The second half of Netflix’s documentary miniseries about Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, premiered on servers around the world on Thursday morning. In it, the couple paint a grim picture of the animosity that has developed between them and Harry’s closest family members amid what they say is racist and defamatory coverage by British media . All this, they say, drove them away.
Harry says the tension – which he and Meghan attribute to the royal family’s rigidity and self-preservation at all costs mentality, as well as the ruthless British tabloid press – exploded during a meeting with his father, the current King Charles III. , and his brother Prince William shouting at him while his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II sat and watched.
The Royal Family have declined to address the show’s allegations so far, but denied Harry and Meghan’s allegations of racism and said the issues raised by the couple, “particularly that of race, are concerning. “. Buckingham Palace said it would handle matters privately.
Below are the main takeaways from the latest installments of the show, which has become the most streamed documentary on Netflix already. You can read here on highlights from the first three episodes, which dropped last week.
“Stealing the Show”
The couple say Harry’s family became unhappy on their trip to Australia when Meghan began to exude star power. There were perceptions, they say – which echoed sentiments felt about Harry’s mother Diana during her marriage to then-Prince Charles – that the royal stranger was distracting members too much the oldest in the family.
“The problem is when someone who gets married, who should be a ‘support act’, then steals the show or does a better job than those who were born to do it, then upsets people – that changes balance” says Harry in the fourth episode of the series.
It was around this time, the couple say, that the British tabloids began to criticize Meghan, and in particular portray her in a negative light against her sister-in-law Kate.
The couple have said for years that the negative media coverage took on racist overtones and had a profound impact on Meghan’s mental health. In the documentary, they say it particularly affected her when she realized that much of the British public accepted what the British tabloids printed as fact.
Meghan: ‘I needed help, but I wasn’t allowed’
Both Harry and Meghan have described the Royal Family as extremely reluctant to show public signs of vulnerability – as Meghan claims she was told not to seek mental health support when she needed it most . The couple first revealed Meghan’s mental health issues during their interview with Oprah Winfrey last year.
Harry recounts a moment many years ago in the Netflix series when he said his mother Diana was crying in a car and her husband Charles told her she had “30 seconds” to put on makeup, put on a smile and emerge to face the press.
Meghan, they say, found herself under the same kind of pressure, both from the press and from family, and it led her to thoughts of suicide.
“I thought if I was gone, everything would stop,” she says in episode four.
“I remember her telling me that – that she thought about killing herself,” her mother, Doria Ragland, tearfully recounts in the episode. “It broke my heart…It’s not easy for a mother to hear.”
“I needed help, but I wasn’t allowed to,” Meghan says. “They were worried about what it would look like for the institution.”
Prince Harry says he knew his wife was “struggling”, but he “never thought it would come to this stage. I felt angry and ashamed. I didn’t handle it very well… what took over my feelings was my royal role.”
“You make people want to kill me”
Meghan and Harry have argued for years that the British press deliberately attacked the mixed-race American Duchess, portraying her as an intruder and detractor.
“I’ve seen cartoons of me on all fours and Meghan holding a dog collar,” Harry recalled on the show.
Meghan blames the reports for stoking hatred towards her that leaked from the press on social media, pointing to one tweet in particular that said she “just needed to die, someone should.”
“You make people want to kill me,” Meghan said in episode five of the press attacks. “It’s not just a tabloid, it’s not just a story, you scare me… That night, being up and down in the middle of the night checking security, that’s is real – are my babies safe? And you’ve created it for what? Because you’re bored, or because it sells your newspapers? It’s real what you do, and it’s real. I don’t think people understand.
Britain’s former counter-terrorism police chief said recently that the threats Meghan faced were indeed “disgusting and very real”, coming largely from the far right.
A miscarriage, and “fraying”
Harry, Meghan and their associates say in episode five of the Netflix series that “everything has changed” in their relationships with other members of the royal family after the couple’s decision to take on the powerful British tabloid press over it. which they saw as a deluge of negative and unfair articles. .
It was triggered by the Daily Mail tabloid reprinting parts of a letter Meghan wrote to her father — which she says on the show she was advised to write by “senior members of the family.”
“It was awful,” Meghan says, referring to the letter being leaked to the media and parts of it being selectively printed by the Daily Mail newspaper. If the newspaper had printed the entire letter, she says, “it would have painted a completely different picture”, as she says they removed “anything that portrayed the media as manipulating” her father.
The couple said they have met with members of the royal family and lawyers and are pushing for 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 with Prince Charles, Harry says in the docuseries: “My dad said to me, ‘Honey boy, you can’t face the media, the media will always be the media.'”
It’s a point on which Harry says he and his father “fundamentally disagree”.
“After saying for months that she had to do something about it, we took our own legal advice,” the prince explains. Meghan says after her and Harry in 2019 decision to file a complaint against the Daily Mail independently, “everything has changed… This litigation was probably the catalyst for the whole outcome.”
Harry even blamed the Daily Mail article and the stress it caused his wife for a miscarriage she suffered in July 2020.
“Bearing in mind the stress it caused, the lack of sleep and the timing of the pregnancy,” Harry says, “I can tell from what I saw that the miscarriage was created by this they were trying to do to him.”
The couple finally won their legal battle with the publisher of the Daily Mail, with British court decisions that the newspaper had violated Meghan’s privacy.
A “terrifying” meeting, without Meghan
As the negative media coverage continued, the couple said they felt increasingly isolated from other members of Harry’s family. So they started looking west, considering leaving the UK and giving up their royal titles.
Meghan says in episode five that they “decided that we were going to back off – not quit, but back off”. But before they could agree on the details of a new arrangement with the family, Harry says ‘key information – that we were prepared to give up our titles – had been leaked’.
As Meghan returned to Canada, where they were living at the time, to be with their son Archie, Harry was summoned to a meeting at his grandmother’s country estate in Sandringham.
“Imagine a round table and you as a mother and wife – and the target in many ways – can’t sit at the table,” Meghan says of that meeting in the documentary, with Harry adding, “It was Clearly they planned it so you wouldn’t be in the room.”
Harry says he went in the hope of arranging ‘half, half out’ royal status for his nuclear family, ‘but it became very clear that this goal was not up for discussion or debate’. He says the meeting descended into his father and brother, both future kings, yelling at him as the queen listened in silence.
“It was terrifying to have my brother yelling and yelling at me, and my dad saying things that just weren’t true, and my grandma just sitting there quietly and absorbing it all,” he says. .
Harry says the meeting ended “without a solid plan of action. From their perspective, they must have believed it was more about us and the issues we were having than about their partner – the media – and of the relationship that was causing us so much pain.. They saw what they wanted to see.
“The saddest thing,” adds Harry, “has been this rift created between me and my brother, so that he’s now on the side of the institution. And part of that what I get – I understand that’s is his legacy and it is already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survival of this institution.”
Harry suggests that what came next was a final straw. Just hours after the tense meeting, the tabloids ran stories ‘that said part of the reason we were leaving was because Meghan bullied us’. He says the palace released a “joint statement” about the couple’s plans, but “no one had asked me to release it.”
Harry says it was a sign his family were prepared to lie to the press to protect the royal institution – at the expense of the truth, himself and his wife.
“In four hours they lied to protect my brother, but in three years they would never protect us,” the prince explains. That’s when he says he knew they had to leave Britain, although he insists in the documentary that Meghan “never asked to leave”.