Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary director accuses Palace of trying to 'discredit' series

The Royal family did not respond to the claims made in the documentary by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - ANDREW KELLY
The Royal family did not respond to the claims made in the documentary by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - ANDREW KELLY

The director of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Netflix documentary has accused Buckingham Palace of trying to “discredit” the series.

Liz Garbus suggested that when a senior palace aide claimed that members of the Royal family had not been given a right of reply over the Harry & Meghan series, it had given her an insight into the alleged palace mind games the couple had complained about.

“For instance, Buckingham Palace said that we didn’t reach out for comment (on the series) when we did,” Ms Garbus told Vanity Fair magazine.

“They did that to discredit us…and by discrediting us, they can discredit the content of the show.… We lived through some of those moments that were a little bit like Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

The documentary was variously described in UK publications as a “a very Californian exercise in grievance,” a “tedious, narcissistic wallow,” and “a one-sided PR effort.”

But Ms Garbus defended the series, suggesting that the negative reviews jarred with the overwhelming public interest in the couple.

“People are very happy to read everything about Harry and Meghan when it’s somebody else writing about them,” she said.

“But when Harry and Meghan want to tell their story in their own words, it suddenly becomes an issue.

“People are not forced to watch a documentary. It’s not going to be required in school. It is your choice what you binge and what you don’t binge.

“There have been more documentaries and books written about Harry and Meghan than Harry and Meghan have produced themselves. So I think it’s an interesting kind of pearl-clutching that doesn’t quite add up with the public’s appetite for reading stuff about them from other people.”

Ms Garbus founded her production company, Story Syndicate, with her husband Dan Cogan, an Oscar-winning producer.

She got to know the Duchess after working with her on her first solo project for Netflix, an animated children’s series called Pearl, which was shelved by the streaming platform last year.

The director said the Sussexes viewed the Harry & Meghan documentary “very much” as their love story but that for her, it was important to “connect the dots” to issues such as racism, colonialism, and the British empire to provide a historical context.

The six-part documentary, released last month, carried a disclaimer that read: “Members of the Royal family declined to comment on the content within this series.”

Buckingham Palace initially claimed that neither itself nor Kensington Palace nor any member of the Royal family had been approached for comment.

In an apparent U-turn, Kensington Palace later confirmed that an email had been received “purporting” to be from a third-party production company, via an email address from an unknown organisation.

It said that attempts to contact both Archewell Productions and Netflix by email to verify the authenticity of the email went unanswered.

Buckingham Palace later admitted that it had received a similar approach from an independent production company but said attempts at verification were “unsuccessful”.

The Royal family did not respond to the claims made in the series, including that the Prince of Wales “screamed and shouted” at his brother and briefed the media against him.

The Telegraph understands that a letter detailing specific content concerning Prince William was sent to the palace and that an email acknowledging receipt was sent back that same day, including a request to see the relevant clips.

That request was denied.

However, further contact then seeking to verify the authenticity of the production company did not come until several days later, after a deadline had passed.

Some close to the Sussexes expressed incredulity about the way the situation was handled and likened it to a form of briefing against the couple.

It was described by one friend as a “perfect example” of why relations between the two sides were so fraught.

In the first week of its release, Harry & Meghan broke Netflix’s viewing record for unscripted content, with 81.55 million hours watched.

In the second week, when the final three episodes were released, viewing time climbed to 97.7 million hours.