The first three episodes of “Harry & Meghan,” the highly-anticipated Netflix docuseries about Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, dropped on Thursday at midnight on the West Coast and 8 a.m. U.K. time.
The Liz Garbus-directed docuseries is the first project to come out of the couple’s deal with Netflix, which is rumoured to be worth millions of dollars. Upon release this morning it immediately sparked discussion on social media and in the press, becoming a trending topic on Twitter.
There was also a frenzy of reporting, particularly in the British media, in the run-up to the documentary dropping, with speculation about what it may contain – and how damaging it may prove to be for the British Royal Family, namely Harry’s elder brother Prince William and his dad, King Charles III.
The first episode opens with a series of title cards reading: “This is a first-hand account of Harry and Meghan’s story, told with never before seen personal archive.”
“Members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content within this series.”
Another title card added: “All interviews were completed by August 2022.”
Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, died in September, after which his father Prince Charles succeeded to the throne and William was promoted to the role of Prince of Wales.
The first three episodes of the series do not contain any direct accusations against Harry’s family, although there is discussion of one incident, which was publicly criticized at the time, that occurred before their wedding, when a distant relation wore a racist brooch to a family gathering where Harry and Meghan were also present. Meghan’s mother Doria, speaking out for the first time, says she had to explain to her daughter that some of what she was experiencing was because of her race.
The episode also features another first in the form of Harry discussing his decision to wear a Nazi uniform to a Halloween party when he was in his early twenties. He says he learned from the experience.
In the series Harry also says that male family members were unsympathetic about the intense press intrusion into his and Meghan’s lives because their spouses had suffered the same. “Some of the members of the family were like, ‘But my wife had to go through that,’” Harry says. “‘So why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?’ And I said the difference here is the race element.”
Meghan also discusses a deeply painful incident at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, before she became a royal, when she witnessed her mother being called a racial slur.
While none of the British royals have taken part in the series, it does feature interviews with the couple’s friends, family, staff and former colleagues as well as media and political commentators.
The docuseries gives unprecedented insight into royal life as well as the couple’s relationship, including footage captured on Meghan’s phone of Harry proposing to her in the gardens at Kensington Palace, photographs of the couple on their first-ever vacation, taken just months after they met, videos and pictures of their son Archie at home in Montecito, video diaries around the time they publicly announced they were stepping back from the royal family to live in the U.K., a glimpse of Harry’s secret Instagram account, which he operated under a fake name, private text messages between the couple and behind-the-scenes footage from public events, in which Meghan can be seen getting dressed and her make-up applied.
Events are presented in semi-chronological order, beginning in episodes one and two with their courtship and episode three covering their engagement and preparations for the royal wedding, as well as examining some of the PR crises they endured, including the rift between Meghan and her father following his decision to stage a raft of paparazzi photos.
Harry also discusses his upbringing and particularly the effect his mother and her death had on him as well as the constant press intrusion he has faced since birth. In response to Garbus’s question about whether there was a moment Harry realized there was something different about his family, he responds: “I just think it was gradual.”
In a move that is likely to anger his brother Prince William, the docuseries uses footage from the BBC’s controversial “Panorama” interview with Diana. It emerged last year the interview had been secured via fraudulent means. Earlier this year the BBC publicly apologized to William and Harry and donated the $1.6 million it made from the interview. In response, William said: “It is my firm view that this ‘Panorama’ programme holds no legitimacy and should never be aired again.”
In the docuseries, Harry says: “I think we all now know that [Diana] was deceived into giving the interview, but at the same time she spoke the truth of her experience.”
The couple also share intimate details about how they met and, later, the first time Meghan met Harry’s relatives, including William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Meghan’s first meeting with Queen Elizabeth. Meghan, repeating an anecdote from her interview with Oprah last year, says the meeting with the Queen was sprung on her unexpectedly, with Harry asking her on the drive to Windsor Castle whether she knew how to curtsy.
“How do you explain that to people?” Harry says to Garbus. “How do you explain that you need to bow to your grandmother? And that you would need to curtsy, especially to an American. Like, that’s weird.”
Harry and Meghan also reveal that it was Meghan’s career as an actor – at the time she was appearing in legal drama “Suits” – that was one of the “biggest problems” for the royals, with unnamed family members allegedly telling Harry the relationship wouldn’t last.
The next three episodes drop on Netflix next Thursday. There continues to be speculation over whether Harry’s family will respond to the series and any allegations it may contain. There is no suggestion the royals had a chance to view “Harry & Meghan” before it was released publicly, with Netflix refusing to provide advance screeners even to journalists, as it does with many of its other shows and films.
The family have good reason to be worried, however, given that in Meghan and Harry’s first public interview following their departure from the U.K. – given to Oprah in March 2021 – they claimed an unnamed royal made comments about the potential skin color of their future child. During a royal visit to a school a few days after the interview aired, Prince William took the unusual step of publicly commenting on the couple’s claims, telling reporters covering the school visit: “We are very much not a racist family.”
To make matters worse, the royals found themselves plunged into yet another crisis last week ahead of the documentary airing, when one of Queen Camilla’s “ladies of the household,” Lady Susan Hussey, was accused of othering a London-born Black charity boss at a royal reception by repeatedly asking her where she was from. Lady Susan immediately resigned after the exchange became public while Buckingham Palace issued a statement calling the questioning “unacceptable and deeply regrettable.”
Read on for some of the top revelations from the docuseries:
They Met Over Instagram
Like many modern couples, Meghan and Harry met through social media. She had just heard her show “Suits” had been green-lit for another season and to celebrate went travelling around Europe. “She had planned her single girl summer,” revealed friend Lucy Fraser.
While she was in the U.K. she met up with an unnamed mutual friend, who posted a video to social media – complete with a dog ears filter that was popular at the time. “I was scrolling through my feed and a friend had this video of the two of them,” Harry recalled.
Meghan and Harry – or “M” and “H” as they call each other – then befriended each other on Instagram. The docuseries gives viewers a glimpse into Harry’s long-rumoured secret Instagram feed, showing pictures of animals and sunsets, which Meghan says helped her see what kind of person he really was.
Harry Was Late to Their First Date
The duo arranged to meet at Soho House outpost 76 Dean Street in London for their first date. Harry was half an hour late because of traffic, which didn’t give Meghan the best impression of him. “I was panicking, I was freaking out, I was like sweating,” he reveals.
According to Meghan, the prince had an “extensive list” of what he was looking for in a partner. When director Liz Garbus probes what was on the list, Harry shuts her down. “Not sharing the list. Nice try,” he replies before gesturing at his wife, who’s sitting next to him on the sofa. “This is the list.”
“Good answer!” Meghan replies.
The Royal Family Had a Problem With Meghan’s Acting Career
“The actress thing was the biggest problem, funny enough,” Meghan says of her role on legal drama “Suits.” “There was a big idea of what that looks like from the U.K. standpoint, Hollywood, and it was just very easy for them to typecast that.”
Harry claims his family had the attitude of “Oh, she’s an American actress, [the relationship] won’t last.”
“The fact that I was dating an American actress was probably what clouded their judgment more than anything else in the beginning,” he said.
Silver Tree, an executive producer on “Suits,” also gave some insight into Meghan’s life on set once her relationship with Harry was publicly revealed. Tree says photographers tried to buy call sheets from production assistants so they could find out the shooting schedule and snap pictures of Meghan on set, they were breaking into the area where the trailers were and the studio started screening her mail. Eventually NBC hired private security for Meghan and her driver would take different routes to the studio each day, going down alleyways and picking her up from garages.
Their Third Date Was In Botswana
After meeting in person only twice previously, Harry invited Meghan to stay with him in a tent in Botswana for five days without any amenities, including mirrors or bathrooms. Meghan, of course, said yes. “I’m getting on a plane and I’m going to the middle of the bush? What? What am I doing?” she recalls thinking. “What if we don’t like each other? And then we’re stuck in the middle of a bush in a tent?”
It had been a month since the two had seen each other so their first encounter in Botswana wasn’t very romantic. “It was very awkward at first,” she says. “Like oh God, do we kiss? Do we – and I remember he handed me a chicken sandwich!”
Once the duo packed into a land cruiser to head to the camp, things warmed up fast. “We held hands, squeezed in a kiss,” Harry reminisces.
Harry Doesn’t Have Many Memories of His Mother
Harry had just turned 12 when his mother, Princess Diana, died in a car crash in Paris while pursued by paparazzi. “My childhood I remember was filled with laughter, filled with happiness and filled with adventure,” he recalls. But he says he doesn’t have “many early memories of my mum.”
“It was almost like internally I sort of blocked them out. But I always remember her laugh, her cheeky laugh. Her always saying to me, ‘You can get in trouble just don’t get caught.’”
He says he also remembers seeing “drama, stress and also tears” on his mother’s face. When she died, he was forced to grieve publicly. “When my mum died we had two hats to wear,” he says, referring to himself and older brother Prince William. “One was two grieving sons wanting to cry, grieve, and process that grief because of losing our mum. And two was the royal hat, get out there, meet people, shake their hands.”
Of Meghan, Harry says she reminds him of Diana. “So much of what Meghan is and how she is is so similar to my mum.”
Meghan’s Mother Doria Breaks Her Silence
“The last five years has been challenging,” Doria Ragland tells Garbus, speaking publicly for the first time ever. She reveals how she found out her daughter was dating a prince and the first time she met Harry. “He was like a six [foot] one, handsome man with red hair, really great manners,” she says. “He was just really nice. And they looked really happy together. Like he was the one.”
Doria and Meghan also discuss the impact of racism in the series, with Doria admitting she never had a proper conversation with her daughter about race because Meghan was light-skinned. Meghan, meanwhile, recalls an incident at The Hollywood Bowl, long before she become a duchess, when she was driving out of the parking lot with her mother and someone shouted a racial slur. “I just remembered my mom, like, the grip her hands had on the steering wheel, and you could see her fist was so tight, like the knuckles got all white,” Meghan says. “And she was just silent the rest of the drive home. We never talked about it.”
Mother and daughter also discuss Meghan’s father Thomas, who is not interviewed for the docuseries, and the break-down of his relationship with Meghan after he sold photographs of himself to a British tabloid. “I feel sad that the media would run with this,” Doria says. “That [Thomas Markle] would capitalize, certainly as a parent – that’s not parenting.”
Meghan Didn’t Know How to Act With the Royal Family
In the docuseries, Meghan discusses her awkwardness around meeting Harry’s family. As well as having to curtsy to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, she also recalled meeting William and Kate for the first time after inviting them over to dinner at Harry’s home in Kensington Palace. Meghan says she was wearing ripped jeans and no shoes. “I was a hugger, I’ve always been a hugger,” she says. “I didn’t realize that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits.”
She insinuated that the response she received from his family wasn’t the warmest, saying: “The formality on the outside carried through on the inside.”
Meghan also says that while in the U.K. she stopped wearing color – instead sticking to neutral tones such as white, beige and camel – so as not to clash with senior members of the royal family at public events. “There’s no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in,” she says. “I don’t want to embarrass the family.”