Meghan Markle and Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have been populating their content calendars at an ever-frenzied pace since that fateful Oprah interview. Between an audio exploration of Archetypes, a string of trailer drops for their dramatic upcoming Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, and what’s sure to be a publicity gauntlet for his 2023 memoir, Harry and Meg have publicly mined their pain in every possible way amid an ongoing war with the Firm.
But as the royal defectors continue to churn out more naval-gazing content and announcements, this near stream-of-consciousness business model has me circling back to the same question over and over again: How many times can you tell your own sad story without getting bored of hearing it yourself?
On Monday, the pair dropped the second trailer for Harry & Meghan, which will debut on Thursday (the three-month anniversary of the queen’s death), with a second installment dropping a week later. While condemning the Palace for allegedly “leaking” and “planting…stories against them,” Harry laments in the trailer that he does not want “history to repeat itself,” as a shot of Princess Diana splashes across the screen. “There was a war against Meghan to suit other people’s agendas,” another voice says, as Harry adds, “It’s a dirty game…The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution…This feeding frenzy.”
An unidentified source within the Palace has already told Vanity Fair that King Charles and company hope to let the Meghan and Harry press storm blow over without wading into the discourse the series is bound to ignite. But that may not be possible with Montecito’s newest residents dropping what looks to be a steady drumbeat of new allegations against the monarchy and, potentially, the freshly-buried queen.
In March of 2021, the couple kicked off their zero-to-60 press initiative by sitting down for a tell-all CBS special with Oprah Winfrey—their neighbor. Later that year, Harry dropped his vague and mostly panned mental health series on Apple TV+, titled The Me You Can’t See. In August 2022, Markle released the premiere episode of her inane podcast Archetypes, in which she interviews famous pals like Serena Williams and Paris Hilton in uncritical fashion. And, prior to the queen’s passing, the couple’s Netflix series was set to drop in early November, followed closely by Harry’s memoir, Spare (a meant-to-be biting take on the saying “the heir and the spare”).
Such a release calendar is the stuff of fairytales for a couple hellbent on clearing and rebranding their names. And while Meghan and Harry both deserve public support as they seek vengeance against a family that continues to deny any and all claims of institutional and individual racism, bumps in the road have oversaturated the power of their voices and of their story.
First, there was the couple’s messy scramble in the wake of the queen’s death to edit admissions about the royal family out of the docuseries. Then, out of sudden respect for his late grandmother and Britain’s crown jewel, Harry pushed the show release to December and his memoir to January 2023. Those projects are also mired in tabloid drama, which may water down the impact of whatever potent storytelling the Sussexes had in mind. Now, back-to-back announcements of high-profile leadership departures from the couple’s Archewell Foundation—which produces the Archetypes podcasts—have further muddied the waters. Even if these departures were unrelated to the couple’s faltering public image, they certainly don’t contribute to Harry and Meghan’s hoped-for comeuppance narrative.
With an undying content pipeline, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are playing a noncommittal game of cat and mouse with the palace. They’ve pivoted from throwing deserved poisonous darts directly at the monarchy to backing away with their tails tucked between their legs out of fear of sounding “insensitive.” Meanwhile, the more projects we get, the less sympathy we inevitably have for a couple that continues to exploit their own pain with no end in sight, capitalizing on every angle until they’ve put themselves so aggressively in the public eye that they’ve become part of the background. In their efforts to topple Britain’s institutionalized control, both over its royal women and its colonized countries, Harry and Meghan may deserve our sympathy and support. It just seems like their nonstop quest for attention is making it difficult for the public to give them any of that.