So far, so…okay? After the dramatic leadup to the release of Harry & Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s long-awaited and anticipated six-part Netflix docuseries, after the first three parts dropped two days ago, the royal family is apparently breathing a huge sigh of relief. So far, anyway, the series seems to be less of a hit piece about the royal family and more of one about the media, according to The Mirror. (But hey, keep in mind, there’s still time—we’ve only seen half of the series’ offerings.)
Edward Coram-James says the teaser and the trailer for the series “appears to have been misleading,” and that the show’s bark (at least so far) seems to be worse than its bite for the royal family. Coram-James, a reputation and crisis management expert and CEO of Go Up, says the promotional materials for the show made it look like a direct attack on the royal family, but so far, he says he is "more concerned with the criticism of the media and press being highlighted throughout the episodes, rather than overt critique of the royal family.”
“Pictures of a furious Princess of Wales [Princess Diana] plastered across Netflix’s advertising outlets promised audiences a high-level, inside job hit piece with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex attacking the royal family,” he tells The Express. “This intentional piece of smoke and mirrors advertising, promising one thing but delivering another, has been successful, generating huge international publicity and driving up numbers for a streaming platform that has had a very bad year defined by declining subscriber numbers, revenue, and value. But, in reality, this series appears to be more of a hit piece against the media than against the royal family.”
Coram-James also tells the outlet that Harry & Meghan is designed to “create a clear distinction” between the “cold and distant” institution of the monarchy and a “light and relatable Harry and Meghan”—and the series is, according to the expert, a “masterstroke from the Sussexes.”
“Individuals rarely get to dictate and oversee the biopic of their own lives,” he says. “In normal circumstances, journalists and filmmakers try to be as objective as possible, giving a rounded overview, interviewing multiple sources on either side of a debate and asking the subject hard-hitting questions. However, this series sees an informative but also very two-dimensional view of the world purely through the eyes of the Sussexes. I would be delighted if one of my clients was able to have a many-hour Netflix series about their lives which promised to take their words at face value and with zero scrutiny.”
That said, Coram-James says that Harry & Meghan won’t likely change public opinions about the couple, as opinions many have about the Sussexes are already cemented: “The world already knows a lot about Meghan and Harry, and most people have already developed their opinions,” he says. “From a reputational point of view, it is important to get in quick and get in early. After an impression has been formed, it is very hard to change that impression.”
The narrative of the Sussexes has slowly built over the past five years, and most people’s opinions are already set, he says. Harry & Meghan is unlikely to sway someone to the other side.
“Those that love the royal family will find many reasons in this docuseries to further dislike the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, being cynical about their claims of innocence in all of this and suspicious that the real intention may be financial,” Coram-James says. “Those that are fans of the Duke and Duchess will walk away even more entrenched in their view that the royal family is an out of touch, formal, colonial relic that has to go, and that Meghan and Harry are victims of an ongoing harassment campaign.”
Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.
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