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Harry and Meghan ‘buy film rights’ to romance novel to ‘revive media careers’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning to make a Netflix adaptation of the book ‘Meet Me at the Lake’ by Carley Fortune, according to reports

Kate Ng
Monday 07 August 2023 11:27 BST
Harry and Meghan surprise student recipients of Youth Power Fund in Archewell video

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have reportedly bought the film rights to a romantic novel following the end of their Spotify deal.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are planning to turn the bestselling book Meet Me At The Lake by author Carley Fortune into a Netflix film, according to reports.

The book’s plot appears to bear some similarities to the royal couple’s own lives, as the story revolves around a pair who meet in their thirties. One half of the fictional couple lost a parent in a car crash and subsequently struggled with alcohol and drug use.

In comparison, Harry and Meghan met when the duke was 32 and the former Suits star was 35. Harry’s mother, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, died in fatal car chase in 1997, when her youngest son was 12.

The novel is published by Penguin Random House, which also published Harry’s memoir Spare. Spare was released in January and became the fastest-selling non-fiction book since records began after it sold almost half a million copies in its first week on sale.

Harry and Meghan’s new venture comes two months after Spotify ended its multi-million pound deal with the Sussexes, reportedly because the couple did not meet the productivity benchmark expected of them to receive the full payout that was agreed in 2020. Meghan released just one series of her Archetypes podcast as part of the deal.

In June, it was reported that Spotify would not renew its $20m (£15.6m) three-year deal with Archewell Audio. The latter, which is the Sussexes’ content creation label, said in a statement that the two companies “mutually agreed to part ways”.

However, the couple were criticised and branded as “grifters” by leading Spotify executive Bill Simmons after the announcement that their deal had come to an end. Simmons, host of The Ringer podcast, has previously criticised the duke and claimed he “just whines about s*** and keeps giving interviews”.

The reported purchase of the film rights to Fortune’s book marks the first time the couple’s Archewell Productions company has paid to turn a novel into a drama as part of their Netflix deal. The novel became a New York Times bestseller after it was published in May.

Harry and Meghan (Getty Images)

The Sun on Sunday quoted a source as saying: “The themes of the book gripped the couple and it was chosen for their first adaptation with Netflix.”

However, production of Meet Me at the Lake may be impacted by the ongoing Hollywood screenwriters’ and actors’ strike.

Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) have been on strike since May, while the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced its strike comprising of 150,000 TV and movie actors on 13 July.

The action, which marks the first time since 1960 that both actors and writers have picketed film and TV production companies, has brought Hollywood to a halt as members call for fairer deals.

Harry and Meghan’s Netflix deal was signed in 2021. As part of the agreement, the couple are expected to make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.

Since then, they have released their docu-series Harry and Meghan. The series, released in December 2022, claimed to tell the couple’s side of the story about stepping down from their roles as senior royals and the deepening rift between them and the rest of the royal family.

They also released Live to Lead, a docu-series that Harry said was inspired by Nelson Mandela. It features interviews with activists including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Greta Thunberg, and was also released in December 2022.

Harry is also set to release his Heart of Invictus documentary this year, which follows service members who have suffered from life-changing injuries or illnesses and who are competing in the Invictus Games.

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

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