Prince Harry has spoken before about his fears of history repeating itself — that is, of the negative media attention around wife Meghan Markle echoing the same tragic trajectory it took with mother Princess Diana, who was hounded by the media for all of her post-royal life and ultimately died in a car crash in which the paparazzi were involved. But what baffled Harry and Meghan alike throughout their time as wedded senior royals was the family’s seeming failure to share that concern, denying them security at key moments when threats against them had never been higher. In Sunday’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry shared his reluctant theory on why the royal family wasn’t offering them support, a theory he’d begun to form on their first royal tour in Australia in 2018, during which Meghan was a natural to the work and instantly beloved by those with whom she interacted. For Harry, that mirrored stories of how Diana’s 1983 tour in Australia had gone — she’d dazzled the crowd, much to the annoyance of overlooked new husband Prince Charles. And from then on, the treatment of Diana as a high-maintenance nuisance only got worse.
To Oprah, Harry says that their first royal tour in Australia “brought back memories,” which the host quickly pushes him on, referencing Diana’s earlier tour as depicted on season 4 of The Crown.
“That was our first tour. But it was also the first time the family got to see how incredible she is at the job,” he explained.
“Are you saying that there were hints of jealousy?” she asks.
— SheKnows (@SheKnows) November 22, 2020
Harry hesitates, then answers: I just wish that we would all learn from the past. But to see how effortless it was for Meghan to come into the family so quickly in Australia…and just be able to connect with people…”
Oprah describes Diana in Australia as “bedazzling,” but she’s far from the only one who’s strived to describe Diana’s effect on the crowds over the years. Per Vanity Fair, biographer Andrew Morton was told by Diana herself that Charles was well aware of how “well” she was doing in Australia.
“It didn’t help that Prince Charles, the former top of the billing, was reduced to a walk-on part, the crowds groaning when he came to their side of the road during their many visits,” Morton said. “As Diana told me: ‘He was jealous; I understood the jealousy but I couldn’t explain that I didn’t ask for it.'”
In terms that echo these, Oprah and Meghan earlier discuss the months when Meghan’s face was all you would see on any UK tabloid, and she’d be advised over and over to lay low — all without having ever left the house. Somehow, the attention paid her way was turned around on her, just as it had been to young Diana.
Every part of tonight’s interview confirmed that they made the right choice to walk away — and that Meghan and Diana were walking dangerously similar paths.
Before you go, click here to see the best photos of Princess Diana playing with William and Harry.
Watch: A Timeline of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Relationship