LONDON — Prince Harry compared his life in the British monarchy to “a mix between ‘The Truman Show’ and being in a zoo” in a wide-reaching interview released on Thursday night, one of his strongest public rebuttals yet of the inner workings of the royal family.
“I’ve seen behind the curtain, I’ve seen the business model, I know how this operation runs and how it works,” Harry said in the interview on the Armchair Expert podcast, hosted by actor Dax Shepard.
“I don’t want to be part of this.”
“Look what it did to my mum,” he added, referring to Diana, Princess of Wales, who was hounded by paparazzi after her divorce from Prince Charles and then died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
Harry, also known as the Duke of Sussex, said he had asked himself, “How am I ever going to settle down, have a wife and a family, when I know that it’s going to happen again?”
Harry’s relationship with the royal family was supposedly “hanging by a thread” after new disclosures developed about his mental wellbeing on Friday.
The Duke of Sussex talked candidly about how his mother, Princess Diana’s passing affected his mental wellbeing and portrayed how the government failed to back him and his spouse, Meghan Markel, when they were still serving as members of the royal family.
The documentary series, titled “The Me You Can’t See”, was created by Harry and Oprah Winfrey, and points to sensitive discussions on mental health. The duke opened up on a wide range of subjects, recounting his unease and fear of the paparazzi, and his possible decision to look for therapy. Some of Harry’s disclosures uncovered that “no one” in the royal family talked around Diana’s passing, and included his outrage on how there was “no equity at all”.
He said he felt “helpless” over the steady reporting on his and Meghan’s relationship, but demands for the royal family to help were ignored. “I thought my family would offer assistance, but every time, whether it was caution or anything else, it added up to being hushed or neglected,” he told Winfrey. Harry also talked about when Meghan told him she was contemplating suicide, and drew parallels between his relationship with Meghan, who is of mixed race, and that of Diana with Dodi Al Fayed. “History was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death when she was in a relationship with somebody that wasn’t white.” “And now, see what’s happened. History is repeating itself; they’re not going to stop until she is dead,” he said.
According to a palace source, Harry’s relationship with the royal family is now “hanging by a thread,” and they are “struggling” to understand his motivations for speaking out about his mental health.
“Everyone is struggling to understand what he gets from, or hopes to achieve, by interventions like this,” they were quoted as saying.
“It is perfectly possible to campaign effectively on the issue of mental health without talking in such intimate detail about his own experiences.”
But in the documentary, Harry said he is speaking out because he wants to end the cycle, which his father Prince Charles used to tell him and his brother, William, was unavoidable.
The duke said: “It’s incredibly triggering to potentially lose another woman in my life. The list is growing. And it all comes back to the same people, the same business model, the same industry.
“Because my father used to say to me when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I: ‘Well it was like that for me so it’s going to be like that for you.’”
Harry’s latest remarks came three months after an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he and his wife, Meghan Markel, revealed that a member of the royal family had expressed concerns about the skin colour of their first child, who was unborn at the time. During his conversation with MS Winfrey, Harry also accused Meghan’s family of failing to support her as she battled depression.
Last month, Harry returned to Britain for the first time since stepping down from his royal duties last year to attend his grandfather, Prince Philip’s, funeral, which many onlookers scoured for signs of tension between Harry and his elder brother, Prince William.
Harry and Meghan, who now live in California, reported in February that they’d never return to the family as working members.
In the interview, Harry compared his life to the 1998 film “The Truman Show,” about a man who grows up unaware that he is living on the set of a television show and that he is the star of the show.
He also stated that he wanted to protect his own children from the difficulties he had faced as a child. Archie, Harry and Meghan’s son, was born in 2019. They are expecting a daughter as a second child this summer.
“There is no blame,” Harry stated about his own upbringing. “However, when it comes to parenting, if I have experienced some kind of pain or suffering as a result of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents have experienced, I will make certain that I break that cycle so that I do not pass it on.”
While Harry acknowledged the privilege he was born into, he stated that in his early twenties he realised he did not want to do the job that was assigned to him.
He said that after Meghan encouraged him to go to therapy, “the bubble burst” and he “plucked his head out of the sand.”
Harry also chastised the British media for its treatment of the royals, accusing it of having a vested interest in the family. “The biggest issue for me is that you are born into it, and you inherit the risk without choice,” he explained. Nonetheless, he described the media attention his family received when they first relocated to Los Angeles for a few months as a “feeding frenzy.”
Buckingham Palace did not respond to a request for comment on the podcast interview.
Harry appeared on the podcast to promote a documentary series called “The Me You Can’t See,” which he co-produced with Oprah Winfrey and will debut on Apple TV Plus next Friday.