Americans sound off on Meghan and Harry’s doco

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“I think Harry comes across as genuine in it, while Meghan is too Hollywood,” says Amanda Bailey, 34, from Albany, New York. “I always had that impression, but the Netflix show made it that much clearer.”

Howard Stern: not a fan.Credit:ninevms

Skylar Baker-Jordan, an American commentator who spent some years working in London, believes the difference in transatlantic perception can be explained by the US and UK’s contrasting class system and social mobility.

In the documentary, Meghan revisits her primary school in Los Angeles and reads a note she left in her headteacher’s yearbook as a child, promising to make sure everyone knew about the school when she was “rich and famous”. In the fifth episode, she tells how a member of the plane crew on her flight back to Canada from the UK, after she completed her final official royal engagement in 2020, thanked her for her service.

“To the British, that would read as arrogance,” Baker-Jordan says. “To Americans, it reads as ambition – and ambition is encouraged in this country. Meghan is, in many regards, the epitome of the American dream. She was a middle-class child of a single mom who attended one of the most prestigious universities in the country – Northwestern – and made it big, first in television and then… working with the United Nations to advocate for the rights of women. Then she meets and falls in love with a prince.”

Nowhere is this transatlantic difference in interpretations more apparent than in Meghan’s description of her first curtsy in Buckingham Palace. It has been interpreted by many back in the UK as a mockery of the Queen, and by extension the Establishment. Meanwhile American viewers told The Telegraph they instead saw a humbled young woman.

“It’s a delightful anecdote of a California Yankee in Queen Elizabeth’s court. A self-deprecating tale of an American clearly out of place,” says Baker-Jordan.

“I felt in that moment like I could imagine her position and it made me have so much respect for what she went on to do,” adds Cooper.

After the Sussexes’ Oprah interview in March 2021, some mainstream US media framed the couple’s exit in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement that began in America.

Last week, New York society honoured the Duke and Duchess at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation gala, where they were presented with the Ripple of Hope Award for their work in racial justice, as well as mental health and other social impact action through their Archewell Foundation.

The sixth episode of the series revealed how megastar Beyoncé contacted Meghan, texting her saying she was “selected to break generational curses that need to be healed”.

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Yet there are others in America who have come to grow weary of the couple. Caroline Russo, 52, said that her affection for Prince Harry’s late mother Diana had made her largely sympathetic to them both at first, but that changed recently. “There’s a faux naivety that you see with Meghan in the documentary,” she says. “All this pretending that she didn’t know what she was signing up for, that she didn’t know anything about how the Royal family operates.

“If Meghan really wanted freedom, she would reject her titles and all the privileges,” she adds. “But it is clear now that she probably had this all planned out from day one.”

Newspaper coverage has also been circumspect. The Wall Street Journal’s review of the documentary came under the scathing headline: “A Royal Pity Party on Netflix.” While the paper describes Harry’s repeated reference to the media hounding that led to the death of his mother as a “legitimate device”, the review notes that “Ms Markle’s victimisation is harder to buy”.

Howard Stern, a popular radio show personality in America, agreed that the Duke and Duchess came across as entitled. “Jesus Christ, when those two start whining, ‘Wah wah wah’ and ‘They don’t like me’. It’s just very weird to watch two people who keep screaming ‘We wanted our privacy, we wanted the press to leave us alone’. And then what is their special that they put out on Netflix? Showing you them and their kids and their life. It’s like the Kardashians – except boring,” he told his millions of listeners.

Cooper and her friends, however, remain charmed by the couple who have their full admiration – in their eyes, there is little to distinguish the latest Royal series from the countless others topping the Netflix charts.

“It’s like Meghan is a character from a sequel episode of The Crown,” jokes Cooper, sipping her Earl Grey at Tea and Sympathy. “She comes in as this outsider – black, Catholic divorcee, American – and reveals the family for what it is. I’d definitely watch that!”

Telegraph, London

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