After three years of writing about the Royal Family for CLAUDIA, originally due to The Crown, later due to the drama, I can’t get away from the story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as it is, in fact, the most current and relevant topic. Therefore, to write the articles, I always interact with the “Sussex Squad”, a group of fierce online defense of the couple, as well as following articles for and against them. The goal is to find where the Truth is, the one with a capital T and which has no owner. In times of “narrative control”, “my truths” and pure propaganda, it is an exhausting mission. You walk and walk and walk and never leave the same place.
The documentary Harry and Meghan, from Netflix, proposes to be the definitive one on the topic because it is the material that the couple shared from the years of living with the Institution. Having access to this material is fascinating. What’s more, it’s effective. They gain sympathy and pass on the message that matters and this is what I want to reflect on, more than pointing out detail by detail the told-me-said that has become the reality show/soap opera and the most effective clickbait of today.
Harry and Meghan is a BEAUTIFUL documentary, made to thrill and delight romantics. There is the innocence of the early days of their relationship, the tears of pressure from monarchical life, and a life of undeniable material privilege. There is also the issue of racism and sexism, both structural and complex to reverse. It is undeniable that Meghan was vilified and exposed to the cruelest opinions on the planet. However, there is also an unquestionable uncomfortable truth: the couple is really narcissistic and focused on victimhood. It’s about them, just them and their feelings.
The fight against structural racism is gigantic and complex. Even more so when it demands dealing with people whose vision is rooted in an age-old prejudice. By excluding his grandparents from the picture, although it was they who created and maintained the system that was suffocating his wife and himself, Harry made their battle even more difficult. He recognizes that his father and brother defend the Institution, but they do it as long as it stays within the rules established by Elizabeth II. But it was her example of carrying on as the only applicable alternative that was precisely what was destroying Meghan in her life within the Royals. So, as he also acknowledges, there will be no apologies or changes in behavior soon. However, by highlighting the toxicity of it all, it creates a snooker. Harry understandably expected and demanded more of his father and brother, and got nothing. So now he feels compelled to trash them (sorry, there is no other way of describing it) so the world understands him and his wife, thus at the same time feeding resentment and judgment for their choice of repeating the blows for years now. It’s tragic to follow. One should stop and take the higher road.
For Meghan, regaining her credibility is important. Hard to disagree when the degree of aggressiveness against her reached what we see today. But nothing is perfect.
Although for legal reasons they were careful to avoid citing examples naming people, Meghan and Harry make it clear that in their narrative there are three opponents: King Charles, who deliberately leaked confidential information, Kate Middleton, who was jealous, cold, and unsociable with Meghan and Prince William, who lost his temper and betrayed Harry by choosing to believe in others over his brother. In other words, they are villains from a 9 pm soap opera. From then on, the documentary has everything but exemption. A documentary without two sides is called a release.
Apart from the accusations/insinuations against Kate, who does not speak and will never speak about the subject, it is not that we cannot believe in the couple, after all, they show facts, but the motivation is that it is not fully convincing. At least is not coming across as crystal clear. The elephant in the room remains as the non-reference to the scandal of Harry’s godfather and uncle Prince Andrew, an issue that is never addressed. Never. Meghan’s stories were also used to cover a lot of that uncomfortable exposure of a prince’s involvement with a convicted pedophile and there is virtually no mention of the fact. For those who don’t like Meghan and Harry, it’s a testament to their narcissism, or perhaps his commitment not to offend his beloved cousins.
Instead, in six episodes the problems are about Kate, Kate, Kate, Charles, William, Kate, Charles, and William. Incidentally, more than the words, the carefully selected negative images picked to emphasize that William and Kate are the antagonists are almost childish. It is 100% manipulative and even petty, even excluding gossip about someone “jumping fences” from the narrative. The payback is made in the same currency and while we get it, if you speak of forgiveness and kindness and mental health this is questionable. One can also accuse it of gaslighting.
Another flaw is the almost superficial approach to the accusation of moral harassment, led by the Press Secretary of Kate and William, which is the heart of the two couple’s conflict. Obviously, there is more to the subject than what we get. Jason Knauf was briefly the aide of the four and for a long time, he attended to Harry too before he was married. So, if Meghan and Harry cannot legally speak about William as they please, apart from showing that they are offended that he apparently sided with the aide, they also cannot explain how the relationship between the two and the American advisor turned sour. He is the assumed articulator against Meghan within the institution, and his opinion weighed heavily with Kate and William (and vice versa) but in six episodes we only hear his name linked to the issue of the leak of the letter. If the harassment issues are lies, we need to have that thoroughly addressed too. I missed understanding what happened, and how – or if – so many employees resigned, and this is not explained at all.
As unpleasant as it may sound, although it seems that William’s sole existence is to stay at home envying his younger brother’s popularity, William, unlike Harry at any given point, has an extremely important role in the British monarchy. Even if it is convenient and possible to delegate the dirty work to someone else, it does not seem plausible that it is what he does all the time, which is another weak link in Harry and Meghan’s narrative.
Sadly, what remains to be concluded, is that it all began when Kate has not crossed paths with Meghan since their first meeting and that William, an integral part of the system that he will have to lead in a few years, chose to do as his grandmother did before him: prioritize the Crown. Now, we applaud Elizabeth II for having done this as a sacrifice, how can you condemn her heirs for following suit? Incongruous to expect anything else.
Where do I think Meghan and Harry slip up in their version of events? When he forces too hard to bring Diana to every story of his own and states that she would be proud of what is going on. Hardly. No mother would have wanted to witness or even provoke the separation of her children. The parallels – if applied – would have come naturally. After 25 years, Diana should be allowed to rest.
Harry and Meghan do have a beautiful story together, but sadly that is not their focus. The documentary is a version of the truth, but above all, it is a blunt revenge. Achieved and announced. It will be interesting to see them moving on with their lives without ever talking about it again. It doesn’t seem likely, as a book with all the drama is to be released soon. So sad.