The Netflix docuseries has everyone talking
Volume two of Harry & Meghan delves deep into the specifics around the timeline of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping back as senior royals, with Meghan opening up about her suicidal thoughts and the overriding feeling that she “wasn’t just being thrown to the wolves, [she] was being fed to the wolves”. From the creation of their first home at Nottingham Cottage to the “bittersweet” process of packing it all up and relocating to California—after their plans to move to Canada and South Africa were thwarted by the press—the couple lays bare their experience of feeling like a “scapegoat for the palace” while starting a family, and enduring the heartbreak of a miscarriage. “Our story, our life literally got taken from underneath us.”
Here, Vogue recaps the biggest revelations from the final episodes of the Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan.
Their first home was different from what people may have imagined
After the first portion of episode four, which focuses on their wedding—and includes photos of the pair cutting their wedding cake with a sword and having their first dance to “Land of 1000 Dances”—Meghan describes moving into Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace. “Kensington Palace sounds very regal, but Nottingham Cottage was small,” she says. Harry adds, “The whole thing is on a slight lean. Really low ceilings. I don’t know who was there before. They must have been very short.” We then see more images of the pair gardening, painting and cuddling their dog on the sofa (keep an eye out for the Union Jack placemats, too). “It was a chapter in our lives where I don’t think anyone could believe what it was actually like behind the scenes,” says Meghan. Harry then describes Oprah coming over for tea and saying: “No one would ever believe it!”
The Australia tour changed things
In the series, friends of the couple suggest that the pair became even more popular with the public following their tour of Australia in 2018, and that this became a problem internally. Harry says, “The issue is, when someone who’s married in, who should be a ‘supporting’ act, is then stealing the limelight, or doing the job better than the person who was born to do it, that upsets people. It shifts the balance, because you’ve been led to believe that the only way that your charities can succeed and the only way your reputation can be grown or [be] improved, is if you’re on the front page of those newspapers.” He adds that the “penny dropped” after an event where the whole family was present, but after which only Meghan was on the front pages. She said, “It’s not my fault”, and Harry said, “My mum felt the same way.”
Meghan opens up about her struggles with her mental health
Speaking about the flurry of negative headlines she was subjected to during her pregnancy, Meghan says she thought no one would take them at face value, until, during a walkabout in Liverpool, a woman said to her: “What you’re doing to your father is not right.” Meghan added, “My entire centre was rocked to its core.” Harry continues, “The lies, that’s one thing you kind of get used to when you live within this family, but what they were doing to her and the effect that it was having on her? I was like, enough.”
Meghan then opens up about having suicidal thoughts and, in one of the most heartbreaking moments of episode four, her mother becomes teary. “That’s not an easy one for a mum to hear,” she says. Of his response, Harry says: “I was devastated. I knew that she was struggling, but I never thought that it would get to that stage. I felt angry and ashamed. I didn’t deal with it particularly well. I dealt with it as institutional Harry, as opposed to husband Harry. I’d been trained to worry more about what people would think if we didn’t go to this event. Looking back on it now, I hate myself for it.” Meghan says that she wanted to get help, but “wasn’t allowed to” because “they were concerned about how that would look for the institution”.
Harry continues: “They knew how bad it was. They thought, why couldn’t she just deal with it? No one would have private conversations with the editors saying, ‘Enough.’ My dad said to me, ‘Darling boy, you can’t take on the media.’ I said, ‘I fundamentally disagree.’” Harry then adds that he’s had 30 years of experience in seeing how the system works. “Constant briefings about other members of the family. There’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories. So, if the comms team wants to be able to remove a negative story about their principal, they will trade and give you something else about someone else’s principal. You can always say, ‘I didn’t know about this.’ But have you done anything to stop it? And the answer is no. William and I both saw what happened in our dad’s office, and we made an agreement that we would never let that happen to our office. I’d rather get destroyed in the press than play along with this business of trading. And to see my brother’s office copy the very same thing we promised we’d never do, that was heartbreaking.”
Both Archie’s birth and the South Africa tour were crucial turning points
The couple speak about the frenzy around Archie’s birth, and their desire to find a compromise when it came to their baby’s first photocall. Because Meghan gave birth at Portland Hospital and it wasn’t possible to arrange for the press to gather outside, they suggested giving them more time at Windsor Castle instead. Press clips are then shown criticising the decision as a sharp departure from the norm. “The amount of abuse we got for not wanting to serve our child up on a silver platter was incredible,” says Harry.
Their tour of South Africa, with Archie in tow, followed in 2019, and Meghan talks about opening up to ITV’s Tom Bradby in a now infamous interview. “Because I was so exhausted, I was grateful that someone seemed to ask me something like I was a human being,” she says. “I guess I never thought they’d use it in the documentary [they were filming]. I had no idea that was going to be the thing that travelled around the world. That’s what I think spawned the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan. It hit a chord.” Harry adds: “The fallout was bonkers. Every single front page in the UK was very different from what the general public’s reaction was. When you’d expect support from the people closest [to you] we got the opposite.” And that, they say, was a huge turning point. “There’s only so much you can take on your own, so you end up saying something has to change,” concludes Meghan. “It’s when we started having harder conversations about what needs to happen for us to be able to continue to make this work.”
Harry goes into detail about that historic day at Sandringham when he was issued an ultimatum
While Meghan believes that the litigation the couple took against The Daily Mail for leaking a letter to her father “was probably the catalyst for all of the unravelling”, things came to a head during a meeting between the senior royals (without Meghan) at Sandringham. “I was given five options: one being all in, five being all out,” recalls Harry. “I chose option three in the meeting: half in, half out. To have our own jobs, but work in support of the Queen. It became clear very quickly that that goal was not up for discussion or debate. It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that just simply weren’t true and my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in.”
Although Harry did not blame the Queen—“you have to understand that from the family’s perspective, especially from hers, there are ways of doing things and her ultimate mission/goal/responsibility is the institution”—it was hard for him to watch his relatives choose their relationship with the media over him. “They saw what they wanted to see,” he continues. “The saddest part of it was this wedge created between myself and my brother, so that he’s now on the institution side. Part of that I get, I understand – that’s his inheritance, so to some extent it’s ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and the continuation of this institution.” But when no one asked Harry for sign off on a media statement quashing rumors that William had bullied his brother out, Harry knew he had “no other option at this point”. He and Meghan had to leave London and step back as senior royals.
The couple’s last week in London was bittersweet
The farewell schedule was a contrast between meetings with the public—“The people were so embracing, they were sad we were leaving—we were sad we were leaving,” says Meghan—nd the royal family—which “looked cold and felt cold”. Meghan’s last form of armor against the press? Mood-boosting brights, from electric-blue Victoria Beckham to emerald Emilia Wickstead. “Until that last week back in the UK, I rarely wore color,” she shares. “I never wanted to upstage or ruffle any feathers, so I just tried to blend in. But I wore a lot of color that week. I just felt like, ‘Well, let’s look like a rainbow’.” Harry agrees: “It was our opportunity to go out with a bang.”
Beyoncé texted Meghan after the Oprah interview
The couple got a flurry of supportive messages from friends after their Oprah interview (which they watched at the same time as the rest of the world) aired—including from a very famous one: Beyoncé. “Shut up,” Harry says when his wife tells him the megastar has texted her. “I still can’t believe she knows who I am,” Meghan adds. “She says she wants me to feel safe and protected. She admires and respects my bravery and vulnerability and thinks I was selected to break generational curses that need to be healed.”
The couple open up about Meghan’s miscarriage
During episode six, the couple speak openly about Meghan’s miscarriage, which Harry links to the stress of their lengthy legal battle with Associated Newspapers. The Duchess also reveals why she decided to write a powerful essay in the New York Times detailing her experience, saying: “I could make the choice to never talk about those things, or I could make the choice to say with all the bad that comes with this, the good is being able to help other people. That’s the point of life, right—connection and community like that.”
Who the Sussex children take after
When talking about their children, Harry says: “I see a lot of my wife in Archie, and I see a lot of my mum in Lili. She’s very Spencer-like. She’s got the same blue eyes.” The royal also notes how he discovered that they announced that Meghan was pregnant with Lilibet on Valentine’s Day in 2021—the same day that it was on the front pages back in 1984 that Diana was pregnant with Harry. “We had no idea; it was just a coincidence. Or maybe not a coincidence,” he says, alluding to the hand of fate.
Meghan shares a sweet excerpt from her wedding speech
Describing how things have come “full circle” following their move to LA, Meghan reads an excerpt from her wedding speech. “Onto the crux of why I wanted to speak tonight. First of all it’s been a while,” she says. ”But mostly I wanted to share a story. A story that I wrote about the man that I love and the way that we met. Let’s call this a modern fairytale.” She concludes: “I ask you to raise a glass to the astounding assurance that now life begins and the everlasting knowing that above all love wins.”
This article was originally published in British Vogue.
- Royal Family