Netflix series Harry and Meghan’s best takeaways: Claims of ‘screaming’ royals and racist press attacks
The second half of Netflix’s documentary miniseries about Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, hit servers worldwide on Thursday morning. In it, the pair paint a stark picture of the animosity that has grown between them and Harry’s closest family members amid what they describe as racist and defamatory reporting by the UK media. All this, they say, drove them away.
Harry says the tension – which he and Meghan attribute to the rigidity and self-preservation-at-all-costs mentality of the royal family, as well as the ruthlessness of the British tabloids – exploded during a meeting with his father, now King Charles III, and his brother Prince William yelled at him while his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II sat and watched.
The royal family has so far declined to respond to the allegations on the show, but they have denied Harry and Meghan’s racism allegations, saying the issues raised by the couple, “particularly those of race, are worrying”. Buckingham Palace has said it will address the matter privately.
Below are the top takeaways from recent episodes of the show that has become Netflix’s most-streamed documentary ever. You can read here about the highlights of the first three episodes that came out last week.
“Steal the Spotlight”
The couple say Harry’s family became unhappy during their trip to Australia when Meghan started radiating star power. There were perceptions, they say – which reflected Harry’s mother Diana’s feelings during her marriage to then-Prince Charles – that the royal maverick was paying too much attention to the older family members.
“The problem is when someone who marries in, who’s supposed to be a ‘support act’, then steals the limelight or does the job better than those who were born to do it, and then upsets people — it shifts the balance,” Harry says in episode four of the series.
It was around this time, the couple says, that British tabloids began to criticize Meghan, casting her in a negative light, particularly towards her sister-in-law Kate.
The couple have been saying for years that the The negative media coverage took on racist undertones and had a profound impact on Meghan’s mental health. The documentary says it hit her particularly hard when she realized that much of the British public accepted what the British tabloids were printing as fact.
Meghan: “I needed help, but I wasn’t allowed”
Both Harry and Meghan portrayed the royal family as extremely reluctant to show public signs of vulnerability – to the extent that Meghan claims she’s been told not to seek mental health support when she needs it most. The couple revealed first Meghan’s mental health struggles during her interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.
Harry recalls a moment many years ago on the Netflix series when he said his mother Diana cried in a car and her husband Charles told her she had “30 seconds” to smooth her makeup on put on smiles and face the press .
Meghan is said to have been under the same pressure, both from the press and from family, and it led to suicidal thoughts in her.
“I thought if I wasn’t there anymore, it would all stop,” she says in episode four.
“I remember her telling me that — that she was thinking about taking her own life,” says her mother, Doria Ragland, who bursts into tears in the episode. “That broke my heart … That’s not easy for a mother to hear.”
“I needed help, but I wasn’t allowed to,” says Meghan. “They were worried about what it would look like for the institution.”
Prince Harry says he knew his wife was “fighting” but he “never thought it would come to this. I was angry and ashamed. I didn’t handle it very well… what took over my feelings was my king role.”
“You make people want to kill me”
Meghan and Harry have claimed for years that the British press deliberately attacked the multiracial American duchess, portraying her as an intruder and critic.
“I saw cartoons of me on all fours and Meghan with a dog collar,” Harry recalls on the show.
Meghan blames such reports for fueling hatred of her that has spread from the press to social media, notably citing a tweet that said she “just has to die, someone should.”
“You make people want to kill me,” says Meghan in episode five of the press attacks. “It’s not just a tabloid, it’s not just a story, you scare me … That night, in the middle of the night, pacing up and down checking security, that’s real — are my babies safe? And you ‘did you create it for what? Because you are bored or because it sells your newspapers? It’s real what you’re doing and I think that’s what people don’t understand.
Former Chief of the UK Anti-Terrorism Police said recently that the threats Meghan was subjected to were indeed “disgusting and very real” and largely came from the far right.
A miscarriage and “the breakup”
Harry, Meghan and their staff say in the fifth episode of the Netflix series that “everything has changed” in terms of their relationships with other members of the royal family after the couple decided to take on the powerful British tabloids, because what they saw as a barrage of negative, unfair articles.
It was sparked by the tabloid Daily Mail reprinting parts of a Letter Meghan wrote to her father — what she says on the series, which she was advised to write by “elderly family members.”
“It was appalling,” Meghan says, referring to the leak of the letter to the media and the selective reprinting of parts of it by the Daily Mail newspaper. If the newspaper had printed the whole letter, she says, “it would have painted a very different picture,” because she says they “removed everything the media described as manipulation” by her father.
The couple said they have met with senior royals and lawyers and have urged swift legal action against the newspaper’s publisher.
“We had to draw a line,” says Meghan. But she says the royal family did nothing.
Recalling a conversation he had with Prince Charles, Harry says in the docuseries: “My father said to me, ‘Darling boy, you can’t take on the media, the media will always be the media.'”
That was one point where Harry says he and his father “fundamentally disagree”.
“After months of saying she had to do something about it, we took legal advice ourselves,” says the prince. Meghan says so after her and Harry’s 2019 decision to file a lawsuit Independently told the Daily Mail, “everything has changed… That lawsuit was probably the catalyst for all the unraveling.”
Harry even blamed the Daily Mail article and the stress it caused on his wife miscarriage she suffered in July 2020.
“Considering the stress it caused, the lack of sleep and the timing of the pregnancy,” says Harry, “I can say from what I’ve seen that this miscarriage was caused by what they were trying to do to her .”
The pair eventually won their legal battle with the editor of the Daily Mail with British court order that the newspaper had violated Meghan’s privacy.
A “terrifying” meeting, without Meghan
As the negative press coverage continued, the couple said they felt increasingly isolated from other members of Harry’s family, so they began to look west, considering moving away from Britain and relinquishing their royal titles.
Meghan says in episode five that they have “decided that we resign – not resign, but resign”. But before they could agree on the details of a new agreement with the family, Harry said that “key information – that we were ready to give up our titles – had been leaked”.
When Meghan returned to Canada, where they were living at the time, to be with their son Archie, Harry was called to a meeting at his grandmother’s country estate in Sandringham.
“Imagine a round table conversation and you as a mother and wife – and in many ways the goal – can’t sit at the table,” Meghan says of that meeting in the documentary, with Harry adding, “That was it Clearly they planned it, so you weren’t in the room.”
Harry says he hoped to arrange a “half-in, half-out” royal status for his nuclear family, “but it became very clear that goal was not up for discussion or debate.” He says the meeting is in his father’s name and his brother, both future kings, who yelled at him while the queen listened in silence.
“It was terrifying to see my brother yelling and yelling at me and my father saying things that just weren’t true and my grandmother sitting still and taking it all in,” he says.
Harry says the meeting ended “without a concrete plan of action. From their point of view, they had to believe that it was more about us and the problems we had than it was about their partner – the media – and the relationship that was causing us so much pain. They saw what they wanted to see.”
“The saddest thing about it,” Harry adds, “was this wedge that created between me and my brother that now he’s on the side of the institution. Part of his responsibility is the survival of this institution.”
Harry suggests what came next was a last straw. Within hours of the tense meeting, the tabloids were running stories “stating that part of the reason we left was because Meghan had bullied us.” He says the palace had a “joint statement” about the Couple’s plans released, but “nobody asked me to release that”.
Harry says it was a sign his family was willing to feed lies to the press to protect the royal institution – at the expense of the truth and himself and his wife.
“Within four hours they lied to protect my brother, but in three years they would never protect us,” says the prince. At the time, he said he knew they had to leave the UK, although he insists in the documentary that Meghan “never asked to leave”.