The first three episodes of the six-part Netflix documentary series Harry & Meghan released on 8 December 2022, with revelations centred on the UK media and their incessant hounding of the couple.
The bombshell series is one of the most anticipated documentaries of the year, given that the couple have revealed details of their ill-treatment while they were members of the British royal family in their 2021 conversation with Oprah Winfrey.
In the first three episodes of the series, the couple spoke about their respective lives before they met, their romance, the invasive press, and the racism Meghan faced.
They shared how they met for the first time and how they eventually fell in love. The documentary features some of the couple’s friends who speak on everything from Harry and Meghan’s career as well as details of their relationship.
Several personal photographs and videos of the couple from before and after their marriage are also shown in the documentary, which traces their lives from childhood to the days leading up to their marriage.
Prince Harry, who now lives in the US and does not enjoy the same royal privileges as his older brother, William, Prince of Wales, also talked about his late mother, Princess Diana and said that Meghan is like her.
“So much of what Meghan is, and how she is, is so similar to my mom,” Harry said in the documentary.
The first three parts, however, do not reveal how their relationship with the royal family eventually broke down. No fingers were pointed by either Meghan or Harry of any specific member of the royal family. Everything that they shared was mostly about the negativity of the press and problems within the royal family as an Institution.
The series comes just around a month ahead of the release of Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare.
Harry and Meghan explain why they decided to make the documentary
After an opening statement explaining that all interviews were completed in August 2022 — which is before the death of Queen Elizabeth II — and members of the royal family “declined to comment on the content within this series,” the show dives straight into the drama in the press that started with Prince Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announcing that they are stepping down from their royal roles.
When asked why she wanted to make this documentary, Meghan said, “I’m not gonna say that it’s comfortable, but when you feel like people haven’t got any sense of who you are for so long, it’s really nice to just be able to have the opportunity to let people have a bit more of a glimpse into what’s happened and also who we are.”
“With all of the misinformation that was going on out there, especially about us, and the departure, it seemed like a really sensible idea,” Harry added.
“It’s really hard to look back on it now and go, what on earth happened? Like how did we end up here?,” Harry said in a video diary shown in the first episode. The recording was made shortly after the couple completed their final royal duties in March 2020.
A look at the Harry & Meghan’s most shocking revelations
The media is blamed throughout
Through the episodes, viewers learn about the incessant media harassment Harry had to endure since when he was a child. How his mother’s passing deeply affected him and how his visit to Lesotho helped the grieving prince at the time.
The hate that Meghan received for her race on social media is also highlighted in the documentary.
“But truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how good I was. No matter what I did…they were still gonna find a way to destroy me,” Meghan said about the media later in the documentary.
“My job is to keep my family safe. But the nature of being born into this position, amid everything else that comes with it and the level of hate being stirred up in the last three years, especially against my wife and my son,” the Duke of Sussex said.
“This is about duty and service, and I feel as though, being part of this family, it is my duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media,” he added.
A clip of Meghan’s video diary is shown, in which the Duchess said, “Unfortunately, in not standing for something, they are destroying us.”
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‘Forced into smiling’
Harry revealed that his childhood was “filled with laughter…happiness…adventure.”
Harry & Meghan shows videos from the time the prince was born and his life as a toddler playing with his brother and parents.
“I don’t have many early memories of my mum,” Harry said, adding, “But I always remember her laugh, her cheeky laugh.”
“Paparazzi used to harass us to the point where we had to be forced into smiling and answering questions to the travelling press pack,” Harry said, as the documentary shows how he, Prince William and their cousins were always followed around by large groups of press photographers, including when they were in Switzerland in 1995.
Princess Diana even confronted the press to protect her children
Harry revealed that Princess Diana did “such a good job” in ensuring that her children are not hounded by the press.
The documentary shows how Diana confronts the paparazzi on at least one occasion when the family was vacationing in Switzerland.
When Diana notices a press photographer stealthily taking photos of her children while they were at an open-air restaurant, she walks up to him and presses her hand against the camera’s lens while requesting the photographer to leave the family alone.
“Please leave. As a parent, could I ask you to respect my children’s space?” she is heard saying.
When the camera person requests for a posed photo of her family and “then we can totally leave you alone,” Diana tells him that there were “15 cameras following us today.”
“As a parent, I want to protect the children. Thank you,” says Diana before walking away.
Women have suffered by marrying into the Institution
Harry talked about the Panorama interview with Martin Bashir — which was also re-created in season 5 of Netflix’s acclaimed series The Crown (2016–).
“She felt compelled to talk about it,” Harry says, about An Interview with HRH The Princess of Wales, aired in 1995, where Diana spoke about the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles (now King Charles III).
“I think we now all know that she was deceived into giving the interview. But at the same time, she spoke the truth of her experience,” he added.
“I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things. The pain and suffering of women married into this institution,” Harry said about the British royal family.
“I think for so many people in the family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit the mould, as opposed to somebody who you perhaps are destined to be with,” he said in the first episode.
“The difference between making decisions with your head, or your heart. And my mum certainly made most of her decisions — if not all of them — from her heart. And I am my mother’s son,” he said.
Harry developed relationship fears
Referring to his past relationships, Harry blamed the media for driving many people away from him.
“I remember thinking, ‘How could I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all of the baggage that comes with being with me?'” he said.
“Every relationship that I had, within a matter of weeks or months, was splattered all over the newspapers and that person’s family harassed and their lives turned upside down,” Harry added, as video footage reveal how his former girlfriends were chased around by press photographers.
Harry said he was “terrified of her [Meghan] being driven away by the media, the same media that had driven so many other people away from me.”
Meghan, too, expressed her friends’ concerns for her and the relationship following the repeated hounding by the press.
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Harry had to display no emotion in public after his mother’s passing
Harry revealed that the brothers were forced to put up two faces after their mother’s death in a car crash in 1997.
“When my mom died, we had two hats to wear,” he said, adding, “One was two grieving sons, wanting to cry, grieve, and process that grief because of losing our mom. And two was the royal hat, show no emotion, get out there, meet the people, shake their hands.”
He also says how after his mother’s death, the paparazzi continued to bother him.
“There’s a difference between having to accept, okay, we have this position in the family and therefore there’s going to be a level of interest and being swarmed by paparazzi, chasing you in cars through red lights,” Harry said.
“And then chasing you down the road on foot, which probably happened about 40 times when I was younger. It was too much. Everything that was happening in the UK was so intense. I was trying to balance the experience of being a young boy who was trying to deal with the loss of his mom without much support or help or guidance. It didn’t seem right, it didn’t seem fair,” he said.
The police in Toronto didn’t help Meghan
After the news of her relationship with Harry became public knowledge, the UK press started following Meghan everywhere in Toronto where she was filming her show, Suits (2011–2018).
“It felt like all of the UK media descended upon Toronto. My house was just surrounded. Just me sitting in their cars all the time. Waiting for me to do anything.” Meghan said.
Harry said that he was “trying to do something about it but being completely helpless.”
“I would like to say to the police if any other woman in Toronto right now said to you ‘I have six grown men who are sleeping in their cars around my house and following me everywhere that I go and I feel scared’ wouldn’t you say that it was stalking?” Meghan says later in the documentary.
“And they said, ‘Yes, but there is really nothing we can do because of who you are dating’,” she said, adding, “So like, I am just supposed to live like this?”
Meghan revealed that the press also paid some of her neighbours to plant cameras in their backyards.
“Suddenly, it was like everything about my life just got so much more insular,” she said.
Meghan understood racism in the UK but her mother faced it always
She also revealed the racist episodes that happened with her mother and how she never herself had to face it because of her colour as a mixed-race child.
“I’d say now people are very aware of my race because they made it such an issue when I went to the UK. But before that…most people didn’t treat me like a ‘Black woman’,” she said, after sharing episodes of how her mother, Doria Ragland, was mistaken as her nanny.
“And I just remember my mom telling me stories about taking me to the grocery store and women going ‘Whose child is that? You must be the … ’” Meghan said.
Meghan added that her mother said that “She’s like, ‘It’s my child’” but the women continued with their racist undertones.
“They were like ‘No ― you must be the nanny, where’s her mom?’ ’Cause I was really fair skinned and my mom, darker,” Meghan added.
Excessive formality in the royal household even in private moments
As media footage of royal family members including King Charles III as well as Prince William and Catherine are played, Meghan shares how she felt as an American who loved hugging people in the midst of those who were too formal in everything.
“I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside, carried through on the inside,” she said.
“That there is a forward-facing way of being. And then you close the door and you are like ‘Oh, great. Okay, we can relax now.’ But that formality carries over on both sides. And that was surprising to me,” she added.
She also revealed that she thought Harry was joking when he asked her whether she knew “how to curtsy” when he was taking her to meet Queen Elizabeth II for the first time.
“How do you explain to someone you bow to your grandmother?” Harry said, adding, “And that you will need to curtsy. Especially to an American. That’s weird.”
Harry’s family had reservations about him marrying an “American actress”
Harry revealed how members of his family reacted after their meeting with Meghan, but he did not specifically name anyone.
“I remember my family first meeting her and being incredibly impressed…But the fact that I was dating an American actress, was probably what clouded their judgement more than anything else in the beginning. ‘Oh, she is an American actress, this won’t last’,” he said.
Harry reveals the ‘unconscious bias’
Harry & Meghan also featured Executive Director of Archewell Foundation and former Palace spokesman James Holt, The Role of Monarchy in Modern Democracy author Robert Hazell, journalist and author Brit(ish) Afua Hirsch, and historian and TV presenter David Olusoga among some prominent names outside of friends or family.
Through them, the show revealed the ever-present problem of racism in British society, the tabloid press and the history of Britain. Discussions on racism were juxtaposed with how Meghan’s marriage to Harry was perceived by the section of Britain which has a racist world view.
Harry spoke about how he was affected by racism and how his family sees it.
“In this family, sometimes, you know, you’re part of the problem rather than part of the solution. And there is a huge level of unconscious bias,” he said, as the documentary aired clippings of news reports on the controversy over Princess Michael of Kent wearing a racist brooch.
Harry addressed his own racist action from 2005, when he wore a Nazi costume at a party. The incident was one of the biggest embarrassments for the royal family at the time. Harry had then issued an apology.
In the documentary, Harry said that it was “probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life.”
He revealed that he “felt so ashamed afterwards” and wanted to “make it right,” and thus had a conversation with the Chief Rabbi of London and a Holocaust survivor in Berlin.
“I could have just ignored it and gone on and made the same mistakes in my life, but I learned from that,” Harry said about his learning.
Cannot wear same colour as senior royals
Meghan said that she rarely wore colour most of the time she was in the UK, as images of her dressed in muted tones flashed by on the screen.
“There was a thought in that. To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same colour as Her Majesty [Queen Elizabeth II] if there’s a group event. But then you also should never be wearing the same colour as one of the other more senior members of the family,” she said.
“So I was like, ‘Well, what’s a colour that they’ll probably never wear? Camel? Beige? White?’,” she added.
She said that all she wanted to do at the time was “blend in.”
“I’m not trying to stand out here. So there’s no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in,” she said.
Meghan and her father
Meghan revealed that she was close to her father, Thomas Markle, who she said co-parented well with her mother.
But by the time her wedding date to Harry grew closer, she felt that her relationship with her father was collapsing due to his behaviour and association with the press.
The documentary shows that he took money for staging photos with the paparazzi days before the wedding and then lied to her about it.
“H [Harry] and I called my dad. I said, ‘Look, they’re saying you’re taking money from the tabloids to stage photos. Is this true?’ He says no,” Meghan revealed what went down before she felt that her father was lying.
“And he said, ‘No, no, I have things I need to do.’ And it felt really cagey. I was like, ‘It doesn’t make sense.’ And when we hung up, I looked at H. I was like, ‘I don’t know why, but I don’t believe him.’,” Meghan added.
Her mother said that she was “stunned that Tom would become part of this circus.”
Harry said that he blamed himself for the breakdown in the relationship Meghan had with her father.
“Of course, it’s incredibly sad what happened. She had a father before this and now she doesn’t have a father. And I shouldered that because if Meg wasn’t with me, then her dad would still be her dad,” he said.
Watch Volume 1 of the documentary here. Volume 2 will premiere on 15 December.
(Main image: IMDb; Featured image: Netflix)
This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia