From his relationship with his brother Prince William to one day wanting to leave the UK and live in Africa, Prince Harry has given a candid interview alongside his wife Meghan in a new documentary.
In ITV's Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, which aired in the UK yesterday to mixed reviews, the British royals discuss struggling with the limelight and the constant media attention from the beginning of their relationship.
CNN royal correspondent Victoria Arbiter said the film featured “perhaps the most insightful interview that we’ve had from a member of the royal family since Diana’s famous 1995 Panorama interview which she really laid her emotions bare”.
“I think it was quite interesting that Harry and Meghan felt that it’s reached a point where they have to speak out,” Ms Arbiter said on TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning. “It’s no wonder that they were speaking out comfortably to Tom Bradby, he’s been a very close friend of both William and Harry for upwards of 20 years, so obviously, they felt very safe with Tom.”
She added, however, that the film is receiving a mixed response, with a “huge level of support” for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in the US and UK offset by people saying they “shouldn’t get to whinge and whine” due to their immense wealth and privilege.
“I think we do have to point out as well that mental health – it doesn’t pick and choose mental wellbeing,” Ms Arbiter said. “Of course, we can look at a number of famous people – Alexander McQueen, Kate Spade, Robin Williams – these are all people that we perceived to have everything.
“Riches, fame, wealth, global adoration – and yet, they weren’t happy inside.”
She said while she wasn’t suggesting Harry and Meghan “are, by any stretch of the imagination, suicidal”, the public does “have to bear in mind that just because you could be materialistically wealthy, that doesn’t always constitute a healthy mental wellbeing.”
In the documentary, US-born Meghan also said that she had attempted to adopt a more reserved attitude, in line with the British public and members of the royal family, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
“In the UK, we’re taught very much not to air our dirty laundry, that we put on a brave face, and that particularly has always been applied to members of the royal family,” Ms Arbiter said. “Their job, really, is to protect the institution of monarchy, to protect the Queen and all that she stands for as head of state, so when we suddenly see royals speaking out like this, it makes everyone wobble a little bit.”
She added, however, that she believed it was important to remind people that the royals “are real human beings with very human emotions and a sensitive side”.
“Yes, you can try and put on a brave face as much as possible, but that’s not always going to work so, in a way, their speaking out feeds into the advice they’ve been promoting, really, in terms of their mental health campaign, which is if you don’t feel OK, say you don’t feel OK.
“It’s very much a generational thing. The younger generation is more vocal about that. William, too, has talked about doing away with the stiff upper lip, but it is a generational thing, and I think that’s why reactions have been mixed.”
Prince Harry also alluded to potential tension with his brother Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, after saying that "stuff" had happened.
Ms Arbiter said while his comment and failure to outright dismiss claims of a rift was "open to interpretation", Prince Harry "did say that a lot of what was brought up by the media was pulled out of nothing".
"He said, 'I love my brother dearly. William will always be there for me, I'll always be there for him - we have good days, we have bad days.' Yes, I do think he is suggesting that there has been some tension, but what sibling doesn't have tension, particularly in an environment such as the royal family?"
The documentary also featured the royal couple hinting at a move to Africa in the future, which Ms Arbiter said was a “lovely idea” but was unlikely to happen.
“In the documentary, Meghan talks about the grass always being greener, but there are logistics that come into play when you’re a member of the royal family,” she said.
“Some of them are a little bit more obvious, so they move to South Africa, so who pays for their security there? Yes, they’re both independently wealthy and they could support themselves there, but is the South African taxpayer suddenly paying for their security, or is the British taxpayer paying for that? Neither party are going to be particularly happy.
Ms Arbiter said there could also be "accusations of being white saviours", as well as concerns of favouritism among the UK royal family.
"Harry and Meghan’s first responsibility is to the 16 nations for which the Queen is head of state – South Africa’s not one of them. It is a Commonwealth nation, but then there are 53 total members of the Commonwealth, so then there’s accusations of favouritism if they’re spending time in South Africa," she said.
"Harry has long talked about his passion for the continent as a whole; he's clearly very happy there; he went there to heal following his mother’s death – it is somewhere they can spend a lot of time, but live there full-time?
"That’s just not going to be OK unless, of course, they renounce all of their royal privileges, their royal titles, everything to do with their life as a member of the royal family – I don’t see that happening, either."
ITV's Harry and Meghan: An African Journey will air on TVNZ1 on Monday, October 28 at 7pm.