The final episode of Harry & Meghan - released this week as part of the Netflix docuseries’ three-part final instalment - shows the Duke and Duchess of Sussex chatting with Tyler Perry outside his house, where they stayed after leaving Canada.
“We were there for six weeks and no-one knew,” Harry said, referring to Perry’s house. “My family still thought I was in Canada.”
Reflecting on their time in Vancouver Island, the Duke of Sussex says: “This was like a week before Covid, and we’d been stuck at this house where everyone in the world knew where we were, unprotected, no security.”
Meghan tells the programme that Perry said his house was safe and he would make sure they had security, offering the couple a safe place to stay away from the eyes of the world’s media.
She says she told him they would only stay for a week, adding: “He’s like ‘You’re not going to stay for a week. You’re going to stay for as long as you need, and I’m going to get you there safely, and I’m going to keep you there safely until you have somewhere to go’.”
Speaking about the couple’s situation when they were living in Vancouver Island, Perry says: “They just wanted to be free. They wanted to be free to love and be happy. They did not have a plan… There was no plan.”
But just who is the Sussex’s close friend? Here is everything you need to know.
Who is Tyler Perry?
Tyler Perry is an American actor, comedian, filmmaker, and playwright. He experienced a challenging upbringing, being physically abused as a child by his father (he later changed his name to distance himself from his father) attempting suicide and dropping out of high school.
Perry started keeping a journal after seeing Oprah Winfrey say that it can be cathartic to write down personal experiences on TV . These diaries eventually turned into his debut play, ‘I Know I’ve Been Changed’.
Since then, he has produced multiple plays and acted in many films - including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Star Trek, and Gone Girl - and created his comedy alter-ego Madea, a brutally honest, rowdy gun-toting grandmother, whose name comes from the common African American contraction of "Mother Dear".
Perry was in a relationship with Etheopian model Gelila Bekele from 2009 onwards. In November 2014, Bekele gave birth to their son, but in December 2020, Perry announced that he was once again a single bachelor. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Perry is though to have a net worth of around $800 million (£656 million), though some estimates suggest it could be as much as $1 billion (£820 million).
How does he know Harry and Meghan?
Harry and Meghan first revealed that Perry provided them with security and housing for three months that allowed the couple to safely relocate from Canada to California a year previously in their March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Following the withdrawal of their British royal protection, the couple stayed at his $18 million (£15 million) California estate when they left the UK, despite allegedly never having met Perry in person.
It is revealed in the most recent episodes of Harry & Meghan that Perry wrote to the Duchess just before her wedding while the scandal between her father Thomas Markle and the paparazzi was still going on. In the letter, he expressed his desire for her to "just be able to move through it and hold on.”
Perry wrote that he would always be there for Meghan if she needed anything. Prince Harry is seen speaking on his phone in another scene, saying: “This is the current situation. Thanks to another amazing friend who we’ve never met, but who believes in us and wants to help.”
“I was just crying and crying,” says Meghan on her and Perry’s eventual meeting. “Sometimes it’s easier to just open up to someone who knows nothing at all, and that was that moment with me and Tyler.”
The family’s stay served as "a slice of normal life" before they purchased their own Montecito house, and Perry’s relationship with the couple grew so strong that he is now the godfather of the couple’s daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.