GUY ADAMS asks what else doesn't stand up to scrutiny in Sussexes docDecember 9, 2022
As the BBC blasts Harry and Meghan’s ‘simply untrue’ claim about TV interview, GUY ADAMS asks what else doesn’t stand up to scrutiny?
- Stories that do not add up in documentary include how the couple first met
- Previously told Harry and Meghan met on ‘blind date’ set up by a mutual friend
- Docuseries claims pair met through Instagram after Harry saw vid of Meghan
- Other contradictions include how well Meghan actually knows sister Samantha
In the first moments of his score-settling film, Prince Harry confidently informs viewers that ‘no one knows the full truth’ about the events that have led to his and Meghan’s estrangement from the Royal Family.
Then he leans into the camera to declare that, actually: ‘We know the full truth’.
What’s more, he adds: ‘The institution knows the full truth’. Oh, and come to mention it: ‘The media know the full truth because they’ve been in on it.’
It is, of course, impossible for these four statements, delivered by Prince Harry within a few seconds of each other at the start of what purports to be a factual documentary, to be true simultaneously. After all, the final three remarks are completely at odds with the first one.
Guy Adams questions what else doesn’t stand up to scrutiny after the BBC blasted Harry and Meghan’s ‘simply untrue’ claim about a TV interview
That, however, is entirely in keeping with three hours of film that are riddled with contradictions, inconsistencies and apparent falsehoods.
Is the couple’s highly-partisan narrative the truth? Or is it, as one of their Hollywood chums once remarked, simply their version of the truth?
Netflix’s strange disclaimer
According to Buckingham Palace, the first major porkie crops up just 20 seconds into the first episode.
During the opening credits, Netflix introduces the documentary as ‘a first-hand account of Harry and Meghan’s story’ and declares that ‘members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content within this series’.
Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary began with this statement – Buckingham Palace today disputed this in a blow to the credibility of the series
In contrast, a senior Palace source said yesterday: ‘Neither Buckingham Palace nor Kensington Palace nor any member of the Royal Family were approached for comment on the content of the series. Nor will we be making any further comment on this nor any other aspect of it.’
A Netflix source later insisted the communications offices for the King and the Prince of Wales were contacted in advance and given the chance to react to Harry and Meghan’s ‘claims within the series’.
But Kensington Palace then responded by saying that they had an email from a third-party production company, not Harry and Meghan’s Archewell foundation or Netflix. The Prince of Wales’ aides then contacted the Sussexes and the streaming giant to verify if it was genuine, but got no reply.
A ‘blind date’ that wasn’t
Harry and Meghan first met thanks to a mutual friend, who decided to set them up via a ‘blind date’. That’s the version of events we‘ve always previously been told, at least.
The first picture Prince Harry apparently saw of Meghan Markle was a snap of the actress with a dog filter on, shared to Instagram
On the day of their engagement, Meghan, for example, revealed: ‘Yes, it was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date.’ Harry added: ‘It was a blind date, for sure.’ Five years later, this heartwarming story has significantly evolved.
‘Meghan and I met over Instagram’ Harry now claims, saying he was just ‘scrolling through my feed’ on Instagram where a mutual chum had posted a video of Meghan. Finding her unusually attractive, he phoned the friend to say he was ‘dying to meet’ the actress.
Meghan played hard to get, though. She only agreed to be put in touch after vetting Harry via his Instagram feed. ‘Then we got each other’s numbers,’ Harry recalled during the opening episode of the Netflix documentary, which suggests that they shared multiple FaceTime calls.
‘We were just constantly in touch, and I went “Let’s meet!”’
Forced to propose in the UK?
The gospel according to Team Sussex has it that stifling royal protocol forced Harry to delay proposing to Meghan until she was in the UK.
‘I wanted to do it earlier, but because I wanted to ask permission from my grandmother I couldn’t do it outside the UK,’ he alleged.
An incredibly intimate snap of Meghan and Harry’s engagement was shared in the docuseries, showing the royal on one knee in the UK
In reality, while senior royals are indeed expected to receive consent from the monarch before getting engaged, there is absolutely no rule dictating where they need to be to propose. Harry’s brother, Prince William, proposed to his then-girlfriend Kate during a trip to the foothills of Mount Kenya in October 2010.
A fanciful royal engagement
As for the moment of their engagement, Harry has previously told the BBC that he proposed in the kitchen during a ‘standard, typical night’ in their cottage at Kensington Palace, with Meghan recalling: ‘We were just roasting chicken. Trying to roast a chicken. And it just was an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.’ In episode two of the Netflix show, Harry reveals that he actually proposed in the garden outside the cottage, on a picnic rug surrounded by 15 electric candles.
The couple have released a picture of the evening of their engagement which sees them celebrating with their dog
Meghan not only had time to record herself calling up a friend named Jess to say ‘Oh my God, it’s happening!’ but was also able to shoot a souvenir video of the ‘joyful’ scene.
BBC anger over ‘reality show’ fib
On the day their engagement was announced, in November 2017, Harry and Meghan sat down for a 20-minute interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain. Beamed around the world to hugely positive reviews, it was, on the face of things, a stunning PR success, cementing the couple’s popularity with the British public.
So do Harry and Meghan now look back fondly on the whole thing? They do not.
Netflix viewers are instead told that the interview was part of an ‘orchestrated reality show’ with the Duchess of Sussex claiming: ‘It was, you know, rehearsed.’ Later she adds: ‘We weren’t allowed to tell our story, because they didn’t want it.’ Harry agrees: ‘We are not allowed to tell our story. That’s true. That’s the consistency.’
It’s quite an allegation. And one which is vigorously disputed by the BBC. Ms Husain told Radio 4’s World at One yesterday that prior to meeting the couple at Kensington Palace: ‘We went and had a conversation with Harry and Meghan and two members of their team beforehand and we talked about what the interview would cover, what they felt comfortable sharing.
‘After that, we went and set up our cameras. They went away for a bit and did their photocall and when they came back we recorded a 20-minute interview.’
The then-director general of the BBC, Lord Hall, has issued a statement defending Ms Husain’s journalism. It says that Meghan’s allegation that the interview was ‘an orchestrated reality show’ is ‘simply untrue’.
Cynically doctored interview footage
In a dubious piece of editing, the Netflix documentary deletes the first 177 words of Harry’s reply to a question in which Ms Husain asked whether the couple’s ‘different backgrounds’ meant they would ‘represent something new’ for the Royal Family.
Harry’s actual response, when the BBC broadcast the full interview in 2017, was to nod in agreement, gushing at great length about how ‘everything was just perfect’ and saying ‘the fact that she’ll be really unbelievably good at the job part of it as well is a huge relief to me because she’ll be able to deal with everything else that comes with it – but no, we’re a fantastic team. We know we are. And we hope to over time try and have as much impact for all the things that we care about as much as possible.’
In a dubious piece of editing, the Netflix documentary deletes the first 177 words of Harry’s reply to a question in which Ms Husain asked whether the couple’s ‘different backgrounds’ meant they would ‘represent something new’ for the Royal Family
Fast forward to yesterday morning and the Netflix version has been cynically doctored.
After secretly removing the first section of his response, the documentary maker has dubbed over the word ‘but’ to give the impression that Harry’s full response was instead: ‘Erm… no, we’re a fantastic team. We know we are. And we hope to over time try and have as much impact for all the things that we care about as much as possible.’
As a result of this sleight of hand, viewers are given the impression that Harry gave a negative response to Ms Husain’s question – fuelling the narrative that the couple were already unhappy.
Fake news about the Press
A running theme in all three episodes is that Harry and Meghan have been the victims of endless injustice at the hands of British newspapers.
James Holt, the former head of their Archewell organisation, at one point alleges: ‘The UK tabloids have a very unique role to play in British life. On one hand, they have the sensationalised element that loves to gossip. But equally, it’s not just entertainment because the tabloids have been arbiters of public opinion for such a long time. A number of tabloids could sway governments.’
To illustrate his point about ‘loving the gossip’ and ‘controlling opinion’, a clip of a newspaper front page with the word ‘Demons’ on it suddenly appears.
Viewers are doubtless meant to assume that this headline refers to Harry and Meghan.
In fact, in a highly offensive move, it turns out to have been taken from an edition of the Liverpool Echo published in 2016, covering the outcome of an inquest into the Hillsborough tragedy.
Elsewhere in the same episode, during a clip where Harry accuses British newspapers of ‘outright racism’, we are shown one headline from The National Enquirer, a title published in Florida, and another from a US magazine called Life & Style.
The latter reads ‘Princess in crisis’. However, the article it was taken from was published in 2010 and contained (false) claims that the then Kate Middleton was an alcoholic.
A section of the documentary claiming that Harry and Meghan’s marriage was ‘turning Britain’s most traditional brand on its head’ is illustrated with a headline that reads: ‘Changing the royal rules’. It has been cropped to prevent viewers realising that it comes not from a British paper but instead from the American version of OK! magazine.
Finally, in the third episode, detailing her fallout with her father Thomas, Meghan claims that she ‘found out that [he’s] not coming to our wedding through a tabloid’. The truth? As the footage aired minutes earlier demonstrated, the story was broken by TMZ, a Los Angeles celebrity website and TV broadcaster.
Proof Meghan DID wear colour
The suffering that Meghan claims to have endured at the hands of the Palace extends to her wardrobe. Specifically, she tells Netflix that ‘most of the time that I was in the UK, I rarely wore colour.’
Meghan Markle tells Netflix that ‘most of the time that I was in the UK, I rarely wore colour’. Pictured: Meghan during the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House, London in July 2018
Why so? ‘There was thought in that. To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same colour as Her Majesty, if there’s a group event. But then you also should never be wearing the same colour as one of the other more senior members of the family. So I was like, “Well, what’s a colour that they’ll probably never wear? Camel? Beige? White? So I wore a lot of muted tones, but it also was so I could just blend in.”’
It’s a striking claim. And one that seems completely at odds with photographs of the Duchess wearing extremely colourful outfits to a host of royal events. During a four-month period in 2018, she stepped out in, among other things, turquoise, yellow, green blue and red frocks. The following year, outfits included wore purple, red, apricot, and green ensembles.
As for the suggestion that she only wore ‘muted tones’ to avoid clashing with the monarch, an alternative explanation is that they’re simply her favourite colours. After all, earlier this week she turned up to the Ripple of Hope awards in New York in a bright, white Louis Vuitton number worth £10,000.
A matter of protocol
Back when they were called the ‘Fab Four’ Harry, Meghan, William and Kate decided to set up a charitable organisation called the Royal Foundation. But its launch was marred by controversy when the Duchess of Sussex decided to respond to a question about empowering women and girls by talking about the #MeToo controversy, sparking criticism that she was straying into politics.
Back when they were called the ‘Fab Four’ Harry, Meghan, William and Kate decided to set up a charitable organisation called the Royal Foundation. But its launch was marred by controversy when the Duchess of Sussex decided to respond to a question about empowering women and girls by talking about the #MeToo controversy
Recalling the incident in the third Netflix episode, Meghan blames ignorance of royal protocol. ‘I didn’t know that it would be taboo to talk about,’ she says. ‘To me, it was just topical.’ It’s a perfectly decent excuse – were it not for the fact that just a few seconds later she appears to contradict herself, saying that ‘joining the Royal Family, I knew that there was a protocol for how things were done’.
Harry also ties himself in knots during the same episode when discussing the Palace’s relationship with Fleet Street. One moment, he claims that ‘Royal Correspondent’ is a meaningless title ‘given to a selected group of journalists so that those newspapers can use them and their stories with Royal Correspondent as credible fact’ and to ‘add legitimacy’ to stories that are false. Seconds later, he describes Royal Correspondents as ‘an extended PR arm of the Royal Family’.
Self-evidently, both allegations can’t be true simultaneously.
Meghan’s early interest in royalty
Meghan has always claimed that she never looked up her husband online, telling Oprah Winfrey during her 2021 interview: ‘I didn’t grow up knowing much about the Royal Family… It wasn’t something we followed’. She sticks with that line in the Netflix show, claiming that she had no idea who ‘Prince Haz’ was prior to being introduced. ‘Did I Google him? No!’
Childhood friends remember things differently, however.
One, Suzy Ardakani, has alleged that they would watch Diana’s 1981 wedding to Charles. ‘I always loved Diana and I have her biography, which I gave Meghan to read,’ Suzy’s mother Sonia told the Mail in 2017. ‘I videoed Diana’s wedding back in 1981, and I would watch it with Suzy and Meghan all those years later.
Another old school friend, Ninaki Priddy, told interviewers how they were photographed together outside Buckingham Palace during a 1996 visit to London: ‘Meghan was always fascinated by the Royal Family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0.’
A year later year, Princess Diana died. ‘Aged 16, she watched the funeral of Diana with her friends,’ biographer Andrew Morton has written, ‘tears coursing down their cheeks at the poignant moment when the cameras zoomed in on the royal coffin.’
Royal affairs were also discussed on Meghan’s lifestyle blog The Tig when Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011, ‘Little girls dream of being princesses,’ she wrote. ‘And grown women seem to retain this childhood fantasy. Just look at the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Royal Wedding.’
How distant IS her sister?
Seeking to discredit her wayward half-sister Samantha, Meghan claims: ‘The last time I saw her, that I remember, was in my early 20s.
Meghan’s sister Samantha, left, blasted Meghan’s claim that the two women haven’t seen each other in 20 years, sharing an image of them at her college graduation in 2008
‘I hadn’t had a fallout with her. We didn’t have a closeness to be able to do that.’
The picture above tells a different story. It shows the two young women cuddling up at Samantha’s graduation in 2008. At that moment, Meghan (who is now 41) was 27.
Samantha has previously dismissed attempts to portray their relationship as distant, saying: ‘We’ve got photographs over a lifespan of us together, so how can she not know me?’
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