With yesterday’s premiere of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan, came several powerful, painful, and poignant insights into their lives as individuals and as a couple — one of which being exactly why they’re so adamant about shielding their children from the media.
In the first episode of the limited series, Harry shared his experience with the UK press as a kid, saying, “Paparazzi used to harass [myself, my brother, and my cousins] to the point of where we had to be forced into smiling and answering questions to the traveling press pack. And that made me feel really uncomfortable from the get-go.”
He specifically recalled a ski trip they had gone on with his mother, Princess Diana, explaining, “The deal was, we’d put our skis on, and then they’d leave us alone.” He paused, then said, “Well, yeah, some of them would. But then the other ones would just follow us around, either taking photographs or just waiting for an accident to happen and then pull out their cameras. So it was never fair and it never worked.”
Speaking with reverence for his late mum, the prince said, “My mom did such a good job in trying to protect us. She took it upon herself to basically confront these people.”
A paparazzi’s recording from the ski trip rolled, showing Diana marching up to him. “Please leave,” she begged, pressing her hands to the man’s camera lens. “As a parent, could I ask you to respect my children’s space?” She continued, “I brought the children out here for a holiday and we’d really appreciate the space.”
The man initially agrees to her request, then backtracks and asks her if they could just pose for some skiing shots: “Then we can totally leave you alone.” Diana firmly says, “No, we’ve had 15 cameras following us today.” The man argues that he “wasn’t one of them,” but the princess sticks to her guns, saying, “As a parent, I want to protect the children. Thank you,” before walking away.
Harry has been criticized by the media, the public at large, and even (allegedly) his own family members for the lengths he and Meghan go to shield their son, Archie, and daughter, Lilibet, from being treated like zoo animals the way he was as a child. “William thinks his brother is going overboard keeping Archie out of the spotlight,” an insider told Us Weekly in 2019, adding that the future king “blames Meghan” for this.
While Prince William may be committed to the age-old, rather toxic operations of the royal machine, subjecting his children to the same intrusive treatment by the media that he experienced as a kid, Prince Harry is several steps removed from ascending to the throne, and ultimately decided that his own commitment is preventing “history repeating itself.” He explained, “My job is to keep my family safe. I’m genuinely concerned about the safety of my family.”
For a man who will never be king and has been offered no help from the royal powers that be, no matter how dire the situation, it’s extremely easy to understand why he removed himself and his family from the royal riptide that was drowning his wife and kids — just like it ultimately did to his beloved mother.
Before you go, check out Prince Harry’s very best dad moments — so far!