The Duchess of Sussex has said British friends warned her not to marry Prince Harry as the tabloids in Britain would “destroy” her life.

The documentary Harry and Meghan: An African Journey, which follows the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their recent royal tour of southern Africa, aired on ITV on Sunday night.

During the hour-long programme, the duchess spoke candidly with journalist Tom Bradby about the impact marrying into the royal family has had on her wellbeing.

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Meghan said that while she doesn’t think anyone can fully understand her situation, prior to marrying Prince Harry, she had “no idea” what it would be like.

“When I first met my now-husband my friends were really happy because I was so happy, but my British friends said to me: ‘I’m sure he’s great but you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life’,” the royal said.

The duchess added that as an American, she “very naively” thought the notion of her appearing in the tabloids didn’t make “any sense”.

“I’m not in tabloids. I didn’t get it, so it’s been complicated,” the 38-year-old said.

After their relationship became more highly publicised, Meghan said she tried to adopt a “British sensibility of a stiff upper lip” in order to cope with the pressure.

However, she admitted this course of action was “probably really damaging”.

“In all honesty I have said for a long time to H – that’s what I call him – it’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive. You have got to feel happy,” Meghan said.

“The biggest thing that I know is that I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is hard to reconcile.”

In the ITV documentary, Prince Harry also spoke about the pressure that comes with being a member of the royal family.

The duke expressed his frustration over the “untrue” stories about him and his wife in the media.

“Part of this job, and part of any job, like everybody, is putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff, but again, for me and again for my wife, of course there is a lot of stuff that hurts, especially when the majority of it is untrue,” the 35-year-old said.

The royal said he and Meghan need to “focus on being real” and keep “standing up” for their beliefs.

“I will not be bullied into playing a game that killed my mum,” he affirmed.

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As Meghan and Prince Harry’s royal tour came to an end, it was announced the royal couple had taken legal action against the Mail on Sunday after the newspaper allegedly unlawfully published a private letter written by the duchess.

Law firm Schillings, representing the duchess, said she had filed a High Court claim against the paper and its parent company Associated Newspapers over the alleged misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Shortly afterwards, Prince Harry also launched two separate legal proceedings against the owners of the Daily Mirror and The Sun, over alleged phone hacking.

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