and understandably so. But as Prince Harry revealed to actor Dax Shepard during the latter’s Armchair Expert podcast, he’d been contemplating leaving royal life since his “early 20s,” characterizing life in monarchy as “a mixture between being on The Truman Show and being in a zoo,” as reported by the Washington Post.
“I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be doing this,” he recalled thinking. “Look what it did to my mum.”
That’s not all Harry—who is clearly not pressed about reconciling with his father, Prince Charles, anytime soon—had to say during his 90-minute interview with Shepard, a episode timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month. Prefacing his remarks by saying he didn’t think “we should be pointing the finger or blaming anybody,” he discussed his own approach to parenting as a soon-to-be father of two. He claimed that his own father perpetuated a “cycle” passed down to him by his own parents, Queen Elizabeth and the recently deceased Prince Philip. For royal-watchers Harry’s revelations inevitably confirm several of the plot lines about the two elder princes’ upbringings explored in the royal family-inspired Netflix hit series The Crown.
“I never saw [the treatment], I never knew about it, and then suddenly I started to piece it together and go, ‘OK, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents, so that means he’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?’” said Harry, who apparently turned to excessive drinking in his earlier years to cope with “childhood trauma,” according to Page Six.
“There’s a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway,” Harry told Shepard. “So we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, ‘You know what? That happened to me, I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.’”
“If I’ve experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle,” he said.
Yeah, we know—cry us a river, oh royal one. But to be fair, being royalty doesn’t exempt you from your humanity, though as Harry acknowledged, in “certain corners of the media, it’s very much like, ‘You’re privileged. How could you possibly be suffering?’”
Apparently, royals can feel helpless, too—yes, even when no one family should have all that power. Called helplessness his “Achilles heel,” he cited three instances when things felt overwhelming and beyond his control (h/t Washington Post).
“One, when I was a kid in the back of the car with my mom being chased by paparazzi, two was in Afghanistan in an Apache helicopter and then the third one was with my wife,” Harry shared. “And those were the moments in my life where, yeah, feeling helpless hurts. It really hurts, and that’s when you think to yourself, ‘Shit, like, I got the privilege. I got the platform. I got the influence, and even I can’t fix this. I can’t change this.’”
Ultimately, Harry, who has become an advocate for mental health, doesn’t credit Meghan with encouraging him to exit the royal family, but convincing him to enter therapy.
“She saw it. She saw it straightaway,” he said. “She could tell that I was hurting and that some of the stuff that was out of my control was making me really angry. It would make my blood boil.”
Tellingly, Harry also notes that as he contemplated leaving royal life, Meghan was supportive, not strategic, telling him she “didn’t need to be a princess,” reports Page Six. (But when all else fails, blame the Black woman, we guess.)
“And here I am, I moved my whole family to the U.S.,” he said. “That wasn’t the plan but sometimes you’ve got to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first.
“I can actually lift my head, and I feel different.” he added, the Post reports. “My shoulders have dropped; so have hers. You can walk around feeling a little bit more free.”