For better or worse, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s self-titled docuseries Harry & Meghan has been the talk of the town since Netflix dropped a minute-long trailer for the Liz Garbus-led six-part creation on Dec. 2.
Half of the series finally arrived on Thursday morning, and in 171 minutes, the three episodes consolidated a lot of what the Duke and Duchess’ have already shared in previous, carefully executed interviews: They dissected their secretive courtship, the historic and present-day flaws of the royal institution, and the challenges that led them to step back as working royals in March 2020.
More novel is the journey Garbus’ direction takes viewers on to examine race and empire in Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as the 2016 European Union membership referendum dubbed “Brexit,” which coincided with Meghan and Harry’s courtship the same year. The docuseries also invites their current and childhood friends, colleagues from outside the royal institution, academics, and Meghan’s mother and niece to shed light on the tumultuous six years that they have spent together.
The documentary opens with a note stating that the documentary is a “first-hand account” from the couple, with a “never before seen personal archive.” It adds that the royal family declined to comment on content contained in the series.
Notably, a title card reveals that “All interviews were completed by August 2022,” a clarification likely due to Queen Elizabeth II’s death the following month, which led to Harry’s father, formerly Prince Charles, succeeding to the throne and becoming King.
While we wait to see where the final three episodes take us upon their release on Dec. 15, here is everything we have learned so far from the multimillion-dollar collaboration between Netflix Archewell productions.
A friend told Harry and Meghan to start filming video diaries that form the documentary
Harry is seen filming a video in March 2020 at a suite in London Heathrow Airport after they finished their “last stint of royal engagements.” He reflects how they ended up here. Meanwhile Meghan is in Vancouver Island, Canada, making the same reflections.
While many viewers who saw the trailer might have wondered why the couple had a wealth of footage at the ready, Harry reveals that a friend told them to start filming video diaries as they made their transition away from working royal roles.
“With all of the misinformation that was going on out there, especially about us and the departure, it seemed like a really good idea,” Harry says via selfie video footage. In her own video, Meghan adds: “We know that right now, it might not make sense but one day it will make sense.”
The couple met over Instagram
A relatable moment in the documentary comes early on when the couple say they met over Instagram in 2016. Harry recalled that he saw a mutual friend post a video with Meghan wearing a now-recognizable dog ears filter and it piqued his interest.
Meghan was on holiday in Europe between filming seasons of Suits, and having a “single girl summer,” according to another friend. Their mutual friend asked Meghan if she was interested in a date with Prince Harry and she asked to see his Instagram profile to get a better sense of who he was.
It was here that they started messaging each other before going for an hour-long drink at London’s Soho House on 76 Dean Street—a date that Meghan says Harry was late to. They met in the same venue the next day, as Meghan was due to head back to the U.S. the day after.
Harry says men in his family typically marry someone who fits the royal mold
Harry said there was a “temptation or an urge” for men in the royal family to marry a partner who would “fit the mold” over someone you are destined to be with. He said there was a tension between thinking with your head or your heart but recognized that he and his mother Princess Diana both had a tendency to let their hearts guide their decisions.
Harry reflects on his childhood
Harry said his childhood often featured intrusions from paparazzi who followed them on holidays trying to get pictures. He said they were “forced” into smiling and answering questions from the “traveling press pack.” He also said that while his childhood was “filled with laughter” as well as happiness and adventure, he doesn’t have many early memories of his mom.
“It was almost like internally I sort of blocked them out. But I always remember her laugh, her cheeky laugh. Her always saying to me, ‘You can get in trouble just don’t get caught,’” he said.
Harry also spoke about the death of his mother in 1997 during a car crash in Paris. He said he and William had “two hats to wear,” one was that of grieving sons and the other royal hat where they could “show no emotion” and greet people.
Harry and Meghan’s third date was camping in Botswana
In 2004, Harry arrived in Lesotho amid a number of negative headlines about him and he became close with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. Seeiso says Harry was allowed to “be himself” in Lesotho and added that they nicknamed him Malahe, or warrior. He began visiting on a yearly basis after this, and said he would stay for as long as three months at a time.
Harry said his time in Africa was “quite special” and so it was “critical” to take Meghan with him. The couple both had a week off between work in the summer of 2016 so Harry invited her to Botswana for their third date. The couple shared a tent for five days and despite initial worries that it might not work, they said “everything felt totally normal and natural.”
Doria, Meghan’s mother gives her first interview
Early into the second episode, Doria Ragland gives her first sit-down interview, saying “the last five years has been challenging” and she is ready to have her voice heard. Doria says that Meghan’s early courtship with Harry had to be a secret from the beginning and the first time she met him, she saw a “six one handsome man with red hair” and “really great manners.”
Doria said there was a “novelty” to their relationship at first but this quickly soured.
Meghan reflects on her childhood and racial identity
Doria says Meghan was raised by a “network of women” and her daughter told her she felt like an “older controlling sister.” The episode reflects on her youth as an activist, a performer, and a straight-A student before turning to a racist incident that Meghan saw her mom experience where a woman “screamed” a racial slur at Doria after a concert at The Hollywood Bowl.
Meghan said she found it “very different to be a minority but not be treated” as one. She added that before arriving in the U.K. most people didn’t treat her like a Black woman so she never had to have a talk with her mom about racism.
Doria added that “in hindsight” she would like to go back and have that conversation but she did later warn her that a lot of the negative attention she was getting was due to her race.
Meghan says the palace told her not to invite her niece to the royal wedding
Samantha Markle, Meghan’s half sister with whom she shares a father, maintains that she and Meghan had a close relationship until 2018, which Meghan denies. Meghan said she was, however, in touch with Samantha’s biological daughter Ashleigh Hale, the Duchess’ niece, who was raised by her grandparents in the absence of Samantha.
Ashleigh tells viewers they began speaking several times a week and traveled to New Orleans together: “It was just the two of us, which I think was really special,” she said. She added that Meghan acted as a sister, best friend, and in a maternal role too.
During her relationship with Harry, Ashleigh said communication with Meghan was less frequent and she assumed that her interactions were being managed by the royal institution. Meghan says the press team she and Harry shared with Prince William and Kate Middleton decided it was to not invite Ashleigh to the wedding if her mother, Meghan’s half sister wasn’t invited. Ashleigh says “I was hurt on some level but I understood where it was coming from.”
Harry says he learned a lot about bias after his offensive Halloween nazi costume
Race and empire plays a central part of the docuseries, with a particular focus in episode three. One instance touches on Princess Michael of Kent, the wife of one of the Queen’s cousins, who wore a blackamoor brooch—which is widely viewed as a racist figure—to a Christmas lunch.
The documentary touches on a series of other racist imagery within the royal households and establishes them as engrained in the royal fabric. Prince Harry says there is a “huge level of unconscious bias” in the royal family and while it’s no one’s fault you must educate yourself when it’s pointed out.
He also touched on his own incident which he called “one of the biggest mistakes of my life.” After wearing an offensive Nazi costume to a 2005 halloween party when he was 20-years-old, Harry said he spoke with “felt so ashamed” and wanted to “make it right.”
He said spoke to a Rabbi and traveled to Berlin to speak to a Holocaust survivor. “I could have ignored it and probably made the same mistakes over again in my life but I learned from that,” he said.