Harry & Meghan, Vaihayasi Pande Daniel realises, is just a sequel to Diana’s Story.
Having watched the first three episodes of Harry & Meghan with quite some interest, Episode 4, when it started off, left me a little thanda.
Slightly boring, a bit draggy, too much about just how wonderful and exceptional Meghan was/is and the not-so-super-exciting super solidness of the Meghan-Harry jodi.
When things take a downturn in Meghan’s life, a gloom-and-doom tense soundtrack plays and there is a cut to grim moments for Princess Diana and then back to Meghan wearing black and the commentators that follow all are cornily wearing the lugubrious shade too.
By Episode 5 and 6, you were back sort of at the edge of your seat, as it focused onto the dramatic circumstances that lead to Harry and Meghan’s full departure from the royal family, and Prince William’s shadowy role in it when he disallowed Harry from opting for a ‘half in and half out’ job to protect his (William’s) inheritance/status.
That’s where alternative narratives play a significant role.
Meghan was so strongly vilified and ridiculed (cartoons of Harry the Dirty Dog on a leash held by Meghan) for the couple’s stepping back from royal duties, that there was no possibility of believing that there could have been more to the story of their dumping their Sussex responsibilities.
That has now been revealed in the docu-series, which I will not disclose further here.
The way the narrative played out in the media in January 2020 and on Twitter and other social media, there was no room for any different interpretation or even a slightly watered-down version of the events. And it was hard not to believe it.
Now whether the set of facts, put across last week in Netflix’s Harry & Meghan for their ‘Megxit’ (a term Harry abhors because ‘It was my decision. She never asked to leave… But it’s misogyny at its best’), is not yet another version for us to swallow, we will never know.
But either way, it does make one realise, embarrassingly, that it is very, very, easy to be led by the nose to believe that certain details are the truth because of the plausibility with which they are put forth in this new age of information.
We can live inside different realities that are impossible to tell apart, to know which is the right one.
The manufacture of hate is the other concept this docu-series very clearly brings out.
The animosity that built up towards Meghan as a fall-out of the Sussexes’ decision to leave royal life was pretty evident in the headlines of articles about them then and in the social media.
On social media, the bitter polarisation and the violence of the views continues to this day — before the release of Harry & Meghan.
But little did one really realise how the hate grew slowly, bit by bit, into a creature with its own mind and identity, which is how internet-generated hate works these days.
The hate escalated into death threats issued against Meghan and even their first child, Archie.
It’s hard not to be swayed when Meghan speaks tearfully and bewildered about encountering this hate and the deep fear that began to overtake her: ‘I am a mom. You are making people want to kill me? It’s not just a tabloid. It’s not just some story. You are making me scared… That’s real. Are my babies safe? You created it for what? Because you are bored or because it sells your papers.’
The second half of the docu-series also relives the picture perfect prettiness of the Harry-Meghan wedding and while their love story might get a bit cloying at times, there’s much that is sweet about it.
Quite a few frames in the film have an obligatory-watch happily-ever-after touch about them — like when Harry’s Adam’s apple wobbles as he sees Meghan coming up the aisle in Windsor on their wedding day, glowing in white or the shot of the two of them entwined against a shower of celebratory fireworks in the evening that followed.
There are also efforts, it would seem, to right a bunch of wrongs and correct any mistaken perspective that got out post the Sussexes’ exodus from Britain that might have shown them to be anti or out to run down Prince Charles or the queen.
Meghan speaks, through different little snippets, about her respect and awe for Charles and the queen.
You get to know quirky little bits about Charles via some of her remarks, like for instance, his blue-ribbon taste in music.
When they were structuring their wedding ceremony, they only had to turn to him to find the right gospel choir they needed or the perfect soprano for Meghan’s entry.
Episodes 5 and 6 deal in great deal with their ‘escape’ from Vancouver Island, Canada, to Los Angeles, and later Montecito, California.
When Buckingham Palace announced it would no longer fund the Sussexes’ security, the couple, hemmed in on all sides by paparazzi on the Canadian island, with COVID-19 and lockdowns approaching and the hate threats against Meghan rising, felt highly vulnerable.
Days before borders closed, H&M fled with their dogs Pula and Guy, son Archie and Meghan’s mother Doria to California where they regained a semblance of an existence, with Harry puttering about the garden without footwear and backyard soccer games in progress.
While ‘the land of milk and honey’ is an odd place for a barefoot British prince to find refuge (plenty of irony in it being a country that fought its freedom from the English crown), it is not surprising that California, which often functions as an enlightened country all by itself, is where the couple finally find their peace and life they needed.
Harry & Meghan establishes the much, much, deeper effect the death of his mother Princess Diana had on Harry.
Harry is taking up Di’s story from where it abruptly left off in a Paris underpass and continuing her narrative, while getting retribution on her behalf, through his own life and his fight against what he perceives is not right with the royal way of living and being in a devil’s bargain with paparazzi in perpetual pursuit.
Meghan happens to provide the anchor he needs.
Towards the end of the Netflix series, there is a sequence of Harry driving down some LA boulevard, the wind ruffling his hair, the setting sun behind and a Xavier Rudd song plays, ‘Follow, follow the sun, And which way the wind blows… Dream with care, tomorrow is a new day for everyone. Follow the sun, the direction of the birds, the direction of love…’
You are looking at Diana all over again and through her son, she lives on and you realise Harry & Meghan is just a sequel to Diana’s Story.
Harry & Meghan Part 2 streams on Netflix.
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