8 ways Meghan Markle's experience of royal life mirrored Princess Diana's

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Erin McDowell
·11 min read
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meghan markle princess diana
Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. CBS/BBC

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey shed light on many similarities between their royal life and Princess Diana's.

In the March 7 interview, Markle spoke about her struggles with mental health and the intense media scrutiny she faced while working on behalf of the royal family. Her struggles appear to mirror many of Princess Diana's, who opened up in a now-controversial interview with Martin Bashir of the BBC in 1995.

Here are eight ways Meghan Markle's experience of royal life was similar to Princess Diana's.

Meghan Markle and Princess Diana both entered their marriages as non-royals.

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Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic/Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

Before announcing her engagement to Prince Harry and joining the royal family, Markle acted in the American television show "Suits" for seven seasons and ran her own lifestyle blog, "The Tig."

However, not only did Markle enter a relationship with Harry as a non-royal, she knew little about the royal family as a whole or what being a working royal actually entailed.

"I didn't grow up knowing much about the royal family. It wasn't something that was part of conversation at home. It wasn't something that we followed," Markle told Oprah. "I didn't do any research about what that would mean ... I didn't fully understand what the job was, right? What does it mean to be a working royal? What do you do? What does that mean? ... I think there was no way to understand what the day-to-day was going to be like."

Princess Diana grew up in an aristocratic family and had more knowledge of the royal family — in fact, her sister even dated Prince Charles before they were introduced. However, Princess Diana, who was 20 when she married the prince, revealed that she had no idea what joining the royal family would actually entail and the support she would or wouldn't have.

"At the age of 19, you always think you're prepared for everything, and you think you have the knowledge of what's coming ahead. But although I was daunted at the prospect at the time, I felt I had the support of my husband-to-be," she told the BBC's Martin Bashir in a now-controversial interview. "I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team."

Princess Diana and Meghan Markle have both spoken about the "fairy tale" they imagined their royal life would be.

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Princess Diana and Prince Charles dancing (left) and Meghan Markle and Prince Harry depart for their wedding reception. Tim Graham Photo Library/Steve Parsons/WPA Pool/Getty Images

"I think as Americans, especially, what do you know about the Royals? It's what you read in fairy tales," Meghan Markle told Oprah.

In the end, Markle described her relationship and life with Harry to be "greater than any fairy tale you've ever read."

Princess Diana also spoke about her preconceived notions about a "fairy tale" life and marriage. However, Diana was not so lucky to get her happy ending.

"Here was a situation which hadn't ever happened before in history, in the sense that the media were everywhere, and here was a fairy story that everybody wanted to work," Princess Diana told Bashir of her marriage ending. "I asked my husband if we could put the [divorce] announcement out before the children came back from school for Christmas holidays because they were protected in the school they were at ... I heard it on the radio, and it was just very, very sad. Really sad. The fairy tale had come to an end, and most importantly our marriage had taken a different turn."

Leading up to their royal weddings, both Meghan Markle and Princess Diana dealt with drama behind the scenes.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (left) and Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their wedding days. Ben STANSALL/WPA Pool/Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

In the weeks leading up to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's highly publicized wedding, the couple was swarmed in press coverage about Markle's father not attending the wedding and leaking stories about her to the press. In her interview with Oprah, Markle also spoke about a rift with Kate Middleton that made her cry.

"A few days before the wedding, she was upset about ... flower girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings," she said.

Princess Diana also described the "ghastly interview" she had with Prince Charles after they announced their engagement, months before they were married.

"This ridiculous [reporter] said, 'Are you in love?' I thought, 'What a thick question.' So I said, 'Yes, of course, we are,' and Charles turned around and said, 'Whatever love means.' And that threw me completely. I thought, 'What a strange answer.' It traumatized me," she said in the documentary, "Diana: In Her Own Words."

Meghan and Harry's and Princess Diana and Prince Charles' respective royal tours of Australia were a turning point in their lives.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (left) and Princess Diana and Prince Charles on their respective tours of Australia. DEAN LEWINS/AFP/Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

"My grandmother has been amazing throughout. You know, my father, my brother, Kate, and all the rest of the family, they were [supportive]. They were really welcoming. But it really changed after the Australia tour, after our South Pacific tour," Prince Harry said in the tell-all interview with Oprah.

"That's when we announced we were pregnant with Archie. That was our first tour," Markle added.

"It was also the first time that the family got to see how incredible she is at the job," Prince Harry continued, adding that it reminded him of the glowing public reception his mother received during her tour of Australia.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles' first tour of Australia similarly shed light on how popular the new royal had become abroad, as she was met with throngs of adoring fans.

"We had a six-week tour — four weeks in Australia and two weeks in New Zealand — and by the end, when we flew back from New Zealand, I was a different person," Princess Diana said. "I realized the sense of duty, the level of intensity of interest, and the demanding role I now find myself in."

Meghan Markle and Princess Diana both had a complicated relationship with the British press.

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Tabloid headlines of both Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/JOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images

After the news broke that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were dating, the British tabloids began posting critical and even racist news stories about Markle, with one headline going as far as to say she was "straight outta Compton."

In 2016, Harry released a statement confirming that he was dating Markle but slammed the press coverage surrounding her and their relationship. The couple has since filed multiple lawsuits against the British press and halted all cooperation with the tabloids.

In the couple's tell-all interview with Oprah, Prince Harry revealed the primary reasons for them leaving their royal roles was a "lack of support and lack of understanding" from both the media and the royal family.

"I asked for calm from the British tabloids once as a boyfriend, once as a husband, and once as a father," he said.

Princess Diana spoke about how "isolating" the media attention became, and at many times, overwhelmed her.

"The most daunting aspect was the media attention, because my husband and I, we were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't; and then when we were married they said it would go quietly and it didn't," she told Martin Bashir. "Then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop."

The princess also spoke about the part the media attention played in the dissolution of her marriage, saying, "The pressure on us both as a couple with the media was phenomenal, and misunderstood by a great many people ... There were three of us in this marriage, and the pressure of the media was another factor, so the two together were very difficult."

Both royals expressed that they felt like they didn't have a voice during their time in the royal family.

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Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. Samir Hussein/WireImage/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

"I've always worked. I've always valued independence. I've always been outspoken, especially about women's rights. I mean, that's the sad irony of the last four years is I've advocated for so long for women to use their voice, and then I was silent," Markle said.

When asked for clarification on whether she was "silent" or "silenced," Markle told Oprah, "the latter."

On why Princess Diana decided to "speak out" in her interview with Martin Bashir, she said she decided to do so "because we will have been separated three years this December, and the perception that has been given of me for the last three years has been very confusing, turbulent, and in some areas, I'm sure many, many people doubt me."

They also both revealed in post-royal interviews they felt exhausted by the constant pressure they were under to perform as working royals.

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Meghan Markle in January 2019. Neil Mockford/GC Images/Getty Images

"The pressure was intolerable then, and my job, my work was being affected. I wanted to give 110% to my work, and I could only give 50. I was constantly tired, exhausted, because the pressure was just, it was so cruel," Princess Diana told Bashir.

Meghan Markle also spoke about the pressure she faced while being on tour, saying, "Those tours are — I'm sure they have beautiful pictures and it looks vibrant, and all of that is true. It's also really exhausting. So, I was fried, and I think it just hit me so hard because we were making it look like everything was fine. I can understand why people were really surprised to see that there was pain there."

They also both struggled with depression while being in the public eye.

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Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. CBS/BBC

"I was unwell with post-natal depression, which no one ever discusses," Princess Diana said. "I never had depression in my life. But then when I analyzed it I could see that the changes I'd made in the last year had all caught up with me, and my body had said: 'We want a rest.' I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually what I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had come my way. I knew I could do it, but I needed people to be patient and give me the space to do it."

Princess Diana admitted she was able to get past the post-natal depression, but that she struggled with "bulimia for a number of years," which she called "a secret disease."

Markle also opened up to Oprah about the mental health struggles she faced while pregnant with Archie, which even led her to have suicidal thoughts.

"I knew that if I didn't say it, that I would do it. And I just didn't want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought. And I remember — I remember how [Harry] just cradled me ... I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help. I said, 'I've never felt this way before, and I need to go somewhere,'" Markle recalled.

However, unlike Princess Diana, Markle said she wasn't offered help in dealing with her mental health struggles.

"I went to one of the most senior people just to get help," she said. "Because in my old job, there was a union, and they would protect me. And I remember this conversation like it was yesterday, because they said, 'My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there's nothing we can do to protect you, because you're not a paid employee of the institution' ... Nothing was ever done, so we had to find a solution."

Read the original article on Insider