Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, ripped into British tabloids and the media for prying into their lives for financial gain and sensationalistic coverage in a new Netflix documentary.
In the first three episodes of “Harry and Meghan,” which released Thursday on the streaming platform, the couple also accused the British royal family of dismissing the media’s “exploitation” of Meghan.
Harry said his family told him that Meghan, who is biracial, was going through a “rite of passage” but said he responded to them “the difference here is the race element.”
Harry and Meghan married in 2018. Two years later, the couple gave up royal life and moved to California in a high-profile split from the royal family.
The couple’s rift with the royal family grew more contentious after a 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, when Harry and Meghan alleged that a member of the family had commented on how dark their son Archie’s skin would be.
After the interview, Prince William defended the royal family and said “we are very much not a racist family.”
Meghan explained in the documentary that she has struggled with being biracial and that she “wasn’t trying to stand out” in the royal family.
“There’s no version of me joining this family and trying not to do everything I could to fit in,” she said.
The documentary narrates an overarching story of Harry and Meghan’s relationship, as well as both of their childhoods. The couple said the series was a way for them to tell their own story outside of the press.
The released episodes also include interviews with friends and Meghan’s mother, while providing commentary from experts on British media and on race in the United Kingdom.
The first episode deals with Harry’s childhood around the press. He accused tabloid reporters and photographers of hounding his family for unauthorized photos to “sell for tens of thousands of dollars.”
“Papparazi used to harass us to the point where we had to be forced into smiling and answering questions to the traveling press pack,” he said.
Harry also compares the media treatment of his mother, Princess Diana, to how Meghan was treated when she became a member of the royal family.
In the ’90s, Diana’s strained relationship with Harry’s father, then-Prince Charles, was the subject of intense media coverage. Princess Diana died in 1997 after a car crash.
The British couple have taken legal action against the tabloid press. Meghan last year won a libel suit against the the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for breaching her privacy.
The second and third episodes center on Meghan’s childhood and the media’s treatment of both her and her family.
David Olusoga, a British historian and professor at the University of Manchester, said in the documentary that British newsrooms are mainly white and they “decide whether something has crossed the line of being racist.”
The documentary also shines a light on how some media outlets are granted unfettered access to the British royal family because the family’s lives are funded by taxpayer dollars.
David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance, cautioned against the motives of the documentary, telling The Associated Press the couple was using the “fame and notoriety of the monarchy” for publicity.