We’ve reached the exciting conclusion to the Harry and Meghan docuseries on Netflix. Volume two of the series is available now and in the second half, we get an in-depth look inside the battle the Duke and Duchess of Sussex faced with the British media and how Meghan’s popularity hit an all-time high, making her a threat to the royal family as an outsider. We then see the ups and downs the couple faced trying desperately but to no avail to defend themselves and the emotional toll it took on them that ultimately led to their departure from the royal family and the UK. Continue reading below for part two of this episode-by-episode breakdown.
We open episode four with a look back at past royal weddings – Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip, Princess Diana to Prince Charles, Kate Middleton to Prince William, etc. Meghan shares that the Queen’s secretary shared with her that during these times, people are skeptical of the newest person entering the royal family but that they soon adjust and grow to accept that person. We also hear in voiceover of different commentators expressing both excitement and skepticism about the couples impending nuptials.
On May 19, 2018, Meghan Markle wed Prince Harry at Windsor among hundreds of thousands of spectators, all gathered to see the once “wild card,” prince, take his first-ever step into matrimony with the American woman who captured his heart. Due to her having lost her own father because of his media betrayal, Meghan shares that she asked Prince Charles, her soon-to-be father-in-law to walk her down the aisle and he agreed. There were some notable differences with this wedding compared to others of the past, namely, the presence of and performance by a gospel choir.
After the official ceremony, the newly married coupled entertained their wedding guests with a reception full of cheer and partying with musical guest and legend, Elton John performing, and actor Idris Elba serving as the DJ. Although they lived on palace grounds at Kensington Palace, Harry and Meghan’s actual living quarters were in Nottingham Cottage, which was much smaller. Shortly after, Meghan embarked on her first official engagement as a royal and the new title of Duchess of Sussex, bestowed upon her by her majesty the Queen as a wedding gift. She remembers that time with the late Queen and how much fun they had together during the event.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s popularity continued to grow. Many people viewed Meghan’s presence as a fresh and new modernization for the royal family. They share that not too long after the wedding and officially starting their journey as both husband and wife along with their royal duties, they became pregnant with their first child. But the happiness from the public would only last for so long as during the Australia leg of their royal tour, media coverage of Meghan began to shift. Harry describes it this way, “the issue is, when someone who’s marrying in who should be a supporting act is then stealing the limelight or doing the job better than who’s born to do this, that upsets people, it shifts the balance.” We see a flashback of Princess Diana during what is now seen as her “controversial,” interview with the BBC: Panorama where she shares her experience of having become more popular than her husband Prince Charles at the time and how the media attention of that, further added to jealousy, presumably of other individuals within the royal family or “the institution.”
Further evidence of this is shown by media headlines, praising the Duchess of Cambridge, (now Princess of Wales), Kate Middleton, sister-in-law to Harry for the very same things Meghan was being criticized for. One thing, in particular, was the cradling of her stomach while pregnant. As the attacks continued, Meghan says that thoughts of suicide became clearer as a way to put an end to the chaos. Having not received the news well and expressing feelings of devastation and shame, Harry says he dealt with the matter as the “institution Harry,” and not as “husband Harry.” Looking back, he shares regret for not being more supportive.
As we learn more about the institution and its relationship with the media, Harry explains that the communications teams within the institution can often work against each other. When news of one team’s principal isn’t appealing, that team will work with the media and trade stories for another principal on a different team within the institution. This is basically to say that if any other member of the royal family had a scandal or negative story about them, it would often be traded to instead run a negative story about Meghan. Harry says leaks happen but also stories are traded often between the institution and the media. Although William and Harry agreed that they would never let these things happen between their offices, it happened anyway and the once-dubbed “fab 4,” William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan began to split into two sides.
Perhaps the silver lining of this all is that Harry and Meghan found refuge at Frogmore Cottage (suggested to them by the Queen), which was a more private estate where they could get away from the ensuing negative media attention. It was there where the couple found normalcy and where their first child, son Archie was born. Months after his birth, the Duke and Duchess embarked on their South Africa tour which was also filmed by the royal family as part of a documentary special. It was during this tour, when asked by the reporter supporting the tour how she was doing, that Meghan shared that she was not ok and that being a new mom and dealing with the press, things were very difficult behind the scenes. That clip went viral with many people showing love and support for the Duchess, spawning the hashtag “WeLoveYouMeghan.”
With the good comes the bad and just as such, the couple, particularly Meghan endured more backlash with headlines painting her as a “spoiled princess.” It was at this point that Harry and Meghan decided things needed to change.
I wasn’t being thrown to the wolves; I was being fed to them. If the definitive statement, we hear from Meghan early in episode five. This statement is said with the understanding by both Harry and Meghan, that the royal family was not going to protect her from the media. Meghan opens up about her relationship with her father which she says was a pretty good relationship but that things changed “when the media got involved.” Thomas Markle is seen conducting interviews, referring to his daughter as having a “superiority complex.” He also attacked the royal family, likening them to a “Scientology cult,” only adding more pressure on his daughter who was tasked with the responsibility of putting an end to Thomas’s accusations. Under the advice of both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, Meghan wrote her father a private letter which soon became public. After having discussed taking legal action against the Daily Mail for printing the letter (a redacted version at that), Harry and Meghan had no choice but to seek outside legal counsel as months had gone by and there were no updates coming from the royal’s legal team.
Meghan became the subject of yet more tabloid fodder as more and more stories were being written about her – these stories coming from within the institution itself. The Sussex’s went forth with their litigation against the Mail on Sunday which Meghan says was “the catalyst for all of the unraveling.” They found themselves in Vancouver, Canada to escape the backlash they received for suing the media and seemed to live peacefully for a while. That was until information about their location was shared with the media. Paparazzi besieged the island Harry and Meghan were living on which prompted them to strategize on how best they could continue to serve the Queen in their roles as senior royals as well as protect themselves from the media in the process. Their decision was to move to Canada permanently.
In an email to his father, Harry shares that should he and Meghan not be allowed to move forward with their plan, they would relinquish their Duke and Duchess titles. After speaking with the Queen and receiving an invite to visit her, Harry was later informed that he was not allowed to see his grandmother citing her now busy schedule as the reason, even though she initially shared that she would be free the week of their scheduled visit. The email Harry had sent to his father at his behest was leaked to the press which detailed the couple’s plans to move to Canada as well as relinquish their royal titles.
After much thought, Harry and Meghan released an official statement detailing that they would be “stepping back,” not “down,” from their royal duties. They were accused of having blindsided the Queen with the news. A meeting between Harry, the Queen, Prince Charles, and Prince William took place, to which Harry was presented with five options, the first to be “all in,” and the remaining four “all out.” Choosing option three, his decision was half-in-and-half-out. This meant he and Meghan would have their own jobs and make their own money but still work to support the Queen. That option, however, was never really available to them and during the meeting, Harry recounts being screamed at by his brother while his father told stories that weren’t true. Harry realized that his family had chosen the side of the institution, seeing his decision to step back as an affront to it. An article was released claiming Harry and Meghan were leaving the institution because Prince William had “bullied,” them out which resulted in a joint statement from the brothers claiming the accusations were false. The issue with the statement was that Harry had had no part in drafting it. His name was simply attached to it. Sharing that information with Meghan, Harry shares that she cried because they realized that the institution very easily put out false statements to protect William; however, they weren’t willing to put out true statements to protect them.
Seeing no other option, Harry made the decision to leave both the UK and the royal family. Even though the decision was his alone, Meghan took the blame from the media who dubbed their departure as “Megxit.” More and more negative attention was paid to the couple, again, particularly Meghan, and Bot Sentinel, an organization that fights against disinformation confirmed that a small number of individuals were largely responsible for the hate Meghan received on social media. The group had a far-reaching network and was mostly comprised of white women. Meghan’s half-sister, Samantha was also a part of that network. In a moment of true understanding, Meghan breaks down the blame she’s received for taking Harry away from the royal family. In order for people to reconcile how they feel or to absolve themselves of their own actions, they seek to blame someone else and she, for a lot of people, including the media has become that person, that scapegoat.
During their final week of royal life, the Duke and Duchess completed their remaining engagements. To Meghan’s surprise, they were met with many supporters, saddened to see them leave. Perhaps with a renewed sense of self and confidence, Meghan changed her wardrobe, opting to wear more colorful ensembles instead of the muted tones she had worn before to blend in. After their last event – also attended by the other members of the royal family, Meghan – highly emotional says she collapsed in her security details arms after flying back to Canada saying that she “tried so hard,” to which the security officer replied, “I know you did ma’am.”
Perhaps in an act of solidarity, members of the commonwealth countries which are mostly comprised of people of color started to speak out against the royal family, with Barbados removing the Queen as head of state. Some pundits share that not embracing Meghan, not protecting her, or standing behind her was a missed opportunity for the future of the monarchy as well as showing good favor with the commonwealth countries, to have a representative that looked like them. Once Harry and Meghan were officially gone from the royal family, they were again harassed by paparazzi and were informed that their security detail would shortly end. With such a scary thought looming about their safety and the rise of the Coronavirus pandemic, Harry made yet another decision to get his family out of Canada before the border closed due to the impending shutdown.
The final episode of this series begins with Harry recording himself as he, Meghan, their kids, and Doria descend into Los Angeles, California. He refers to the flight as the “freedom flight.” We are then introduced to non-other than film director, writer, producer, and owner of the largest movie studio in the world, Tyler Perry. Perry admits that he’s not a royal watcher, however, after seeing the story of Thomas Markle’s posing for photos in exchange for money, he empathized with Meghan. Having gone through similar experiences and seeing how family members can change once you’ve reached a certain level of success, fame, or notoriety, Perry felt compelled to help the Duke and Duchess. After a candid and emotional conversation between Tyler and Meghan, he offered the family his house in Montecito, California, along with a security team for their safety.
Six weeks of living in bliss were lost when their location was not only found but published by the Daily Mail. Once again, they were harassed by the paparazzi. As mentioned in episode five, Harry and Meghan sued the Daily Mail for publishing the letter she had written to her father. The Daily Mail argued that because People Magazine mentioned the letter in a previous article written about Meghan which was originally created by a few of her friends to help show the public who she really was as a person – that Meghan had given up any rights to the letter because she had authorized the article to be published (which she did not).
What would normally be considered a proud moment (owning your own home) was not the case for Harry and Meghan. Meghan shares that the morning they woke up in their new home in Santa Barbara, California, she had miscarried her and Harry’s second child. As a coping mechanism, Meghan published an opinion editorial in the New York Times titled “The Losses We Share,” which detailed her experience as well as the experience of many women who have suffered a miscarriage. We then move forward to Archewell, the organization created by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to support their humanitarian efforts as well as future production projects. Settling into their new life in the U.S. Harry and Meghan continued their work in the humanitarian space as well as enjoying their newfound freedom. Meghan reveals during a walk to the beach that she is pregnant, the official announcement being released on the same day – thirty-seven years to the day Princess Diana announced she was pregnant with Harry.
Now, we get to that famous or perhaps infamous (to some) interview with media mogul herself, Oprah Winfrey. Harry and Meghan share that the reason for doing the interview was to try and fill in the gaps that were being filled in for them as there was still lots of speculation on why exactly they left the royal family. There were many key takeaways from that interview – Meghan sharing her thoughts of suicide ideation – and their issues with the British media, but one of the major bombshells was the moment Meghan shared that while she was pregnant with Archie, there was a member of the institution who speculated and asked what the skin color of the baby might be and the concerns about that.
We then see Harry head back to the UK to attend the funeral of his grandfather and husband to the Queen, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A very pregnant Meghan stayed behind. Harry described his time being back in the UK as “hard,” and said that he spoke to both his father and brother about their recent issues but had to make peace with the reality that he would never get genuine accountability or an apology from them. Harry and Meghan went on to welcome their second child and first daughter, Lilibet on June 4, 2021. They asked Tyler Perry to be her Godfather which he accepted. The lawsuit mentioned earlier by Meghan towards the Daily Mail had finally reached an agreement with the judge ruling in Meghan’s favor. However, Associated Newspapers which owns the Daily Mail appealed the decision. A senior member of Prince William’s team came forward to provide a witness statement which wasn’t needed for the case, providing suspicion that perhaps he was told to do so by William. Regardless of the tactics, Meghan was once again victorious in court and won against the appeal.
Harry says although he misses certain things about the institution, mostly the “weird family gatherings,” the UK, and his friends (some he admits he’s lost in the process); he outgrew his environment. He goes on to say he believes that he and Meghan are exactly where they’re meant to be and that they made it to the other side. We conclude the series with Meghan reading a speech she read at her and Harry’s wedding which is rare for a bride to do within the family, concluding with these two familiar words that have permeated the zeitgeist…love wins.
Phew! I figured volume one of this docuseries was a slow buildup toward the explosive conclusion. In this second installment, we really get an in-depth look into the tumultuous relationship between Harry and Meghan and the British media. Throughout it all though, these two have remained steadfast in getting the truth out, sharing their story in their own words, and most importantly, never losing sight of what matters here which is the love they have for each other. Whether you like Harry and Meghan or not, you can’t really argue against everyone having the right to tell their own story.
What I loved about this series is not only did Harry and Meghan do just that, but they did it from a real and authentic place yet still managed to remain classy. This allowed me as a viewer to pay attention and hear what they were saying as opposed to focusing on their behavior or attitude. It’s clear that they simply wanted to set the record straight and refute the many stories being written about them that weren’t true. I always say that there’s no reason to always respond back to criticism, especially when it’s coming from people you don’t know unless that criticism threatens your life or your livelihood. That was definitely the case for the Duke and Duchess.
It appears that they have now found peace (as best they can get it) in all the chaos as they move forward, focusing on their family and continued humanitarian and charity work. As they close this chapter and start writing the next, I hope their story is enough to start a real conversation about the effects of sensationalism and outrage that are used to fuel media engagement. As a journalist my goal is to always get to the truth of a situation – not to take from or add to – just get to the truth and tell it in its purest form. Let’s hope that tabloids, specifically those in the UK will reflect on this and make a vowel to be authentic in their reporting. Let’s also hope that the royal family will rectify the situation and make amends to Harry and especially Meghan and that moving forward, they don’t feel the need to feed such negative stories about their own family members just to protect the ones they like.
If you haven’t watched the docuseries or had no interest in it, I highly implore you to give it a watch. The intricacies of how the media works are fascinating. This is a series about resilience, bravery, and most importantly, love. We see love exhibited throughout this entire story from Harry and Meghan – to Meghan’s friends toward her – to the legions of fans who support them. That love has sustained them and allowed them to weather the storm and as Harry said, “make it to the other side.” To quote Meghan as we close out this article…love wins.
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