Prince Harry and Meghan urged to give up royal titles in Netflix series backlash

Couple have been criticised for going public about private family conversations

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 08, 2019 Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) and Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (R) return to Buckingham Palace after the Queen's Birthday Parade, 'Trooping the Colour', in London.

 Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their titles and stop receiving public funds following their decision to give up front-line royal duties, Buckingham Palace said on January 18, 2020. "The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family," the Palace said, adding that the couple have agreed to repay some past expenses. / AFP / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS
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A British MP plans to propose legislation that would strip Prince Harry and Meghan of their royal titles after the release of their Netflix docuseries.

The Duke of Sussex criticised the royal family, saying they had a “huge level of unconscious bias” and took aim at the UK press, with his wife claiming “salacious stories” were “planted” in the lead-up to their wedding.

Conservative MP Bob Seely said there is a “political issue” with the prince's comments, since he quit as a senior working royal more than two years ago.

British papers joined calls for the Sussexes to be stripped of their titles, with one calling the series “little more than a hatchet job from start to finish”.

In the US, critics were seemingly unimpressed by the first volume of three episodes, describing it as “a straightforward romance with no real royal dirt”.

Isle of Wight MP Mr Seely suggested he could bring forward a short private members' bill in the new year that, if passed, would see MPs vote on a resolution that could give the Privy Council the power to downgrade the couple's royal status.

He said: “There is a political issue.”

“As well as trashing his family and monetising his misery for public consumption, he is also attacking some important institutions in this country.”

He also questioned why Prince Harry continues to use his title of duke, while “at the same time trashes the institution of monarchy and his family”.

Employment minister Guy Opperman said the couple are “utterly irrelevant” to the progress of the UK and the royal family.

He told BBC's Question Time: “I think they are clearly a very troubled couple, which I think anybody looking at them can say is a sad state of affairs.

“That having been said, I agree that they are utterly irrelevant to this country and the progress of this country and the royal family that we all, I believe, support.”

Curtsies, 'racism' and royal formality

There were few new revelations in the first volume of three episodes, which focused on the pair's burgeoning relationship and interactions with the media.

Prince Harry claimed Meghan suffered with racism from the outset, and was not supported by his family.

“Eight days after the relationship was public I put out a statement calling out the racist undertones of articles and headlines that were written by the British press, as well as outright racism from those articles across social media,” he said.

“Some of the members of my family would say 'my wife had to go through that so why should your girlfriend be treated any differently? Why should you get special treatment? Why should she be protected?'

Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary released — in pictures

“And I would say 'the difference here is the race element.'”

The third episode of the documentary referred to an event in 2017 when Princess Michael of Kent wore a brooch featuring an archaic image of a black man, of a kind that has been criticised as “fetishising” slavery.

Prince Harry said: “In this family, sometimes you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. There is a huge level of unconscious bias.

“The thing with unconscious bias, it is actually no one's fault. But once it has been pointed out, or identified within yourself, you then need to make it right. It is education. It is awareness. It is a constant work in progress for everybody, including me.”

Meghan also described her first meeting with the Prince William and Kate, saying she was surprised at the “formality” of the royal family behind closed doors.

In another scene, Prince Harry spoke about when he first introduced Meghan to his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, telling her she would need to curtsy.

Prince William and Kate at Westminster Abbey with Prince Harry and Meghan in 2018. PA

She said she thought he was joking and laughed as she performed an exaggerated curtsy, recalling the moment she met the monarch.

“I was like, pleasure to meet you, Your Majesty. Like, was that OK? It was so intense,” she said, as the prince stared, appearing to not share the joke.

'A hatchet job'

British newspapers roundly criticised the couple for attacking the nation’s institutions.

Meghan's demonstration of her curtsy was described as “mocking” and “embarrassing” by critics.

And the Daily Express said in its editorial that the couple should “pull the plug on their Netflix show before they disgrace themselves and further hurt a nation and a family still mourning the loss of the queen”.

The paper added: “It is understood there is deep sadness in the royal family that it 'has come to this'. That regret is shared across the country.”

The Daily Mirror took a wide view of the royal feuding against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

It said in an editorial: “Wherever responsibility lies, the conduct is unbecoming and deeply damaging to the reputation of the monarchy.

“The royals risk losing public support if they persist with their feuding and score-settling at a time when people are having to rely on foodbanks and cannot afford to heat their homes.

“Their behaviour is not just disrespectful to the memory of the queen and an institution she served so dutifully.

“It shows a disregard for those who are facing real hardship and privation.”

The Daily Star said: “There's something strange about the decision by the publicity-shy couple to release an intimate documentary about their lives.

“It doesn't really tally with their apparent desire for privacy. But then nothing this bashful pair do really makes sense.”

And the Daily Mail described the series as “little more than a hatchet job from start to finish”.

The paper's editorial said: “What is so infuriating is that the Sussexes continue to make millions out of their royal connections while trashing the institution that sustains them.

“If they loathe the monarchy so much, why not voluntarily give up their titles? They won't because that would mean losing their meal ticket.

“In her first major speech in 1947, the soon-to-be queen declared that her whole life would be devoted to public service. How deeply sad that her grandson and his wife are dedicated only to serving themselves.”

Under the headline “Meg it stop”, The Sun also suggested the pair give up their titles to “bring this sorry soap opera to an end”.

“Harry and Meg's game is clear,” the editorial added.

“This was a docuseries made for an American audience — cementing their moneymaking potential in the US — and to hell with everything and everybody else, including the truth.”

But many critics in the US appeared unimpressed.

Variety's chief television critic, Daniel D'Addario, said that the couple had previously “shocked the world multiple times over” — both with the infamous “Megxit” and subsequent interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021.

“With today's release … the Sussexes surprise us yet again, with just how narrow their vision of their fame is, how pinched and unimaginative their presence on the world stage has become,” he wrote.

“They may have shed their responsibilities to the crown, but they're still in a kind of service.

“There's an air of duty about the entire enterprise of Harry & Meghan, as if they're honour-bound to keep reciting their personal story until we eventually lose interest.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex through the years — in pictures

Stephanie Bunbury, of Deadline, said: “The story so far is a straightforward romance, with the best-looking royals no longer in the business seen sitting on a couch agreeing that, guess what, they fell madly in love on their second date,” she wrote.

“None of this, however, is the royal evisceration we have been expecting.

“Presumably, the Harry Formerly Known As a Prince and his maligned wife will go into a bit more detail in next week's Volume II on what prompted them to walk away from the whole thing and set up shop in California.”

Writers for The Hollywood Reporter said that despite viewers experiencing “an intimate retelling” of Prince Harry and Meghan's “great love story” there was no “truly groundbreaking content”.

“While expectations of what the documentary might reveal were high, the audience is not enlightened about anything truly groundbreaking in the first three episodes,” a THR article read.

The couple are believed to have received more than £100 million from Spotify and streaming giant Netflix after quitting as senior working royals.

The final three episodes, which will be streamed on December 15, are expected to focus more overtly on criticism of the royal family.

Updated: December 09, 2022, 9:46 AM
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