Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have voiced their criticism towards the Firm on multiple occasions over the past few years, in particular during their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in early 2021.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry risk harming their public image as philanthropes with “too much kiss and tell” revelations, according to a royal expert. Commentator Richard Fitzwilliams said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex likely care deeply about their public perception, in particular now that they are no longer full-time working members of the Firm, and questioned whether they will use their “pull” to protect it. He told The Sun: “Meghan and Harry have an interest in having a portrayal where they are philanthropic. And there’s nothing philanthropic about too much kiss and tell. Especially with the passing of the Queen.
“They would be worried about their public perception. In America, the Queen was enormously respected and they know that. “The question is: public perception is very important to them. They are very highly thought of in a lot of circles.” Indeed, Prince Harry and Meghan’s charity work and activism have been publicly acknowledged by multiple associations recently, with the NAACP awarding them in February the President’s Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights announcing earlier this month they will receive the Ripple of Hope Award.
Mr Fitzwilliams added: “They had a lot of support over Oprah [Winfrey’s interview]. They have a certain pull but the question is how wisely will they exercise this? And how they’re able to exercise what pull they actually have within Netflix when it comes to this documentary series.” Meghan and Prince Harry signed a deal with Netflix in 2020, which will see them creating docu-series and programmes aiming to inform and entertain. At the moment, they are officially working only on a docu-series called Heart of Invictus, which focuses on the stories of some of the athletes who took part in the Invictus Games at The Hague.
While neither Netflix nor Archewell Productions – the Sussexes’ video production powerhouse – have announced it, Meghan and Harry are also reportedly working on what has been described as an at-home docu-series which some royal watchers fear may contain more allegations or criticism against the Firm. Mr Fitzwilliams added: “Whether they speak out on The Crown will surely have an effect on public perception of them.”
The Crown, Netlix’s popular series which is dramatising the life of members of the Royal Family from the late 1940s to modern times, has come under fire after it emerged it has included in one episode of its upcoming fifth season a made-up conversation set in the early 1990s which features the then Prime Minister Sir John Major and Prince Charles discussing the longevity of the reign of Elizabeth II and whether it was harming the monarchy.
Sir John recently slammed this scene, saying no similar conversation had ever happened and describing the suggestion of a plot to overthrow the late Queen as “malicious nonsense.” A spokeswoman for Netflix defended the show’s fifth season, to be released on November 9, saying: “Series five is a fictional dramatisation, imagining what could have happened behind closed doors during a significant decade for the Royal Family.” The string of criticism surrounding the upcoming season of The Crown reportedly “rattled” Netflix and prompted them to push back the release of the Sussexes’ docu-series, which according to claims was meant to be released after the drama show.
A source told Deadline: “They’re rattled at Netflix, and they blinked first and decided to postpone the documentary.” In November 2020, after Netflix released The Crown’s fourth season, a number of commentators as well as Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer and the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden asked Netflix to place a message prior to the episode of its award-winning show to make clear it was not a documentary – but the streaming platform rejected this suggestion, saying the show had always been presented as a “drama” and it was confident its members understand it is a “work of fiction”.
That series heavily focused on the extramarital relationship of the then Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles and the unhappiness of the late Princess of Wales, and is believed to have played a role in the wave of online hate which hit the Twitter account used at the time by the now King and Queen Consort.