The Royal Family is the absolute embodiment of tradition. Famous and powerful people beget famous and powerful children, leading to an unbroken line of royal rule that stretches back countless years.
Sometimes, however, there are royals who fight back against these traditions. And when it comes to royal rebels, two of the most famous figures are Princess Diana and Meghan Markle.
But these ladies have more in common than a fierce independent streak. Here are some of the most shocking similarities between Princess Diana and Meghan Markle.
1. They both gave bombshell tell-all interviews about the Royal Family
There are many things that Meghan Markle and Princess Diana have in common. But perhaps the biggest one is that each one of them eventually took on the Royal Family in a shockingly public way.
With Princess Diana, this happened in 1995 when she gave a televised interview to BBC journalist Martin Bashir. The interview covered many subjects, and Diana eventually commented on her husband Prince Charle’s affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. She famously told Bashir, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
While that was a bombshell, Meghan Markle has it beat. After she and Prince Harry stepped down from royal responsibilities and eventually moved to America, she gave her own tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey in March 2021. In this interview, she revealed how little the Royal Family supported her and how one of them had “concerns and conversations about how dark [her son Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born.”
2. They both struggled with paparazzi and the media
Media attention is always a double-edged sword. For example, intense media focus helped make both Princess Diana and Meghan Markle into household names. But each of these women was hounded by relentless reporters and paparazzi.
Diana (who, lest we forget, died in a car crash after being chased by zealous paparazzi) said as much in her 1995 interview with Bashir. As PBS reports, she told Bashir that the press attention “started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop.”
As for Meghan Markle, her struggles with the media are now a matter of public record. After tabloid The Mail On Sunday published excerpts from a personal letter she wrote her father, Markle took them to court and eventually won. As USA Today points out, she soon after released a statement effectively calling out the British press. “For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.”
3. They both described losing their independence
It may go without saying, but another trait these two women have in common is inner strength and a desire for independence. During the jaw-dropping interview with Oprah, Markle said that she felt trapped while part of the Royal Family. “That was the last time, until we came (to the United States), that I saw my passport, my driver’s license, my keys. All that gets turned over,” she said before cracking a joke (via CNN). “I couldn’t call an Uber to the palace.”
For Markle, leaving the country was a way of achieving the freedom she longed for. Diana felt the same way, and she was a bit blunter about it. As the New York Post reports, she complained openly about both the Royal Family and Prince Charles in 1992. “My life is just torture,” she said, imagining a life divorced from her husband. “Bloody hell, after all I’ve done for this f – – king family… I’ll go out and conquer the world… do my bit in the way I know how and leave him behind.”
4. Their cries for help and suicidal thoughts were ignored by the Royal Family
Obviously, joining the Royal Family can be very intimidating. But what Diana and Meghan both discovered very soon was that they weren’t going to get any real support from the rest of their new family.
In 1992, Andrew Morton’s book Diana–Her True Story alleged that Diana had tried to commit suicide five times while married to Prince Charles (via LA Times). In her 1995 interview with Bashir, Diana expressed how alone she felt. As PBS reports, she said “it was isolating, but it was also a situation where you couldn’t indulge in feeling sorry for yourself: you had to either sink or swim. And you had to learn that very fast.”
Meghan Markle also had suicidal thoughts and also received no support from the Royal Family, and she told as much to Oprah. As CNN reports, Markle said that when she was feeling isolated and suicidal, “I went to the institution, and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, I said I’d never felt this way before… and I was told that I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.” She said she went to “one of the most senior people” and sent emails “begging for help” but was basically ignored.
5. They both walked away from the Royal Family
The final major thing that Meghan Markle and Princess Diana have in common is this: they eventually had to move on and create more of a life for themselves than what they had within the Royal Family.
In January 2020, Meghan and Harry declared they were stepping back from royal responsibilities and would soon be leaving the country. But the message was clear: Meghan was getting as far away from the Royal Family as she possibly could.
Things were a bit trickier with Princess Diana. While her marriage with Charles had been disintegrating for quite a while, the Queen didn’t recommend divorce until Diana’s bombshell interview with Martin Bashir. Post-divorce, she lost one of her titles (“Her Royal Highness,” a title that Charles allegedly demanded be removed) but remained “Princess of Wales.”
On this matter, her then 14-year-old son Prince William tried to reassure her. As Express reports, he told her, “Don’t worry, Mummy, I will give it back to you one day when I am King.” He would never get the chance because Diana died in a car crash a year later.
But she died free from the Royal Family that had been stifling her for over 15 years. And in the years leading to her divorce and beyond, she established herself as a charity icon, a champion of desperate causes, and an inspiration to men and women all around the world.