British royals: wave of outrage over documentary “Harry & Meghan”

Anger and disappointment dominate in Great Britain after the first episodes of the Netflix documentary “Harry & Meghan” – this is said to also apply to the royals. Is there now a final break with the royal family?

The palace is said to be “sad” and brother William “pissed off”, the press is raging: with the first episodes of their Netflix documentary Prince Harry and wife Meghan triggered a wave of outrage in the UK. “So painful! Royals ‘deeply upset’ by Harry’s insults,” headlined the Daily Express newspaper on Friday.

The Telegraph quoted a royal insider as saying the couple wanted to overthrow the monarchy. An MP from the ruling Conservative Party urged the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to strip away the royal titles when they apparently hated the monarchy so much.

The big hits stayed away

The first three episodes of “Harry & Meghan”, which have been available since Thursday, fell well short of fears. There were no direct attacks on members of the Royal Family. The couple chatted about his relationship, had excerpts from the marriage proposal shown. With a view to the royal family, the two, who have not been active members of the royal family for a long time, addressed topics that have been in the world since the interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021: the entanglements with the British tabloid press and how to deal with racism and of British colonial history. But the expected firecrackers did not materialize.

“If you’ve seen the trailers and thought, ‘Harry & Meghan,’ the heavily promoted new series from Netflixwould be explosive, be prepared to be disappointed,” commented the BBC. US media also expressed disappointment. “With today’s release (…) the Sussexes surprise us once again at how narrow their vision of their fame is how narrow and unimaginative their presence on the world stage has become,” Variety wrote.

The tabloid press was the target of the attacks

The target of the first episodes is clearly the British tabloid, whose Royal correspondent calls Harry the “extended PR arm of the Royal Family”. The palace and the press have made a kind of pact with the devil, giving the boulevard almost unlimited power over what and how the royals are reported.

Unsurprisingly, the accused struck back the day after: The “Daily Mail” spoke of a “hatchet” and commented that the couple had “rekindled the war of the royals”. With their statements about the Commonwealth of States, which was criticized in the show as British “Empire 2.0”, they had the legacy of Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II deeply offended, the “Telegraph” quoted an insider.

Even neutral observers are sure that the door is now closed for the couple, who live in California with children Archie (3) and Lilibet (1). “The documentary makes it more likely that he won’t come back,” said constitutional lawyer and monarchy observer Craig Prescott from the Welsh University of Bangor to the German Press Agency. Three more episodes will be released next Thursday – then, observers are sure, it will be even more personal. “It’s going to be toxic next week,” an insider told the Daily Mail newspaper.

Harry’s autobiography will be out in January

Harry’s older brother Prince William in particular is said to be “pissed off”. According to “Mirror”, the heir to the throne is particularly upset that Netflix used scenes from his mother Diana’s famous BBC interview, in which she told about the affair of her ex-husband Charles, today’s king, in 1995. William assumed that the excerpts would never be shown again and that he agreed with his brother. Now he feels cheated.

In addition, William and his wife, Princess Kate, are said to have found statements by Harry, who suggested that the men in the family did not marry for love, “particularly painful”. Critics also pointed out that Meghan poked fun at the Queen when she joked about her first meeting with Harry’s grandmother and mimicked an over-the-top curtsey. The fact that Harry’s autobiography will be published on January 10th, the title of which already suggests the direction of attack, should further burden the royal Christmas.

But not everyone blames Harry. “When Buckingham Palace goes into the dirt, it never looks good,” commented royal expert Peter Hunt, looking at the many insider quotes. The Queen has always sat out affairs: “You can see why Charles’ mother often preferred dignified silence.”

For the royals, the racism debate, which is likely to continue to smolder with Meghan and Harry’s documentary, could mean an opportunity, says expert Prescott. It is clear that the Palace needs to evolve and better represent an increasingly diverse United Kingdom. “Maybe this is an opportunity to address the issues that Harry and Meghan are raising.”

BBC commentary


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