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Harry & Meghan: Their Side of the Story Launches Tabloid Controversy and Backlash

Elisabeth Edwards
Photo Credit: Andrew Milligan / WPA Pool / Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan has the British press reeling from the revealed allegations of racist and invasive media coverage of the royal couple’s life. Tabloids were quick to spin the story, calling it an “assault on the Queen’s legacy” and claiming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are actively trying to dismantle the monarchy. But behind the sensationalized headlines and outrage, the documentary offers a candid glimpse into Harry and Meghan’s love story and their new life outside of the royal family.

Harry & Meghan tell their story

The first volume of Harry & Meghan was released on Netflix on Thursday, December 8. The documentary is a joint production between Netflix and the Sussexes’ production company Archewell Productions, part of Harry and Meghan’s company Archewell which also includes a non-profit organization and an audio production company.

The engagement announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend an official photocall to announce their engagement in 2017. (Photo Credit: Karwai Tang / WireImage / Getty Images)

The first three episodes in the series follow the upbringing of Prince Harry and the traumatic loss of his mother Princess Diana, as well as Meghan Markle’s California roots and her deep love of activism that began at a young age. The final episode of Volume 1 delves deeper into the horrific nature of the British tabloid system and the stressful months and weeks leading up to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018. The remaining episodes will air on Thursday, December 15.

The documentary gives viewers a crash course into the relationship between the palace and the press, drawing parallels between the swarms of paparazzi that ultimately led to the death of Princess Diana and the press’s treatment of Meghan Markle. One royal expert featured in the documentary described the relationship with the press as a “we pay, you pose” mentality where working royals are essentially forced to perform for the media.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex after their wedding ceremony in May 2018. (Photo Credit: Aaron Chown / AFP / Getty Images)

Markle claims that the media was out to “destroy” her, to which her husband Prince Harry agreed, explaining that his wife was subjected to a “feeding frenzy” of tabloids and paparazzi.

Meghan slammed for overly-candid remarks about Royal Family

Harry and Meghan have been called out for several insensitive remarks about the royal family made in the series so far. The first comment was made by Meghan as she recounted the initial time she met Prince Harry’s brother Prince William and his wife Catherine Middleton.

“Even when William and Kate came over and I met her for the first time, they came over for dinner, and I remember I was in ripped jeans and I was. barefoot. I was a hugger, I’ve always been a hugger. I didn’t realize that is really jarring for a lot of Brits,” Meghan recalled. “I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside… But that formality carries over on both sides, and that was surprising to me.”

Markle also made a somewhat inconsiderate gesture as she recounted meeting the late Queen Elizabeth II for the first time. Meghan, who had never had to curtsey before, acted out her over-exaggerated bow while telling the story, which earned a wary glare from her husband sitting next to her. Some have even accused Meghan of “mocking” the Queen.

A rare look at the Sussexes’ struggles

But the documentary has also revealed a much more down-to-earth side of the Sussexes, including never-before-seen photos of early in their relationship and even a photo of Harry down on one knee the night he proposed. Markle’s friends and family, including her mother Doria and her niece Ashleigh, both came forward in support of Meghan. Ashleigh, who is the daughter of Markle’s estranged half-sister Samantha, helped to reveal damning information about Samantha Markle’s corrupt relationship with the British press, who paid her to provide falsified information, according to Meghan.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their son Archie

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, 2019. (Photo Credit: Toby Melville – Pool / Getty Images)

Prince Harry addressed his upbringing and how growing up in the spotlight under the constant flash of cameras affected his mental health, especially after the death of his mother Princess Diana. “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 shared. “There was always this public pressure, with its fair share of drama, stress, and also tears, and witnessing those tears. You always see it on my mum’s face.”

He also addressed controversial topics like the time he stepped out on Halloween dressed as a German soldier donning an anti-Semitic symbol. “It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” the Prince said. “I felt so ashamed afterward. All I wanted to do was make it right. I sat down and spoke to the chief rabbi in London which had a profound impact on me. I went to Berlin and spoke to a Holocaust survivor. I could have just ignored it and got on and probably made the same mistakes over and over again in my life. But I learned from that.”
Princess Diana and Prince Harry

Prince Harry with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales as a child in 1986. (Photo Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library / Getty Images)

Even with all of Harry and Meghan’s candor about their experiences and their story, people – including British politicians like Member of Parliament Bob Seely – are calling to have their royal titles revoked. “Harry Windsor should voluntarily relinquish his titles,” Seely tweeted. “If he doesn’t, Parliament should act to remove them.”

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Others have come out denouncing Meghan and Harry’s “insane privilege” and lack of contribution to the Royal Family. Who knows what other bombshells will go off when the final three episodes of the documentary air on Thursday the 15th.

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

The Digital Dust Podcast

linkedin.com/in/elisabethcedwards