Perhaps the most vociferous criticism hurled at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle since they left life as working members of the royal family nearly three years ago looks something like this: “If you wanted privacy so much, then why a.) take part in the Oprah Winfrey interview? b.) sign lucrative deals with Netflix and Spotify? c.) write a book? d.) all of the above. You can’t have it both ways.”
Well, according to Harry and Meghan’s private office, their step back in January 2020 actually wasn’t about wanting privacy at all. Critics were out in full force after the release of the first three parts of Harry and Meghan’s docuseries on Netflix this week, which lays bare known and unknown details of their courtship, leading up to their wedding in May 2018. (The final three parts of the six-part series will pick up in the leadup to the wedding and will air on Thursday.) Said critics called the openness and glimpse into their private lives in Harry & Meghan hypocritical, to which the couple’s office answered, “Their statement announcing their decision to step back mentions nothing of privacy and reiterates their desire to continue their roles and public duties,” according to a piece in The New York Times, via their press secretary Ashley Hansen. “And suggestion otherwise speaks to a key point of this series. They are choosing to share their story, on their terms, and yet the tabloid media has created an entirely untrue narrative that permeates press coverage and public opinion. The facts are right in front of them.”
Let’s look at Harry and Meghan's statement from January 2020 to fact check Hansen—it said, in part, “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.” They added “It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, The Commonwealth, and our patronages.”
Well, true—no mention of privacy anywhere in that statement.
However, as Page Six reports, in July 2020, Harry and Meghan filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit that might have contributed to the privacy narrative as a primary reason for the step back. Later, in May 2021, Harry shared he had “no regrets” about leaving his role in the royal family because “of their headlines and that combined effort of The Firm and the media to smear” Meghan.
The docuseries will air its final three episodes on December 15.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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