Updated: Jun 16
Written by K.J. Joseph 1.12.2023
“This isn’t just about our story. This has always been so much bigger than us.” ~Prince Harry
After years of living inside the royal family’s structure and media bubble, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are able to tell their own side of the story and they do in their documentary series on Netflix, Harry and Meghan. It isn’t surprising that there continues to be much controversy surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, especially once they decided to step down to leave their royal duties completely. The traditions and roles of the royal family are deeply rooted into English culture and cherished through out the entire world.
Prince Harry addresses this issue in the documentary by saying, “I accept there will be people around the world that fundamentally don’t agree with what I’ve done and how I’ve done it. But I know I had to do everything that I could to protect my family. Especially after what happened to my mom…, you know, I didn’t want history to repeat itself.”
It is commonly known what happened to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. She died in a car accident August 31, 1997, as she tried to escape paparazzi. Princess Diana continues to be one of the most influential females in history. The paparazzi was still able to destroy her. How is it that nothing seems to have changed with how the royal family interacts with the paparazzi?
Harry’s entire childhood was surrounded by the paparazzi. One example of this shown in this documentary is a no more than a four-year-old Prince Harry stepping outside with his parents into mass amounts of flashing cameras and paparazzi. He had created cardboard binoculars that he peered at the paparazzi directly through. It was as if he wanted to level the playing field. Two can play at this game. He was so adorable and innocent, but it is disturbing to think how the paparazzi were constantly a part of Harry’s daily life.
Harry says, “I saw things. I experienced things. I learned things. The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution… I remember thinking how can I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that comes with being with me?”
Then one day he met Meghan.
Many people and media publications use the term fairytale to describe Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship over the years. Any human being can see why it would be easy to use that term to describe their relationship from the outside looking in. With royalty, there is without a doubt, a life of entitlement, luxury, and power. Of course, you can’t forget that Harry literally is looking for his princess.
In the documentary series the audience gets to see behind the curtain and outside the media bubble that continues to be strategically placed by the institution. When Meghan is asked why she wanted to make this documentary, she answers, “Um, I’m not going to say that is is comfortable, but when you feel like people haven’t gotten any since of who you are for so long, its really nice to just be able to have the opportunity to let people have a bit more of a glimpse into whats happened and also who we are.”
How does this media bubble exist? Tim Burt, Strategic Advisor to Archewell and Vice Chairman, Teneo, explains it best in this series saying, “the paparazzi have a real special relationship with the royal family. There is sort of unwritten contract between the institution and the press. The way that it is presented in the media is that the taxpayer in the UK pays for the royal family and in return for those payments there is an expectation that the royal family will be available to the media. And this is sense of… we pay, you pose. And they feel that they have a duty to their readers to bring private aspects of their lives to light. Not all of it always directly related to facts on the ground.”
It is obvious what motivates the paparazzi. The fact of the matter is they get paid tens of thousands of dollars to get a picture or story on a royal family member. The paparazzi will pay any unethical selfish person tons of money that is willing to give up any information/pictures on a royal family member. To make it worse this happens with people that are friends of the royal and in Meghan’s case, she had family even give up information about her in exchange for money.
Robert Hazell, Author of The Role of the Monarchy in Modern Democracy, discusses how, “all the royal households have press offices to ensure that there is pretty constant publicity about the royal family and that it is pretty constantly good publicity.” With how strong of a relationship the royal family has with the media, how was Meghan so extensively harassed by that media? If it wasn’t the media headlining something in reference to her race in a totally inaccurate racist way. . .like when Daily Mail headlined, “EXCLUSIVE: Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed- so will he be dropping by for tea?” There is absolutely nothing true about this headline, but if the media wasn’t busy rewriting Meghan’s past, they were criticizing something as simple as the hat she was wearing.
“Truth be told, no matter how hard I tried no matter how good I was, no matter what I did they were still going to find a way to destroy me.” ~Meghan Markle
If the royal family members were so thrilled that she was to become part of the family, wouldn’t one believe at least some of these horrible headlines would have been flagged and stopped? It is completely unacceptable how Meghan was treated. I think the world is desensitized to racism, mistreatment and such hate. This mistreatment is a big deal and no person could be dramatic enough in calling it out. The issue of race. Yes, it is a very important topic to bring up. Meghan is of mixed race. She has a black mother and white father. This was a huge change to the royal family.
“My job is to keep my family safe, by the nature of being born into this position and everything that comes with it and the level of…hate that is being stirred up in the last three years, especially agents my wife and, and my son. I am generally concerned for the safety for my family.” ~Prince Harry
Racism, unconscious or conscious it is still racism and it is wrong.
The past happened and it has influenced society’s surroundings. There is no finish line when it comes to learning about cultural differences. Culture is constantly changing and in order to understand it one must be open to learning. One must be willing to have those difficult conversations in order to grow. One must be able to look at themselves and see how they are contributing unconsciously. Everyone does this. It is part of being a human being. The Royal Family had a opportunity with Meghan and Harry to address this issue of race in the UK. They unfortunately did not take this opportunity to do the right thing, evolve and join the common wealth people of today. Thankfully Harry and Meghan were brave enough to take this opportunity to speak up.
When Harry and Meghan were married it symbolized so much positivity. A friend of the couple, Misan Harriman, photographer, Chair of Southbank Centre (London) says, “the union of Harry & Meghan for a lot of people of color, and the black community in the UK, possibly for the first time, made a lot of people feel seen.” This is a moment in history that people will remember. People all over the world were excited that the royals were progressing and relating to the people. When Meghan wasn’t being supported, it felt that all that positive progression wasn’t being supported either. Sometimes it is what you don’t do or say that says it all.
“My son, my daughter, my children are mixed race and I’m really proud of that. When my kids grow up and they look back at this moment and they turn to me and say what did you do in this moment? I want to give them an answer." ~Prince Harry
With out learning about the royal life in its entirety, one might ask how can any person that is surrounded by such riches and opportunity, have hardships and difficulty? One may also ask how someone can turn their back on an institution and the traditions that have been so deeply embedded into the English culture? How can someone betray their own family? Watching this documentary answers all these questions and it is very clear that anyone who in Harry and Meghan’s situation would have done the exact same thing.
Harry and Meghan, thank you for all that you have done for the UK and the world. You both have used your wealth and power for the greater good, and that is not an easy thing to do. Meghan, the world watched you try so hard and believe me the world saw you succeed. Thank you.