The story is perfect. So perfect that it has heroes, villains, hundred-year-old grandmothers, deceased and almost holy mothers, glamour, riches and poverty, a clash of cultures, adorable babies… even a script twist with a bittersweet ending. Hence, with Henry of England and Meghan Markle it is difficult, almost impossible, not to slide down the slope of kitsch. The syrup permeates everything; In fact, it is precisely what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex want, what they have been looking for since they left the British royal family two years ago and what, now, they are looking forward to with the premiere of the first half of their docuseries for Netflix, Harry and Meghan. Let your imperfectly perfect love story center the conversation; that the anecdotes —their first Instagram meeting thanks to mutual friends, the engagement ring with diamonds from Botswana and others from Lady Di, their kisses at dawn in the kitchen— serve as an excuse for everything else. Even for their rhetoric of throwing a stone and hiding their hand against the royal family, against the press, against British society, against the world in general, before which they present themselves as crusaders for everything and everything.
That is the story that, this week, the Dukes of Sussex (a title that the late Elizabeth II gave them and that they do not intend to release, despite the fact that some parliamentarian has already dropped it) have wanted to tell the world in their documentary. The series has just come out of the oven and its target audience is 220 million users worldwide, but especially Americans, those who are looking for a surprise princess really. A story full of details whose main morbidity is simply that those who tell them are its protagonists. Because, what is there to tell? What is left to say when everything has already been said? Why do it? What role does money play? Or is it a matter of pride, of strength, of winning the Windsors and the entire world in the story race?
The story is perfect, yes, but it is by no means new. Almost everything has already been told, no matter how much the British tabloids are filled with red headlines with each advance (only with the 59 seconds of the first trailer the Daily Mail published 11 news). As in every new narrative, details are added, but what Enrique and Meghan explain, together and separately, before the Netflix cameras is not new. One of their most repeated phrases is that they, M and H (as they call each other), want to tell their own story. But they’ve been doing it ever since they left the royal family. The interview with Oprah Winfrey in April 2021, in which they talked about racism and suicidal thoughts, was such a bomb that, after that, all that remains is to sharpen morbid details. Details that are worth 100 million dollars, such as his contract with Netflix and that only in the United Kingdom became the most watched on his first day of the year, according to the official British audience meter and as collected by the BBC: his first chapter was seen more than 2.4 million viewers (1.5 the second and 800,000 the third); the first of the fifth season of The Crown It had 1.1 million views on its first day.
Details that explode ad nauseam, such as that Enrique feared that the fate of the actress was as fateful as that of his mother, eternally persecuted by the paparazzi. Diana is always present in Enrique’s story, logical; but also in that of Markle, who repeatedly shows her baby, and not without a certain corniness, a photo of the princess framed on a wall, explaining that it is granny Diana (while more than one spectator will open their mouths in disbelief). Or details like the fact that the racial issue marked them from the beginning, despite the contradictions about it that even Markle herself presents.
What is new and surprising is the ingenuity of the narration, all to fit the concept of the fairy tale intended for a prime American audience. Like Markle affirming that for her second date with Enrique, to which she arrived from Wimbledon “too dolled up”, she needed to take a shower and put on “something more comfortable”. It was her first formal dinner. A dinner with a prince to go to comfortably… Or that she appeared for the first time before his brothers-in-law —whether or not these were the future heirs to the throne— in jeans and barefoot, at which she laughed non-stop; a curious detail, but, on the other hand, superficial and that is the only fact that stands out from the meeting. Or her total ignorance of who Enrique was, to which she affirms that she did not search on Google, as everyone would do, but on Instagram (where his profile was a compilation of landscapes and animals). What she did google was the British national anthem (being an International Relations graduate) or the clothes or hats she should wear, because she had no help. “Do you remember surprise princess, of Anne Hathaway? There are no classes and no one to tell you, ‘Sit like this, use that fork, don’t do this, that’s how bowing is, wear this hat.’ I had to learn a lot. Including the national anthem. I would sit and practice and practice, ”she says, between her own disbelief and that of the viewer. Markle argues that he was unaware that she had to bow to Elizabeth II, and remembers him imitating a first curtsey to the queen that, with visible discomfort on the part of Enrique (and the viewer), he mockingly imitates on screen. Arguments that, to say the least, raise an eyebrow.
It is not about questioning the story per se, is that the protagonists themselves have given all the wickers for it. Although their story began five years ago now, when they made their engagement public (preceded by some 16 months of dating, according to what they say), the tsunami came when, in January 2020, they announced their departure from the British royal family, which they finalized in March of that year. There they made clear their many and, it seemed at the time, very legitimate motives: they longed for a life away from the Windsors, looking for their own economic path and, as they well explained later, with privacy as their flag.
From the first moment their relationship was made public, Enrique complained, full of reasons, about the constant intrusion of the press into their lives, persecution, deceit, bribery and all kinds of tricks to get the most photographic or information. salable from your partner and, later, from your children. And he wanted to stop it. “I had to protect my family,” repeats the prince in the trailer and in the documentary. They were public figures due to their status as members of the royal family, and they wanted to get out of it to stop this invasion. It was lawful. And they did it… halfway. Because now those complaints seem more like constant crying with little reason from two absolutely privileged people.
The documentary is but one more example of the good sale of their lives. The last. The first was that explosive interview with Winfrey where they already told almost everything. Barely six months later, they signed a contract with Netflix that the newspaper The New York Times valued at 100 million of dollars and whose only fruit in two years is this. Supposedly, to produce “content that informs, but also gives hope,” they explained in their statement. “As new parents, doing aspirational family programs is very important to us.” There have not been; Markle came to have a children’s project underway that was lost along the way. Nor is anything known about the announced documentary about the Invictus Games, the competition for war wounded created by Enrique. Months later, an agreement was reached between his producer, Archewell, and Spotify. Their podcast It has been about themselves. In the first chapter his year and a half son appeared as a special guest. In the 12 that Markle has done, she herself interviews friends and tells her life, her experiences. The duchess, in fact, has been the most exposed. She has given interviews to Variety either The Cut telling everything without restrictions: their lives, their houses, their children.
In fact, the children are a metaphor for their history. His intention was to expose them as little as possible. They presented Archie at Windsor, wrapped in a shawl so that he couldn’t see his face. In the documentary, in principle, both he and Lilibet appear from afar, from behind. But you see them more and more. And closer. And in more photos. And all that great speech about the protection of the family does nothing but blow up. Something similar happens with the question of race, of which Markle gives conflicting versions about how she feels or her environment about it or how she has been treated in her work, her environment, the US or the United Kingdom for it.
In a column in the century-old British magazine The Spectatorits deputy director, Freddy Gray, claimed that the couple may be suffering “from something similar to what the 19th century French psychiatrists Charles Lasègue and Jules Falret called folie a deux [locura de dos, en su traduccion literal al espanol]. A disorder in which two individuals in close association become codependent in a delusional shared system. “In such cases,” Gray continues, “experts said that husband and wife can act ‘as a sounding board, raising the tone of their narcissism.’ Harry and Meghan aren’t just cynically fishing America’s Great Lakes wokeThey think of themselves as star-crossed lovers destined to bring down structural racism, Bonnie and Clyde against the system.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex threaten more, three other chapters that the British press – which has not had access to them because Netflix has not given advances – already presents as “poison”. On the one hand, it had better be that way: if not, the story will be more than tired, the novelty will be null and its credibility will be irreparably damaged. But if rivers of verbal cyanide really run, their relationship with the palace (which for now has not given an official version, beyond the unofficial ones that speak of their astonishment and sadness) may be broken forever. They don’t seem to care too much; it is enough to see that in the documentary there is a fragment of Diana’s controversial interview with Panorama, in 1995, that Guillermo has demanded (and achieved) that it not be broadcast again, not even in part. It is the last straw that fills the camel’s back, of course, in the absence of the final auction: the memoir book that Enrique will launch on January 10. But then, will there be anything left to tell?