True Royalty has launched its first original Meghan and Harry: The First 100 Days – a fascinating window into the extraordinary world of the Royal Family’s most dynamic couple as they embark on their new life together.
Meghan Markle is the most talked about choice of royal wife since another American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, ended centuries of tradition as well as the reign of her husband Edward VIII in 1937. But ‘choice’ does Britain’s new Duchess of Sussex a disservice. This modern Californian woman seems to have willingly stepped into the role of Prince Harry’s wife with all the hallmark confidence of her past life as an actor and activist. We caught up with director Ross Curran to hear more about his stunning portrait of the newly married couple and what he thinks the future might hold for this unlikely fairytale union.
A lot of the interest in Meghan comes from our interest in Prince Harry. Why does Harry command so much affection?
I think what the programme touched upon is how everyone has grown up with him, how he lost his mother and how that touched everyone. Then seeing him on the front pages and making mistakes growing up has endeared him rather than put people off.
“My own personal opinion is that royalty is a fantastic part of British society and we’re lucky to have it.”
Add to that now he’s a war hero, he’s got the Invictus games – we’ve seen him mature and that has made everything previously untoward instantly forgivable. He’s an impressive young man with strong passions for really important causes. That’s admirable and Meghan is going to help him. She’s media savvy. She’s articulate and engaging. She’s going to want Harry to continue in that vein. Together they’ll be a powerful couple.
Is Meghan the template for the new royal woman or just a continuation? Hasn’t there always been a place for the independently-minded female: thinking of Princesses Anne, Diana, Fergie. And don’t we have ultimate ‘girl power’ in the queen?
I don’t think this is a new thing and I don’t think it’s a continuation. I think it’s a culmination. In the programme we talk a lot about how the Royal Family has learned lessons. Up until now it has taken time to regroup and understand what these strong women have to offer it. Now Meghan has come in and is going to benefit from the others being trailblazers. She’s passionate about various causes and is fully tooled up for the role, with the confidence to carry it through. The timing couldn’t be better.
In a programme such as this, authoritative comment is key. Who qualifies someone to be able to give analysis and insight into Harry and Meghan’s first 100 days of public office as married royals?
We did try to go for a mix of voices on the subject but I think the route in was Meghan herself and what she has brought to the Royal Family. She’s young, American, she’s from a mixed-race background. That’s given a sense of rebirth to the Royal Family.
“She is being schooled at being a Duchess but once school’s out, Meghan will expect them to step back.”
We were looking for a range of fresh commentators, as well as the more experienced faces: people who were experts like Royal Correspondents and biographers, but also people who could better speak to the impact that Meghan and her background, her race, her character could have on an institution that has been around for centuries. Not only positive opinions, but also people who had written critically about what Meghan was giving up in entering the Royal Family.
What’s the tone of True Royalty in its treatment of the Royal Family? We live in an age that seeks to commoditise every vestige of the British Monarchy, so what makes its approach and this programme fresh?
First and foremost, we’re celebratory. We’re not at all pursuing a Republican agenda. We’re pro-Royalty and enthusiastic about the subject. But we do understand that opinions are shifting. If you give a more reasoned, balanced approach to a subject it makes for a much better watch. My own personal opinion is that royalty is a fantastic part of British society and we’re lucky to have it. Equally, what Meghan has brought through is the desire to modernise and keep up with the changing times: the age of celebrity, Instagram, social media. One of the questions we’re asking is what the relevancy of the Royal Family is to young people. Meghan and Harry are a big part of that.
One of the underreported facets of royal life is the courtier: the role of private secretaries and other palace officials behind the scenes. One such person you feature is Samantha Cohen, who is Meghan’s main advisor. Tell us more…
It’s fascinating. When you watch archive footage as much as I do, you start to pick them out in the background. When I see the news now I don’t look at Meghan or even the Queen, I just try to identify who the bodyguard is, or the lady in waiting. By and large, people like Cohen are just a support base for Meghan; every environment she’s entering is brand new.
“Harry and Meghan’s role is to provide the razzamatazz.”
She’s not only new to this world, she’s American. I see her as leaning on them quite heavily for protocol: where to walk, stand, which car to get in. As time goes on and confidence builds she will have her own ideas and their influence will wane. If she rebels against anyone it’ll be them. She is being schooled at being a Duchess but once school’s out, Meghan will expect them to step back.
The programme addresses the Meghan Markle/Kate Middleton comparison very interestingly. What struck you about the way the media portray this?
The comparisons are self-evident. It’s really interesting that they’re the same age yet they are coming at their roles in the Royal Family from two different worlds. Meghan is really new to the institution but Kate is now part of the furniture and has grown up with it from very early adulthood. I think they will be pitted against each other in the media. The narrative will be they don’t get on. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know. In the film we come at it from a variety of angles and conclude they are going to need each other. Deep down they probably feel lucky to have each other.
If comparisons between Meghan and Kate are obvious, what then do you make of the differing identities of the two couples: William & Kate vs Harry & Meghan?
Harry and Meghan’s role is to provide the razzamatazz. We’ve seen Meghan in the show wearing all those high-end clothes. It’s been one fashion runway after another. She’s glamorous, everyone’s interested in her. They’ll keep that going for as long as possible. Kate is living the role of future Queen consort. Meghan doesn’t have that obligation. Harry himself has moved down the pecking order in terms of being heir to the throne with the birth of William’s children. They are allowed to be more, for lack of a better word, flash. It’s going to be more royalty meets Hollywood.
Meghan and Harry: The First 100 Days. Watch the documentary and a whole library of programmes about royalty here.