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Harry and Meghan have officially pointed fingers at Buckingham Palace, specifically Prince William.
The second part of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s intimate and controversial docuseries has landed on Netflix, just a week after viewers may have felt underwhelmed — perhaps even disappointed — at a substantial lack of explosive content following the first three installments.
The pair have invited worldwide criticism while trying to shine a light on what became a catalyst in their separation from royal life, their debut totting up a total viewing time of 81.55 million hours in its first week — the highest number of any documentary released through the streaming giant. And they show no signs of surrender as episodes four through six plunge the Firm deeper into reputational bedlam, the current heir to the throne at its center.
“It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that simply weren’t true and my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in,” says Harry, recalling a meeting at Sandringham House after he and Markle put out a statement in early 2020 they would be stepping back from royal duties. He denies the widely reported idea that Harry had “blindsided” the late Queen Elizabeth II: “This would never happen. I have so much respect for her.”
The queen was kept away from the two, he claims, as she invited them to stay the night when news broke that they would be willing to relinquish their Sussex title in order to move to North America and escape the ongoing assault from the media. But then: “This urgent message comes through to H saying, ‘You are not allowed to go and see Her Majesty … she is busy, she has plans all week,’” Meghan tells viewers. Harry called her: “She said, ‘Yes I didn’t know that I’m busy, I’ve been told that I’m busy all week.’ I was like, ‘Wow,’” he says.
In what many will dub one of the key takeaways from the latter half of the docuseries is that perhaps the royal family member with the most to answer for is William, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne. Harry is seen explaining that his brother’s office would offer up stories about the Sussexes to the British press in order to distract from negative attention the then-Cambridges were receiving. “There’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories,” he says. “If the comms team want to be able to remove a negative story about their principal, they will trade and give you something else about someone else’s principal.”
The brothers reportedly made an agreement that they would never let what Harry describes as “a dirty game” play out between their two teams. But he claims that William’s side swiftly broke that promise: “To see my brother’s office copy the very same thing that we promised the two of us would never ever do, that was heartbreaking.” (It’s not mentioned what kind of stories William’s team would be trying to make disappear.)
Meghan describes feeling like “a foreign organism” within the swimming fish that are the royal family. “One day this little organism comes in,” she tells the camera. “And the entire thing goes, ‘What is that?’ ‘What is it doing here? It doesn’t look like us, it doesn’t move like us, we don’t like it. Get it off of us.’” She speaks candidly about grappling with suicidal thoughts, revealing that Buckingham Palace would not let her seek help. “I wasn’t allowed to. They were concerned about how that would look for the institution.”
In the couple’s fight to brace for the continuing fallout and media frenzy, they decided to sue The Daily Mail for its publication of a private letter Meghan sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle. The palace had not wanted to take legal action, but Harry and Meghan took the opposite stance. “That litigation was the catalyst probably for all of the unraveling,” she says.
The episodes cover the ongoing war between Meghan and the Mail, the latter’s unrelenting coverage being what Harry — who is vocal about his fears that his wife would suffer the same fate as his mother, Princess Diana — thinks caused Meghan’s miscarriage a year before the birth of their daughter, Lilibet. “I believe my wife suffered a miscarriage because of what the Mail did,” Harry says. “Bearing in mind the stress that that caused, the lack of sleep, and the timing of the pregnancy … I can say from what I saw, that miscarriage was created from what they were trying to do to her.” They explain the Mail sought, without fear of punishment from the royal family, to continue publishing private details and exaggerated stories about Meghan.
Harry is forgiving of his grandmother’s position in the midst of the chaos.
“There are ways of doing things, and her ultimate mission goal-slash-responsibility is the institution. … She’s [going to] go on the advice that she’s given,” he says. Though his immediate family, which includes King Charles and William, “saw what they wanted to see,” Harry recalls asking his father for help in stamping out the maligned press coverage. “’Darling boy, you can’t take on the media. The media will always be the media,’” he says the King told him. “I fundamentally disagree,” the youngest son replied.
And when rumors of William bullying Harry and Meghan out of royal life were quashed with an immediate and reportedly “joint” statement from the brothers, Harry was the one who felt blindsided. “I couldn’t believe it. No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that … I rang M [Meghan] and I told her, and she burst into floods of tears because within four hours they were happy to lie to protect my brother and yet for three years, they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
The episodes are sprinkled throughout with talking heads, this time including lawyer Jenny Afia and actor Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, A Jazzman’s Blues), who talked about offering his Los Angeles home to the duke and duchess when their search for a secure base, away from paparazzi, became frantic. Perry provided emotional support for Meghan, comparing the treatment she received to the abuse of his mother. “I could hear the fear, it was palpable. … This woman was abused, and so was he,” he says of Harry.
Meghan touches on the social media storm of hate she has faced. She recalls one tweet: “’Meghan just needs to die, someone just needs to kill her.’ I’m a mom, that’s my real life. … That’s the piece that when you see it and you go, ‘You are making people want to kill me. It’s not just a tabloid, it’s not just a story. You are making me scared,’” Meghan says through tears. “Are my babies safe? And you’ve created it for what? Because you’re bored, or it sells you papers?”
In one lighter moment, Meghan explains how she received a text from Beyoncé (to which Harry gasps, “Shut up”). The Grammy Award-winning singer offered support and told the duchess she “was selected to break generational curses that need to be healed.”
The documentary ends with a montage of the family’s happy memories: Archie baking and playing football with his father, the couple walking hand-in-hand under a sunset. “I tried so hard,” Meghan says. But the accusations they’ve made are clear, now public knowledge, and the world waits with bated breath for any semblance of recognition by the palace.
Harry & Meghan forms part of a multiyear deal the couple made with Netflix to produce content through the media arm of their nonprofit organization Archewell, produced by Story Syndicate in association with Archewell Productions and Diamond Docs.
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