If you haven’t watched it by now (seriously, stop reading this, go watch, and then come back!) then you are missing out on a pretty interesting docuseries. On Thursday, December 8, 2022, Netflix released the new limited docuseries from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Simply titled “Harry and Meghan,” the 6-part series takes an in-depth look at the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The first three episodes start from the beginning, covering everything from the start of their courtship – to their engagement – and ends with the preparation of their wedding.
Infused throughout the episodes, the couple discusses the challenges they’ve faced and continue to face with the British media and how they – Meghan in particular – have been portrayed. We also see never before seen photos throughout the course of their relationship, including images of their kids, Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1. In this special edition of Abron’s Hot Take (my first show review!) I’ll be discussing the series episode by episode. So, without further ado, let’s get into it…
How exactly did the world’s most eligible bachelor come across Ms. Markle you may be wondering? Well, turns out it was the good old fashion way – social media. According to Harry, he saw a picture of Meghan while scrolling through his Instagram feed that captured his attention. A picture of Meghan behind a doggy filter was apparently so intriguing that Harry insisted on seeking her out. Meghan, who was enjoying the single life at the time with no intention of dating was made aware of the prince’s interest and after striking up a communication via email, she soon found herself in London for the Wimbledon tournament. The two met for drinks and hit it off (despite Harry being late) and had an immediate second date the very next day (Meghan was late this time). Recounting that time in the present day, Meghan described Harry as being “refreshingly fun,” which sparked mutual interest and set the wheels in motion for their courtship.
Harry notes that when it comes to the men in his family and the process in which they’ve used to choose a wife, he says “there’s a temptation to marry someone who would fit in the mold as opposed to someone you’re destined to be with.” Further adding that those decisions are often made with your head instead of your heart and for him, his decision to choose Meghan was based solely on his heart. We then flashback to when Harry was born and as he grew older and started to realize who he was and what family he was born into, he also started to become weary of the constant attention and being followed by the press. That weariness was exacerbated by his mother – Princess Diana’s death in 1997, which occurred as she was trying to evade the paparazzi in Paris and was tragically killed in a car accident when he was just 12 years old. Harry shares that the treatment of his mother by the British media and the paparazzi was eerily similar to how Meghan was treated which ultimately led to their decision to leave the royal family and the UK altogether. But more on that in Vol.2. He also stated that because of the way his mom and past girlfriends were treated by the media and constantly followed that it made him apprehensive about sharing his relationship with Meghan with the public.
The episode closes with both Harry and Meghan sharing that after they solidified their relationship and started to spend more time together, their lavender haze was soon ended when Prince William’s (Harry’s older brother), communications secretary notified them that their relationship would be going public in 24 hours. They decided to “pull the pin on the fun grenade,” and spent their last night of privacy enjoying a Halloween party with a close group of friends – including Harry’s cousin –
Princess Eugenie, and her now husband, Jack Brooksbank. Harry refers to his relationship with Meghan as a “great love story,” and further notes that their story is “just getting started.”
We meet Doria Ragland, Meghan’s mom. It’s her first-ever interview since being introduced to the public eye as a byproduct of her daughter’s relationship with Harry. Doria states “the last 5 years
[referring to the fallout between Meghan and Harry and the royal family] have been challenging.” When the news broke that Harry and Meghan were dating, it was seemingly well-received as so many people were curious about the woman who had captured the prince’s heart. Vastly different from his previous girlfriends, Meghan was older, a divorcée, an American, an actress, and was of mixed race. The public found her fascinating. That fascination would soon turn to criticism. After one, innocent encounter with the paparazzi, Meghan shares that she received a call from Harry, telling her not to speak with the paparazzi as the UK media began running stories claiming that she liked the attention.
From there, a snowball effect ensued where Meghan was constantly followed by paparazzi outside her house, her job (at this time she was still acting on the show Suits), and her face was plastered on every tabloid magazine. Flashing back to the past, episode two is where were learn more about Meghan’s background. Her parents divorced when she was two years old and she primarily lived with her mom and would visit her dad, Thomas Markle on weekends. Due to her mixed-race background (her mom is black, and her dad is white), she recounts experiences where strangers would question if her mother was her nanny because they didn’t look the same. Nevertheless, Meghan had a seemingly average upbringing. She excelled in school, had quite a few friends, and led a pretty normal life. She tells the story of her first experience with racism. After leaving a concert with her mom, Doria blew her horn at a white woman as a sign to move her car forward, the woman hurled a racial slur towards her. Meghan said she and her mom drove home in silence and never discussed the incident.
Shocked, Meghan claims it was the first time she ever heard the slur used and that up until she moved to the UK, she had never been “treated as a black woman,” which is why she and her mom never discussed race. It’s a regret Doria says she wishes she could undo. We learn from Harry that within the first week that he and Meghan’s relationship became public, there were articles written about her with very clear racial undertones. Harry, in an attempt to defend his girlfriend and protect her, released an official statement to the press asking for the attacks and criticism to stop. In full transparency, Harry states that he thought he knew everything about race and unconscious bias; however, seeing how Meghan was being treated and portrayed in the media opened his eyes.
Throughout all of the media chaos, Harry and Meghan stay committed to their relationship despite the long distance. They would communicate often and would squeeze in visits as much as their schedules allowed. Meghan eventually met Harry’s family – the royal family – including his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Although the family was impressed with Meghan in the beginning, Harry says the fact that she was an American actress clouded their judgment of her. Nonetheless, once getting approval from his grandmother, the Queen, Harry proposed to Meghan at Kensington Palace. We end the episode with the couple’s engagement photo op where Meghan says in voiceover that she was repeatedly told under numerous circumstances that things would get better with her and the press. She admits that not only did things not get better but that the press was determined to destroy her.
Continuing where episode two ends, we see Harry and Meghan in the sit-down interview that immediately followed their engagement photo op. What we, the viewers at the time thought was a natural and authentic moment was described by Meghan as an “orchestrated reality show.” She explains that the entire process was rehearsed and that they were told what to do and how to do it. This was later explained in the episode as an obligation to “perform” for the media as the royals are expected to do.
Even though the engagement process may have been orchestrated, the public excitement was not. Meghan, now living in the UK began her transition into becoming a member of the royal family and appeared to be beloved by the public. Perhaps one of the more fascinating parts of this episode was the explanation of the relationship between the royal family and the British media. An “unspoken contract,” between the institution of the royal family and the press is understood to be that because the taxpayers pay for the family’s lifestyle, they in return have to make themselves available to the press. The press then feels that it is their responsibility to bring private aspects of the lives of the royal family to the public regardless of if said aspects are factual or not.
Described at the “Royal Rota,” this press pool gets priority access to stories about the royal family before any other media outlets. The organizations a part of the Rota cover any and all royal news no matter if it’s good or bad. They still get access as a benefit of being a part of the system. Most of the organizations are tabloids such as The Times, Daily Press, The Sun, The Telegraph, London Evening Standard, Daily Mirror, and The Daily Mail. The Royal Rota essentially owns the royal family, taking any opportunity to either celebrate or exploit them as they see fit.
Whether you see it as tenacious or invasive, the British media stops at nothing to get any and all information they can on the royals and through whoever is willing to give said information. As was the case with Meghan’s paternal family – most notably, her father, Thomas, and her older half-sister, Samantha Markle. Meghan shared that Samantha, whom she didn’t know very well used the opportunity to tell stories about their relationship that weren’t true. Most notably, that she had raised Meghan. We learn that Samantha, in fact, has two children of her own that were raised by their father’s parents.
One week before their wedding, Harry and Meghan were informed by the communications secretary that a story would soon be published that shows Meghan’s father had been staging photo ops with the press in exchange for payment. At the advisement of the secretary, Harry and Meghan made a call to her dad to have him explain the situation. Even though he told her the story wasn’t true, Meghan admits that after hanging up with her father, she didn’t believe him. Things began to unravel between Meghan and Thomas when he continued to talk to the press but not her directly whenever she would reach out to him by phone. Their relationship dissolved as a result and Thomas didn’t attend the wedding. Episode three ends with the lead-up to the big wedding.
And that’s your recap of the Harry and Meghan docuseries, volume one. I personally think it was well done but then again, I’m a fan of documentaries or docuseries in general. I love the transparency from Harry and Meghan and the storytelling element of the series. Now, depending on what you believe, there are going to be some people who’ve already decided that the Duke and Duchess are liars and can’t be trusted and who will say they’re only doing this for money, attention, or both. Then you have the other side who loves them and will fully support every decision they make. Regardless, I encourage everyone to watch the series for themselves and then draw their own conclusions.
I look forward to seeing how the rest of this story plays out. See you next week for volume two!
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