Meghan and Harry documentary review: Why Netflix series is a tease and hasn't blown up the monarchy - yet

Eight o’clock in the morning and it’s buffering. All I’m getting of Netflix’s biggest-ever show – bigger than The Crown because this promises “the truth” about the House of Windsor – is an ever-spinning red circle in front of a still image of the two principals hand in hand descending a grand staircase.

In my frustration, I’m wondering if one of them will put a foot through a step and gamely attempt to carry on walking, just like Shirley Bassey in that comedy gold routine on The Morecambe and Wise Show.

The hold-up is presumably because the whole world is desperate to see the first instalments of Harry & Meghan. And, going by the shock-horror headlines over the past few days, fully expects the King to abdicate by lunchtime.

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“It’s over,” the notice pinned to the gates of Buckingham House might read. “We’re archaic, out of touch, no bally use. Just like my fountain pens. Charles R.”

The Harry 'n' Meghan show finally airs on NetflixThe Harry 'n' Meghan show finally airs on Netflix
The Harry 'n' Meghan show finally airs on Netflix

Well, having sat through all three hours, I can tell you there is no comedy gold and, more crucially, no big reveal. If H and M, as they call each other, really do intend to blow up the monarchy, then it’s going to be next week when the second half of the series is released.

Memo to my editor: “Can I please be off that day?” I feel I’ve done my duty. I’ve listened to Harry gush: “This is a great love story.” I’ve heard him bill and coo about their “beautiful matrimony”. And the incessant, infernal incidental music – the kind of two-note piano symphony used to preface the “trauma” of a reality-show contestant’s back story – has driven me berserk.

After one of those Netflix warnings really used by viewers as incentives to watch – “language, discrimination” – Harry in video-diary mode asks: “What on earth happened?”

It’s March 2020 and he’s just fulfilled his last royal engagement. He then says: “The hate that has been stirred up over the last three years, especially against my wife and son … I’m genuinely concerned for the safety of my family.”

After – partially – living a life of “duty and service”, he has a new obligation: “To uncover the exploitation and bribery that happens in our media.”

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First, though, the story of how H and M – “Hell-raiser Harry, the world’s most eligible bachelor” and the Hollywood actress – got together. Meghan’s friends, one of whom rejoices under the name Silver Tree, supply the details.

The nugget in this interlude, if it could be so termed, is Harry, in seeking a woman who might be willing to put up with him and all the royal baggage, came armed with certain essential requirements. Off-camera, he’s asked what was on his “list”, but refuses to say, possibly muttering to himself: “More bally intrusion!” (Er, mate, your Netflix deal is reportedly worth $100 million. They’re going to want some bang for their buck).

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The opening episode is basically Harry’s story – a childhood of “happiness and adventure” tragically interrupted. On a family skiing holiday Diana has to chase the paparazzi off the slopes.

The cameras continued to follow him through laddish adolescence. But dressing up as a Nazi officer was “one of the biggest mistakes of my life”, he says. He atoned to the Chief Rabbi and at the Holocaust memorial.

Then, when introducing Meghan to The Firm, he admits to sneaky enjoyment of the family “not knowing what to do with themselves”. He adds: “I think they were surprised that a ginger could land such a beautiful woman, such an intelligent one.”

In the second instalment – Meghan’s – she insists as a young girl she wasn’t the “pretty one”; rather, determined to be the “smart one”. A self-confessed “nerd”, she was 11 when she wrote to Ivory Clear, manufacturers of washing-up liquid, to complain about a commercial painting this drudgery as being women’s work. It got changed.

She remembers the first time she heard her mother being called the n-word. Fast forward a few years and if she expects more enlightenment in the UK when the royal romance becomes public then a tabloid chooses to describe her as being “(almost) straight outta Compton”.

There then follows a history lesson from black authors about days of Empire when Britain propagated slavery to a greater extent than the US, our “deep South” happening to be overseas. This is designed to give the series some heft when Meghan clearly had enough to do getting the wave right, Googling the national anthem and not out-dressing other Firm members.

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The second hour ends with her saying: “No matter how hard I tried or how good I was, they were still going to find a way to destroy me.” Now we’re getting somewhere, you think, but the last episiode of this week’s batch majors on the wedding, the fall-out with her father and the step-sister who labelled her “Princess Pushy” and “a shallow narcissist not fit to be royal”.

So if members of her family are prepared to sell their stories, can all the blame really rest with the press?

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The racy headlines continued in the build-up to the big day: “Related to a serial killer … porn star ex … snorts cocaine.” It was, says Meghan, like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Stressful, no doubt about it, and racially-motivated, the couple and their supporters insist.

After the recent hype – “Sussex, lies and videotape” sums it up – I definitely expected more bombs. Doubtless Harry’s father and brother, who hardly feature, did too.

It seems we’ll have to wait a few more days for revelations to rival the incendiary Oprah interview. Either that or Netflix might be proposing some “adjustment” of the whopping fee.

Back at the beginning of what seems like months ago, accompanied by that excruciating piano, Meghan says: “I really just want to get to the other side of this.” Me too.



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