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Despite Criticism, Netflix's 'Harry & Meghan' Still Has a Story To Tell

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

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The latest Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan has received criticism primarily for not revealing anything the public didn't know. Touted as the couple's chance to 'tell their own story' and essentially take control of the narrative, the docuseries consists of 6 total episodes. 

The first three episodes focused mostly on the beginning of their relationship and the later treatment of Meghan Markle and Harry by the British Media; especially the tabloids. 

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Talking about the relationship the Royal family has with the British public, Harry says, "It all comes down to control. It's like this family is ours to exploit. Their trauma is our story and our narrative to control."

The show points at several problems with tabloid journalism. Arguably, the eponymously named show, could be seen as a PR exercise - there are, of course, cameras trained on two people telling their side of the story. 

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

A still from Harry & Meghan.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

On that same note, the stories surrounding their relationship, their exit from the Royal family, and so much more, have been woefully one-sided as well, considering how deeply entrenched the British media is in the lives of the common public. 

Though the racist undertones of the hatred Meghan has received, both in the media and online, have been criticised extensively, the docuseries helps the audience see how it affected the subjects. 

On several occasions, Harry points out that he was worried about his family's safety, claiming that the way the paparazzi followed Meghan reminded him of his mother (Princess Diana). Harry has often alleged that the paps played a role in Diana's death. 

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

A still from Harry & Meghan.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

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It's unlikely that many people have reached the level of public appeal that Princess Diana did and she's also said to be one of the most photographed people ever. 

Admittedly, none of the claims made in the docuseries can be considered to be cold, hard evidence but the conversation being had about the lived reality of Black and mixed race people in the United Kingdom is important.

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

A still from Harry & Meghan.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland features in the Netflix docuseries to recall how she warned her daughter that her race would become a talking point because of her association with the Prince.  

A few days after the show hit Netflix, one UK paper published a defense, full of positive articles about the Duke and Duchess. The piece called the couple's claims 'lies' and alleges that 'victimhood' is Meghan and Harry's 'favourite register'. 

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Tabloid journalism, itself, has been long called out for sensationalism but a majority of the 'hate' leveled at the couple also came from social media.

Several trolls have called Meghan a 'gold digger' or worse for dating Harry but a look into their relationship (and courtship) has many people gushing over how comfortable the duo seem with each other.

One section of the docuseries deserves mention. When talking about how his family reacted to Meghan's treatment, Harry says, "What people need to understand is, as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that (Meghan) was being put through, they’d been put through as well."

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

A still from Harry & Meghan.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Additionally claiming that it was almost a "rite of passage", Harry alleges that some members of the family inquired why Meghan should get "special treatment" when their wives had to go through the scrutiny too. 

"And I said, 'The difference here is the race element'," Harry says. 

Media coverage about women across the world has been historically sexist and with the added scrutiny that comes from being a Royal, Harry's statement has some merit. 

Another aspect of media coverage and social media trolls that the docuseries didn't highlight has been the difference in coverage when it comes to Meghan and Kate Middleton. 

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

In a piece from 2020, Buzzfeed's Ellie Hall compared headlines about Markle and Middleton, marking a clear pattern. While Middleton holding her baby bump is 'tender', Markle doing the same is 'pride, vanity, or acting'.

Here are a few other instances of Meghan Markle in the press.

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.
'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

When it comes to social media, Meghan Markle has been lauded for 'closing her own door' and even criticised for not handing over her flowers to an aide. Ever since the docuseries released, the hashtags 'Meghan Markle Exposed', 'Meghan Markle is Toxic', 'Meghan Markle is a Liar' have surfaced on social media.

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Just to paint a full picture, the docuseries has since been accused of using "misleading" photographs. One article in the Sun claimed that one of the pictures used to portray paps trying to get a picture of the couple is from a Harry Potter premiere, years before the duo met. 

It's also reportedly the first stock image that comes up when searching for paparazzi pictures on Alamy.

The piece quotes Royal expert Ingrid Seward as saying, “I don’t imagine Harry would have realised, but Netflix have been careless here as it weakens Harry’s comment about protecting his family. This fake picture weakens his point.”

While calling the entire British media racist would be unfair, it would also be remiss to consider how Meghan Markle's race plays a role in the way she is perceived.

British historian David Olusoga, who features in the series, wrote in a op-ed in The Guardian, “My Twitter feed is rarely pretty, but recent days have been particularly unappealing,” adding, “a primordial soup of defensiveness, racism, misogyny, jingoism and whataboutery, garnished yesterday with an antisemitic conspiracy theory, as the documentary’s producer comes from a Jewish family.”

The criticism about Harry & Meghan not making any new or sensational claims, ironically, could also be considered part of the ‘control’ Harry mentions. On the other hand, when the Oprah episode with the duo had aired, many people had accused the couple (and especially Meghan) of 'victimhood' and "complaining too much".

'Harry & Meghan' is touted as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's chance to tell their own story.

A still from Harry & Meghan.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

While a large section on social media continues to call out the misogynoir Meghan Markle has faced and continues to support her, some people continue to have a sort of voyeuristic relationship with celebrities and that includes the Royal family and in extension, Meghan and Harry.

It also shows why the Oprah special with the duo was often described as a ‘bombshell’ since it was the first time the couple publicly opened up about a lot of their struggles and some of the reasons behind their exit from the Royal family. 

That being said, the Oprah special was a much better watch than the documentary; lets see what the 3 new episodes bring. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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