‘Harry & Meghan’: Frenzied U.K. Press Slams Netflix Docuseries as “Assault on the Queen’s Legacy”
Netflix‘s much-talked-about docuseries Harry & Meghan dropped on Thursday, and although the first three episodes revealed little new information, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s blunt criticism of the British press has elicited a predictably hysterical reaction from U.K. newspapers and some politicians.
Prince Harry describes in the series how U.K. tabloids would exaggerate and distort stories about the couple. He also says that newspapers would give reporters the title of “Royal correspondent” to give their claims “extra credibility.”
Prince Harry adds that the royal family’s view on the hostile press coverage of his relationship with Markle was “a rite of passage.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s review of the series said, “Harry & Meghan offers too little that feels fresh enough to merit its luxurious six-episode sprawl for all but the most fervent royal watchers.” But the reaction in the British tabloids was swift and overwhelming, the wall-to-wall coverage once again illustrating the symbiotic relationship between the royal family and the more downmarket press.
The tabloids The Sun , and The Daily Mail ,, two newspapers Prince Harry has sued over their reporting, used the debut of the docuseries as an opportunity to flood their websites with content. The Guardian‘s media reporter Jim Waterson writes that “within two hours of the release of the first episodes, the top 12 stories on MailOnline were all about the couple, complete with pictures, gifs, and screengrabs. The Sun published seven stories about the couple within the first two hours .”
The docuseries was also extensively covered by television talk shows and opinion shows. Piers Morgan, who famously stormed off the set of ITV’s Good Morning Britain when challenged about his views on Markle and subsequently lost his job, dedicated his Talk TV show to the couple, inviting the Duchess of Sussex’s half-brother Thomas Markle Jr. as a guest to slam the couple.
It wasn’t just the British media that reacted with hostility to Harry & Meghan Bob Seely, a Conservative member in Parliament, stated that he will introduce legislation to strip the Duke & Duchess of Sussex their royal titles. “As well as trashing his family and monetizing his misery for public consumption, [Prince Harry] is also attacking some important institutions in this country,” said Seely told the PA news agency.
U.K. newspapers’ front pages were also filled with coverage of the Netflix series. The Sussexes’ bete noire The Daily Mail invoked Queen Elizabeth II in a typical unrestrained fashion. It featured two photos of the couple on its front pages and the headline, “Palace anger at “Assault upon Queen’s Legacy.” The Daily Mail also featured three pieces about the Sussexes written by its star columnists.
The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., led with “Harry the Nasty” an oblique callback to its “Harry the Nazi” front page from 2005. The paper, like many others, suggests the series supposedly tarnishing the legacy of the late queen, and cites sources close to the royal family saying that they are in a “state of sadness.”
The Daily Express , a tabloid of the right, was also featured on its front page, with the headline, “Royals deeply upset by Harry’s slurs.” The Daily Telegraph , a more upscale newspaper that is equally obsessed with the royal family, also echoed the sentiment that Harry & Meghan was a “direct blow” to the queen’s legacy.
The Mirror ‘s frontpage similarly featured the Sussexes. However, the tabloid chose not to criticize any parties for focusing solely on the royal soap opera during a time of high living costs.
The centrist broadsheet newspapers also couldn’t help but feature the Sussexes on their front pages, but the Guardian chose to feature its withering review of Harry & Meghan and the Times of London focused on the royal family’s ongoing feud with Netflix over its portrayal in both the new docuseries and The Crown.
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