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‘A full house of the prince’s public indiscretions!’ What we learned from the Harry and Meghan documentary

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-12-08
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Harry and Meghan. Photograph: Netflix

The first three episodes of Harry and Meghan dropped on Netflix this morning. Great. Whoopee. Lucky us . How fortunate we are to live in a world where the biggest streaming platform on the planet can offer up a punishingly long documentary series about a podcaster and her husband, which exists for no other reason than to make a lot of boring people aggressively defend all their pre-existing opinions online. What a treat. Anyway, here’s what I learned from watching Harry & Meghan. You’re welcome.

1. None of the good stuff is in these first three episodes

If you’re planning to watch Harry & Meghan because you want to rubberneck at Megxit, then first, you have some incredibly weird priorities, you sick ghoul. And second, don’t bother watching this batch of episodes. Although they start with some selfie camera iPhone diaries of Harry and Meghan looking exhausted and teary, having just left the royal family, it’s a tease. Instead, the first three (THREE!) hours of this series are largely concerned with how the couple met and what they were like growing up. This part of the series is syrupy and sanitised, though it does have its moments.

2. Harry reveals way more than Meghan

The only moments that cut through the oppressive sense that this whole thing is a sterilised public relations exercise come when Harry admits to some less than pristine behaviour in the past. There’s mention of binge drinking and drugs and that Nazi fancy dress party he went to. Barring the time he got naked in Las Vegas, it’s almost a full house of his public indiscretions. This makes a lot of narrative sense, because he can refer to all of that in an effort to show us that he has changed. Meghan, meanwhile, appears to have fallen pristine from the heavens. A bit more willingness to show the less camera-ready parts of her personality might have sold the show a little more. Also, there is a bit where she recites an entire poem she wrote several decades ago about being a child of divorce – “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that bad/ But oftentimes it makes me sad/ I want to live that nuclear life/ with a happy dad and his loving wife” – which is bananas.

3. David Olusoga and Afua Hirsch should present a show about the British empire

By far the most enjoyable parts of the series have been the bits where Harry and Meghan leave David Olusoga and Afua Hirsch to give us a potted run-through of the British empire. In these parts, the weird reality-show pity-party vibe gives way to something much more meaty. We hear about British slavery, and how much of it was controlled by the royal family. We hear about the Commonwealth, and how it’s really just a last-ditch effort to cling to past glories. We see old colonial relics that line the palaces of the UK. What’s fascinating is that Harry doesn’t seem to be entirely onboard with the notion; there are times where he speaks fondly of “travelling halfway across the Commonwealth” as if he thinks it’s the entire world. But anyway, a whole show like this, unvarnished and contemporary, would be tremendous.

4. We should probably just get rid of the royal family

The overwhelming message of Harry & Meghan seems to be that being part of the royal family is absolutely miserable. Your life isn’t your own, you’re constantly hounded by an aggressive press, and you have to spend your entire life adhering to ridiculous etiquette. Both Harry and Meghan still seem to be struggling to come to terms with being part of such a weird institution. So maybe we should just bin it off now. They get to be happier, we don’t have to fund them any more, and I won’t have to sit through another three-hour snoozefest like this again.

5. There’s more next week

The final three episodes of Harry & Meghan air next week and, premature death notwithstanding, I will be writing about that too. Honestly, though, premature death has never sounded so appealing.

Comments / 33

Feet on the ground
12-09

I don’t think much of the UK Royals past is a surprise. The progressive film industry will probably give them an Emmy like they did Andrew Cuomo. This has diluted the award in a large way.

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14
Linda Reid
12-10

I think I'll write my love story, my own truth, told by me, of how I met my man, told by him, through his lens. I can't wait for the call from Netflix. 🤗

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7
Helen B
12-10

That is the only way Meghan can make herself relevant. If you don't watch it she's nothing. I don't watch their crap.

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9

Comments / 0