The first three parts of Harry & Meghan was released on Netflix this week, and it was already making the news before it landed on the site. However, rather than the expected new revelations, the couple used the series as an opportunity to articulate things that are already public knowledge.
Harry and Meghan revisit the events over the course of their relationship that pushed them to step back as senior royals, eventually taking the step to relocate to North America. The couple have made many claims about the royal family over the years, and have found themselves in the headlines too. These are some of the major controversies from Harry and Meghan’s relationship:
Harry and Meghan controversy timeline
Princess Michael’s Blackamoor brooch (December 2017)
Princess Michael of Kent wore a Blackamoor brooch on her jacket to a Christmas lunch at Buckingham Palace which was attended by the Queen as well as Meghan, who had got engaged to Prince Harry the month before.
Blackamoor jewellery and art was popular during the time of the British empire and colonisation - it generally depicted Black African men in positions of servitude - as slaves or servants - and adorned with expensive jewels and precious metals.
Princess Michael did not sit at the same table as Meghan during the lunch, but was introduced to her at that event. She later apologised for wearing the brooch and said that she would retire the item of jewellery. In the documentary, Harry discussed the brooch and said that the royal family have an ‘unconscious bias’.
Split from William and Kate (November 2018 - present )
Harry and Meghan split from the joint court of Kensington Palace where they had resided with Prince William and Kate. It was originally claimed that the move was a result of the couple’s desire to set up their own separate charities, however, the first between both factions has continued to grow.
Harry and Meghan originally moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor in 2019, before moving to North America the following year - they now live in California. Harry and Meghan and William and Kate have appeared together at various royal events since the split, including Archie’s christening and the Queen’s funeral.
However, as Harry continues to speak out about his family, through the Oprah interview, Netflix documentary, and his upcoming memoir, Spare, relations with his brother and the rest of his family have continued to be frosty, and there doesn’t seem to be much chance of a full reconciliation soon.
Meghan/Kate cry-gate (2018-2022)
The Daily Telegraph stated in November 2018 that Meghan had reduced Kate, then Duchess of Cambridge, to tears over Princess Charlotte’s (William and Kate’s daughter) dress. However, one of the revelations alleged during the Oprah interview was that, according to Meghan ‘the reverse was true’, and it was actually Kate that had made Meghan cry.
Meghan added that Kate then brought her flowers and a note of apology. However, former BBC journalist Tom Bower wrote in his book, Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors, published in July of this year, that Meghan did actually make Kate cry.
The controversy over who made who cry may never be solved - but the debacle divided royalists into two camps - those who supported Meghan, and those who backed Kate. These divisions have remained as the rift between the two royal couples has been sustained.
Thomas Markle letter (February 2019)
Meghan’s father Thomas, from whom she has been estranged for several years, leaked a handwritten letter she had sent him to the Mail on Sunday in 2019. Thomas stated that he told the Mail to only publish extracts from the letter, which the paper did.
In the letter, Meghan told her father that his actions had broken her heart, and that he had lied about his relationship with her and berated Harry to the press. Following the Mail’s decision to publish the letter, Meghan sued the paper over misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Meghan won a symbolic £1 from the Mail, but the paper also had to pay $2 million in legal fees and also agrees to a pay a confidential sum to the Duchess for copyright infringement. Harry discusses Thomas Markle in the documentary, stating that Meghan ‘doesn’t have a father’.
Oprah interview (March 2021)
Harry and Meghan’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, which had a peak audience of 12.4 million, contained several bombshell claims about the royal family, including the charge that Kate had made Meghan cry and that the family had refused to correct the record in the press.
Other revelations which came out in the interview included that Harry attended therapy, including Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, and turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with anxiety. But one of the biggest claims made in the interview was that one member of the family, though Harry and Meghan did not state who, expressed concern about how dark their son Archie’s skin would be when he was born.
Meghan also mentioned having suicidal thoughts and how she didn’t act on them because she felt it would have been unfair to Harry, who had already suffered the death of one important woman in his life, his mother, Princess Diana. Piers Morgan left breakfast show Good Morning Britain after claiming that he didn’t believe a word of what Meghan said during the interview.