Slightly skeptical. Before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in May 2018, her high school friend Simone Burns Dilley had mixed emotions — especially when it came to the British press.
“We were excited for her, but … at the same time, I was worried,” Dilley recalled in a clip from a new episode of E! True Hollywood Story, airing Monday, March 22. “She was divorced, she’s half-Black. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. They’re gonna be so mean to her.'”
The Suits alum, 39, was previously married to movie producer Trevor Engelson from September 2011 to August 2013. Meghan and Harry, 36, started dating after they were introduced through friends in July 2016 and announced their engagement just over a year later. Millions around the world watched as the pair exchanged vows at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, England, in May 2018.
Even before she officially became a member of the British royal family, Meghan was subject to waves of negativity online. In November 2016, the prince addressed the “abuse and harassment” his then-girlfriend was experiencing in the public eye, defending her against “the racial undertones of comment pieces” and other toxic treatment by the media. He issued a similar statement three years later, comparing Meghan’s “private suffering” to that of his late mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997 in a car crash in Paris while being chased by paparazzi.
“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives,” Harry wrote in October 2019. “Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people.”
Three months after Harry’s impassioned message made headlines, the couple announced that they were stepping back from their senior roles within the royal family. In March 2020, they relocated to California with their son, Archie, now 22 months. Nearly one year later, the duo announced that Meghan is pregnant with baby No. 2 and Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Sussexes would not return as working royals.
“Harry and Meghan finally feel free,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively after the pair’s permanent exit.
Following news of their official departure from their royal roles, Harry and Meghan sat down for an eye-opening interview with CBS on March 7, claiming that they had experienced “a lack of support and lack of understanding” from The Firm (a term used to describe the royal family and its palace courtiers). Admitting that they felt abandoned by the establishment, they acknowledged that racism was “a large part” of why they left.
Both the Army Air Corps vet and his wife revealed that life in the spotlight took a toll on their mental health. Meghan, for her part, considered suicide and wanted to seek professional help in January 2019 — but was told “that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”
The Tig founder continued: “I just didn’t see a solution. … I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry, especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered. But I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.”
Sharing their story helped the couple look forward to their fresh start. “They felt that they had been holding all of this inside for so many years and now it’s finally off of their chests,” a source exclusively revealed after the tell-all aired earlier this month.
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