Harry and Meghan address tumultuous relationship with the media in Netflix doc

The Duke of Sussex said he feels it’s his duty to uncover the “exploitation and bribery” within the media who “know the full truth”.

The first three episodes of Harry and Meghan’s tell-all Netflix documentary begin with the Duchess of Sussex accusing the media of wanting to “destroy” her and claiming “salacious” stories were “planted” by the press.

Harry also spoke of the “harassment” his mother Princess Diana suffered and the fear that Meghan would also be “driven away by the media”.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Netflix documentary
Princess Diana visiting the Mortimer Market Centre, a clinic for HIV/AIDS sufferers, where she met some of the patients (PA)

In the opening of the first episode, the Duke said: “So like duty and service and I feel as though being part of this family it is my duty to uncover this exploitation and bribery that happens within our media.”

Meghan said: “Unfortunately, in us standing for something, they are destroying us.”

As the piano music continued to play, Harry said: “This isn’t just about our story. This has always been so much bigger than us. No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth. The institution knows the full truth. And the media know the full truth because they’ve been in on it.

“And I think anybody else in my situation would have done exactly the same thing.”

The documentary appeared to link the EU referendum to a “culture war” in the UK at the time of Harry and Meghan’s engagement in 2017.

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Harry and Meghan in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, after the announcement of their engagement (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Speaking about the press coverage of her, Meghan said: “At that point, I was still very much believing what I was being told, which was ‘it will pass it will get better, it’s just what they do right at the very beginning’.

“This promise of ‘once you’re married, don’t worry, it’ll get better, once they get used to you it’ll get better, of course it’ll get better’.

“But truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how good I was, no matter what I did, they were still going to find a way to destroy me.”

Reflecting on the period leading up to her wedding day on May 19 2018, Meghan said: “We were playing whack-a-mole.

“Every day it was like ‘Wait, another one popped up – wait, stop, another story’. Constant. They were going through the woodwork and pulling out people to create and plant the most salacious stories that they could. Then it started to get scary.”

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The Duchess of Sussex said the media would ‘plant the most salacious stories’ in the lead up to her wedding (PA)

The documentary features headlines from Australia’s New Idea, the US’s National Enquirer and the UK’s Mirror about their tightened security after a letter was sent holding white powder, sparking an anthrax scare.

Meghan, who said she was “just turtling” behind the scenes, explained: “It was on the heels of those terrorist attacks, so there is so much concern at the wedding. It was so scary. They were talking about getting snipers.”

The three episodes also saw Harry reflect on his relationship with the media over the years.

Looking back on his childhood, he said in the first episode: “The majority of my memories are of being swarmed by paparazzi. Rarely do we have a holiday without someone with a camera, you know, jumping out of a bush or something.

“Within the family, within the system, the advice that’s always given is ‘Don’t react, don’t feed into it’. There was always public pressure with its fair share of drama, stress and also tears, and witnessing those tears.

“I could always see it on my mum’s face. And I guess those were the moments where I thought ‘OK, hang on maybe, what am I? Who am I? What am I part of?’”

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Princess Diana enjoying a day out at Thorpe Park amusement park with her sons Harry (centre) and William (Cliff Kent/PA)

Harry praised his mother, Diana, for her efforts to “protect” him and his brother, the Prince of Wales, from the media.

He said: “My mum was harassed throughout her life with my dad, but after they separated the harassment went to new levels. The moment that she divorced and the moment she left the institution, then she was by herself.

“Yeah she may have well have been one of the most influential and powerful women in the world but she was completely exposed to this. I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things. The pain and the suffering of women marrying into this institution.

“I remember thinking ‘how can I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that come with being with me?’

“Every relationship that I had, within a matter of weeks or months, was splattered all over the newspapers and that person’s family harassed and their lives turned upside down. So, you know, I mean, after one or two girlfriends, the third or fourth girlfriend, are going to be like ‘Hang on a second, I don’t know if I want this’.”

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The Duke of Sussex said he was ‘terrified’ the media would drive Meghan away (Chris Jackson/PA)

Harry said he was “terrified” that Meghan would be “driven away by the media”.

Speaking of his relationship with the Duchess, he said: “The same media that had driven so many different people away from me. I knew that the only way that this could possibly work was by keeping it quiet for as long as possible.”

Meghan described the beginning of their relationship as “relaxing and easy” before it began receiving increased media attention.

The Netflix documentary showed text messages between the couple organising trips back and forth to see each other as Meghan described landing in the UK, getting harassed and going to hunker down in Kensington Palace until she left.

Harry said: “Dating became this combination of car chases, anti-surveillance driving and disguises, which isn’t a particularly healthy way to start a relationship, but we always came at it with as much humour as possible.

“Whenever we saw each other we would just give each other a massive hug and try and have as much of a normal life as possible.”

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Duke said he believes the media see his trauma as their story to “control” and spoke out against the royal rota, which is a system where media are allocated slots to cover the members of the family.

He added: “If you’re part of the royal rota, you have priority over the story over everybody else. All royal news goes through the filter of all newspapers within the royal rota, most of which, apart from the Telegraph, happen to be tabloids.

“It all comes down to control, it’s like ‘This family is ours to exploit. Their trauma is our story and our narrative to control’.”

It comes as the tell-all documentary was heavily criticised for appearing to use footage of the press filming events unrelated to the royal couple.

One of the videos which appears in the first three episodes shows a photographer on a balcony taking a picture of Harry and Meghan walking with their son Archie down below.

However, this picture appears to actually be of an accredited photographer during a royal rota event where the couple met Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town.