The first half of the six-part docuseries dropped on the streaming giant at 8am on Thursday, with King Charles III and the Windsors steeling themselves for the revelations in the first three episodes. Netflix billed the series - entitled Harry & Meghan - as a global event.
In the opening scenes, began with a written statement on black background saying it was a “first hand account of Harry & Meghan’s story told with never before seen personal archive”. It added all interviews were finished in August 2022 and then a statement appeared saying: “Members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content within this series.”
However Palace sources have denied this, and said members of the Royal Family were not approached to comment. A senior source in the royal household countered this, PA Media reported.
As episode continued, and the piano music continues to play, Harry says: “This isn’t just about our story. This has always been so much bigger than us. No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth. The institution knows the full truth. And the media know the full truth because they’ve been in on it.”
The poignant piano music began to play before showing airport shots and Harry filming himself at Heathrow airport in March 2020, saying: “We’ve just finished two weeks, out final push, our list stint of royal engagements. It’s really hard to look back on it now and go what on earth happened?”
The “unprecedented and in-depth” docuseries, directed by Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus, is billed as a Netflix global event, with Harry and Meghan sharing “the other side of their high-profile love story”.
The first episode, which is 56 minutes long, shared the impact of Harry’s childhood in the public eye and their secret relationship in the early days. The second episode covers press coverage of Meghan, and her background, while the third episode includes part about their engagement, which Meghan describes as an “orchestrated reality show”.
Harry’s father Charles and brother William, along with Camilla and Kate, are not expected to be personally watching the series, but royal aides will be tasked with closely monitoring the output, and considering, if at all, how to respond.
The King and the royal family will be carrying on with royal duties as normal on Thursday, with the documentary also coinciding with the first circulation of coins bearing Charles’s effigy in post offices around the UK – symbolic of the adjustments still continuing in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.
The Netflix trailer showed footage of the the Duke and Duchess of Sussex receiving rapturous applause while conducting royal duties as well as announcing their engagement and their wedding in 2018, a news clip voiceover by Piers Morgan says: “She’s becoming a royal rock star”.
It then cuts to Meghan saying “and then” before snapping her fingers with Harry adding: “Everything changed”. Harry speaks of there being a “hierarchy” within the royal family, before saying there is “leaking” and “planting of stories”, and that it is a “dirty game”. Someone interviewed for the series is seen saying: “There was a war against Meghan to suit other people’s agendas”. While another says: “It’s about hatred, it’s about race”.
What is Harry and Meghan’s Netflix deal?
Harry and Meghan signed lucrative deals – thought to be worth well over £100 million – with Netflix and Spotify after quitting the monarchy and moving to the US. Archewell Productions, created by the couple “to produce programming that informs, elevates and inspires”, is working on a documentary series called Heart Of Invictus, set to be released on Netflix.
The show follows people competing at the Invictus Games, with a camera crew seen close to Harry and Meghan during their time at the event in The Hague earlier this year. Archewell Audio, meanwhile, aims to “produce programming that uplifts and entertains audiences around the world”. Spotify has released episodes of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast
With Harry, Netflix promised an “unprecedented and in-depth documentary series” over six episodes where Harry and Meghan “share the other side of their high-profile love story”.
It added it was a “never-before-seen look at one of the most-discussed couples in history”. Netflix said the show “explores the clandestine days of their early courtship and the challenges that led to them feeling forced to step back from their full-time roles in the institution”. It features commentary from friends and family, most of whom have never spoken publicly before about what they witnessed according to Netflix, and historians who discuss the state of the British Commonwealth today and the royal family’s relationship with the press.
It adds: “The series does more than illuminate one couple’s love story, it paints a picture of our world and how we treat each other.” The director is two-time Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning director Liz Garbus.
How can I watch the series?
The first three episodes of the series are now live on Netflix, as of 8am on 8 December - exactly three months after the death of Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. Both trailers have been posted on the Twitter account for Netflix, the clips can also be viewed in this article. Volume II will air on 15 December.
Royal watchers had questioned the timing of the first teaser during the Waleses’ State-side visit for William’s major Earthshot Prize awards ceremony, dubbed “the Prince’s Superbowl moment of the year”. Harry has had a long reported rift with his brother William and also spoken of his strained relationship with his father the King.
The monarchy is also currently facing a serious race row, after a royal aide repeatedly quizzed a Black charity boss on where she “really came from”. The royals are also adjusting in the aftermath of the Queen’s death.