The final part of Prince Harry and Meghan's controversial Netflix documentary was released on Thursday, delivering fresh headaches for the royal family as the exiled pair aired more grievances.
The new episodes document how the Duchess of Sussex suffered from suicidal thoughts at the height of her struggles and blames the media for her suffering a miscarriage.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry reveals how he felt betrayed by his brother Prince William over the way stories were briefed to the media, breaking a pact the siblings had as children not to brief against each other as their parents had. They also suggest other members of the royal family were jealous of their popularity with the public, because like his mother, Diana, his wife Meghan had begun to outshine them.
The Sussexes’ six-part show Harry & Meghan — which forms part of their multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix and focused on their battles with the media — has become the streaming giant’s most-watched documentary in a premier week, with 81.55 million hours viewed.
However, it has also attracted a negative reaction from the UK public, with the pair's popularity plummeting.
In the latest episodes:
The duchess says she thought about taking her own life, saying in episode four: “It was like ‘All of this will stop if I am not here'. And that was the scariest thing about it because it was such clear thinking.”
Her mother, Doria Ragland, says: “That really broke my heart.
“I knew that it was bad but to just constantly be picked at by these vultures, just picking away at her spirit, that she would actually think of not wanting to be here.
“That is not an easy one for a mum to hear. And I can’t protect her. H can’t protect her.”
Prince Harry says he dealt with the situation “as institutional Harry” not “husband Harry”. His royal role took over his feelings.
“I had been trained to worry more about what are people going to think if we don’t go to this event. We are going to be late. And looking back on it now I hate myself for it,” he says.
“What she needed from me was so much more than I was able to give.”
The duchess says she wanted to get help but “wasn’t allowed to”. “They were concerned about how that would look for the institution.”
Prince Harry says the royal family knew how bad things had got, but they thought “why couldn’t she just deal with it?”
“But no one would have private conversations with the editors to say 'enough'.”
Leaks and briefings
Prince Harry says his father told him he could not take on the media, as the media “will always be the media”.
“I said I fundamentally disagree,” he says. “I have 30 years’ experience of looking behind the curtain to see how this system works and how it runs. I mean, just constant briefings about other members of the family, about favours, inviting the press in.
“It’s a dirty game. There’s leaking but there is also planting of stories.”
The duke claims his brother's staff began to brief against him, repeating the behaviour of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s.
Prince Harry says if a member of the royal family’s communications team wanted a negative story removed, they would trade for another about another family member.
“The offices end up working against each other,” he says.
“There is kind of this weird understanding or acceptance this happens. You can always just say I don’t know about this. Or don’t be ridiculous, this didn’t happen.”
He says both he and Prince William “saw what happened” in their father’s office and “made an agreement” it would not happen in theirs.
“I would far rather get destroyed in the press than play along with this game or this business of trading. To see my brother’s office copy the very same thing we said we would never do, that was heartbreaking.”
In episode five, friends said there was evidence of negative briefing by the Palace about the couple.
“A story about someone in the family would pop up for a minute and they would go 'got to make that go away',” Meghan said.
In episode five, the duchess claims she was not even allowed to text her friends a photo.
“We were in this bubble where everything was controlled by them,” she says. “I couldn’t even text my friends a photo. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. OK, you do as you are told but your world [becomes small]."
In the fifth episode, the duke says he wrote to his father, then the Prince of Wales, to say he and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, were willing to relinquish their titles if the couple’s plan to move to Canada as working royals did not work out.
He says their plan to change their relationship with the institution so they could remove the “public interest” argument from press coverage of their private lives was “years in the making”.
The duke says it would “give ourselves some breathing space” but also allow them to continue their work throughout the Commonwealth.
The pair believed putting distance between themselves and the media “pack of the Royal Rota” would reduce what they saw as unfair coverage.
The duke says it was “terrifying” for his brother, now the Prince of Wales, to “scream and shout” at him during a meeting on January 13 at Sandringham about the plans to move abroad.
He says: “I went in with the same proposal that we’d already made publicly, but once I got there I was given five options — one being all in, no change, five being all out.
“I chose option three in the meeting — half in, half out. Have our own jobs but also work in support of the queen.
“It became very clear, very quickly that goal was not up for discussion or debate. It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that just simply weren’t true. And my grandmother, you know, quietly sit there and take it all in.
“But you have to understand that, from the family’s perspective, especially from hers, there are ways of doing things and her ultimate, sort of, mission, goal, responsibility is the institution.”
Speaking over clips of the brothers playing in an old fire engine and newspaper headlines about the acrimony in their relationship, Harry said a wedge had been created between them, because William was “on the institution’s side”.
He says: “That’s his inheritance, so to some extent it’s already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and the continuation of this institution.”
He says he was not told about a joint statement issued in the name of him and his brother, then the Duke of Cambridge and now the Prince of Wales, in response to reports William had “bullied” the couple out.
“I couldn’t believe it. No one had asked me permission to put my name to a statement like that … they were happy to lie to protect my brother and yet for three years, they were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”
Barred from seeing the queen
In episode five, Prince Harry speaks about the time when he was told he could not go and see his grandmother, after making plans to do so.
It happened when they were returning from Canada. She had suggested they come and stay the night with her on their return as she “had no plans”.
But as they were flying back they received an “urgent message” barring them from visiting the monarch.
The duchess says: “As we were getting on the plane this urgent, urgent message came through saying you are not allowed to go and see your majesty, make sure your principal is aware. You cannot go and see her. She is busy. She has plans all week.”
Prince Harry says that was the “opposite” of what she told him, so he called the queen once he got back.
“She said 'I didn’t know I was busy. I have been told I am busy all week'. I was like wow,” he said.
Outshining the family
Prince Harry speaks about the moment when “the penny dropped” for Meghan.
He says: “The issue is, when someone marrying in should be a supporting act, is then stealing the limelight or doing the job better than the person who is born to do this, that upsets people.
“It shifts the balance because you’ve been led to believe that the only way that your charities can succeed and the only way that your reputation can be grown or improved is if you’re on the front page of those newspapers.
“But the media are the ones who chose who to put on the front page.
“The first time that the penny dropped for her, M [Meghan] and I spent the night in a room at Buckingham Palace after an event where every member of the family, senior members of the family had been, including the queen.
“And on the front page of the Telegraph, Meghan. She was like ‘but it’s not my fault’ — and my mum felt the same way.”
Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have declined to comment.
'Fed to the wolves'
The fourth episode opens with clips from the weddings of the late queen and duke of Edinburgh and the now King Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Meghan recalls how her former private secretary, who she says worked for the queen for some 20 years, told her of the monarchy: “It is like a fish that is swimming perfectly. It is powerful, it is on the right current. Then one day this little organism comes in.”
The Duchess of Sussex says she was being “fed to the wolves” during the opening of episode five.
Speaking about wanting her son Archie to have a big family in the way she had not, Meghan says: “I was just so excited that we were going to be able to create for him that thing that I had always wanted.
“So I just did everything I could to make them proud and to really be a part of the family.”
“And then the bubble burst,” she says, while the voices of news presenters can be heard saying: “Duchess difficult” and “American”.
The Duke of Sussex then says: “It was already clear to the media that the palace was not going to protect her. Once that happens then the floodgates open.”
Meghan then says: “I realised that I wasn’t just being thrown to the wolves, I was being fed to the wolves.”
Harry and Meghan's loss
Speaking of the protracted legal battle with a British newspaper group, Meghan says moving into a new home coincided with tragedy. “I really wasn't sleeping,” she says.
“And the first morning that we woke up in our new home is when I miscarried.”
Prince Harry weighs in to point the finger at the media and the strains of legal action for the loss.
“Do we absolutely know that the miscarriage was caused by that? Of course we don't. But bearing in mind the stress that caused the lack of sleep and the timing in the pregnancy, I mean essentially, from what I saw, that miscarriage was created by what they were trying to do to her.”
Prince Harry says a bullying investigation by Buckingham Palace into Meghan was “institutional gaslighting” and drew a parallel with Princess Diana.
“I can't think what my mum went through all those years ago by herself,” he says. “And that's why everything that's happened to us was always going to happen to us — because if you speak truth to power, that's how they respond.
“To see this institutional gaslighting that happens is extraordinary.”
Return to London
Speaking of his return to London for his grandfather Prince Philip’s funeral, he says he was unable to bridge the differences with his father and brother.
“Spending time having chats with my brother and my father, it was just very much focused on the same misinterpretation of our situation,” he says.
“I've had to make peace with the fact that I will probably, definitely, never get genuine accountability or a genuine apology. My wife and I, we're moving on. We're focused on what's coming next.”
The build-up to the final episodes included trailers that suggested more personal attacks on the royal family were on their way. They escaped mostly unscathed from the first three episodes which focused on the Sussexes' complaints about the way they were treated by the media.
Meghan’s lawyer Jenny Afia, in a trailer released on Wednesday, alleged she had seen evidence of a briefing from the palace against the couple to suit the agenda of others.
The duchess herself was seen saying: “You would just see it play out, like a story about someone in the family would pop up for a minute and they’d go ‘we’ve got to make that go away’.”
As Meghan spoke, pictures were shown of newspaper front pages featuring the headlines 'Meghan made Kate cry' and 'Heir heads' — about Kate, the Princess of Wales' and Meghan’s flower dress dispute and the Sussexes’ use of private planes.
The royal reaction
Meanwhile, the royal family, including Prince Harry’s father and brother, will be out in force together on Thursday, putting on a united front as King Charles, the Queen Consort Camilla and the Prince of Wales join the Princess of Wales for her Christmas carol concert in Westminster Abbey.
More than 1,800 people will gather in the abbey for some festive cheer, staged to recognised the “selfless efforts of individuals, families and communities across the UK, and celebrate and showcase the joy that human connection and togetherness can bring”.
Kensington Palace said the second carol service the princess has held was dedicated to the late Queen Elizabeth II and the values she demonstrated throughout her life, including “duty, empathy, faith, service, kindness, compassion and support for others”.