There have been reports this week that Harry and Meghan will allow cameras to follow them around for a new Netflix reality series. Meghan is, a source says, keen for the world to see the ‘real her’, and hopes that such a programme will ‘shine a light on people and causes around the world.’
The claims are in line with what sources have told Grazia in recent weeks. In August, a source told me that a one-off, fly-on-the-wall project was a distinct possibility, saying: ‘on paper, this might sound like the couple are approaching a reality-TV model, but it would focus completely on Archewell and their charitable endeavours. You won’t see inside their home, or catch glimpses of Archie in front of the camera.’ However the programme might balance the depiction of Harry and Meghan’s lives, and however it may focus on charity and philanthropy, I fear it may be a big mistake.
In the last year, it has become more evident than ever that people either love Meghan or loathe her. Before the couple left their roles as senior royals, much of the criticism thrown at her had a ring of justification. It seemed more reasonable to ask why she and her husband spent so much money on the wedding, or travel, or their home, when our money was paying for it, for example. But now that the pair have left the country, stopped taking our money, repaid the funds they were asked to return, those criticisms seem less reasonable. The venom is more obvious. It’s evident that the hatred is continuing despite the lack of firm grounds. It seems to me that the divided camps have become entrenched in their positions and, in fact, are no longer camps. They are towns, with firm foundations and spiked battlements. I have chosen my side – they seem like good people to me, and while I think certain criticisms are valid I find most of it to be cruel, misogynistic, classist and racist.
A fly-on-the-wall documentary – I will refrain from calling it a reality series because, let’s face it, this isn’t what we’re dealing with here, whatever the headlines say – will show Harry and Meghan’s fans that they are kind, proactive, pleasant and passionate about charitable causes. They are sure to be seen meeting with children or the vulnerable, lighting up their day, showing their radiant warmth. We will certainly meet individuals whose lives are set to be changed by Archewell’s work. We may shed a tear – helped by the uplifting refrain of Coldplay’s Fix You – as someone who society had given up on is put on the path to success by the prince and his American wife. You will applaud the couple for putting aside their dislike of cameras in order to raise awareness and funds for vital work.
In short, if you’re fond of the couple, you will walk away from the series knowing what you already knew: that you like Harry and Meghan, that you support their departure from the UK, and that you wish them well on their well-meaning projects.
If you dislike the couple, then you will view the documentary as propaganda, a cynical marketing ploy. If Meghan is seen eating avocados on toast during a branding or strategy meeting, you will question its carbon footprint. You will go down an online rabbit hole and take glee in discovering that one of the people they help has a criminal record – heaven forbid. You will complain that the programme goes against their calls for privacy. If you spot Archie, then you will say that they are using his image for publicity, invading his life for Machiavellian purposes. If he does not appear at all, then you will propose that the absence signals neglect or poor parenting. You will find Meghan smug and opportunistic. You will think Harry bewitched.
My fear for this promised programme is that it will leave the scales precisely where they are. I worry that Harry and Meghan have their fans, and their critics, and those people have shown time and time again that their minds have been made up. I don’t think anyone who could be won over has not already come over to the light side. Putting themselves out there in this way, I believe, may placate those who love them, but only enrage the naysayers further.
Perhaps, the programme’s charitable focus and the money that will surely be raised because of it makes it all worth it. Maybe Harry and Meghan believe that the inevitable criticism and cruel headlines that will follow the transmission is a small price to pay for a greater good. If so, then I wish them the best of luck. But if they are hoping to change even a single mind, I worry that the mission will be fruitless.
Nevertheless, I’ll be tuning in. Millions will. Because what is clearer than ever is that, rather than pretend they don’t exist and get on with their lives, there’s nothing Harry and Meghan’s critics like more than consume everything they do, then talk about it for weeks. It must be exhausting.