Press was destroying my mental health and forced UK exit, says Harry

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·4-min read

The Duke of Sussex has said the “toxic” atmosphere created by the British press forced him and his family to leave the UK.

Harry said his mental health was being destroyed by the coverage, in an interview with James Corden, host of the US talk show The Late Late Show.

The duke also addressed the controversy over The Crown’s portrayal of his family’s history and defended the regal drama, saying it does not “pretend to be news”.

Duchess of Sussex
Harry and Meghan moved to America to start a new life with son Archie (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

He added he was “way more comfortable” with the popular Netflix series’ depiction of the monarchy then with articles written about the Sussexes.

The Queen’s grandson spoke candidly about family life, revealing son Archie’s first word was “crocodile”, how the Queen gave the 21-month-old a waffle maker for Christmas and that Meghan calls him “Haz”.

He also revealed the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh can use Zoom and have seen Archie “running around” in California.

Harry stressed his decision to move to America was “never walking away” but was about “stepping back rather than stepping down”, and insisted: “I will always be contributing. My life is public service.”

His comments were made before it was announced Harry and Meghan would be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey where they are expected to talk in-depth about their lives in America and the reasons for moving there.

Royal wedding
Chat show queen Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan and Harry will be broadcast next month (Ian West/PA Wire)

Asked by Corden how he sees his life after lockdown, Harry, 36, replied: “My life is always going to be about public service and Meghan has signed up to that, and the two of us enjoy doing that.

“Trying to bring some compassion and make people happy and try to change the world in any small way that we can.”

The pair chatted during an open-top bus tour of Los Angeles in an interview recorded before Harry and Meghan were stripped of their prestigious patronages last week after confirming they would not be returning to the UK.

Harry added: “It was never walking away. It was stepping back rather than stepping down. It was a really difficult environment, as I think a lot of people saw.

“We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health. I was like ‘this is toxic’.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex statement
Harry said he and Meghan are dedicated to a life of service (Finnbarr Webster/PA Wire)

The duke went on to say: “So I did what any husband and what any father would do – I needed to get my family out of here.

“But we never walked away and as far as I’m concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.

“I will always be contributing, my life is public service, so wherever I am in the world it is going to be the same thing.”

Much has been written about Harry and Meghan’s decision to step down as senior royals for personal and financial freedom early last year – dubbed Megxit.

Harry and Meghan have since forged ahead with their lives, signing lucrative deals – thought to be worth well over £100 million – with Spotify and Netflix to give them the capital to pursue their new lifestyle and public goals.

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They have also bought a multi-million pound home in the celebrity enclave of Montecito in California, launched a non-profit foundation and announced they are expecting their second child.

Asked what he thinks about The Crown, Harry replied: “They don’t pretend to be news. It’s fictional but it’s loosely based on the truth.

“Of course it’s not strictly accurate, but, loosely, 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.

“I am way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the stories written about my family, or my wife or myself.”

Harry joked that he would want Homeland star Damian Lewis to play him.