‘Complete travesty’: Controversy embroils Harry, Meghan over Netflix trailers
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are in the midst of another storm, as two bombshell trailers for their looming Netflix docu-series provoke heavy criticism for using photographs and footage unrelated to the couple.
At least six photographs or clips in the two 60-second trailers released last week and late on Monday (Australian time) appear to be either sourced from other events, manipulated, edited, or allegedly even pulled completely out of context.
One was even apparently staged using their own photographer on a visit to the late Queen’s private quarters at Buckingham Palace – reportedly without her permission.
One of Britain’s leading royal commentators, Robert Jobson (dubbed the “godfather of royal reporting” by The Wall Street Journal, according to his website), accused the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of misrepresentation.
Jobson took exception to an image in the latest trailer – an aerial shot from a balcony of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex walking with their infant son Archie while on their 2019 royal tour to South Africa.
“This photograph used by Netflix and Harry and Meghan to suggest intrusion by the press is a complete travesty,” Jobson tweeted on Tuesday.
“It was taken from a [sic] accredited pool at Archbishop [Desmond] Tutu’s residence in Cape Town. Only three people were in the accredited position. H&M agreed the position. I was there.”
ITV News’ Chris Ship weighed in, saying filming of Archie, then aged four months, at Archbishop Tutu’s residence was highly controlled.
“The ITN Production’s camera filming the Sussexes’ Africa documentary was there with their permission,” he said.
“It was not a media scrum.”
The first three parts of Harry & Meghan – described as a “global Netflix event” – drop on Thursday, exactly three months after the death of Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II. The second three episodes follow a week later – on the day the Princess of Wales hosts a Christmas concert at Westminster Abbey.
Despite the controversy, some fans were prepared to give the couple the benefit of the doubt.
“Do you people not know how trailers work? Just because they were saying something when a particular image was shown does not mean that’s how it would be when the documentary airs … my goodness.
“Thursday isn’t that far away, perhaps you should try to wait,” wrote one royal watcher.
But Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers told Seven’s Sunrise on Tuesday that people in Britain were “dumbfounded” at the trailers for using “doctored” footage.
“Footage that they’ve used – and it’s come in for some heavy criticism – because it has pretty much been doctored,” he said.
“You look at certain clips … of Harry, of images from a long time ago … others are trying to create an atmosphere of these two being hounded, where others are saying it’s the complete opposite.”
Other images in the second trailer include clips of paparazzi in conjunction with old footage of Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, being hounded by the media as Harry says in a voiceover: “The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution, this feeding frenzy.
“I was terrified, I didn’t want history to repeat itself.”
Royal author Richard Kay, who knew Princess Diana, wrote a scathing response to the “slick, tightly edited Netflix teaser” snippet referencing Diana.
“It is a distorting and highly selective piece of promotion, as manipulative indeed as the campaign he accuses the media of waging.
“The two clips of film included of the late princess in the trailer were taken after she had voluntarily given up her police bodyguards,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.
Another clip appears to actually show photographers awaiting the arrival of British TV star Katie Price at court.
Yet another shows photographers huddling around a car as Meghan says, referring to the royal household, “I realised they are never going to protect you”.
But rather than depicting the Sussexes being hounded, it seems to actually show Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen being photographed.
Another is of a pack of photographers who were invited to cover the 2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 premiere.
It was used to also show photographers hounding the couple, but it was actually taken five years before they met. No royals attended the movie’s premiere.
“Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary faces accusations of using highly misleading images to give the false impression that they were constantly stalked by British press photographers,” the royal correspondent for London’s Daily Express, Richard Palmer, tweeted.
“Not for the first time, the Sussexes have been found to be economical with the truth.”
One Twitter user was particularly scathing.
“LOL … heads will roll on this one, lol … Lies from the Sussexes … and it’s not even out yet,” they wrote.
One economical – but potentially “important to the narrative” – shot is a cropped photograph of Harry with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy, who was clearly harassed by the press leaving Heathrow Airport in 2007.
Myers says the royal family will watch the series “with a huge interest” – all together – and “no doubt their team will be primed to give a robust response, as we saw with the Queen’s statement [after the 2021 Winfrey interview] saying ‘recollections may vary'”.
“This will be another example of that,” he said.
The six-episode series is produced by Harry and Meghan’s Archewell production company.
As Ship suggests: “Deep breaths everyone, the first three programs will hit us on Thursday.”