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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle respond to claims they wanted ‘privacy’ amid release of Netflix docuseries

The Duchess of Sussex previously told Oprah Winfrey: ‘They’ve created a false narrative. I’ve never talked about privacy’

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Friday 09 December 2022 18:00 GMT

Related: Key moments from Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have clarified that they did not step down from their roles as senior members of the royal family because they wanted “privacy”.

On Thursday, Netflix released the first three episodes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new docuseries Harry & Meghan. In the candid series, it tells the “other side” of the couple’s story, with the duke and duchess sharing never-before-seen photos and videos of everything from the early days of their relationship to self-recorded clips filmed in the aftermath of their decision to step away from the royal family and in their final days as working royals.

The series has been criticised by some who alleged that it contradicts the couple’s desire for privacy.

“Well done @netflix for helping Harry and Meghan achieve their dream of privacy,” one tweet reads, while another says: “Harry and Meghan said that they were quitting royal duties because they wanted ‘privacy’ and a life out of the spotlight. Nothing says privacy like a tell-all Netflix documentary…”

In a statement shared with The New York Times on Thursday, a spokesperson for the couple pointed out that the duke and duchess never said a desire for privacy was a factor in their decision.

“Their statement announcing their decision to step back mentions nothing of privacy and reiterates their desire to continue their roles and public duties,” Ashley Hansen, the couple’s global press secretary, said. “Any suggestion otherwise speaks to a key point of this series. They are choosing to share their story, on their terms, and yet the tabloid media has created an entirely untrue narrative that permeates press coverage and public opinion. The facts are right in front of them.”

In January 2020, the royal couple announced that they had come to the decision to step down from their roles as senior royals “after many months of reflection and internal discussions”.

At the time, the couple said their intention was to “carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” while noting that their plan was to “become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen”.

Meghan and Harry also said they planned to split their time between the United Kingdom and North America, so that they could continue to “honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages”.

The late Queen Elizabeth II ultimately concluded that the couple’s decision to step away meant it would not be “possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” which resulted in the honorary military appointments and royal patronages held by Prince Harry and Meghan being revoked.

In an 18 January 2020 statement regarding Meghan and Harry’s future, the Queen also said that she hoped the agreement the royal family had come to would allow the couple to “start building a happy and peaceful new life”.

Although the duke and duchess did not mention a desire for privacy in their official statement, Harry said he hoped their decision would lead to a “quieter life” while giving a speech in London shortly after he and Meghan announced their intention to step back.

The couple has also sued a number of UK newspapers for invasion of privacy.

Meghan later spoke of a desire for privacy during the couple’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2021. At the time, she said that all she and Harry were seeking was a “basic right to privacy,” similar to that granted to anyone else.

“I think everyone has a basic right to privacy. Basic. We’re not talking about anything that anybody else wouldn’t expect,” she said.

During the interview, Meghan also refuted the media narrative that she and Harry wanted privacy.

“They’ve created a false narrative. I’ve never talked about privacy,” she said.

Rather, the duchess said she and Harry wanted “boundaries” and “respect”.

“There’s no one who’s on Instagram or social media that would say: ‘Because I shared this one picture, that entitles you to have my entire camera roll. Go ahead and look through it.’ No one would want that. So it’s about boundaries. And it’s about respect,” she explained.

The final three episodes of Harry & Meghan will air on 15 December.

The Independent has contacted a spokesperson for the Sussexes for comment.

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