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Why kissing image from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Netflix trailer is so shocking

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The photo is very romantic: A glamorous couple done up in black tie, tenderly kissing in what looks like quite the designer kitchen worthy of a Nancy Meyers movie. There are what looks like roses in a vase, marble aplenty, the whole room done up on a scale that suggests square-footage or the cost was much of a consideration.

However, out of the barrage of tender and personal shots which we are bombarded with in the newly released trailer for Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s eponymous new TV show, this single photograph of them locking lips is the most extraordinary.

It’s not about what it shows, because heaven knows, the Sussexes have not let up on the PDA in the five years since their engagement was announced. (I have started to grow concerned that their hands might now be permanently fused together.)

No, what is pretty wild is where the shot would appear to be taken and when.

The duke, in the image, is wearing a pair of military dress pants and the duchess, a slinky evening gown. The last time that he wore said district trousers was in March 2020 when the Sussexes returned from North America for their final round of appearances as working members of the royal family. It looks a lot like this moment might have happened after they got a round of applause after attending Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall.

And that it in turn would mean the photo was not only taken inside the kitchen of Frogmore Cottage, the home whose $4 million plus renovation sparked no end of controversy back in 2019 (the couple has since paid back the moolah), but that this picture was taken while they were technically still HRHs and working members of the royal family.

When the couple’s documentary (which is definitely not a reality show OK?) first came to light last year after cameras were seen trailing behind them during a visit to New York, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the show would be focused on their US lives. Harry and Meghan Do Charity! Harry and Meghan Make Smoothies! Harry and Meghan Come To Grips With Their Water Bill! Harry and Meghan Read The Latest Eckhart Tolle!

And instead?

Viewers could be about to be given unprecedented access to the most rarefied, private world of royalty.

If this photo was in fact taken inside Frogmore then it could be that Harry and Meghan, rather than carefully demarcating between pre and post-Megxit or content taken on private or royal property, are going all in.

Another image, that also appears professionally taken, shows them walking through the hall of what looks quite a grand property with a box by the door that appears to read ‘Her Majesty.’ In it the duchess is wearing an outfit similar to one she wore during that March 2020 return visit to the UK.

Moreover, if The Kiss was captured at their UK home in March 2020, the biggest question is why was someone taking a shot that “appears to have been taken by a professional photographer,” per the Telegraph, when the ink on the Sandringham Summit was barely dry and long before their union with Netflix would come to light?

It would be nearly six months before the Sussexes announced their rumoured $140 million deal with TV giant in September 2020 and another month after that before it was first rumoured (and then promptly shot down) that they were working on what was allegedly a reality show.

It all comes down to the timeline. When did the Sussexes decide they were going to share their “love story,” as this series has been billed, with the masses? And when did they start gathering material for it?

In the duke and duchess’ eyebrow-scorching Oprah interview last year, Harry said that “during Covid, the suggestion by a friend was, ‘What about streamers?’” and that “We hadn’t thought about it. So there were all sorts of different options … from my perspective, all I needed was enough money to be able to pay for security to keep my family safe.”

Meghan also said: “We genuinely hadn’t thought about that before.”

Which made sense. While no one knows what their security bill might be, it would have to run into the millions of dollars. (Only this week Neil Basu, the outgoing Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, said in an interview that the duchess had faced “disgusting and very real” threats while she was a working member of the royal family.)

So, Harry and Meghan, back in 2020, agreeing to dally with the slightly déclassé world of mass entertainment seemed like something driven by necessity and even serendipity.

However, then came a couple of reports that called into question quite what had happened and when.

In April last year, the Telegraph revealed the Sussexes had meetings with Quibi, a long since shuttered streaming service, sometime before May 2019 (that’s when their first child Archie was born).

“The discussions are understood to have led to tensions with Palace staff fearful they would be accused of ‘cashing in’ on their status, and because the couple were predominantly consulting Meghan’s US-based team of advisers,” the Telegraph’s Camilla Tominey wrote.

Then in July last year, it was announced the former Suits star would produce a kids series called Pearl, only for the Telegraph to subsequently reveal the royal had been “in discussions with Netflix” since 2018 and the animated show “had been in the pipeline for several years.”

Now we get Friday’s Harry and Meghan reveal and this kitchen shot.

The puzzle this image raises is, just how long have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex been prepping for this show or even considering it?

Leaving aside the ‘when’ here, the ‘what’ is still pretty remarkable.

The Harry and Meghan trailer would suggest that this series (sorry, “global event” according to Netflix) will be largely focused on raking painstakingly through the past, not least via a buffet of private and highly personal photos. In quick succession in the taster, we are shown what look like holiday snaps, the duchess pregnant in something floaty on a beach, the beaming duo sitting on the grass as Harry plays a guitar, and them on the dancefloor at their wedding reception.

It’s like the sort of saccharine montage you might expect during a Bachelor finale when the couple has gotten their happily ever after and a tooth-whitening spon-con deal to boot.

All of which is to say, this degree of intimacy and this candidness represents a notable first, suggesting the Sussexes might not just have just agreed to give their new, post-royal lives the high-def doco treatment but to also invite viewers into the royal world in the UK in a way that has never been done before. (Sorry, the stiff 1969 Royal Family doco is a relic that is not even in the same universe.)

Harry and Meghan, Page Six has reported, will finally land on screens on December 8, US time (December 9 in Australia). I suppose it’s too late for King Charles to write to Santa begging for a global Netflix blackout isn’t it?

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.

Read related topics:Netflix

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