Meghan opens up about the ways in which her mixed race identity has shaped her
In one of the most powerful moments from the three episodes, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen at the NAACP Awards, with the camera panning to Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland emotionally nodding her head following a reference to the trauma stirred up by the murder of George Floyd. According to Meghan, it’s Doria who first had to point out to her how much racism her marriage into the royal family would stir up – a fact that the Duchess understandably didn’t want to confront at first. Meghan also notes that “most people didn’t treat [her] like a Black woman” prior to her relationship with Harry, and considers the complications that come with being mixed race more generally. “So much of my self-identification was trying to figure out where I fit in,” she considers. “I think a lot of that is you’re not white enough or you’re not Black enough. But I don’t see the world that way.”
The Duke has an interesting perspective on Diana, Princess of Wales’s now-infamous Panorama interview
“I think she had a lived experience of how she was struggling. Living that life, she felt compelled to talk about it – especially that Panorama interview,” Harry says, after footage is played of Diana attempting to protect her children from the press during a skiing holiday. (“As a parent, could I ask you to respect my children’s space?” the late royal says while covering a video camera’s lens in one particularly heartbreaking segment. “Because I brought the children out here for a holiday, and we’d really appreciate the space… As a parent, I want to protect the children. Thank you.”) “I think we all now know that she was deceived into giving the interview – but, at the same time, she spoke the truth of her experience,” Harry adds.
The horrendous press intrusion faced by the Duchess is gone into in detail
After recounting some of her earliest interactions with the paparazzi, Meghan explains: “My house was just surrounded, just men sitting in their cars all the time, waiting for me to do anything… Suddenly, it was like everything about my life just got so much more insular. Like all the curtains were pulled, all the blinds were pulled. It was scary. My face was everywhere. My life was everywhere. Tabloids had taken over everything.” The press began knocking on her neighbors’ doors in Toronto, even reportedly paying one neighbor to install a livestream camera – while production assistants on Suits were offered bribes for call sheets in order to find out when Megan was shooting. “It started feeling a little bit dangerous for her,” producer Silver Tree recalls. “At a certain point, we had to cage in all the trailers. And that was really challenging, logistically, because she was on a TV show and her nature is to never make things difficult for anyone. But I don’t think anyone knew how to manage that new normal.”
Harry had to provide Meghan with a crash-course in royal life
Referencing The Princess Diaries, Meghan says that she never had any formal training when it came to being a member of the royal family – resorting to learning the national anthem via Google. “My grandmother was the first senior member of the family that Meghan met,” Harry remembers. “[Meghan] had no idea what it all consisted of so it was a bit of a shock to the system for her… How do you explain that you bow to your grandmother? And that you will need to curtsy. Especially to an American. That’s weird.” A particular blindspot for them both? How, exactly, Meghan should dress in a world governed by strict sartorial protocols – with Meghan recalling Harry running around trying to help her get outfits together for formal events. “[I would be saying], ‘Are these a British designer? I just ordered these online? Is this good? Wait, my tag’s on. Cut the tag!’”
But Meghan is still grateful for the innocence with which she approached royal life
“It’s so funny if I look back at it now… because now I know so much and I’m so glad I didn’t then, because I could just authentically be myself without so much preparedness,” she tells director Liz Garbus. “Even when Will and Kate came over, and I had met her for the first time… They came for dinner. I remember I was in ripped jeans and I was barefoot. I was a hugger. I’ve always been a hugger. I didn’t realize that that is really jarring for a lot of Brits. I guess I started to understand very quickly that the formality on the outside carried through on the inside. That there is a forward-facing way of being, and then you close the door and you are like, ‘Oh, great, we can relax now.’ But that formality carries over on both sides, and that was surprising to me.”
The Duchess take pains to stress her nonexistent relationship with her half-sister Samantha Markle
“My half-sister, who I hadn’t seen for over a decade – and that was only for a day and a half – suddenly, it felt like she was everywhere,” Meghan reflects in a portion of the docuseries devoted to the run-up to the royal wedding. “I don’t know your middle name. I don’t know your birthday. You’re telling these people that you raised me and you’ve coined me Princess Pushy? I don’t remember seeing her when I was a kid at my dad’s house.” (Samantha, for her part, claims that she had a close relationship with Meghan up until 2018, and that the press have misattributed quotes to her.) Actually close to Meghan to this day? Ashleigh, Samantha’s daughter and Meghan’s niece, who was taken away from Samantha as a toddler and raised by her paternal grandparents. “There’s like a sister element, there’s something maternal, she’s a best friend,” Ashleigh says of the Duchess. “She’s kind of all the things.” Ashleigh was, however, not invited to the royal wedding – with Meghan claiming that royal aides advised against having her there given Samantha’s comments to the press, knowing that the intricacies of the family dynamic would be hard to explain.
The Duke of Sussex addresses his controversial decision to dress as a Nazi for Halloween in 2005
“It was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life,” he admits. “I felt so ashamed afterwards, all I wanted to do was make it right. I sat down and spoke to the chief rabbi in London, which had a profound impact on me. I went to Berlin and spoke to a Holocaust survivor. I could have just ignored it and gone on and probably made the same mistakes over and over again in my life, but I learned from that,” he adds – noting that there’s a “huge level of unconscious bias” within British society. “It’s actually no one’s fault, but once it’s been pointed out, or identified within yourself, you then need to make it right. It’s education, it’s awareness. It’s a constant work in progress, for everybody, including me.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk