Opinion: 'Harry & Meghan': Let's not get carried away 2
Photo by Jonathan Brady/empics/picture alliance

Opinion: 'Harry & Meghan': Let's not get carried away

The whole fuss surrounding the Netflix documentary about Harry and Meghan is fueled by the media. And beyond the royal family feud, the tabloid press is at the core of the problem, says DW's Silke Wünsch.
Silke Wünsch, Deutsche Welle | Dec 17 2022

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan turned their backs on the British Royal Palace in 2020 and said goodbye to all royal duties and titles.

They explain how this happened in a six-part Netflix documentary series combining lots of emotion, mobile phone videos, paparazzi photos, black-and-white pictures, flashbacks and emotional music.

Now everything is out. And the series has one measurable consequence: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's popularity in England has sunk even more than ever.

No wonder, since the British media who are the main focus of the series have already attacked the couple in the run-up to the Netflix documentary.


Headlines that sicken  

In the beginning, there was a love story. When the couple was ready to face the public about their relationship, they knew that their lives would change. But the two — as they describe it — did not calculate it would be so extreme.

Harry, who lost his mother Diana at the age of 12 because she had a fatal accident while fleeing from paparazzi, saw how history threatened to repeat itself. The US-American Meghan was only just getting to know the British tabloid press.

Scenes like this one aim to show how much the couple longs for normality
Scenes like this one aim to show how much the couple longs for normality. Image: Netflix/PA Media/picture alliance

And this doesn't come off well in the series. Again and again we see pictures of a pack of photographers pointing insanely large telephoto lenses at the couple.

And from one gossip piece to the next, the headlines about Meghan feel like a sickening rollercoaster, elevating her to the beautiful dream princess and then trampling her in the dust as the Black bride from the ghetto or the diva who spreads chaos at Buckingham Palace. The press steers opinion as it pleases. 

The media's hounding of Lady Di is often mentioned in 'Harry & Meghan'
The media's hounding of Lady Di is often mentioned in 'Harry & Meghan'. Image: empics/picture alliance

And so Meghan and Harry have taken the reins themselves and tell their side of the story, expressing their grief from the soul — admittedly in a way that is clearly media-savvy and that is extremely beneficial financially for them too.

Meanwhile, the royal family sticks to Buckingham Palace's tradition of maintaining silence and refrains from loud retaliation. Which means the entire hubbub is once again being taken over by the press.

Whether the accusations of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are justified remains to be seen.

If they could, the royal family facing those accusations would probably fire back just as vehemently, portraying their side of the story subjectively, too.

It is clear that many Brits who are closely connected to the royal palace deeply detest Harry and Meghan's Netflix appearance — for them the couple's exit from the "Firm" was already a betrayal. 

For me, as a non-Brit and neutral observer, this series stands for something different.

It tells the story of a couple who had to take a radical step in reaction to unjustified media abuse, and now want to explain themselves — hoping to one day live a halfway normal life. 

It also portrays the tragedy of a large family the media considers to be their property — with all consequences that may have.

 This article was originally written in German.