Princess Diana and Meghan Markle: Decades Later, Another Royal Wife Free

Isabella Ernsberger, Reporter

Trigger Warning: This article discusses eating disorders, suicide, self harm. If these are sensitive topics for you please proceed with caution or exit the article.


In a groundbreaking interview that aired Sunday night, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey and told all about their previous life in the Royal Family. These new revelations left the world in shock, but some things just sounded like the same old song we’ve heard the Royal family sing for years. There are many parallels to be drawn between Princess Diana and Meghan; such as their mental health, and the way the institution treated them. You would think the Royal family would have learned their lesson with Diana, but as we’ve discovered through Meghan’s experience- they, sadly, have not.

In Princess Diana’s time with the Royals, she was faced with infidelity, eating disorders, and mental illness. The institution, which consists of the roles that make up the Royal family, did not make these issues any less difficult for her, though. As soon as Diana was introduced to the public eye, she was adored by millions, and the transition from private life to Royal life nearly blindsided her. It was extremely difficult for Diana to adjust to her new life in the spotlight, as the media intruded on every aspect of her life. These difficulties would continue to hurt her into her marriage with Prince Charles. 

Within her time with Charles, Diana was experiencing struggles with bulimia- an eating disorder in which a person purges their body of the food they have eaten by self-induced vomiting or fasting. Her struggle with bulimia would continue for nearly a decade, starting at the week of her engagement to Prince Charles. What triggered her to start? According to Diana, “My husband put his hand on my waistline and said: ‘Oh, a bit chubby here, aren’t we?’ and that triggered off something in me—and the Camilla thing.” This interview comes from author Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story in which Princess Diana herself was the one and only source. This is just one example of how Diana’s marriage to Charles was full of emotional manipulation and abuse. 

The “Camilla thing,” as Diana calls it, references her husband’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, who he married in 2005, 8 years after Diana’s death. During their marriage, Charles’ relationship with Camilla caused Diana many insecurities and their marriage many downfalls. While Charles was off with Camilla, Diana was left neglected by her husband in the time she needed him most.

Along with bulimic episodes, Diana had her fair share of experiences with depression and suicidal thoughts and actions. Episodes consisted of Diana throwing herself down the stairs, and inflicting harm on herself in numerous ways. These actions were met with the least bit of compassion from Charles and the Institution, as they were more worried about keeping these incidents hidden from the public, than they were concerned about Diana’s health and well-being. Princess Diana’s health wasn’t taken seriously by the Institution, although Diana did seek help through therapy.

Prince Harry and Meghan left England in January 2020, as they announced they were “stepping back” from the Royal family. The couple is now residing in Santa Barbara, California with their son, Archie, and a baby girl on the way. On March 31st of this year, 2021, their exit will be made official, and their work through the Royal family will cease. In an interview hosted by Oprah Winfrey, which aired to the world on Sunday, March 7th, Harry and Meghan revealed many shocking revelations about their time in the Royal family. 

One of the biggest stories from their interview is about a conversation between Harry and another family member in which Harry was asked about concerns when it came to his first child, Archie’s, skin color. Meghan is the first person of color to enter the Royal family, and apparently this was a concern for someone in the family in regards to the couples’ children. Completely insane, right? 

Like Diana, Meghan had her experience of fabricated media coverage and lies being spread about her. This made things really difficult on Meghan and pushed her mental strength over the edge. At one point Meghan reveals that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.” She says that she was consistently having suicidal thoughts, and when she went to seek help, the institution was concerned about what the public would think and denied Meghan the mental health treatment that she needed. Meghan also reveals that when she first brought these thoughts to Harry, it was the morning of an event that was taking place at Royal Albert Hall. She attended with Harry that night because she felt she “couldn’t be left alone” out of fear of what she would do to herself. While the lights were down she wept, and when the lights came on for intermission she was camera ready. These are very similar to Diana’s experiences, even though they take place decades later.

In the interview, even Harry comments on the similarities between his wife’s experiences and his mother’s, saying, “You know, for me, I’m just really relieved and happy to be sitting here, talking to you with my wife by my side because I can’t begin to imagine what it must’ve been like for [Diana] going through this process by herself all those years ago,” alluding to Diana’s struggles without Charles alongside her, supporting her. When asked what his mother would think of this situation, he states, “I think she would feel very angry with how this has panned out and very sad, but ultimately, all she’d ever want is for us to be happy.” Harry also reveals that he was cut off financially by his family, and the only way he was able to leave was through what Diana left him, “I brought what my mom left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this, so touching back on what my mother would think of this, I think she saw it coming. I certainly felt her presence throughout this whole process.”

Decades later and another Royal wife free. Will the Royal Institution ever learn? There are many parallels between Diana and Meghan, and I think the common lesson throughout the two experiences is the importance of destigmatizing mental health and mental illness. And I think Meghan sharing her experience helps to normalize the conservation and destigmatize the topic of mental illness.