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HomeNewsHarry and Meghan Netflix show going after Kate Middleton exposes sad truth

Harry and Meghan Netflix show going after Kate Middleton exposes sad truth

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If you ever want to feel good about the world, if you ever need a momentary injection of joy and pep and some warm-fuzzy feelings in your day, just do a Google image search for ‘Harry and Kate laughing.’

You will find a delightful series of the duo giggling, guffawing, howling, chuckling, and tittering in just the sort of cockle-warming fashion we all need after what has been a very long year.

Which just makes what I am about to tell you all the more depressing.

Here we are, days on from the debut of Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix documentary, an overly indulgent navel-gazing outing with all the gloss and depth of an Instagram post, and there is one crappy fact we have all overlooked thus far: The most obvious barbs directed at the royal family were centred around Kate.

If you’ve sat through the nearly three hours of Harry & Meghan, a marathon of soft lighting and wide-eyed kvetching, an outing untroubled by many facts or anything like a contradictory viewpoint, then you will know that there is not much by way of royal mud-slinging.

Instead we get lots of broadsides directed at the media (some absolutely legitimate, some not) and a non-stop barrage of lovey-dovey photos and personal snaps of the couple just in case you, the viewer, was not acutely and painfully aware that this a Love Story dammit.

(Suck it Cinderella. She never got whisked off to Botswana to pee behind a bush or had a proposal featuring 15 battery-operated candles that look like they came from a Tesco sale bin.)

While the scenes of Harry talking about his run-ins with the press as a child are devastating, the rest of the first three episodes could have been condensed into a crisp 50-minutes if we had not been forced to sit though every sappy selfie the lovebirds snapped in their early relationship.

However, in among all the emotional video diaries (how very Big Brother circa 2003 of them), there were a few royal criticisms, wedged in with the subtlety of a Benny Hill re-run.

In episode one, Harry said: “I think, for so many people in the family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit in the mould as opposed to somebody who you perhaps are destined to be with.

“The difference between making decisions with your head, or your heart.”

Then in episode two, while talking about the barrage of media interest directed at Meghan once she was publicly linked to “Prince Haz” as it turns out friends call the royal, our knight in a shining Range Rover says: “What people need to understand is as far as a lot of the family were concerned, everything that she was being put through, they’d been put through as well. So it was almost like a rite of passage.

“Some of the members of the family were like, but, ‘My wife had to go through that. So why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?’”

(Harry’s rejoinder? “The difference here is the race element.”)

Working out just who Harry would seem to be referring to here requires all the intellectual sophistication of decoding an Old McDoanld pop up book.

That the Princes William and Harry have fallen out is older news than the yellowing copies of Horse & Hound that can probably still be Camilla’s private sitting room. (You never know when you might want to read a 2002 feature on new ways to break in a filly.)

But what is striking about these doco comments is not that Harry took a couple of swings at William but that he did so by dragging his marriage – and by extension Kate – into things.

If you’re reading this, then I hardly need to tell you how chummy Harry and Kate, the former patron saint of cork wedge heels, used to be. For so many years, in public, the now-princess had the slightly nervy look of a woman in constant fear of getting it a bit wrong.

While a certain ease developed, over the years many of the public moments when she seemed truly at ease while in the spotlight, when we saw her laughing or seeming to let her guard down a millimetre, were moments that also included Harry.

The trio’s former closeness has been widely reported, including that Harry used to pop over for dinner to William and Kate’s apartment when they all lived close to one another inside Kensington Palace.

(After Harry and Meghan announced their engagement in November 2017, William said: “For me personally, I hope it means he stays out of my fridge and will stop him from scrounging my food, which he’s done for the last few years” which is an adorable image.)

The troika’s professional lives were also entirely and outwardly at least very successfully intertwined, all of them plugging away at the Royal Foundation, which was co-founded by the brothers in 2009.

Then it all fell apart.

What I don’t understand is, you hardly have to have read the collected works of Freud to understand why the relationship between William and Harry might have ended up where it has (two words: ‘Heir’ and ‘spare’) but why bring Kate into this?

Moreover, can we please talk about the fact that I don’t think Harry is even right.

His reference to there being a “temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit in the mould” is just confusing.

How exactly is Kate, a woman from a middle-class background whose mother was a flight attendant, who is descended from coal miners and whose ancestry for the last 200 years boasts exactly no titles an obvious candidate for a royal marriage?

(In 2006, the Daily Mail ran a story that dug into the “the extraordinary, dirt-poor family past of the girl who would be Queen”.,)

Sure Kate went to the right schools, nor was never exactly troubled by way of any sort of professional ambition pre-marriage but we’re not exactly talking about some triple-barrelled daughter of the nobility who came out of the womb clutching a copy of Debrett’s and knowing the correct fork for partridge. (I also always enjoy the fact that Kate will be the first Queen with a university degree to her name.)

The same goes for Queen Camilla. The world’s most famous former mistress who was once referred to as that “wicked woman” by the late Queen and who was the permanent target of an entire nations’ hatred in the ’90s is hardly a someone who ‘fits’ into any stock-standard regal “mould”.

Most Queens haven’t had to refute stories about once having a bread roll thrown at them in a supermarket.

For both Charles and William might have chosen women with the right sort of vowels but beyond that neither Camilla or Kate was the obvious or easy choice for a royal bride.

Interestingly, Harry was not the only one who took a swing at Kate in “volume one” of the Sussexes’ outpouring.

Meghan recounted pre-duchess dom and at a point when “I could just authentically be myself,” being introduced to the Waleses:

“Even when Will and Kate came over and I had met her for the first time … They came for dinner. I remember I was in ripped jeans and I was barefoot. I was a hugger, always been a hugger. I didn’t realise that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits.

“I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside, carried through on the inside. That there is a forward-facing way of being.

“And then you close the door and you are like (sighing) ‘Oh, great. OK, we can relax now.’ But that formality carries over on both sides. And that was surprising to me.”

Perhaps post-Oprah and Meghan’s claims that Kate had made her cry, the decision to tell this story shouldn’t come as a ‘surprise’ to us.

But we are only halfway through this drawn out process of learning the Sussexes’ ‘truth’ with the second tranche of episodes landing on Thursday. It remains to be seen whether this lot is another lengthy exercise in recycling the same old criticisms and drama or whether Netflix is finally about to get some real bang for their bucks.

(Maybe that explains why of the more than 73 million Netflix subscribers in the US, less than one million households tuned in to watch the show on the first day.)

Here’s one thing I think we can say with an LA-worthy degree of confidence: We are never going to see Kate “authentically” share her feelings about the Sussexes’ jibes or Meghan’s ripped jeans or her “lived experience” of being hunted by the paparazzi for nearly a decade.

She might not have been born to fit any sort of Palace “mould” but she seems to innately understand one intrinsic and fundamental lesson: Discretion is the better part of HRH-dom.

Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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