Meghan Markle Saved Prince Harry — But Not In The Way You Think

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

During their interview with Oprah, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle discussed the possibility that one or both of them was the savior of the other.

Meghan went into detail about Harry’s commitment to her and their son and his resolve to act, which ultimately led to a break with his own blood relatives. Harry talked about how Meghan showed him a world outside his own insular, artificial bubble.

There was a lot to take in for the audience finally granted backstage passes to the defining relationship of a generation.

And, to anyone paying attention, only one of them was right about who had saved whom.

Meghan saved Harry, just not the way you may think.

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There are only two possible outcomes when an outsider gains entry into an exclusive club.

The first is that they work hard enough to meet the demands placed on them to satisfy those with decision-making power. In the other case, the outsider and prior insiders never fully see eye-to-eye, causing tensions to grow between them until a breaking point is reached and the outsider is ejected.

Over the years, we’ve read and watched Kate Middleton’s story arc as she evolved from outsider to insider, from commoner to royal. We heard the rumors of tension over the way "the Firm" looked down upon William’s choice of bride. But Kate was more than happy to play the game and eventually fitted herself into the roles carved out for her.

From her own account, it seems Meghan was willing to do the same, but through no fault of her own, the space she was asked to mold herself into was too small for her to ever fit inside, and the stress of it all became too much to bear.

According to researchers Janja Lalich and Karla McLaren, all communities contain elements of self-sealing or restrictive access to the outside world. They discuss the systems in play here in their book, “Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out, and Starting Over.” Lalich and McLaren reveal the complex world of insular systems and how common they are in society, perhaps unbeknownst to the general population.

As it turns out, the British Royal Family is potentially just such a system.

When Harry spoke of his brother, Prince William, and his father, Prince Charles — presumed to be the next two future kings of England — he said that he felt almost sorry for them, because they were trapped within a framework that he himself had been allowed to escape.

This is arguably Meghan’s crowning achievement.

It’s almost impossible to wrench someone away from a group that exerts so much power and control over their decisions and actions.

“The only way you can sustain a cult is you’ve got to have total control,” says Jonathan Watt, a former member of the Children of God cult in Scotland, “You’ve got no contact with the outside world.”

There have been numerous comparisons over the years between extreme cults and other, more mundane organizations that use many of the same tactics — including isolation, emotional abuse, public humiliation, demanding total loyalty, and ensuring an individual’s silence — to keep their members in line.

Even though we often associate these things with Jonestown, Heaven’s Gate, the Branch Davidians, Aum Shinrikyo, and other extremist groups, they can be seen within plenty of social niches to varying degrees of severity, accepted as completely normal by those beholden to them.

Organizations that employ similar strategies of breaking down an individual's will for what it deemed to be the greater communal good include world militaries, religious sects, commercial groups that engage in multi-level marketing, and even many mainstream corporations.

There’s nothing unusual about an organization using cult-like tactics. Often, abuse is accepted in the name of fitting in.

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From Harry’s account, it sounds like the royal family is in the habit of using cult-like strategies to maintain control over its members and those associated with them.

Take the public humiliation angle, for example.

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When it became clear to Meghan that the Firm wasn’t protecting her from negative and often outlandish press, she discovered that the palace and the British media have something of a working agreement. Do they use this relationship to punish anyone who strays too far outside acceptable boundaries of risk? The idea may not be as ludicrous as it sounds.

It is possible that these comparisons are unfair. After all, the royal family does need to protect its image in a world that very much doesn’t require their continued existence. They are an antiquated institution that’s long been unnecessary to the UK civil authority, and that only serves to siphon resources from far more worthy causes.

Scandal is anathema to them. They dress, eat, sit, and wave according to an exact standard of etiquette, one that Meghan admitted she wasn’t privy to before entering their world.

Perhaps by withholding information, subjecting her to intense scrutiny, and engaging in love bombing, they were attempting to leave her no choice but to bend to their will, viewing them as her only available saving grace. And, by Meghan’s own account, they succeeded for a time. As their stronghold gripped her, she struggled with suicidal thoughts, as she saw no way forward to a happy future.

By this point, though, Meghan had succeeded against all odds in opening Harry’s eyes to the small world he inhabited, and the two of them were able to break away.

The sequence of events that unfolded following the Sussex's escape is a testament to just how desperate groups can be to retain loyalty from their members.

The Firm cut off their security, ended their financial support, and stripped them of their associations and titles. These moves are in keeping with cult-like behavior.

A cult creates a problem, positions itself as the only solution, and severely punishes and deprives those who do not comply.

Photo: Getty

If you still aren't convinced that Meghan truly saved Harry, simply read his own words.

"Do you think you would have left or ever stepped back were it not for Meghan?" Oprah asked.

"No. The answer to your question is no," Harry said. "I wouldn't have been able to because I myself was trapped."

Winfrey probed further. "Please explain how you, Prince Harry, raised in a palace, in a life of privilege — literally a prince — how you were trapped."

"Trapped within the system," Harry replied without pause. "Like the rest of my family are. My father and my brother, they are trapped. They don't get to leave. And I have huge compassion for that."

No matter who ultimately planned the details of their break from the royal family, the fact that Meghan was able to pull the blinders off her husband and reveal to Harry the abnormality of his situation means that she did save him, and herself, and her children.

The outsider who was meant to be assimilated became the savior, flipping the narrative by taking matters into her own hands.

Even if the royal family doesn’t have anything at all to hide behind its centuries of shadowy curtains, there was clearly enough happening behind the scenes to justify this separation. Meghan was able to pull Harry away from what the two of them agree were, at the very least, questionable behaviors.

They get to be a happy family and live life on their own terms.

And really, that’s all that counts.

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Kevin Lankes is the Senior Love and Empowerment Editor at YourTango. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and countless blogs, webpages, and other media. Find him on Twitter.