Prince Harry, 39, and Meghan Markle, 42, have opened up about the challenges and joys of parenting their two children, Archie, four, and Lilibet, two, in an an emotional panel discussion in New York.
The discussion, facilitated by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as part of their work for Archewell Foundation on World Mental Health Day, featured parents who have experienced loss connected to their children’s social media use. Harry acknowledged it wouldn’t have been easy for the panellists to share their respective journeys, and he and Meghan thanked them for their contributions. The couple then shared their own experiences with young children.
“Being a mum is the most important thing in my entire life,” the 42-year-old said. “Outside, of course, being a wife to this one,” Meghan added, pointing to Harry.
“They say being a parent, the days are long but the years are short, so it worries me, but I’m also given a lot of hope and energy by the progress we’ve made in the past year being able to have these incredible parents, these survivors of these experiences, share their stories.”
The duchess also emphasised that, though her kids are “really young”, she fears the future implications of social media.
“Social media isn’t going away,” she said. “By design, there was an entry post that was supposed to be positive and create community. But something has devolved, and there’s no way to hear that and not try to help these families have their stories be heard.”
Harry continued: “I think for us, for myself and my wife, with kids growing up in a digital age, the priority here is to again turn pain into purpose and provide as much support as well as a spotlight and a platform for these parents to come together, to heal, to grieve and to also collectively focus on solutions so that no other family anywhere has to go through what they’ve been through.”
This is the first time Harry and Meghan have returned to New York since the couple were involved in a “near catastrophic” car chase in the city. Along with Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, the pair were pursued by photographers for 75 minutes following a charity event in Manhattan.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians, and two NYPD officers,” a spokesperson revealed in a statement.
A terrifying moment for the couple, who were no doubt reminded of Princess Diana’s last moments. In 1997, Harry’s late mother and her partner Dodi Fayed were hastily pursued by paparazzi, ending in a fatal crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel. In his contentious memoir Spare, Harry confessed he has since visited the site.
“I wanted to see whether it was possible, driving at the speed that [Diana’s driver] Henry Paul was driving, that you could lose control of a car and plow into a pillar, killing almost everybody in that car,” the 39-year-old wrote. “I need to take this journey. I need to ride the same route.
“I sat back. Quietly I said: ‘Is that all of it? It’s…nothing. Just a straight tunnel.’ I’d always imagined the tunnel as some treacherous passageway, inherently dangerous, but it was just a short, simple, no-frills tunnel. No reason anyone should ever die inside it.”