‘Harry and Meghan:’ Shame and scandal in the (royal) family  

Their story has angered, intrigued, and captivated public imagination. Netflix photos

By Wendell Gaa

Scandals and intrigue have been a bedrock of the British Royal Family since time immemorial, but there is just something about the fallout between Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle and the rest of the royal family which has angered, intrigued  and captivated public imagination.

This never-ending royal saga is even greater than the separation between Prince Charles (now King Charles III) and the late Princess Diana Spencer back in the early 1990s.  The self-imposed “retreat” of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from the royal seat speaks on a deeper level about the ethnic and social contentiousness which have lingered in British society for centuries, as well as the controversial and persistent nature of the English tabloid press culture.  These are issues which are addressed front and center in Netflix’s new documentary mini-series “Harry and Meghan.”

We would like to view the United Kingdom as a multi-racial, tolerant and internationalized society, and for the most part it is, at least that is the impression I got on my recent trip to London in July of this year.  Yet beneath the facade lies the unmistakable historical fact that the British Empire was literally built on the back of its slaves and subjects in different continents which it had exploited for several centuries well until the 19th century.  Great Britain abolished slavery in 1833, ahead of the United States.

Despite these milestone changes, discrimination and colonial patronizing attitudes associated with the British royals had persisted for years even throughout the 20th century.  In this regard, when Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, the first royal family member of color, in May 2018, there had been high hopes that this event would mark a sign of social and cultural progress both within British royalty and society as a whole.  But as events would eventually unfold, this would sadly prove a gravely missed opportunity.

Watching the documentary is an in-depth revelation of the personal heartbreak which the Duke and Duchess had to endure from experiencing initial love and praise from the British public, to then feeling constant jealousy, harassment and racially biased commentaries and criticisms from the notorious British tabloid press and paparazzi, whose members are notably overwhelmingly white and male.  Hearing the up-close and personal interviews of Harry and Meghan on the engulfing pressure and fear for their own security and lives, and that of their infant children which persists even to this day is not easy to watch or listen to.  Yet for lack of a better term, their stories make them all the more human and relatable. 

While I didn’t get the impression that this documentary mini-series is in any way necessarily leaning towards one side, I couldn’t help but wonder why no other member of the Royal Family, especially Prince William and Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, was given an interview, or why no official comment or reaction to the televised testimonies of the Duke and Duchess was ever issued by Buckingham Palace (at least not yet at the time of writing), despite the fact that busy schedules on everyone’s part could be an obvious factor or hindrance to the matter. 

Watching the interviews from the close personal friends and family members of the Duke and Duchess, particularly that of Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, does add so much more layers and context to understanding their upbringing.  Regardless of your opinions about them, “Harry and Meghan” adds an even deeper meaning to the perils of power, prestige and position.

A sequel in the works?

As if to tease that a sequel may be in the works, Harry made an allegation about a screaming fit by William during a family meeting to discuss his and Meghan’s departure from royalty.

He said, “It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father saying things that just simply weren’t true, and my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in.”

Completing this mini-series made me recall the personal advice Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington gave to his fellow actor Will Smith after the latter had infamously slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscar ceremony earlier this year. “At your highest moment, be careful, because that is when the devil comes for you.”

© The FilAm 2022

One Comment

  1. Deacon wrote:

    Great article and right to the point.

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