When Harry opens his mouth, why do we hear Meghan?

The new Netflix documentary focuses on the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and its impact on the Royal family - Netflix
The new Netflix documentary focuses on the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and its impact on the Royal family - Netflix

Whatever else Meghan Markle might be guilty of, she could never be accused of not knowing her own mind. If you are planning on watching Harry & Meghan on Netflix anytime soon, you will be left in no doubt about what she thinks of the Royal family, Britain and the media (spoiler alert: none of them are positive).

In Prince Harry’s case, the picture is rather more confused. Here is a man who adoringly described the Princess of Wales as the “sister he never had” but who now appears to believe his brother only married her because she “fitted the mould”.

A man who tells viewers he was “literally brought up” by friends in Lesotho, having previously said his “upbringing” did not equip him to understand racism in everyday life.

As for his views on the media - the object of so much of his hate over the years - he now believes they are “an extended PR arm of the Royal family”.

The common factor in these changes of heart is that they represent pre-Meghan and post-Meghan versions of the Duke of Sussex.

Harry is not the first husband to pivot his views to align them more closely with the woman he loves, particularly where the wife is the more dominant personality.

But it leaves viewers wondering whether the Duke is saying what he actually believes, or is simply parroting the Duchess. Regular self-contradictions peppered throughout the episodes only add to the sense that Harry is a man struggling to know his own mind.

The wrestling match going on inside his head is at its most evident when the couple discuss the issue of bowing and curtseying to the late Queen.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a scene from the new Netflix documentary - Netflix
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a scene from the new Netflix documentary - Netflix

Harry admits that explaining to his American wife-to-be that he had to bow to his own grandmother was an interesting conversation, but when Meghan runs with the topic and performs an exaggerated, actorly bow to demonstrate, there is an icy stare from him at her mocking tone towards the woman he loved so deeply, and in whose name he twice went to war.

For the pre-Meghan Prince Harry, the Queen was an ally who so memorably helped him prank the Obamas in a “trash talk” video to plug his Invictus Games project. For the post-Meghan Harry, the Queen is part of the problem; the head of the sinister, racist Firm that supposedly forced the couple into exile.

It is abundantly clear from the first three episodes that theirs is a marriage in which there can be no disagreements. Harry must pick a side, and that side always turns out to be Meghan’s.

Long before the couple met, Harry despised the media, including members of the Royal rota, who are accredited by the Palace to cover official engagements. He would regularly tell them to their face that they were “not invited” to travel abroad with him. It is a view he clearly still holds, as he says in the documentary that the Royal family’s “trauma” is what they “exploit”.

Now, however, he has to somehow incorporate his wife’s view that the British media are part of the Establishment conspiracy against her, hence his comment that royal correspondents are “an extended PR arm of the Royal family”. Clarity of thought behind his contempt has been replaced with muddled thinking.

The saddest change of heart comes with his attitude towards his brother Prince William and his sister-in-law the Princess of Wales. As a bachelor, he loved being the naughty uncle to their children, popping over to their apartment in Kensington Palace for roast chicken dinners and binge-watching Game of Thrones with a woman who, he said, had helped fill the emotional gap left by the death of his mother Princess Diana.

Meghan, however, found William and Kate to be cold and “formal” and suddenly the scales fell from Prince Harry’s eyes. Now he has nothing positive to say about his brother and sister-in-law. While Harry married for love, other men in the Royal family, he says, will settle for someone who fits “the mould”. Whether the two brothers will ever again be on speaking terms after this is open to question.

As he burns whatever remains of his bridges with Britain, there may now be no going back for Prince Harry, regardless of whether his views are truly his own.