The second volume of “Harry & Meghan,” Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s documentary about their experiences with the British Royal Family, has dropped and it’s already making waves in the U.K. One headline describes the final three episodes of the series as “Harry’s all out war on William and Charles” thanks to a series of revelations and accusations the couple make about Harry’s brother, father and their staff.
The doc suggests, via interviews with the couple’s friend Lucy Fraser, that the couple’s first royal tour to Australia shortly after their wedding was where things started to go wrong after the Royal Family saw how popular Harry and Meghan were. “The internals at the palace were incredibly threatened by that,” Fraser says. Harry adds: “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 the person who was born to do this. That upsets people, it shifts the balance.”
The Liz Garbus-directed docuseries, the first part of which dropped on Netflix last Thursday, also gives viewers a glimpse into Harry and Meghan’s idyllic lives in Santa Barbara, intimate photos of their wedding, private family moments such as their children’s birthday parties and East Egg hunts, and the couple’s final week in the U.K. as working royals before they stepped back. It also touches on their legal spats with the British press, most notably newspaper the Mail on Sunday (the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail).
The Royal Family will no doubt be reeling from the revelations on Thursday morning U.K. time but they may also be worried there is more to come. Friend Tyler Perry, who is also godfather to Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet, the series reveals, said when he watched the couple’s interview with Oprah in March 2021: “I thought theres so much more [Meghan] could have said but because she’s such a classy elegant woman she didn’t.”
THE MOST EXPLOSIVE CLAIMS
Among the most explosive claims in the docuseries are that Harry’s brother Prince William “bullied him” out of the Royal Family and “traded” stories with the press and his father King Charles II told lies about him and possibly leaked stories to the media.
“There’s leaking but there’s also planting of stories,” Harry claims of the Royal Family’s relationship with the media. He also said he and his brother, who originally shared an office and staff within Kensington Palace, had sworn never to “trade” stories with the media, a practice he describes as offering journalists a story on members of the family to quash a negative story about to come out about themselves.
“And to see my brother’s office copy the very same thing we promised the two of us would never ever do, that was heartbreaking,” Harry says, although he doesn’t give any specific examples of what stories William tried to suppress.
Harry also implies his own father King Charles (or at least his father’s staff) leaked the story about him and Meghan wanting to move to Canada. The prince details how his father demanded Harry and Meghan put their plans to “step back” from the Royal Family in writing, which Harry says he was reluctant to do because the last time he had put similar plans in writing to his father they’d ended up in the media.
“His dad said ‘Put it in writing’ and he did and it was just five days later it was on the front page of a newspaper,” Meghan claims (the story that Harry and Meghan were planning to leave the U.K. was broken in Jan. 2020 by British tabloid The Sun). Harry adds that The Sun’s reference to Harry and Meghan’s willingness to give up their Sussex titles as part of the deal “was the giveaway that it had been leaked.”
Perhaps the most damning claim in the entire nearly 6-hour long series is that William bullied Harry out of the royal family. Harry recalls that after the couple’s plans to leave the U.K. were made public, a meeting was arranged with Queen Elizabeth II at her country home Sandringham with William and Charles also in attendance. “It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that weren’t true and my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in,” Harry says of how the meeting went down, his interview interspersed with videos of the brothers, who are only two years apart, playing together as children.
Harry goes onto mention events surrounding a newspaper report which claimed that part of the reason he and Meghan were stepping back as working royals was because “William had bullied us out.” “Once I got in the car, after the meeting, I was told about a joint statement that had been put out in my name and my brother’s name squashing the story about him bullying us out of the family. I couldn’t believe it. No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that. And I rang M [Meghan] and I told her and she burst into floods of tears. Because within four hours, they were happy to lie to protect my brother and yet for three years they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
Later in the series Harry says: “I’ve had to make peace with the fact that we’re probably never gonna get genuine accountability or a genuine apology.”
ROYAL FAMILY DYNAMICS
While Volume I gave us an insight into Meghan’s family, Volume II spends more time on Harry’s and gives viewers an insight into the weird dynamics between them, especially how they often communicate through intermediaries. Harry discusses trying to see his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth in late 2019 to discuss moving abroad. “Right as we’re getting on the plane [to the U.K.], this urgent, urgent message comes through to H [Harry] saying, ‘You are not allowed to go and see Her Majesty,’” Meghan recalls.
Harry continues: “Once we were back in the U.K., I rang her and said, ‘I’m now told that you’re busy.’ And she goes, ‘Yes, I didn’t know I was busy. I’ve been told that I’m busy. I’ve actually been told I’m busy all week. I was like, ‘Wow.’”
Harry also recalls two awkward encounters with his family, the first at a commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, which was his and Meghan’s last royal engagement before leaving the country for good. “We were nervous seeing the family,” he says, particularly since the meeting was taking place in front of the cameras. “It’s like living through a soap opera where everybody sees you as entertainment.” He adds that he felt “very distant from the rest of my family” and that “it looked cold [their interactions with him and Meghan] but it also felt cold.”
Almost exactly a year later – and just weeks after the couple’s infamous sit-down with Oprah – Harry flew back to the U.K. alone for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral (Meghan, then heavily pregnant with the couple’s second child, stayed behind in California). “It was hard,” Harry says of the reunion. “Especially spending – at time, having chats with my brother and my father who just were very much focused on the same misinterpretation of the same situation. None of us really wanted to talk about it at my grandfather’s funeral but we did.”
THE OPRAH INTERVIEW
Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah in March 2021 was the first time the couple spoke publicly about their experiences within the Royal Family. The interview, in which they accused Harry’s relatives of racism, turned out to be seismic, especially in terms of their relationship with the royals.
Curiously, although the couple already seemed to be filming for their docuseries at the time of their Oprah interview – cameras capture them watching as it went out live on CBS and the reactions from their friends and family the next day – “Harry & Meghan” doesn’t share any behind-the-scenes footage from the interview itself, nor does Oprah participate in the docuseries.
They do share some insight into how it came about however, saying that Oprah first reached out through Kensington Palace when the couple were still working members of the Royal Family. “There was excitement,” Meghan says. “It’s Oprah!”
The docuseries shows also Meghan and Harry in their office the day after it airs dealing with the fall-out. Meghan, who is on a call with her friend Tyler Perry, reads out a statement from Queen Elizabeth reacting to the couple’s claims in the interview (in which Her Majesty memorably said “recollections may vary”) before Harry interrupts his wife to show her his cellphone.
“Wow, H just got a text from his brother,” she tells Perry, who then says his goodbyes and hangs up.
The couple don’t share the contents of that text from William with Garbus and her crew but the cameras do catch them discussing how they plan to react to it. “I wish I knew what to do,” Harry says as Meghan gets up and wraps her arms around him. She says: “I know. Let’s take a breather, get some air and then decide.”
Gossiphounds will love the glimpses of the couple’s celebrity circle, including not only Oprah (who apparently was not impressed by Harry’s house in the grounds of Kensington Palace after coming over for tea), but also Perry, Beyonce and more.
Entrepreneur Dhru Purohit pops up in episode 4 to describe the couple’s wedding. “We had this massive moment where myself, Oprah, Idris Elba and his partner, we all looked at each other for a brief moment and had a little bit of a chuckle,” he recalls of the ceremony, which featured a gospel choir.
Perry, meanwhile, reveals his friendship with Meghan began after he wrote her a letter just before the wedding telling her he was praying for her and to contact him if she ever needed help. Some time later, Meghan explains, she did just that. “Finally, after years at that point, first time we ever spoke, and I was just a wreck,” she says. “And I was just a wreck. I was just crying and crying. Sometimes it’s easier to just open up to someone who knows nothing at all.”
Perry, who said until then the most he knew of the royals was Princess Diana’s death, recalled he could hear “fear” in Meghan’s voice and told her, “All your fears are valid.” He also revealed that when the couple asked him to be Lilibet’s godfather he said he would accept as long as he didn’t have to attend a christening with the Royal Family in the U.K.
The docuseries also captures Meghan receiving a text message from Beyonce following the Oprah documentary. At the time, Meghan is sitting alongside Harry in their joint office at their home in Montecito when she says: “Beyonce just texted.” Harry mock-gasps in response and quips, “Shut up!”
“[She’s] just checking in,” Meghan says. “I still can’t believe she knows who I am.” Meghan then reads out the message: “She said she wants me to feel safe and protected. She admits and respects my bravery and vulnerability and thinks I was selected to break generational curses that need to be healed.”
“That’s well said,” Harry replies.
The docuseries also gives a tantalizing glimpse inside Harry and Meghan’s luxury lifestyle, from sleepovers at Buckingham Palace to the expansive grounds of their Montecito mansion, meetings taken in a friend’s high-rise New York apartment, private jets and drivers, long walks on the beach and hikes through the California hills.
But the couple also reveal that life in a palace is not all it’s cracked up to be when they discuss Nottingham Cottage, the house in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London where they lived for a short period after their wedding (reportedly rent-free). “Kensington Palace sounds very regal, of course it does, but Nottingham Cottage is so small,” Meghan says. The couple laugh about how the ceilings were so low Harry would often bump his head and how when Oprah came over for tea she said of their small home, “No one would ever believe it.”
Meghan and Harry also share with Garbus intimate photographs (taken by what seems to be a professional photographer) of them packing up Frogmore Cottage, their house in the grounds of Windsor Castle, just before they moved to North America, as well as snaps from their home on Vancouver Island in Canada. Meghan and Harry explain they finally escaped to Los Angeles just before COVID hit the West after friend Tyler Perry offered them a place to live. Harry recalls how after seeing a video of the L.A. mansion’s fountain they thought “That’ll do” before turning up with 13 suitcases.
The six-part series ends on a happy note, with Meghan reading the speech she gave the couple’s wedding. Talking about herself and Harry in the third person, she says: “They would love and garden and travel and laugh, and rack up more air miles than any couple could have.”