“I SEE it as a possibly unique role, and yes, I’ve had difficulties, as everybody has witnessed over the years, but let’s now use the knowledge I’ve gathered to help other people in distress.”

So said Princess Diana, a person held in an elevated position of affection by the British public we’ve never seen before.

This week her son, Prince Harry, spoke of his own difficulties - and those of his wife, Meghan Markle.

During an interview with US host Oprah Winfrey, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke of the unbearable situation they faced throughout their recent life as members of the Royal family.

They described how what was initially seen as an opportunity for the most iconic symbol of the British Establishment to show it was capable of embracing the modern world soon became a living example of a monolithic regal mafia that will stop at nothing to preserve its existence.

In one of many heartbreaking moments, Meghan spoke of how she had at times experienced suicidal thoughts - including during her pregnancy with the couple’s first child, Archie.

And they claimed despite continued appeals for help, their family was unwilling to step in on their behalf.

Instead, Harry said, they were ‘told continuously this is how it is, we’ve all been through it’.

Somerset County Gazette: NO SALES Screen grab photo supplied by ITV Hub courtesy of Harpo Productions/CBS showing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their interview with Oprah Winfrey which was broadcast in the US on March 7 and in the UK on March 8. Issue date: Monday March

Racism, misogyny, xenophobia, Meghan said she endured it all at the hands of the British press - and indeed, they claimed a conversation with racist undertones even took place within the family.

And claims to the contrary simply do not stand up to any level of scrutiny.

Their earth-shattering revelations have, of course, provoked enormous debate across the globe.

Somerset has been no different.

A quick perusal of reactions on the County Gazette’s social media pages gives an interesting insight.

“She knew what she was getting into when she married Harry,” said one comment.

“They do nothing but whinge very publicly,” wrote another. “Attention seeking, sympathy seeking spoiled brats.”

The vast majority of reaction to the story was negative towards the couple, which is shocking.

Let’s reduce this to what it was - a 39-year-old woman describing how the treatment she received had reduced her to contemplating suicide while she was expecting her first child.

What should have been a time of joyful anticipation was, instead, a time she wished to end.

And the reaction of many to this truth? To lambast her. To claim she is doing it for publicity. To claim that because ‘she knew what she was getting into’ somehow means she has no right to be affected.

Just a year ago, the country was united in calling for people to ‘be kind’ after the tragic death of TV presenter Caroline Flack, after a campaign of abuse and speculation in the press and online.

Where was that kindness for a pregnant woman who has just spoken of how she contemplated harming herself?

TV host Piers Morgan even told viewers he ‘didn’t believe a word’ of what Meghan had said about her mental health.

It is his right to hold that opinion, of course, but it is not his right to offer it on prime time breakfast television to an audience of millions, and he has since left his job with ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

But he is simply a mainstream, mass-media manifestation of the reaction common among so many.

Somerset County Gazette: FREE SPEECH: Piers Morgan, who has left Good Morning Britain
FREE SPEECH: Piers Morgan, who has left Good Morning Britain

I can’t help but imagine if the situation was my own - and I would urge others to do the same.

If my friend, child, brother, mother or wife, said they were struggling with their mental health and were even experiencing suicidal thoughts, the first thing I would expect from those hearing those words is that they believe them.

Regardless of wealth, status or privilege, I would hope that is the least they could expect.

On a basic, human level, anyone - anyone - who is brave enough to reveal such feelings should be treated with respect and sympathy, to be offered any available support to help them through such an awful ordeal.

But it appears not.

Meghan’s truth should be a cause for reflection - from the tabloid press and from us all.

Instead, it has prompted a response largely led by vitriol - a cause for shame.

The royal tradition - of which the British public seems so proud and the world holds in such reverence - can now be defined as including behaviour which sees young, new parents, struggling with their mental health in a world in which their every move is scrutinised, simply cut off. Not only financially, but also by their own family.

The reason? Because ‘this is the way it is’.

A fear of how the press and public would react to a couple enduring a crisis - one shared by countless other families around the world - meant their own family ostracised them. Harry’s own father stopped taking his calls, he claimed.

Harry and Meghan were thrown to the very wolves whose hunger for stories of their every action played such a huge part in their crisis in the first place.

Pomp and ceremony clearly didn’t equate to help and sympathy.

Somerset County Gazette: The front pages of UK national newspapers showing the reaction to the interview of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Oprah Winfrey.

The Queen did respond, two days after the interview first aired.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” a statement read.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much-loved family members.”

Not one word of denial, just a spurious hint at ‘varying recollections’. Nor any words of apology.

Instead, it is a reaction sealed by the legendary ‘stiff upper lip’ we British claim as a quality.

It could also be seen as a complete lack of empathy and sympathy for two people who have endured a terrible experience.

And if people think publications like the County Gazette should not cover issues which have such fundamental links to all of our lives and experiences, then I respectfully disagree.

Because the wealth, status and fame of Harry and Meghan is irrelevant to what they felt - and should be irrelevant to how we react. But it isn’t.

We were right a year ago. Be kind. To everyone.

Or, as Princess Diana said: “Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”