7 Things We Learned About Meghan Markle and Prince Harry This Year

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry used 2021 to level damaging accusations at the royal family, but saw their own reputations under the spotlight too.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex poured out years of frustration in a bombshell prime time interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast by CBS on March 7.

However, before the show aired they face a counter attack with revelations Meghan had been accused of bullying.

At the same time, the duchess has now twice won her lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday but again faced embarrassing revelations in the process.

Biographies of the royals have shed yet more light on life behind palace walls during one of the most dramatic years for the Monarchy since the 1990s.

1. Meghan Markle and the Mystery Racist Royal

The duchess told Oprah an unnamed racist royal expressed concern about how dark her unborn child's skin might be before he was born.

Meghan said: "In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we have in tandem the conversation of 'he won't be given security, he's not going to be given a title' and also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born."

Prince Harry said the conversation had taken place earlier, "right at the beginning," and the question asked was: "What will the kids look like?"

The couple confirmed off camera that the remark was not made by either Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.

Elsewhere, Harry said his family cut him off financially and Prince Charles stopped taking his calls while he was trying to negotiate his royal exit.

Harry and Meghan Promote Vaccine Equity
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle promote vaccine equity during an appearance for Global Citizen Live, in New York City, on September 25, 2021. The appearance came during a dramatic year for the couple. Gotham/WireImage

2. Meghan Said Kate Middleton Made Her Cry, Not the Other Way Around

Meghan told Oprah her sister-in-law made her cry during a bridesmaid's dress fitting days before the royal wedding, in May 2018.

A story first published in The Daily Telegraph in Britain suggested Meghan made Kate cry and the allegation was subsequently printed on the front page of The Sun.

Meghan said: "A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining—yes, the issue was correct—about flower-girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings."

Meghan said the article was a turning point that triggered a wave of negative publicity which ultimately left her feeling suicidal in January 2019.

The duchess said: "I just didn't want to be alive any more. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought."

3. Meghan Markle's Staffer Accused Her of Bullying

Meghan and Harry were, however, not the only ones dropping bombs in the early part of 2021.

Before their interview reached screens, U.K. broadsheet The Times published an email sent by their former communications secretary Jason Knauf in October 2018 accusing the duchess of bullying two PAs out of Kensington Palace. She denies the allegations.

In a message to Prince William's private secretary Simon Case, he said: "I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year.

"The treatment of X [name removed] was totally unacceptable."

He added: "The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying Y [name removed] and seeking to undermine her confidence.

"We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards Y [name removed]."

The allegation intersects with a crucial part of the time period for Meghan and Harry's own complaints as it was sent in late October 2018 after the couple returned from a tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Meghan and Harry told Oprah everything changed after the trip, citing the story about Meghan making Kate cry which was published the following month.

The duchess told CBS: "After we had gotten back from our Australia tour—which was about a year before that—and we talked about when things really started to turn, when I knew we weren't being protected."

4. Prince William 'Threw Harry Out' of Kensington Palace

More of the other side of the story emerged over the summer with the re-release in paperback of biography Battle of Brothers, containing new chapters.

Among the dramatic revelations was the claim Prince William divided the shared household at Kensington Palace that had included himself, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan.

Author Robert Lacey wrote: "He [William] certainly wanted Meghan removed, for a start, from the hitherto harmonious joint household that he and his brother had operated together for the best part of a decade. William simply did not want her or Harry around any more."

The book quoted a friend: "William threw Harry out."

Harry and Meghan With Prince William
Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend an Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018 in London, England. Later that year, their joint communications secretary accused Meghan of bullying two PAs. Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images

5. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Co-Operated With Finding Freedom

The revelations were not confined to books and TV shows, however, as Meghan's private message were exposed through her lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday over a letter she sent her father.

The duchess won a ruling that the tabloid breached her privacy and copyright in February, but by November the case was back at the Court of Appeal.

Emails and text messages had by then been handed over by Knauf, the same aide who accused her of bullying her staff in 2018.

They showed that, contrary to previous denials, Meghan and Harry co-operated with the authors of bombshell biography Finding Freedom.

A message from Prince Harry to Knauf read: "I totally agree that we have to be able to say we didn't have anything to do with it.

"Equally, you giving the right context and background to them would help get some truths out there."

Meghan sent Knauf a list of briefing notes, which included the queen's opinion on her wedding day tiara and the accusation her half sister Samantha Markle was a bad mother.

Text messages sent in August 2018 showed Meghan wrote the letter to her father, begging him to stop talking to the media, knowing it might be published.

She said she addressed it to "Daddy" so it would pull on the public's heart strings and added: "Honestly Jason, I feel fantastic, cathartic and real and honest and factual.

"If he leaks it then that's on his conscience but at least the world will know the truth, words I could never voice publicly."

6. Prince Harry Accused the Royals "Total Neglect" Over Media Negativity

Prince Harry opened up a new flank against the royal family in May during his Apple TV mental health documentary The Me You Can't See.

The duke said he asked his family for help dealing with the media and felt let down by the response.

He said: "It went to a whole new depth with not just traditional media but also social media platforms as well. I felt completely helpless.

"I thought my family would help but every single ask, request, warning, whatever it is, got met with total silence or total neglect.

"We spent four years trying to make it work. We did everything that we possibly could to stay there and carry on doing the role and doing the job, but Meghan was struggling."

7. Meghan Markle Was Photographed Attending an Appointment About Her Miscarriage

Finding Freedom was also re-released in paperback over the summer and contained new revelations about the couple's first summer in America.

Among the most striking, the duke and duchess were photographed attending a medical appointment about Meghan's miscarriage in July 2020.

The pictures were published in The Daily Mail online attributed to a paparazzi agency.

It then emerged in November's Mail on Sunday court of appeal hearing that Meghan's miscarriage came at a time of high stress relating to the lawsuit.

The Daily Mail online and The Mail on Sunday are sister titles owned by the same publisher.

There is no suggestion Meghan lost her baby because of the court case and medical research shows most miscarriages arise from medical, not environmental, causes.