#Art + Culture

Parallels Between Princess Diana And Meghan Markle: How History Repeated Itself

princess diana and meghan markle
Princess Diana and Meghan Markle may never have met in person. But the late royal’s presence, 24 years after her death, appears to be stronger now more than ever by her daughter-in-law’s side as their stories collide. And it’s dreamlike, tragic, wondrous all at once. A heartbreaking fairytale.

As the world watched Markle’s tell-all chat with Oprah Winfrey earlier this week, among the first things that glared through, amidst the explosive claims she made about Britain’s royal family, was the surreal parallel it drew with that infamous 1995 interview of Lady Di.

26 years ago, Diana Spencer sat down with BBC journalist Martin Bashir to lay bare everything she had. In light of the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, a fall-out with the royal family and mounting global scrutiny, she was told no topic was off-limits. As it wasn’t for Markle as well. Expectedly, both interviews shook Buckingham.

My biggest concern was history repeating itself,” Prince Harry said to Winfrey, citing his mother’s infamously tragic life as the impetus to act against his wife travelling down that same path. “I certainly felt her presence throughout the whole process.”

Princess Diana And Meghan Markle: Divided By Years, United In Stories

1. Grit to take on the British monarchy

The entire resolve to agree to a sit-down that would drop bombshells on arguably among the biggest powers in the world is the all-encompassing energy tying these two women together. At the time, Diana had a divorce in one hand (famously proclaiming, “there were three of us in this marriage”) and a relationship with the royal family that had soured in the other. Despite fears of increased pushback from the palace and national disfavour, Diana opted to break her silence in frames that are now iconic.

Markle, 26 years on, echoes her mother-in-law’s experience rather starkly. Though she wasn’t standing alone as Diana did, with her solid marriage the one true saving grace from her brush with royalty, Markle’s challenge too was with the daunting royal institution. And like Diana, she poured without fear, no holds barred.

How history repeated itself with Princess Diana and Meghan Markle

2. Unpreparedness for what was about to come 

Princess Diana and Meghan Markle, both women were free-spirited misfits within the rigid walls of the royal palace. Drivers of their own pre-royal lives, they were unbeknownst to the ways of letting formal institutions make their decisions for them. But once they stepped foot into the crown family, what awaited them was unprecedented.

“No one sat me down with a piece of paper and said, ‘This is what is expected of you,’” Diana recalled of her earlier days in the royal role. Though she wasn’t fully able to fit into royal constructs, that was her springboard to rise to fame as the people’s Princess.

As for Markle, she admitted that she was dancing to the tunes of The Firm’s instructions, hoping for the best. “I did anything they told me to do… I didn’t fully understand what the job was.” It resulted, she said, in the couple gradually being distanced and cut off from the royals.

3. Declarations of mental health stresses 

Diana, at the time of her interview, was already counted among the most famous and beloved women in the world. For her, at that peak and in that conservative era, to speak on a public platform about her mental health was nothing short of audacious. “Maybe I was the first person ever to be in this family who ever had a depression or was ever openly tearful,” she said recalling her experience with post-partum depression, even hinting at cutting and self-harm.

“I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually what I needed was space”: Diana

Markle, in hers, made the piercing revelation that she had consistently contemplated suicide during her time at the palace, burdened by racist attacks from the British press and royal conventions closing in on her. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought,” she said, asserting her suicidal thoughts were “very, very clear.” Treatment, in all this, she said she was denied.

4. THAT bracelet 

The diamond tennis bracelet that adorned Markle’s wrist during her interview once belonged to Diana. The exquisite piece, crafted by French luxury brand Cartier, was among the most memorable pieces of jewellery owned by the late Princess, who had flaunted it multiple times during her public life.

This tennis bracelet has stayed close with the young royal couple since the day of their engagement. The ring Harry slipped on Markle’s finger in 2017 was encrusted with two diamonds taken from Diana’s bracelet.

That Markle has often dressed like Diana, a fashion icon in her own right, is also what compounds their resemblance.

5. They spoke, we watched 

Diana’s 1995 sit-down with Bashir was touted as the interview of a generation, one that rumbled through the foundations of the British monarchy – and there were numbers to show for it. It is estimated that approximately 23 million viewers in the United Kingdom watched the interview on November 20 when it aired. That meant 39.3 percent of the country.

Similarly resounding statistics were reported for Markle and Harry’s interview with Winfrey. As per Nielsen estimates, it was watched by almost 50 million across the world, with 17.8 million people watching in the US on CBS while 13.3 million watched in the UK.

Such storm of influence doesn’t come all too often. In the force both Princess Diana and Meghan Markle command, there’s a clear thread that runs through generations tying them together in a shared legacy of heart, soul, experience and voice.

Views expressed are the author’s own.