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Harry and Meghan’s controversial Netflix documentary hours away from premiere

The royal family at the lying in state for the late Queen (Phil Noble/PA)
The royal family at the lying in state for the late Queen (Phil Noble/PA)

The royal family are bracing themselves for bombshells from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix documentary as it streams across the world on Thursday morning.

As the King and the Queen Consort breakfast in their own home and the Prince and Princess of Wales deal with the school run, royal fans, commentators and the British media will be binge watching the first three episodes of Harry and Meghan’s already controversial tell-all take on royal life.

A friend close to the royal family stressed the situation concerned “real people” and that there was a “great deal of sadness” involved.

Harry & Meghan
The Harry & Meghan series (Netflix/PA)

“It’s really important to remember that these are real people. This isn’t a soap opera. They are human beings and a family and there’s a great deal of sadness,” the friend said.

Harry’s father Charles and brother William, along with Camilla and Kate, are not expected to personally watch the series, but royal aides will be tasked with closely monitoring the output, and considering, if at all, how to respond.

The King and the royal family will be carrying on with royal duties as normal on Thursday, with the docuseries also coinciding with the first circulation of coins bearing Charles’ effigy in post offices around the UK – symbolic of the adjustments still continuing in the wake of Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

40th anniversary of BITC
The King meets founders, members and beneficiaries during a celebration for the 40th anniversary of Business in the Community on Wednesday (Kin Cheung/PA)

The six-part “Harry & Meghan” show, billed as “unprecedented and in-depth”, is airing exactly three months after the death of Harry’s grandmother the late Queen, with the Windsors still grieving and the King less than 100 days into his reign.

Harry, in a trailer, has warned “We know the full truth” and spoken of a “hierarchy in the family”, a “dirty game” and “leaking” and “planting of stories”.

The pair look set to outline Meghan’s treatment by the press, challenge allegations the duchess bullied staff, and seemingly delve into their relationships with the royals and the household.

The Sussexes signed lucrative deals thought to be worth more than £100 million with Netflix and Spotify after quitting the monarchy amid the Megxit crisis as they struggled with royal life.

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Netflix documentary
One of the images which appeared in the trailer for the Netflix show (Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Netflix/PA)

They plunged the monarchy into crisis with their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, while the Duke of Edinburgh was in hospital.

The duke and duchess accused an unnamed member of the family of racism towards their son Archie before he was born, and the institution of failing to help the suicidal duchess.

The couple quit as senior working royals in 2020 in favour of more freedom and the ability to earn their own money in the US.

Harry said he felt let down by his father and that “there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened” in their relationship. His longstanding rift with William has continued.

Diana’s 60th birthday
William and Harry (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The brothers fell out over what Harry perceived to be William’s “snobbish” attitude to his bride, it was claimed.

In the aftermath of the Oprah broadcast, the Queen issued a statement saying “while some recollections may vary”, the issues would be taken “very seriously”, but dealt with privately as a family.

But on a podcast and a mental health Apple TV series, Harry went on to accuse his family of “total neglect” and appeared to criticise the parenting skills of Charles and the Queen and Philip, suggesting he had suffered “genetic pain”.