In the first trailer for Harry & Meghan, it became clear that, aside from the couple at the center of the Netflix docuseries, one person in particular would be a focus: Princess Diana. “The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution, this feeding frenzy,” Prince Harry said over a clip of his late mother navigating a sea of cameras.
Indeed, when the first episode dropped on Thursday, it only took three minutes into the series for Diana to make her first appearance, with archival footage showing her picture handed around what appears to be a newsroom. From that moment on, references to the princess continued consistently. Some of them were positive—Harry speaks of her excellent parenting, and how his wife shows the same “compassion” as well as “warmth” as his late mother.
Yet the majority of it was painful. He states how most of his childhood memories involve cameras following them, recalling a particular trip in 1995 where his mother confronted paparazzi chasing them on a ski slope. (“We’ve had 15 cameras following us today,” Diana says while blocking the lens with her hand. “As a parent, I want to protect the children.”) Even at a young age, Harry realized how detrimental the worldwide exposure of his mother really was. “My mom was harassed throughout her life with my dad,” he says.
As a grown man, this profoundly affected Harry’s dating life. “I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things,” he says. “I remember thinking—how can I ever find someone that is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that comes with being with me?” When he found Meghan, he was simultaneously thrilled and terrified that she’d be driven away by the media. When news about their relationship broke in the tabloids—some coverage of which was accompanied by racist headlines—he issued a statement that was unprecedented at the time for its highly critical response to media coverage of their romance. “This is not a game—it is her life and his,” it read.
Soon after, he admits in the documentary, he began fearing Meghan was becoming harmed by it—and according to her own admission to Oprah Winfrey in their bombshell interview last year, the Duchess suffered deeply under the intense scrutiny of the spotlight. At one point, she said she experienced suicidal thoughts. Harry, who has been open about his belief in the paparazzi’s role in his mother’s death, felt the drastic measure of quitting the public servant roles needed to be taken. “I knew that I had to do everything I could to protect my family. Especially after what happened to my mom. I didn’t want history to repeat itself,” he said. So in March 2020, they dropped their bombshell decision and started a new life in California where the Sussexes could communicate their own narrative—a narrative they are finally sharing in full with Harry & Meghan.