Netflix on Thursday morning released the final three episodes of Harry & Meghan, the second installment of the documentary into the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The first part of the series, which was released on December 12, premiered with 81.55 million hours viewed. Each episode is providing fodder for the media – British tabloid The Daily Mail published 11 articles based only on a 59-second trailer.
The first part of the documentary looks at when Prince Henry and actress Meghan Markle started dating and ends when the couple announce their engagement. Part two opens with their royal wedding, and explores the series of events that led them to break with the British royal family. Here is an overview of what happens in each episode of the final installment.
[Warning: spoilers below]
Episode Four: From ‘queen of hearts’ to ‘diva duchess’
Episode four begins with Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding at Windsor Castle. At this point, the royal couple’s popularity is riding high. Everything seems possibe. Then-Prince Charles (now King Charles III) walks Markle down the aisle, while the Duchess is celebrated as a breath of fresh air. “It felt like a moment where the world paused and celebrated love,” says Vicky Tsai, a friend of the couple, in the documenary.
But problems begin when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex start their official engagements, in particular their 2018 tour of Australia, when they announce they are expecting their first child. The documentary claims their rising popularity – Markle was even described in the media as the “queen of hearts” – sparked concern in the royal family. “Australia was a real turning point. Because they were so popular, so popular with the public, the internals at the palace were incredibly threatened by that,” says Lucy Fraiser, a friend of Markle’s.
“The issue is when someone who is marrying in who 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,” adds Prince Harry. At this point, the documentary shows a fragment from Princess Diana’s controversial interview on the BBC documentary series Panorama, which Prince William has asked to never be shown again. In the clip, Lady Di tells Martin Bashir that she felt backlash for “stealing the limelight” from the now King Charles: “With the media attention came a lot of jealousy, a great deal of complicated situations arose because of that.”
The documentary looks at how the narrative about the royal couple changed: Markle became a “diva,” a “difficult duchess” and even the “antichrist.” The media attention begins to affect Markle, who confesses to having suicidal thoughts. She remembers thinking: “All this will stop if I’m not here.”
When their first son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, is born a year after their wedding, things take a turn for the worse. Harry and Markle felt that the child did not belong to them, but rather to “the institution.” Markle says she felt like people wanted her to “serve her child on a silver platter” after she is criticized for keeping Archie’s christening private.
The episode ends with the family’s trip to South Africa, where Markle gives in interview in which she talks about the difficulties she is facing as a new mother. “Not many people have asked if I’m ok,” she tells ITV’s Tom Brady. Then comes the cliffhanger. “It’s when we started having harder conversations about what needs to happen for us to be able to continue to make this work,” Markle tells the camera.
Episode 5: “I tried so hard but it still wasn’t enough, I still don’t fit in”
The fifth episode of Harry & Meghan focuses on the enormous media pressure faced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and how this influenced their decision to leave the royal family. While Meghan says she wanted Archie to grow up surrounded by his cousins and family, the situation became impossible. “I just did everything I could to make them proud and to really be a part of the family,” she says. “And then the bubble burst.”
Prince Harry and Markle talk about how a private letter the actress had written to her father, asking him to stop talking to the media, was leaked to the The Mail on Sunday. “How would the Mail have the stupidity to print a letter between a father and a daughter?’ Well, the answer’s simple: they knew the family would encourage us not to sue,” says Prince Harry in the docuseries.
When the royal family refuses to act, they sued The Mail on Sunday, which according to the couple marks a turning point in their relationship with the royal institution.
Prince Harry and Markle spend Christmas away from London, on Canada’s Vancouver Island, but the press continue to hound them. The duke decides to take action and sends a plan to move to Canada to the late queen’s secretaries, his father and brother. The couple travel back to London to speak with Queen Elizabeth. According to Prince Harry, the late queen invited them to spend a night at Buckingham Palace and assured him that she had no other plans on her official agenda. But when they land, they receive a message saying the queen is busy all week and cannot see them. Then their plan to move to Canada is leaked to the press.
“It became clear that the institution leaked the fact that we were going be moving back to Canada,” says Prince Harry, who explains he sent the plan to his father, then Prince William. “He said, ‘I can’t do anything unless you put it in writing.’ So I put it in writing,” Harry recalls. “I sent him emails on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of January. In one of those, I mentioned that if this wasn’t going to work out, then we would be willing to relinquish our Sussex titles if need be.”
Following the leak, the couple decide to release their own statement: “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family.”
The statement triggers an emergency meeting at Sandrigham Palace. Markle, who is not invited, flies back to Canada to be with her son. It’s a heated meeting, acccording to Harry. “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 quietly sit there and sort of take it all in,” he says. “The saddest part of it was this wedge created between myself and my brother, so that he’s now on the institution’s side,” he continues. “Part of that I get, I understand, right, that’s his inheritance. So to some extent, it’s already ingrained in him that part of his responsibility is the survivability and continuation of this institution.”
But Harry is less forgiving of why the royal press team allegedly faked a joint statement in his and William’s names to deny allegations that Prince William had bullied the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. “I couldn’t believe it. No one had asked me. No one had asked my permission to put out a statement like that,” Harry explains. “Within four hours 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.”
“There was no other option at this point. I said ‘we need to get out of here,’” adds Harry. But while it is his decision, it is Markle who is blamed for the couple’s break with the royal family. “How predictable that a woman is to be blamed for the decision of a couple,” he says. “In fact, it was my decision. She never asked to leave. I was the one that had to see it for myself.”
The Duchess of Sussex recounts how, upon reaching Canada, she threw herself into the arms of a trusted bodyguard and began to cry. “I tried so hard,” she tells the camera through tears. “That’s the piece that’s so triggering. Because... it still wasn’t good enough, and you still don’t fit it.”
Chapter Six: From ‘we’re stuck’ to ‘love wins’
On March 14, 2020, the family is on what Harry calls the “freedom flight.” The couple, along with Archie, flee Canada and travel to Los Angeles. “We’d been stuck at this house where everyone in the world knew where we were, unprotected, no security,” says Harry.
The family move into the home of filmmaker Tyer Perry, who reached out to Markle amid the drama with her father. No one – not even the royal family – knows they are there. But soon their whereabouts are leaked to the press, and Perry has to put up a fence around the property to keep the paparazzi out.
The chapter focuses on their dispute with The Daily Mail, which they win. But the legal battle takes a toll. In July 2020, when the couple moves to their new home in Montecito, California, Markle has a miscarriage. “I believe my wife suffered a miscarriage because of what the Mail did,” says Harry. “Now, do we absolutely know the miscarriage was created, caused by that? Course we don’t. But bearing in mind the stress that that caused, the lack of sleep, and the timing of the pregnancy, how many weeks in she was, I can say, from what I saw, that miscarriage was created by what they were trying to do to her.”
On February 14, 2021, the couple announce they are expecting their second child. Nearly four months later, Lilibet Diana is born on June 4, 2021.
The episode also covers the couple’s explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which they discussed for the first time their decision to leave the royal family, and accused the institution of racism. But while the British royal household issues a public statement lamenting the difficulties they went through, in private, the response is very different. In the documentary, Harry is seen showing his wife a text on his phone, allegedly from Prince William. Meghan appears speechless as she reads it then responds saying “wow.”
A month after the famous interview, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip dies. Prince Harry, who is close to his grandfather, flies to London for the funeral. “It was hard, especially spending time having chats with my brother and my father who just were very much focused on the same misinterpretation of the whole situation,” he says of his return. “I’ve had to make peace with the fact that I’m probably never going to get genuine accountability or a genuine apology.”
Asked about what he misses about being a working royal, Prince Harry responds: “I miss the weird family gatherings, when we are all sort of brought together under one roof for certain times of the year.” He later adds: “I came here because I was changed. I changed to the point that I had outgrown my environment.”
The documentary ends with Markle reading her wedding speech. She says: “So I ask you to raise a glass to the astounding assurance that now life begins and the everlasting knowing that above all, love wins.”