mon 30/01/2023

Harry & Meghan, Netflix review - at home with the Harkles | reviews, news & interviews

Harry & Meghan, Netflix review - at home with the Harkles

Harry & Meghan, Netflix review - at home with the Harkles

Media-shy couple can't keep out of the spotlight

Harry, Meghan and Guy the beagle

There’s no stopping Harry and Meghan. Logic, reason and facts can’t stand in the way of their “war on oppression and injustice” and determination to become “advocates of healing”. Even though their notorious interview with Oprah Winfrey was littered with demonstrable untruths, it seems their target audience buys into the notion of them telling “their” truth, surely the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card.

The absurdity of preaching eco-awareness while travelling everywhere by private jet and motorcade never seems to prick their perma-bubble of blissful self-regard.

Finally their Netflix documentary has landed, or at least the first three of its six episodes (mercifully it didn’t get 10, like The Crown), and most of it is bland, unquestioned self-promotion. It’s not going to make the Royal Family very happy, though. The so-called “Firm” is depicted as stuffy and stultifying, riddled with impenetrable rituals and afflicted with such appalling dress sense that Meghan was unable to wear any interesting colours (peach, yellow or whatever) until she transplanted herself back to California. In a wasteland of waffle, one treasurable anecdote is Meghan’s story about how she spent a dinner chatting away cheerfully to Prince Philip, only for Harry to tell her afterwards that she was talking into his deaf ear and he hadn’t heard a thing.

The sad thing is that, as some of the news clips remind us, the British public were initially enthusiastic and even excited about Meghan joining the Windsors. They believed that she brought a refreshing splash of modernity, her mixed-race background perhaps a sign that the Royals were capable of adapting to a different Britain and changing times.

But, with that emancipatory dream now vanished, director Liz Garbus and her team have gone out of their way to construct a narrative in which the British monarchy is the fount of all colonialism, racism and slavery ever seen in the history of the world. Though of course it isn’t so bad that Harry and Megs wanted to relinquish those royal titles, while giving their baby daughter the Queen’s family nickname. The films will play perfectly to America’s fruitcake-left, always desperate to find a country more racist than their own.

Witnesses for the prosecution include historian David Olusoga, whose work centres on racism and the colonial legacy, and Afua Hirsch, who comments that the Commonwealth, so beloved of the late Queen, is nothing more than “Empire 2.0”. It's Hirsch who points out that “the first ever commercial slave voyage conducted by Britain was personally financed by Queen Elizabeth the First”, and Olusoga reminds us that slavery fuelled the early British Empire. And he blames Brexit for triggering even more British racism than there was already. “Immigration is very often in this country a cipher for race,” he warns sagely.

Meghan dropped a pre-release hint that the finished films weren’t quite as she’d have liked them, and the couple evidently clashed with Garbus over some of the content, so you have to wonder if they really knew what they were making. The couple’s claims that they were desperate to safeguard their privacy and escape the predatory media pack – the UK press comes in for a sustained kicking, both for the way they hounded Meghan and for their historic excesses against Princess Diana – are undercut by the way the films include home movies of their home and children, as well as images and messages from their personal social media. Harry has commented that the clicking of press cameras triggers terrible flashbacks to his mother’s ordeals by media, but he doesn’t seem bothered by them when he turns up, for instance, to collect the President’s Award at the NAACP and aver that he and Megs “share a commitment to a life of service.”

Harry often seems a likeable bloke, but at 38, it’s surely time he stopped harping on about the impact of Diana’s tragic death. It’s as if he secretly knows that his mother is the only interesting thing about him. You have to wonder how much he really believes in (or understands) the uber-woke psychobabble he has to trot out as he virtue-signals his way around global summits and awards ceremonies. But this is Meghan’s natural habitat, in which she glides with silky poise, never at a loss for a sleek and politically impeccable soundbite. President Markle? Well, if Joe Biden could do it...

It’s as if Harry knows that his mother is the only interesting thing about him

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