Harry and Meghan: Privacy within a global system
In light of Harry and Meghans’ new documentary series on Netflix, Charlie Oldroyd delves into the impact of media on our royal family and what it means to seek privacy outside the institution.
In modern-day society, we are living within a global system where tabloid media and the private lives of celebrities are intrinsically linked. The institution of the royal family and sensational tabloid journalism are no different- there cannot be one without the other.
In wake of ‘Harry & Meghan’, Netflix’s biggest documentary debut, the nation is divided with their opinions of the couple and their seemingly ironic journey for privacy.
Despite leaving the royal family in 2020 the couple have made controversial moves such as registering two entertainment companies under their growing list of businesses and signing a deal with Netflix, reportedly worth up to a hundred million dollars. This suggests that the Sussex family may be seeking approval from a diverse and more sympathetic American audience and cutting more than just their formal ties to Britain.
The couple have made controversial moves such as registering two entertainment companies under their growing list of businesses.
The documentary is an insightful but carefully controlled piece, focusing on the lifelong invasions of privacy experienced by Harry, likening their struggles to his mother Princess Diana. Through containing an account of their love story, with the couple affectionately referring to each other as ‘H’, and ‘M’- a degree of privacy is maintained through their streamlined relationship timeline. Being a limited series, the next three episodes teased reasons for the couple deciding to leave the royal family- and promises a kind of melodramatic tension between family members memorably showcased in tabloid articles. It is admirable that the Sussexes are attempting to reclaim their story, but their subtle critique of the royal institution does not come without controversy.
The couple seems to have alienated the British public with their critique of the ‘beloved’ royal family, making some enemies in the process—namely Piers Morgan. Meghan Markle began her tumultuous relationship with the controversial personality as friends, after having a few drinks together in a bar. Having thought to be dissuaded from continuing the friendship by Harry due to privacy fears, Morgan went on to brand her a “social climber” and a disingenuous person. The negative media attention around Meghan accumulated into a “feeding frenzy” with online hate snowballing into tabloids harassing her friends, family and ‘Suits’ co-stars. In the documentary Meghan and Harry go on to explain how they have begun to overcome the unconscious bias and racial prejudice originating from the royal institution.
Historically, the perspective of a white male has been of paramount importance, creating a culturally homogenous society epitomised in Britain’s colonial history. This leads to the dismissal and trivialisation of people of colour’s experiences, exemplified by the pressures of the media’s harsh spotlight. For example, Meghan has come under extreme scrutiny after joking about British social conventions, making a joke about curtsying for the late Queen Elizabeth.
As the only black woman within the royal family, Meghan’s experience is her own, and cannot be dismissed through attacks on her personality and marriage to Harry.
As the only black woman within the royal family, Meghan’s experience is her own, and cannot be dismissed.
Overall, the extreme degree of surveillance and lack of privacy drove Harry and Meghan away from the working royal lifestyle. They have gone through several revolutions together, instead of reforming and redefining their subset of the royal family they have created their own future. Despite having more control over the product that they release, the everlasting media buzz surrounding the royal family is inescapable as they try to capture the essence of the American entertainment business.