Harry and Meghan renew clash with British royals, media in Netflix doc

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The epic squabble between Prince Harry and Meghan and the rest of Britain’s royal family burst back into the open Thursday, in a Netflix series that promised to reveal the “truth” about the rift pitting Hollywood glamour against the centuries old institution.

The couple were keen to set the record straight and tell the story of their relationship from their perspective.

“This is a great love story,” Harry says in the first 10 mins. “And the crazy thing is I think this love story is only getting started.”

Referring to his mother Princess Diana, who was just 36 when she died in a car crash while being chased by photographers in Paris, Harry describes himself as “my mother’s son” when talking about his relationship with Meghan.

Image: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Prince Harry with Meghan Markle appeared in public together for the first time at the Invictus Games in Toronto.Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press via AP file

“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 mold, as opposed to someone you are perhaps destined to be with, the difference between making decisions between your head or your heart,” he says.

“My mom certainly made most of her decisions, if not all of them, from her heart and I am my mother’s son,” he adds.  

Aside from showing the story of their courtship, the six episodes of “Harry & Meghan” also look set to highlight long-running grievances that have roiled Britain’s royal family for years.

Chief among them in the first episode is Harry’s obvious anger at the media. He says it is his “duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media,” and is “genuinely concerned” for the safety of his family. “No one know the full truth, we know the full truth, the institution knows the full truth and the media knows the full truth because they’ve been in on it.” 

“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,” he says later.

The British tabloids have intensely scrutinized Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, publishing stories about her estranged family following her engagement and marriage to Harry in May 2018. The couple has won several lawsuits against their publishers in recent years, while some remain unresolved.

It is awkward timing for the release of the show, coming three months after Queen Elizabeth II’s death and the ascension of Harry’s father, Charles, as king. It also comes less than a week after his brother Prince William and his wife Catherine, Princess of Wales, made a high profile trip to the United States

Image: Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27, 2017, following the announcement of their engagement.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace following the announcement of their engagement.Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP – Getty Images file

Before and after stepping back from the royal family in January 2020, the couple accused the royal household of not defending Meghan from the intrusive and sometimes racist coverage of the country’s voracious tabloid press. In addition, Harry is challenging in court a decision by the British government to deny him police protection while in Britain. 

Directed by Liz Garbus — the Emmy-winning producer of the Netflix documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” — three episodes are being released Thursday and three more on Dec. 15. The Sussexes media company, Archewell Productions, is listed as one of three producers.

Interest in the couple intensified after the pair stepped down as senior royals in January 2020 to build new lives in California. Harry was later stripped of his honorary military titles and the U.K.’s Home Office — the ministry responsible for policing, immigration and security — decided that he would no longer receive personal police security while in Britain even if he were to cover the cost himself.

In a wide-ranging interview with Oprah Winfrey last March, the couple described a lack of support offered to the newlyweds and Meghan’s experience with suicidal thoughts. The pair also alleged that in the months leading up to their son Archie’s birth, a royal insider expressed “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born.”

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, with Oprah Winfrey.
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, with Oprah Winfrey.Joe Pugliese / Harpo Productions

“That conversation, I’m never going to share. But at the time, it was awkward. I was a bit shocked,” Harry told the talk show host. Oprah Winfrey later said the conversation was not with the queen or her husband, Prince Philip. 

Even before going live, the series elicited a strong response in Britain, where the “feeling amongst the British public is enough is enough,” author and journalist Katie Nicholl told NBC News Wednesday. 

“We have heard this before. What more can they say?” she added.

Nicholl said that King Charles III was attempting to put “down his blueprint,” but “there seems to be so many distractions, particularly from across the Atlantic and coming out of the Sussex camp.” 

“It seems to be a case of anything you can do, we’re going to do and get more headlines,” she added.

However, Nicholl said Buckingham Palace would take allegations about leaking and planting stories “very, very seriously,” because it was “potentially quite damaging.” 

“This is a centuries-old institution that wants to prove that it’s fit for modern purpose,” she said, adding that the couple’s racism accusations were “damaging” to both Buckingham Palace and to “Britain as a country.”  

Image: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a military fly-past to mark the centenary of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on July 10, 2018.
Prince Charles, Camilla, Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Prince William stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.Tolga Akmen / AFP – Getty Images file

The trailers for the series have already courted controversy as several seasoned royal commentators have suggested that archive footage and pictures featured in them were taken at events that had nothing to do with the couple. 

One clip showing men running with cameras was used to illustrate the paparazzi hounding the couple, but was taken as British model and reality TV star Katie Price arrived at a courthouse to be sentenced for DUI, analysis by several British media outlets including Sky News has shown. (Sky News is owned by Comcast, the parent company of NBC News.)   

Doug Seeburg also told The Sun newspaper that the image featuring him among a throng of other photographers was taken ahead of the premier for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two,” in July 2011, years before the couple met.  

“In the Netflix trailer it’s implied the photographers, including me, were trying to get a shot of the royal couple — but that’s nonsense,” he told the tabloid.

Netflix did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment on the record.  



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