Harry and Meghan: The ten key takeaways so far from their Netflix documentary

Harry and Meghan revealed details around their relationship with the press and the royal family. Credit: Netflix

Details about the royal family and alleged racism and harassment from the British press were all part of Harry and Meghan's six-episode docuseries on Netflix.

Airing on Thursday morning, the first three episodes touch on the couple's disappointment with what they felt was a lack of protection from the royal family.

Here are the key points and revelations from the first three episodes:

  • ‘Rehearsed engagement interview’

The third episode saw Meghan describe the time around their engagement as an “orchestrated reality show”.

She said their engagement interview was “rehearsed”.

The interview took place following the pair’s engagement photoshoot with the press in Kensington Palace’s sunken gardens, with Meghan saying: “We went right inside. Took the coat off. Sat down and did the interview. It was all in that same moment.”

It was organised by the Kensington Palace press office as part of the handling of the announcement of Harry and Meghan’s engagement.

In the documentary, the couple were asked whether they were prepped with questions they might be asked, with the duchess saying: “Yeah. But then also like ‘and then there’ll be a moment when they’ll ask to see the ring’.”

She added: “My point is we weren’t allowed to tell our story because they didn’t want…” with Harry interjecting “We’ve never been allowed to tell our story… that’s the consistency.”

Meghan agreed, laughing: “That’s true… that is consistent… until now.”

  • Media intrusion

A major theme in the documentary was Harry and Meghan’s relationship with the press in the UK, with the Duke of Sussex remembering back to how “uncomfortable” he was with paparazzi as a child.

He said in the third episode that he believes the media see his “trauma” as their story to “control”.

He also addressed the royal rota, which is a system where media are allocated slots to cover the members of the family.

He said: “If you’re part of the royal rota, you have priority over the story over everybody else.

“All royal news goes through the filter of all newspapers within the royal rota, most of which, apart from the Telegraph, happen to be tabloids.

“It all comes down to control, it’s like ‘this family is ours to exploit, their trauma is our story and our story and our narrative to control’.”

'No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth'

In episode two, the couple looked at some of the headlines in the UK tabloid press ahead of Kensington Palace’s statement on the media’s treatment of the Duchess of Sussex.

They included “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton”.

Meghan said: “Firstly, I’m not from Compton, I’ve never lived in Compton, so it’s factually incorrect. But why do you have to make a dig at Compton?”

Other headlines shown in the Netflix documentary are “One’s gone GanstER”, and another saying Meghan’s ancestors were a “tailor, a teacher and a cleaner in racially divided Jim Crow South”.

The Duke of Sussex said: “Eight days after the relationship became public I put out a statement calling out the racist undertones of articles and headlines that were written by the British press as well as outright racism from those articles across social media.”

The Duchess of Sussex said the media would find a way to “destroy” her “no matter how good” she was.

  • ‘Why should Meghan be protected?’

All the press coverage they saw as hostile and intrusive led to Harry asking for greater support for Meghan.

But members of the royal family, he claims, asked why the Duchess of Sussex should be “protected” when they questioned newspaper headlines about her.

The direction from the palace was ’don’t say anything’

Speaking in episode two, he said: “The direction from the Palace was don’t say anything.

“But what people need to understand is, as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they had been put through as well.

“So it was almost like a rite of passage, and some of the members of the family were like ‘my wife had to go through that, so why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?'

“I said ‘the difference here is the race element’.”

  • ‘Unconscious bias’ in the royal family

As Harry elaborated on racism towards Meghan, he also spoke of a “huge level of unconscious bias” in the royal family during episode three.

The documentary referenced when Princess Michael of Kent wore a Blackamoor-style brooch to an event the Duchess of Sussex attended in 2017.

Princess Michael of Kent, pictured here in 2021, wore a Blackamoor-style brooch which was deemed to be racist Credit: PA

Harry said: “In this family, sometimes you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. There is a huge level of unconscious bias.

“The thing with unconscious bias, it is actually no one’s fault. But once it has been pointed out, or identified within yourself, you then need to make it right.

“It is education. It is awareness. It is a constant work in progress for everybody, including me.”

  • Shame around the Nazi uniform

That need for self-awareness, Harry added, came to the fore when he spoke about wearing a Nazi uniform to a private party in 2005.

He said: “It was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I felt so ashamed afterwards. All I wanted to do was make it right.”

He talked about meeting a holocaust survivor afterwards, reflecting that he “learned” from that.

  • Meghan’s mother speaks publicly for the first time

On the subject of racism, Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, spoke publicly for the first time in episode two.

She discussed Meghan being mixed-race and revealed how, in hindsight, she would like to have had a "real conversation about how the world sees you".

Speaking about the press coverage of Meghan’s background, Ms Ragland said paparazzi would take pictures of deprived neighbourhoods in Los Angeles.

Doria Ragland featured in the Netflix show Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Ms Ragland told the Netflix documentary: “They would take pictures of different parts of say Skid Row and say that is where I lived and that is where she was from."

“It was horrible,” Meghan said. “But I continued to hold the line. Say nothing.”

  • The breakdown in Meghan's relationship with her father

In the third episode, the Duchess of Sussex said she discovered her father Thomas Markle wasn’t going to attend her wedding “through a tabloid.”

Meghan spoke about her estranged father while reflecting on the immediate lead up to her wedding on May 19, 2018.

She said: “The week before our wedding we get a call from our joint communications secretary who said this story is going to come out tomorrow saying your father has been staging pictures and taking money from press. That was the first I was hearing of it.”

Meghan then explained the following conversation with her father, in which she said he denied the allegations but refused to be flown to the UK a day early for the wedding.

Meghan said: “(I said) ‘We’ll just come and get you out a day early to get you out of Mexico’, and he said ‘No no I have things I need to do.’

“And it felt really cagey. I said ‘it doesn’t make sense’. And when we hung up I looked at H (Harry), I was like ‘I don’t know why but I don’t believe him.’

“Paps and journalists were following him all day, every day, the unravelling happened that week when he wouldn’t pick up my call, and instead you’re talking to TMZ and I’m finding out that you’re not coming to our wedding through a tabloid.”

  • ‘I am my mother’s son’

Harry referred to his mother as well, saying he is his “mother’s son” – and that showed in his decision to marry Meghan.

Speaking in the first episode, he said: “I think for so many people in the family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit the mould as opposed to somebody who you perhaps are destined to be with.

“The difference between making decisions with your head, or your heart. And my mum certainly made most of her decisions – if not all of them – from her heart.

“And I am my mother’s son.”

  • How the couple met

Their relationship dates back to an encounter on Instagram, they revealed in episode one.

Harry said: “I was scrolling through my feed and someone who was a friend had this video of the two of them, it was like a Snapchat.”

An image of Meghan with the popular dog ears filter is then shown.

Harry said: “That was the first thing. I was like ‘who is that?'”

Meghan said the friend then sent her an email, the words of which are typed out on the screen, saying: “Between you and I thought you might want to know this being newly single and all.

“I put our Snapchat on Instagram and Prince Haz follows me (he’s a friend) he called me last night dying to meet you. hehehe. I might just have to set you up” (sic).

Meghan’s reply, which was also typed out on screen, was: “Who is prince haz?????”

Below her reply viewers can see the words: “Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse all technological mishaps. I’m a Luddite.”

  • What has the royal family said?

So, how has the royal family reacted?

From the off, episode one opened with words written in white on a black background that said: “This is a first-hand account of Harry & Meghan’s story, told with never before seen personal archive.

“All interviews were completed by August 2022.

“Members of the royal family declined to comment on the content within this series.”

However, shortly after the documentary aired, sources said that neither Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace nor any member of the family were approached for comment on the content of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix series.

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