What did Prince Harry really tell the Queen about his mental health TV show?

·Royal Correspondent
·5 min read

Watch: Oprah gives her take on Prince Harry's relationship with his family

Prince Harry is set to sit down again with Oprah Winfrey as the two mark the success of their five-part documentary series with a 'town hall' special programme.

The Me You Can't See: A Path Forward will invite the participants and experts back to keep the conversation around mental health going, with speculation it means Harry will reveal even more about his own journey.

Harry accused the Royal Family of neglect during the series which started streaming on Apple TV+ on 21 May, and said he would not "be bullied into silence" over his experience.

Although much of what Harry has spoken about in the last few months covers his experience in the Royal Family when he married Meghan and their decision to step back from their senior roles, the documentary was announced in 2019, long before they announced they wouldn't be working royals anymore.

Harry's news was even shared through Kensington Palace, and it's likely the Queen would have given some approval to the project.

Working royals, or senior royals as they are also called, carry out their work on behalf of the Queen. Previously, Prince William has spoken about the frequent contact he has with the Queen in an average day, while royal experts like Roya Nikkah have acknowledged the internal pecking order within the Royal Family that affects every part of their work. 

Prince Harry was still a working royal when the documentary was first planned. (Apple TV)
Prince Harry was still a working royal when the documentary was first planned. (Apple TV)

Read more: Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey to reunite for another interview after documentary success

Questions have now been asked about how much the Queen might have known about the project, and whether she would have thought it was linked to his work on the Invictus Games, and veterans' mental health. 

The announcement of the collaboration came shortly after Harry and Meghan had decided to split their royal household from Prince William and Kate, and set up their own Instagram account, under the name Sussex Royal.

They wrote: "We are excited to announce that The Duke of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey are partners, co-creators and executive producers on their forthcoming mental health series launching on Apple in 2020. The pair have been developing the series for several months and are looking forward to sharing such an important project on this global platform."

The announcement added that it continued to build on the duke's work, and said the "multi-part documentary series will focus on both mental illness and mental wellness".

It added the series would show viewers "how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive".

The words are similar to those used by Meghan in the ITV documentary later that year, before they announced they wanted to step back.

Watch: Harry accuses royal family of 'total neglect' in documentary series

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Harry said at the time: "I truly believe that good mental health – mental fitness – is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self. It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times.

"Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive - sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series."

The extent of the duke's personal involvement on screen was not revealed at the time, and certainly a lot changed in the intervening two years.

Harry, 36, was already in therapy when he announced the series, as he had told journalist Bryony Gordon in 2017 that he had sought help, thanks to the advice of his brother William. 

Winfrey, who attended Harry and Meghan's wedding in May 2018, told of how the partnership between US chat show queen and real life prince came about.

She said in 2019: "As you know, he’s spoken about his own issues and what he went through after his mother died and how being able to talk about it has benefitted him.

"It’s a passion of his and at the end of the conversation, I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to be doing this thing with Apple. I said it’s a big concern of mine, too … And I was telling him about this Apple platform and he said at the end of the conversation, ‘If there’s anything I can do to help...’ And I go ‘as a matter of fact…'"

Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry will convene a 'town hall' style event. (Apple)
Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry will convene a 'town hall' style event. (Apple)

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A lot has changed for the prince and his wife since the partnership was first announced.

They decided to step back from their roles less than a year after the Apple TV series was confirmed, moving first to Canada then to California where they are pursuing their own financial ventures.

While Harry did reflect on his experiences after his mother's death, as would have been expected at the outset of the documentary, he delved into how he felt he had been badly treated by members of his family after he married Meghan.

He said they tried for four years to make the situation work, but that they were unable to, saying Charles in particular had said Harry would face the same problems he did. 

It's not clear how much of the series he had been working on before his move to the US, but one episode included him taking part in EMDR therapy, from his home in Montecito. 

And there were many shots of him on the beach in California, indicating the majority was filmed after he split from working royal life. 

With the Sussexes now some 6,000 miles away, the restrictions and confines of the monarchy have truly been lifted.

The Me You Can't See is available now on Apple TV.

The special will air for free on Apple TV on 28 May.

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