Netflix’s Harry & Meghan is more than just a look at their love story; it is one of the most intimate portraits yet of Prince Harry’s life as a member of the royal family and his mother Princess Diana’s impact on him.
Harry spoke in the documentary about how his mother would protect him and his brother Prince William from the paparazzi when she could, his memories of her, dealing with her loss, and how part of the reason he fell in love with Meghan Markle was because he saw so much of Diana in her. Here, all Harry shared about Diana’s impact on him.
When approaching love and life, Harry believes he follows Diana’s approach of following his heart over his head, unlike some of the other men in his family.
“I think for so many people in the family, especially obviously the men, there can be a temptation or an urge to marry someone who would fit in the mold as opposed to somebody who you perhaps are destined to be with,” Harry said. “The difference between making decisions with your head or your heart. My mom certainly made most of her decisions, if not all of them, from her heart. And I am my mother’s son.”
Harry sees himself as “cheeky” like his mother.
“I don’t have many early memories of my mom,” Harry started. “It’s like internally, I blocked them out. But I always remember her laugh, her cheeky laugh. She was always saying to me, ‘You can get in trouble, just don’t get caught.’ And I’ll always be that cheeky person inside.”
Harry credited Diana with protecting him and William from the paps…and touched on the toll seeing her harassed by them had on him.
“My mom did such a good job trying to protect us,” Harry said. “She took it upon herself to basically confront these people. I think she had a lived experience of how she was struggling living that life. She felt compelled to talk about it, especially in that Panorama interview. I think we all now know she was deceived into giving the interview but at the same time, she spoke the truth of her experience.”
“My mom was harassed throughout her life with my dad,” Harry continued. “But after they separated, the harassment went to new levels. The moment that she divorced, the moment she left the institution, then she was by herself. Yeah, she may have been one of the most influential, powerful women in the world but she was completely exposed to this. I saw things, I experienced things, I learned things. The pain and suffering of women marrying into this institution. I remember thinking, ‘How can I ever find someone who is willing and capable to be able to withstand all the baggage that comes with being with me?’”
Harry fell in love with Meghan in part because he saw “so much” of his late mom in her.
When Harry and Meghan first started dating in summer 2016, Harry said, “As I got to know Meghan more and more, I was like, ‘Now I’m really falling in love with this girl. So despite my own fear, I just opened my heart to see what’s going to happen.’”
“So much of what Meghan is and how she is, is so similar to my mom,” he continued. “She has the same compassion. She has the same empathy, she has the same confidence. She has this warmth about her. I accept there will be people around the world who fundamentally disagree with what I’ve done and how I’ve done it, but I knew that I had to do everything I could to protect my family. Especially after what happened to my mom. You know, I didn’t want history to repeat itself.”
Harry privately struggled with the press treatment of him after his mother passed away.
“When my mom died, we had two hats to wear: One was two grieving sons wanting to cry, grieve and process that grief because of losing our mom,” Harry said. “And two was the royal hat, show no emotion, get out there, meet people, shake hands. The UK literally swept me and William up as their children with an expectation to see myself and William out and about. It was really hard for the two of us.”
While struggling with grief while at Eton College, Harry started noticing he was getting the press treatment she had before.
“That’s when all of the stuff that had happened to my mom started happening to us,” Harry said of his time at Eton and teenage years. “Not every story was false, but there was a lot of typical exaggeration and rehashing. He’s bouncing between the walls, he’s taking drugs, he’s drinking, he’s out late. He’s night-clubbing, he’s got a girlfriend here, he’s got a girlfriend there. What’s going on?”
“You know, there’s a difference between having to accept, ‘Okay, we have this position in this family and therefore, there’s going to be a level of interest,’ and being swarmed by paparazzi chasing you in cars through red lights,’” he continued. “And then chasing you down the road on foot which is what happened probably about 30 or 40 times when I was younger. It was too much.”
“Everything that was happening in the UK was so intense,” he said. “I was trying to balance the whole experience of being a young boy who is trying to deal with the loss of his mom without much support or help or guidance. It didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem fair.”
Senior News and Strategy Editor
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.