Prince Harry 'heartbroken' over family situation but 'content' in California, according to friend

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·7-min read

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Prince Harry is “heartbroken” over the situation with his family, according to his friend the journalist Tom Bradby.

Bradby, who joined Harry, 36, and his wife Meghan Markle, 39, on their royal tour of South Africa in 2019, also suggested the couple are content in the US now that they are working on their own projects.

The ITV broadcaster was behind the now famous interview with Meghan in which she fought back tears after he asked her if she was “OK”.

The interview and the documentary, Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, came out a few weeks before the couple announced they wanted to step back from senior royal life and carve their own path.

Bradby has now spoken to Alan Titchmarsh on his show Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh, where he revealed that he realised the royal couple “weren’t feeling great” as they were filming the documentary.

Tom Bradby spoke about his interview with Meghan Markle on Alan Titchmarsh's show. (ITV/Love Your Weekend)
Tom Bradby spoke about his interview with Meghan Markle on Alan Titchmarsh's show. (ITV/Love Your Weekend)

He said: “It was a very psychologically complex project because they were clearly in a difficult position and weren’t feeling great and I realised the extent of that the more I was there.

“I went thinking I was making a documentary about them sort of resetting themselves in public life, and it became increasingly apparent to me the depth of their unhappiness and that really what I was probably recording was likely to be their exit from public life, which was a big transition to sort of make in my own head. I had to flip really halfway through about the kind of programme I was trying to make.”

Harry and Meghan’s tour of South Africa in October 2019 was the only one they took as a family, with baby Archie joining them as they met Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Meghan was asked by Bradby how she was, and she responded by thanking him, saying “not many people have asked if I’m OK”.

The duchess referenced the conversation in November, when she wrote about her miscarriage in the New York Times, saying she felt the “off-the-cuff reply” gave others permission to admit they were struggling.

Watch: Meghan Markle opens up: ‘Not many people have asked if I’m okay’

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Bradby said his own mental health struggles informed how he approached the situation, and explained: “I had quite a well publicised meltdown, a mental health meltdown of my own a few years before that, and I think there is no doubt in my mind that I did the interview differently as a result of that.

“If that hadn’t happened, I suspect I would have gone on in a more traditional journalistic way but the reason that I conducted the interviews in the way that I did, partly, was because I actually called my wife one night and she said, ‘Look, stop being an idiot, start being a human being. You can clearly see they are not feeling great so why don’t you elect them to tell you how they are feeling, that is what being a good journalist is.’

“It is always good when your wife tells you how to do your job. She was completely right.”

Since then, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have set up a new chapter of their lives in California, where they are planning to run their non-profit organisation Archewell.

They have signed deals with Netflix and Spotify, and have already launched their first podcast, produced by Archewell Audio.

A review of the deal the couple struck with Buckingham Palace is due at the end of March, but it is unlikely there will be any major announcements.

The couple hosted and moderated talks with people who are working in the digital space. (TIME)
Harry and Meghan moved to California in March 2020. (TIME)

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Asked about the couple’s life in the US, and whether they are happier, Bradby said: “I think they are feeling better yes, I mean there has been a huge amount that has happened over the last year that I can’t talk about and I don’t want to talk about, and an awful lot of what has been said is kind of not accurate and not right.

“That is occasionally frustrating because I am sittIng there biting my fists thinking, ‘Well, this is just nonsense.’ So are they unhappy? No, I think they are content, the things they are doing they are quite excited by.

“I think he is heartbroken by the situation with his family, you don’t necessarily need to have knowledge to know that, but I think it is true.”

Pressed on the reported rift between Prince William and Prince Harry, he said: “Well, just the situation with the family clearly isn’t ideal and it has been a very difficult year for them all.

“To some extent, I felt a little bit caught in the middle of them with that documentary, which is a deeply uncomfortable place to be and that is, in a way, why I am always reluctant to say anything more because I don’t want to make anything worse or get in between anything or anything like that.”

He continues: “But are they unhappy out there? No, I don’t think that’s right, I think they are pretty happy actually, but I think they wrestle with their position in life, I think they all do. I think William does too, I don’t think he finds it easy.”

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Tom and Claudia Bradby arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Ian West - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Tom with his wife Claudia Bradby at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for Harry and Meghan's wedding. (Ian West - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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Bradby was a guest at both Prince William’s wedding to Kate and at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan.

Reports of a rift between William, 38, and Harry have been circulating for a while, and were laid out in two biographies about the royals, Finding Freedom, and Battle of Brothers.

Responding to Titchmarsh’s wish for peace among the brothers, Bradby added: “I think the whole thing has just been incredibly painful, that is obvious to everyone. It is painful all round, painful for everyone, difficult to manage.

“Effectively they have just decided to completely leave the Royal Family, that has never been done - I mean, you could go back to the Duke of Windsor but that was in very different circumstances - it’s never been done voluntarily before and no one still is absolutely clear how it is going to work.

“There are still a lot of hurt feelings on all sides and it’s very difficult. And I agree with you, I think the public desperately wants them to be okay and everyone to be happy and clearly that hasn’t been the situation over the past year.

“It is not a very easy or comfortable situation, I don’t think it was ever going to be an easy or comfortable situation.

“You have got to remember this isn’t just a family, it’s a firm. They are in the business of public service on a very elevated, exposed platform and to some extent they are all locked in it together. And that creates lots of tensions that people perhaps do see relatively clearly from the outside, but at the same time they are trying to be a family and I am always acutely conscious of that and how complicated and frankly difficult it is.”

The full interview with Tom Bradby is on Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh, Sunday 17 January from 10am on ITV1.