Harry & Meghan part 2 review: The royal bombshells are finally dropped

The second instalment of the Netflix series holds no punches, with Prince Harry revealing intimate details of his royal rift with brother Prince William

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As the credits roll on the fourth episode of Netflix’s Harry & Meghan, the lyrics to Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me play out.

“You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys,” the song goes.

“Don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say.”

It sets the tone for what is about to come in episode five, when Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, hold no punches in revealing the details of exactly what happened when they stepped back as senior members of the royal family.

The final three episodes of the docuseries, which set a viewing record for the streaming service when volume one was released last week, were out on Thursday, offering up several revelations into the feuds, relationships and internal politics of the royal family that have been so hotly speculated over for the past few years.

Episode four dives right into the royal wedding, a moment most viewers will remember fondly. The couple share unseen pictures and tales from the day — especially from the reception — which appears a world away from the pomp of their St George’s Chapel ceremony.

There’s Elton John on the piano, Idris Elba on the decks, and some pretty impressive dancing from Prince Harry.

Meghan revealed that she felt really calm on the morning of the big day.

“All I wanted was a Mimosa, a croissant and to play the song Going to the Chapel,” she reveals. “And that’s what I did.”

Prince Harry, meanwhile, shared his thoughts at seeing Meghan walk down the aisle. “Look at me,” he said. “Look what I got.”

But much like their lives as royal newlyweds, the joyous tone of the episode is short lived.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, speak of the couple’s decision to step away from royal duties and make a new start in America. AP

Family jealousy

Meghan recounts her first — and what would be only — engagement with Queen Elizabeth II with warmth, calling it a great day. “When we got into the car between engagements, she had a blanket and she would put it over my knees,” she says. “And we were sitting in the car with this blanket and I thought, ‘I recognise and respect that you are the queen, but in this moment, I’m so grateful that there’s a grandmother figure, because that feels like family.’”

However, as popularity for the couple — and specifically Meghan — grew, they hint at jealousy behind the scenes.

“The issue is, when someone who is marrying in should be a supporting act, is then stealing the limelight or doing the job better than the person who was born to do this, that upsets people, it shifts the balance,” Prince Harry says.

No names are mentioned, but they don’t need to be.

It’s then, the couple say, that things began to turn. Several side-by-side headlines are shown, comparing similar situations between Meghan and Kate, then the Duchess of Cambridge.

From avocados to bump cradling to necklines, the media’s polarising treatment of Meghan and Kate is laid bare.

“If you don’t see the difference and you don’t understand why it’s being reported that way, I can’t help you,” Harry laughs. “I just can’t.”

Meghan elaborates on the comments she made in her March 2021 interview with Oprah Winfrey, when she revealed she had thoughts of taking her own life, and there are emotional moments as both her mother, Doria Ragland, and Prince Harry talk about the impact that had on them.

“I felt angry and ashamed. I didn’t deal with it particularly well. I dealt with it as institution Harry, not as Husband Harry,” he says, adding that he had been trained to worry more about what people would think if they didn’t turn up for an event than the impact it had on Meghan.

Throughout these moments, and several more across the episodes, we are shown footage of his late mother, Princess Diana, and reminded of the mental health struggles she faced as a result of constant media intrusion and harassment.

Princes William and Harry have had a tense relationship in recent years, following the latter's decision to step back from his role as a senior royal. AP

What really happened between Princes Harry and William?

Ahead of Harry & Meghan being broadcast, the question on everybody’s lips was just how much the couple would reveal around the royal family’s fallout, and in particular, that of Princes William and Harry, the brothers the world grew up watching.

In this second instalment, some of those questions are finally answered.

Prince Harry describes the tactics of the palace's media relations as a “dirty game”, explaining that as well as the leaking and planting of stories, communications teams also offered the press stories about other members of the family to have negative stories about their “primary” removed.

“William and I saw what happens in my dad’s office, and promised we’d never let that happen in our office,” he says.

“I’d far rather get destroyed in the press than play along with this game or this business of trading. And to watch my brother’s office copy the very same thing that we promised we’d never ever do, that was heart-breaking.”

Given how carefully Prince Harry had danced around the topic, even with Winfrey, it feels like a big moment to hear such clear-cut revelations of how things went down, and it’s not the most shocking thing he says, either.

Speaking of the now infamous meeting between Princes William and Harry, King Charles III and the late Queen Elizabeth at Sandringham to discuss the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping back as senior royals, he accused his father of lying and his brother of shouting.

“It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and have my father say things that simply weren’t true, and my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in,” he says. “But you have to understand from a family perspective, especially from hers, there are ways of doing things and her ultimate mission and goal slash responsibility is the institution.”

After that meeting, there were stories in the British media that Prince William had “bullied” Prince Harry and Meghan out of the family. These were promptly disputed in a joint statement from the brothers.

However, Prince Harry reveals he was never asked to put his name to such a statement, and was left “gobsmacked”.

“In four hours, they were happy to lie to protect my brother, yet in three years, they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us,” he says.

He also accuses the monarchy of “institutional gaslighting” and refers to the couple’s farewell tour of the UK, and in particular, the Commonwealth service at Westminster Abbey, as feeling akin to a “living in a soap opera.”

“It looked cold and it felt cold,” he says.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex now live in California with their family. Photo: Netflix

Happily ever after?

In the final episode, we are introduced to Tyler Perry, who offered up his Los Angeles home to the couple after their security was pulled and they left Canada. Perry is painted as something of a saviour to the couple, having never actually met them before they took their “freedom flight”, as Prince Harry calls it, to make the move to the City of Angels. They later rewarded him by asking him to be their daughter Lilibet’s godfather, we learn.

While it was not all plain sailing in the US — Meghan speaks of her miscarriage and the media intrusion being far from over — the final episode paints the couple’s life there as idyllic.

And despite the couple trying hard to push the low-key life they say they always wanted, with hikes, walks on the beach and gardening, we get a snippet of their A-list world, too, with Meghan revealing texts she receives from Beyonce.

Even those watching Harry & Meghan with the most neutral stance on the couple and the royal family will find it hard to not walk away from this series feeling conflicted. The duke and duchess have undoubtedly been through a lot at the hands of the media, and seeing the very real, very human impact that has had on Meghan as a new mother, Prince Harry, the boy who had just lost his mother and the pair as a new couple trying to find their way and enjoy their love, is hard to watch and difficult to comprehend.

For those wanting a royal reconciliation, for which hope was sparked in the weeks after the queen's death, this will probably serve as a reality check. Prince Harry, as we once knew him, is gone, and I think it’s fair to say he is never coming back. The line the brothers originally peddled about being “on different paths” could not be more clear, and those paths lie on different sides of the Atlantic.

And as for opinion on Prince Harry and Meghan, will this documentary help? That remains to be seen. There are contradictions that those who are against the couple will cling to, such as the clip of their meditation teacher saying: “When you try to prove you are not what they say you are, you are taking the bait, you are feeding the beast. Your work is not to prove your goodness. You know who you are.”

But the couple say: “In order for us to move to the next chapter, you have to finish the first chapter.”

So will this be the end of the chapter, or is this the start of a new unfiltered couple? That, too, remains to be seen. But with Prince Harry’s autobiography, Spare, due out in January, it doesn’t feel like this chapter is quite finished yet.

Updated: December 16, 2022, 1:10 PM