Prince Harry has said he stepped back from the royal family last year because the British press was “destroying” his mental health.
In a rare one-on-one interview in which he discussed the pressures of royal life and his move away from London, Harry told “The Late Late Show” host James Corden that he decided he needed to “get (his) family out of here” and that he preferred the depiction of royal life seen on Netflix show “The Crown” to the one published in newspapers.
“We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health,” he said during the segment. “I was like, this is toxic. So I did what any husband and what any father would do.”
The prince and his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, quit as working members of the royal family in January 2020, a step that caused a crisis within the establishment.
They have since moved to Los Angeles and have begun carving out new lives, increasing their public visibility and engagement with more sympathetic media figures.
The release of Harry’s interview with Corden comes days before he and Meghan sit down for a prime-time interview with Oprah Winfrey.
During the segment with Corden, in which the pair travel round Los Angeles in an open-top bus, Harry revealed he has watched “The Crown” – the popular drama that probes a number of reported fractures within the royal family. “I’m way more comfortable with ‘The Crown’ than I am seeing the stories written about my family or my wife or myself,” he said.
“They don’t pretend to be news, it’s fictional,” Harry added of the show, about which his fellow royals have generally been tight-lipped. “But it’s loosely based on the truth. Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but … it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everything else, what can come from that.”
Harry and Meghan have been mired in a long-running war of words and lawsuits with a large portion of the tabloid media, fighting multiple legal cases against publications and photo agencies that had printed details of their private lives.
Earlier this month, Meghan won a privacy claim against the publishers of the Mail on Sunday after they published a letter she sent her father, and launched a stinging rebuke to “dehumanizing” media organizations after the verdict, saying the “damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.”
Harry: We’ve Zoomed the Queen a few times
Harry told Corden his life with Meghan in LA will be “a slightly different version, but a continuation, of what we were doing back in the UK anyway.”
“My life is always going to be about public service, and Meghan signed up to that, and the two of us enjoy doing that,” he said, echoing comments the pair made after the Queen announced last week that they would not return as working members of the royal family.
Their statement at the time, which insisted that “service is universal,” was read by many as a rejection of the Queen’s framing of their departure.
“It was never walking away. It was stepping back rather than stepping down. It was a really difficult environment,” Harry said, adding he’ll never “walk away,” regardless of “whatever decisions are made on that side.”
But he told Corden they have video-called the Queen and Prince Philip since their move. “We’ve Zoomed them a few times, they’ve seen Archie running around,” he said.
He joked that Philip, instead of clicking the button to leave a meeting, just shuts the laptop when the conversation is over. The 99-year-old prince is currently in the hospital in London suffering from an infection, though Harry’s interview was likely filmed before his admission and does not comment on it.
Harry also discussed his relationship with Meghan and their son Archie, revealing the child’s first word was “crocodile” and that the Queen sent him a waffle maker for Christmas, at Meghan’s request.
Turning to the couple’s early romance, he said: “Dating with me, or with any member of the royal family I guess, is kind of flipped upside down. All the dates become dinners or watching the TV or chatting at home. And eventually when you become a couple, then you venture out to dinners, to the cinema and everything else.”
During the segment, the pair visit the house used in the ’90s Will Smith series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” with Harry revealing – during a bout of somewhat awkward rapping – that he knows the lyrics to the show’s famous theme song, before slipping inside for a bathroom break.
Corden then video-calls Meghan on Harry’s phone to jokingly suggest the pair move in. “I think we’ve done enough moving,” she said, dropping her nickname for her husband – “Haz.”
Interest in the couple’s new lives is likely to intensify after they sit down for a lengthy interview with Winfrey, which is expected to touch on the nature of their departure from royal life.
The couple recently announced they are expecting a second child.