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Home » Harry And Meghan: Seven Takeaways From Their Netflix Series

Harry And Meghan: Seven Takeaways From Their Netflix Series

Image source, HARRY & MEGHAN/ARCHEWELL PRODUCTIONS/NETFLIX

Image caption, The couple share photos of their affectionate moments

By Katie Razzall

Culture editor

The final episodes of Harry & Meghan landed on Netflix on Thursday.

Volume Two (episodes four – six) packed a much greater punch than Volume One.

We were given a more in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the couple’s life.

After nearly six hours of television, these are my takeaways.

1. One-sided but sympathy-inducing

Image source, Harry & Meghan/Archewell Productions/Diamond Docs/

The programme lays bare the emotional toll the couple feel they suffered at the hands of the media and the royal family.

They talk about Meghan’s struggle with thoughts of suicide. Harry admits that he “didn’t deal with it well”. Meghan’s mother, Doria, cries as she says it “broke my heart” to hear her daughter wanted to take her own life.

They share their belief that the miscarriage Meghan experienced was brought on by stress, as a result of the court case against Associated Newspapers.

They film paparazzi in helicopters, boats and cars surrounding their Canadian home. They discuss how scared they felt.

Most people watching couldn’t help but feel a lot of sympathy. Of course, the narrative is one-sided. We are hearing only their perspective.

The programme-makers opt for an emotion-laden soundtrack to ensure we understand their suffering. (At one point, pointedly, we hear the lyrics from Nina Simone’s Do What You Gotta Do: “I loved you better than your own kin did”).

But although we may be being manipulated, their pain is clear to see.

2. Many questions unanswered

Image source, Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions/CBS

Image caption, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey that there were “several conversations” within the Royal Family about how dark their baby might be

One of the most damaging parts of their interview with Oprah Winfrey was the claim of racism within the royal family. After six episodes of Harry & Meghan, we still don’t know who allegedly questioned how dark Archie’s skin would be. Meghan doesn’t address the accusations of bullying against her, other than as an example of how the Palace machine worked to disparage her. Nor do we learn what Prince William reportedly shouted at his brother at Sandringham when they met to discuss the future.

The day after the bombshell Oprah interview, the Netflix cameras are apparently filming as Harry gets a text from his brother. “I wish I knew what to do,” he says, looking tense.

We wish we knew what was on the text, but we don’t find out. These programmes still leave a lot hanging.

Image caption, Alongside their uncle Earl Spencer and their father King Charles, William and Harry walked behind Princess Diana’s coffin at her funeral in 1997

Anybody who watched the princes as children walking behind their mother’s coffin on the way to her funeral will likely feel profoundly sad that their relationship is now so broken.

In this second volume of episodes, Harry is much more directly critical of his brother. He believes that what he calls the “dirty game” of negative briefings to members of the media by royal communications teams extended to Prince William’s office.

He says having seen how his father’s team would brief against their mother, the boys had agreed they would never do that. The implication is that William put his own interests ahead of anything else.

Relations between the pair are broken and it doesn’t feel like they will improve any time soon.

4. The story is more complicated but…

Image source, Getty Images

This is their “truth” not the full truth. There are contradictions. We hear there was jealousy that Meghan and Harry were getting all the headlines. We are told “they” started to brief against them. Then we also hear the palace approved an entire Meghan and Harry documentary made by ITV, in which she famously shared how she was struggling.

It’s possible to feel that the narrative may not be as simple as they see it, while also sensing that their departure is a huge loss to the royal family and to Britain more widely.

Who can forget the joy so many felt about their union? The gospel choir in the Abbey, the optics of Meghan working with the Grenfell community on a cookbook, the possibilities that having a biracial woman at the heart of the royal family offered to Britain and the Commonwealth.

What happened can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity to move royalty into a more representative 21st Century.

5. Always Harry’s destiny?

Image source, HARRY & MEGHAN/ARCHEWELL PRODUCTIONS/NETFLIX

Image caption, One of the photos of the couple released by Netflix

In episode 6, Harry says “Everything that happened to us was always going to happen to us. If you speak truth to power, that’s how they respond.”

But his story began much earlier. Losing his mother, free falling presumably to numb the pain (and making some dubious choices along the way), finding a woman onto whom he could project the mother he lost – and a lot of therapy.

Perhaps the “journey” Harry has been on was always going to end up here, in California, split from his family, licking wounds that have been decades in the making.

He clearly feels that by standing up for Meghan, against the tabloids, against the family, he is righting wrongs on behalf of his dead mother.

In his mind, Meghan is the heir to Diana. When the couple discuss how difficult they found it, when they upstaged more senior royals with glowing frontpages (before, as they see it, they were fed to the wolves), he says “My mum felt the same way”.

Whether he’s right or not, Meghan has filled the void his mother left. And he’s clearly still dealing with the grief and anger Diana’s death caused.

6. A love letter to California

Image source, HARRY & MEGHAN/ARCHEWELL PRODUCTIONS/NETFLIX

Image caption, Harry and Meghan tell their “great love story”

We’re treated to the golden state in all its glory – beaches, palm trees, big skies (and a bit of yoga and meditation along the way).

It’s impossible not to contrast it with the more formal life we’ve seen depicted in the UK, as well as the thread running through the series that racism was a big factor in what they went through.

This programme is aimed at America where the couple are more popular.

California – and their lives – are revealed in cinematic colour. (And let’s not forget, whatever the personal toll, their lives are pretty good – big house, big cheque from Netflix, two lovely children, celebrity friends).

They’re sending a clear message back to Britain about the warmth of their welcome in the States. The UK appears greyer and less free in contrast.

7. What’s the next chapter?

Image source, Harry and Meghan/Archewell Productions/Diamond Doc

At one point Harry says – in a sign he’s put his faith in therapy as the answer – that “in order for change to happen, a lot of pain has to happen and come to the surface. In order for us to move to the next chapter, you have to finish the first chapter.”

It’s an acknowledgement perhaps that, after his memoir comes out, the couple’s story with the royal family will come to an end.

That memoir is called Spare, a title perceived as a dig at aristocratic protocols, the heir and the (slighted) spare.

But watching these programmes I wonder if Harry is the lucky one. As the spare, he can walk away. As the spare, he can sell his story to Netflix. He can choose to take the “freedom flight” he describes.

It’s ridiculous to say we should pity William and Kate. In many ways, they have a gilded life about which the rest of us could only dream.

But are they also stuck in a story they can’t change? It’s unlikely we will get to hear their “truth”, their side of this.

Meanwhile Harry and Meghan, if they have any sense, will put it behind them and move on to the next chapter of their lives.