Infinite Blowback: Prince Harry’s Podcasts, Scripted And Unscripted Netflix Series, And


Prince Harry seemed like a man enlightened, in the sense of having had some of his burdens lifted, as he dutifully appeared in Kensington Palace’s discreet, lovely Sunken Garden in early July to unveil with his brother William the sculpture of their mother by Ian Rank-Broadley on what would have been her sixtieth birthday. It was a hotly anticipated event in London, not least because of the perceived and actual “feud” between the brothers, but it actually turned out fine. The men soldiered up, pulled the green silk shroud from the somewhat manly depiction of their mother, had a moment with some of their Spencer relatives, a little refreshment got passed around, and that was that.

Harry’s mien on July 1 was certainly not one of jest, but, as pictured above, he wasn’t afraid of letting what we might describe as trademark his inner rambunctiousness out for a bit of a romp. His was the bearing of a man that had cut free or been cut free. Certainly not free of care, but free of something. Something like rigamarole.

There was a predictable huffiness in the British press at his appearance in England for the event — whatever Harry does or doesn’t do now, however he smiles, or doesn’t, whether he notifies, or greets, or doesn’t, by definition has an element of perceived effrontery to it because it is he who is the author of it. As he has authored so much effrontery before. Specifically, surrounding Harry’s early July appearance, the chatter was all about the possibilities and the impossibilities of “healing” the “rift” between the brothers caused by the events since November 2019, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle began their extraordinary kicking-away from their royal lives by retreating to Canada, and caused by the years immediately preceding that, the obviously failed inclusion of Meghan Markle into the royal family after her marriage to Harry in 2018.

However she is portrayed in the British press — former actress, philanthropist, and/or wicked son-stealing Bond-villian femme fatale, or occasionally, all three at once — Meghan Markle is certainly the architect of her own escape from her duties to the Crown. She came, she saw, she did a modicum of handshaking and smiling, and she got out, returning to her home town. She took Harry and their son with her.

The larger strokes of Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s formal exit from royal life had long and direct ramifications in several spheres of British public life — first, in royal precedent, since core working royals have so rarely left the monarch’s side in such a manner, secondly, in the military, where Harry’s many patronages and his own regiments had him as their ceremonial head, and not least, in dozens of civilian patronages and philanthropic efforts led by the royal family both publicly and privately.

This “kicking away” phase of Harry’s, dated from the couple’s departure to British Columbia in November 2019 to the CBS/Oprah broadcast in March 2021, was performed in a great breathless rush because, despite being a lifelong working royal, Harry operated with a surprisingly high level of naivete about the institution in which he was brought up and of which he was such an integral part. He was learning of its intricacies even as he went about unbuilding his part in it.

Similarly, Meghan Markle, whose increasingly parlous mental state was basically the agent of these changes, certainly couldn’t be relied upon to understand or even to see any effect, small or large, that their move would wreak on the monarchy or on the family within it. It’s fair to assume that Ms. Markle had nominally taken care with effect on her husband’s family and its enterprise — she certainly seemed to study hard and apply herself in the early going after the wedding.

But whether Meghan Markle did care about what she did or whom she might have wounded is a still hotly debated question in London by the royal family, its senior courtiers and their every chronicler. The evidence as seen in her unilateral actions in physically leaving the country — effectively refusing to address her in-laws and leaving Harry to take the brunt — points in the opposite direction. Thirdly and finally, Ms. Markle’s tenure within the royal family has come under scrutiny. Specifically, trusted palace communications courtier Jason Knauf began receiving reports of Meghan Markle’s mistreatment of staff from Kensington Palace — this was at a time when she and Harry still lived in Kensington Palace and still shared staff with William and Kate.

According to the Markle narrative of this time in England as she presented it on air to Oprah Winfrey, she wasn’t in a position to afford to any care toward the Queen, Charles, William, Kate, or anything that they did or represented.

It’s been both surprisingly and unsurprisingly intimate, or as intimate as televised encounters with Oprah Winfrey and produced by Oprah Winfrey can get, since the March 7 Oprah Winfrey/CBS broadcast of the interview. In rapid succession Harry and Ms. Winfrey began releasing their co-produced Apple TV “The Me You Can’t See” mental health series, which broadcasts bear kinship to the confessional Meghan-and-Harry interview on CBS. The through-line in business and in old-fashioned small- and large-screen Hollywood appeal is Ms. Winfrey. According to Ms. Winfrey in the second installment of the Apple series, released Thursday, May 27, she and Harry have been in the metaphorical producer-kitchen cooking up these Apple broadcasts since mid-2019, as Harry and Meghan Markle were still core working royals.

Moving on to Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s burgeoning entertainment empire and its many products, in who-knew-what-and-when terms, in 2019, as the Apple TV programs we now see were being designed and discussed, no one in the Court of St. James, except for Harry and Ms. Markle, knew that at the time the couple were in a production arrangement with Ms. Winfrey. This adds quite a bit of financial engine-room acceleration to the somewhat inexplicable velocity of the couple’s subsequent exit from the monarchy, first to Canada, at Thanksgiving 2019, then after a few months and the initial bombshell in January 2020, their ultimate exit in March of last year. Put in pure Hollywood terms: They already had quite a solid iron in the fire out in Los Angeles, a production deal with Apple and Oprah.

The pandemic and its many effects on public life have put an understandable crimp on the production of programming in Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s Netflix deal. To their credit they have hired chairs of scripted and non-scripted content, and an audio producer to help manage their Spotify commitments, in addition to signing on a first-rate Los Angeles Times writer for Harry’s first book, JR Moehringer.

Bottom line, the reason Harry seemed happy in early July at the unveiling of his mother’s statue in the Sunken Garden is that, as he himself put it at a recent public appearance, he’s living the life his mother wanted for him. And for his brother.


Read More:Infinite Blowback: Prince Harry’s Podcasts, Scripted And Unscripted Netflix Series, And