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Meghan and Harry: From fairytale wedding to LA lifestyle

By AFP - Mar 09,2021 - Last updated at Mar 09,2021

By Anna Malpas

 

LONDON — Their fairytale wedding was watched around the world, raising hopes of a new chapter in the royal family, reflecting a more diverse, modern Britain.

But after the dream turned sour and they quit last year, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are now building a very different life.

In Sunday’s CBS interview, the couple wore jeans to feed the hens they keep at their California home, and were seen playing with young son Archie on the beach.

It’s a far cry from Harry’s previous regimented life and the formal duties Meghan was expected to embrace after their marriage in 2018.

Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales was born in 1984 into a life of unimaginable privilege, the youngest of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles’ two sons.

His mother, princess Diana, died when he was 12. While at Eton, an elite boarding school, he failed to excel and was considered a loose cannon.

A photo that emerged of him in 2005 wearing Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party did little to help his image.

He told Oprah Winfrey that losing his mother so young had “quite a serious effect on not only my personal life but also my work as well”.

Like older brother William, he joined the military, serving as an army captain in Afghanistan.

He called his time in uniform “the best escape I’ve ever had”.

Afterwards he took on more public roles, launching the Invictus Games for wounded soldiers and veterans, and publicising mental health issues.

 

Blind date 

 

Meghan, born in Los Angeles in 1981 to a black social worker mother and a white lighting director father, could not have had a more different upbringing.

Her mother, Dora Ragland, and father, Thomas Markle, split when she was two. Meghan attended a private Catholic school, then studied theatre and international relations at university.

She married film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011 — the same year she got her breakthrough role in a Canadian legal drama, “Suits”.

They divorced two years later.

Harry and Meghan met in 2016 on a blind date. She said she did not know much about the royal family. Harry said he had never seen “Suits”.

But he told James Corden in a recent interview that he soon realised they had something “pretty special”.

The couple soon went public, first at the Invictus Games in September 2017.

Her beauty and style made an impact but some media openly questioned whether she was royal marriage material because of her mixed-race heritage and status as a divorcée.

Yet, millions around the world were captivated by their unconventional royal wedding at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.

It included a gospel choir and a sermon by black US Bishop Michael Curry.

But her estranged father did not attend. Prince Charles led her down the aisle instead.

It emerged from the Winfrey interview that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby married the couple three days earlier at a private ceremony.

 

‘Got to thrive’ 

 

Royal life seemed to go smoothly at first, with Meghan drawing cheering crowds and beaming with Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

But there were signs of trouble ahead, rumours of disquiet among staff, resignations, tears and tantrums, as well as unfavourable media comparisons with William’s wife, Kate.

William and Harry — close since their mother’s death — moved to separate their households and staff.

Meghan’s father leaked a letter where she expressed sadness at the breakdown in their relationship.

Meghan was criticised in the press for not wearing tights, sitting the “wrong” way, eating avocados, cradling her pregnant stomach, or shunning the traditional post-birth royal photocall.

The couple even issued a statement condemning what they saw as racist coverage, in the start of a battle with the media that has seen some sued, and others frozen out.

Meghan told Winfrey how she kept crying at a concert she attended with Prince Harry in January 2019 while feeling suicidal.

“I just didn’t want to be alive any more,” she told Oprah, while Harry “cradled me”.

In a 2019 ITV interview she said she told Harry it was not enough to simply survive, “you’ve got to thrive”.

 

Happy ending 

 

The pressure led them to quit their royal duties in March 2020, moving to Santa Barbara and striking out on their own, including lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify.

Harry told Corden that their life in the UK was “destroying” his mental health, and he “did what any husband and what any father would do”.

Rifts remain, including with his father, Harry said. But both hoped the future would be brighter, particularly with the arrival of a daughter later this year.

“To have a boy and then a girl, I mean what more can you ask for?” Harry said.

Both credited each other for saving themselves by leaving Britain.

“I was trapped but I didn’t know I was trapped,” said Harry. Meghan said she wanted their story to show that “life is worth living.”

Asked if her story has a happy ending, Meghan said: “It does. Greater than any fairytale you’ve ever read.”

 

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