It was around 5 a.m. on a Friday in April and I was peacefully sleeping. Then suddenly I was awoken by my mother telling me to grab a blanket and to come downstairs. I quickly grabbed a blanket and my stuffed bunny and followed her down our creaky wooden stairs. It was April 29, 2011: Prince William and Catherine Middleton were getting married.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” my mother said. “My mom and I did this when I was your age, for Prince Charles and Princess Diana.”
I was exhausted, yet also enthralled. The dresses, the horse-drawn carriages, a real-life fairy tale, or so it would seem. To me, this life seemed like heaven on earth. A true Cinderella story unveiled before my eyes. But as I would come to learn, this fairy tale was all a façade.
Little did I know this American girl, Meghan Markle, would spark an even bigger interest in the public eye. Markle and Prince Harry got married on May 19, 2018. According to BBC, a little less than two years later “the Duke and Duchess of Sussex… announced they will step back as “senior” royals to become financially independent,” eventually leading them to settle down in Santa Barbara, California. Now, about a year later, they appeared in an interview with Oprah.
The interview was aired on CBS at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 7. According to CNN, “the two-hour special averaged 17.1 million views on Sunday night in the United States… The interview was… higher-rated than the most recent Emmys and Golden Globes award telecasts.”
This interview uproared controversy over whether or not they should have left the royal family or done the interview. Many argued that it was wrong for them to have left. However, I believe these arguments are unfair. Their decision to leave the family and to have the interview were conscious, thought-out choices that were in their own best interest.
Our media seems to be quick to jump on the controversies and quarrels that erupt from events such as these. However, I believe there is a more enriching focus to take from this interview: Markle’s willingness to open up about her mental health. In the interview with Oprah, Markle opened up about her experience contemplating suicide.
According to Healthline, “research has shown that the number of people who seek mental health support increases after a celebrity discloses their own experiences with a mental health condition.”
Healthline highlighted the fact that after Markle’s interview, suicide and depression headlines significantly increased. Markle’s vulnerability not only allowed her to share the truth about the royal family but also inspired those struggling with mental health to seek help.
Healthline also said that “Markle’s openness can also help pave the way for people of color, who generally face greater barriers and worse discrimination and stigmatization for mental health issues.”
We seem to have been so quick to jump to the controversies that surround Prince Harry and Markle’s interview that we have lost sight of the power behind their story. The power they have to save people’s lives at a time when so many are struggling with mental health and isolation. The questions should not be “should they have left the family?” or “should they have done the interview?” but instead, “how have they now inspired a wave of positive change in people’s lives?”
Sources: Healthline, CNN