Meghan and Harry find themselves in a nightmarish situation ahead of the Queen’s Jubilee, with the streaming giant putting the pressure on them.
If you were pitching a TV series on a major streaming platform, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect plot: a beautiful damsel in distress (and diamonds), a dashing prince who drives his electric car to rescue her, a seemingly wintry Queena bitter rivalry with a beautiful foe and our pair finally taking a brave leap for freedom.
It has everything! Love! tears! Private jets! Pathos up the wazoo! (There’s even an uncle-slash-ogre in the mix!)
It’s a show that you and I and anyone with opposable thumbs would binge in an instant. Now you must be wondering if this is what Netflix thought they could get their hands on when they managed to get it Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, to sign on the dotted line.
Rewind to September 2020 and it was Netflix to announce that they had secured the talents of the world’s most famous unemployed, inexperienced TV producers. At the time, they were the hottest of hot celebrities who had done the totally unthinkable and turned their backs on royal life and lifetime tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show.
At first it seemed like a match made in heaven: a lot of nice money for the Sussexes; with real members of the royal family in the books for Netflix†
Until now, the world has yet to glimpse the production capabilities of the Duke and Duchess. Of their two shows that were publicly green-lit by Netflix, Harry’s Documentary Heart of Invictus was shooting until last month (and may still be) and Meghan’s children’s animated series Pearl was discontinued last month as part of a series of high-profile cancellations.
With messages that the Sussexes’ deal is worth $140 millionso far, Netflix hasn’t gotten a real bang for their many, many dollars.
Now, a US consultant for the company has ominously revealed that company executives are “evaluating” what “unique, exclusive and interesting content” the pair could bring to the table.
“We’re getting to a point in the business where Netflix executives are evaluating what content around the royals and the Sussexes is actually coming in,” the consultant said. The Mirror†
“If you’re with the network, you’ve drawn them to their unique attraction and selling point given their royal access and insight.
“Sure, both are creative and Harry has produced some powerful mental health documentaries, but the big money deals are for big projects.
“That’s why the tens of millions of dollars may have been used up.”
So what could the Sussexes do to make sure they get a proper ‘evaluation’? Funny you wonder, what about the platinum anniversary celebrations in two weeks.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Harry and Meghan, after months of wanting – they won’t – go back and forth, would indeed return to the UK at the knees to mark the history of his grandmother – 70 years on the throne. †
Their two young children, Archie, 3, and Lilibet, who will be celebrating her first birthday over the anniversary weekend, will also be making the trip.
What is not known is whether a large film crew of dozens will also be accompanied.
When they traveled to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games in April, a 30-strong horde of cameramen, sound engineers and various other production staff followed in their wake.
When they traveled to New York last September, page six reported that Meghan and Harry “secretly recorded their visit to NYC for a controversial Netflix documentary about their lives,” including visits to the 9/11 Memorial, the United Nations, and a vaccine equality concert.
In November, when they returned to the Big Apple, Daily mail published photos of a film crew following them into a Veteran’s Day gala and of camera equipment being carried to the apartment where they were staying.
The Windsor house has reportedly been concerned for weeks over the prospect of lurking TV lenses also breaking through the palace gates.
Earlier this month, The Sun reported that “Palace ‘sitters’ will stop any Harry and Meghan Netflix crew if they try to film in royal events during the Platinum Jubilee”.
“A team has been ordered to stop all filmmakers’ movements to ‘exploit’ the streaming giant [$143 million] deal with the couple during the Queen’s four-day celebration.
A well-placed source told the newspaper: “The concern is… [a Netflix crew] will push it and try to access areas of Jubilee events where they can film Harry and Meghan and their kids.
“Even if they accept that their Netflix crew can’t go to Buckingham Palace to film, they can cause problems – and at the very least create a major distraction.
“Senior courtiers believe Netflix will see it as one big opportunity to exploit their mega-million dollar deal with the couple.”
While the Queen may have put her foot down on all the Real Housewives of Westminster nonsense, Netflix sounds like they’re getting a little antsy, per The Mirrorwith torque pressure to deliver the goods.
“The anniversary is the largest gathering of British royals in years and means Harry and Meghan will be close,” the consultant said. “The chiefs want exclusive footage and their dream is to gain insights into that royal world that has never been seen before.
“Many in the company wonder what will happen if the Sussexes are unable to deliver unique, exclusive and interesting content from the biggest event of recent years for the royals.”
With the palace and all other royal properties out of bounds, the only possible royal filming location left would be the fraught No Man’s Land of the Sussex’s Frogmore Cottage. It is believed that the couple has been paying commercial rent for the property since 2020 and that it is technically still their UK address (they renewed the lease earlier this year).
That said, the property is owned by the Crown Estate and what complicates matters even more is that Harry’s cousin, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank and their son August have been living there for about 18 months now.
The Netflix consultant says: “What happens at Frogmore Cottage is basically private interactions between family. Frogmore is a gray area in terms of whether it falls under the full-time jurisdiction of the courtiers. If everyone agrees to shoot scenes there filming, that would be exclusive, unique material that has never been shown before.”
Taking these reports at face value, it seems more and more like Harry and Meghan are stuck between a rock and a very regal place.
Their options, again assuming these reports are correct, appear to be that they can either appease their new bosses and help cameras go where no camera has ever ventured before. Or they can do the right thing by the royal family and not try to circumvent the rule of the palace and thus remain in the favor of the queen.
The choice sounds like it could come down to what they value more: money or his mater familias?
If Harry and Meghan took a TV crew and they filmed in Frogmore (both are very big ‘ifs’), the Queen would certainly be so angry that she would drive the tourists from the Tower of London, the place back into a prison only for the Sussexes and then easily lose the keys.
In a few weeks, the anniversary will close on Sunday night with a bang with the 5,000 cast-member strong Jubilee Pageant. But fireworks? As things develop now, there could very well be some, stretching from Buckingham Palace to Frogmore Cottage.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years experience working with some of Australia’s leading media titles.
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