On Sunday night I sat down to take in the made-for-tv-movie, Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance on Lifetime TV.
Now let me be clear: my expectation levels for this movie were low at best. While I haven’t actually watched a MFTV in a while, my memory of them told me to expect lesser than good production value, embellished scenes of grandeur and actors (who probably don’t want to be there) mailing it in for the paycheque.
Well, colour me surprised because A Royal Romance took this fairytale story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and stuck to the script of what we actually know of their relationship, with above par production design and a couple of leads who came to play. Let’s dissect Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance.
The movie jumps right in, catching us up on both Harry and Meghan’s upbringing, from the death of Diana and how Harry was forced to grow up fast in the public eye and Meghan’s feminist flair from an early age, writing P&G over an Ivory commercial calling out women in the kitchen. After Diana’s death, Prince Charles takes William and Harry to Botswana and Harry already the early rule-breaker, runs off into the jungle to sob solo only to be interrupted by a lion on the prowl. Charles approaches to shoot the animal and Harry quickly pushes his rifle away as we later learn, he feels a special connection to this lion and just FYI, this tête-à-tête will not the their last.
We learn very early in the movie on that Meghan is a strong, independent female who embraces her biracial background even if it creates confusion at times. We fast forward to the set of Suits and I have to give it to actor Parisa Fitz-Henley, her Rachel Zane/Meghan Markle is clearly SPOT ON. Beyond looking like a true doppleganger, you can immediately tell she’s studied Markle’s mannerisms, laughs and looks and it shows. Seeing the couple’s timelines side-by-side remind us that while both in the spotlight, they were leading very different lives up to the point when they met, reminding us that timing is everything when it comes to love and you can’t force the fairytale.
We also get our first look at Wills and Kate and OH MY GOODNESS poor Wills with this casting! It is very upsetting on a personal level and if I was Will, I would seriously demand that they cast UP versus down because this guy is not giving me royal vibes at all. Moving on. For all his party boy, bachelor ways, Wills assures Harry that the solution to his reckless behaviour comes down to finding love – Kate makes Wills look good and he owes all his happiness to her. At first, my cold black heart was like BARF, but after reminding myself I was home alone watching a Lifetime movie, skepticism gave way to romance and I allowed it. Let’s proceed.
My first issue with this movie came when Meghan was gabbing in her hair and makeup trailer with her team. These women have such a serious problem with Meghan being single – her and her chef boyfriend have broken up (this timeline is allegedly unclear) and she wants to focus on reaching her full potential, whatever that may mean. We are quickly reminded multiple times that at 36 she’s not getting any younger and I’m over here wondering why her age is such an issue for everyone. The woman’s been married, divorced and currently has a wonderful career – why are we rushing her to wife up all over again? Apparently I’m not going to win this argument, because we cut to her stylist offering to set her up on a blind date in London as she’s headed there for an event. The stylist talks up the potential suitor reminding audiences that he’s rich, handsome and has a full head of hair. Meghan, denying her interest in any of this only has one question, “Is he nice?” MY EYES ARE ROLLING. I mean I get it, we are meant to be reminded, and frequently, that Meghan is an independent female, who doesn’t need a man to define her success. But COME ON, anyone who has a pulse would be delighted to know that their blind date is financially comfortable, good looking and at 36, the intel that a man has his full head of hair is an absolute plus.
Meghan brings the sass when Harry shows up 45 minutes late to their date and is swiftly interrupted by his driver – a move that she claims to have invented, so she gets it. It’s cool. They have such a great time, they stay up talking til the sun comes up and so their romance begins. Soon the two are headed to Botswana during Meghan’s time off from filming and we know that things are getting serious. As Wills puts it to Kate, “He Botswana’d her.” something Harry’s with other girls, but never so quickly, which means it has to be real.
Day 13 out of 19 #19factstillmeghanandharrymarry Fact 13: The announcements On November 27th, Clarence House released a statement announcing the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It was shortly followed by a statement via Kensington Palace on behalf of Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle, Meghan's parents. A few days ago, the Queen's consent to their marriage was published.
In Botswana, during an intellectual stroll across the jungle, we find out that Harry believed the lion from his first visit was his mother watching over him. Before he can finish his sentence, Meghan steals the words right out of his mouth, and he’s positively relieved. The fact that she doesn’t think he’s crazy means that she understands him on a deeper level and it’s a bonding moment ending in what I imagine to be their first kiss. Love is in the Botswana air!
Now one point I want to touch on is something I tweeted during the movie that got a lot of positive response. As a biracial female myself, I completely relate to Meghan during their discussion on race. The feeling of having to choose sides and fit in to one box as a mixed race person is something only a select group of people can understand. I am truly glad that Lifetime touched on this and highlighted the internal conflict that comes with being biracial. It’s something that isn’t addressed enough and while it wasn’t touched upon for too long (since it is not the focus of the movie), I do appreciate the dialogue even being brought to the table by Lifetime. I’m here for it.
As we continue watch their romance unfold, outsiders have their reservations, including Kate who doesn’t want Meghan to become Royal Roadkill. After a brief break up attempt, Harry shows up in Toronto and we see their date – potential first public outing? – at Soho House Toronto over Halloween (and yes, this actually happened). Meghan gets her first taste of British backlash from Annabella, a fictional character meant to highlight her commoner status and she isn’t sure if she can take it. Harry consoles her and is willing to fight for their love but Meghan – she’s not so sure.
The British backlash continues with tabloids reporting racial slurs against Meghan and her family. Harry having none of it, quickly presses his family to release a statement from Kensington Palace to LEAVE MEGHAN ALONE! He flies to California to see her and finds her mad at the letter because she does not need a man to protect her. I am highly confused because nobody should be pissed about this, yet here we are, independent Meghan. We get it! You’re a grown ass woman! Narrative firmly planted! Thanks to the rationalization of her mother (who else? Mom’s rock) she realizes she was silly to be upset with him and rushes to the airport to catch him before he leaves forever. And spoiler alert: she does! Finally! A romantic gesture, a literal chase that ends in I Love You and the belief that these two are going to make it. THANK YOU FOR THIS LIFETIME.
Now that we have a firm declaration to the public that Meghan is Harry’s girlfriend, we think everything will be smooth sailing right? WRONG. During Pippa’s wedding reception, Meghan isn’t allowed to attend since there is a strict rule of, No Ring, No Bring. After a run-in with Princess Michael, that old school royal wench who wore a racist brooch to Pippa’s reception, Charles finally comes to terms that the Monarchy needs to shake things up and get with the times, so he encourages Harry to go get Meghan. More acceptance! Things are changing!
As their relationship progresses, a small blip comes when the conversation of having kids is brought up because as we know, Meghan isn’t getting any younger. Harry quickly brushes off and Meghan’s flocks to her new BFFs Wills and Kate for advice. They remind her that the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death is coming up and Harry, being so young at the time, never deals with this time of year well. She can’t take his distraction and distance as disinterest in her, he is just #sad, so perhaps she should do something to get his mind off of things. Meghan does exactly that and once again the pair heads to Botswana. But this visit doesn’t go as well as the initial one. We experience Harry’s emotional breakdown, as he doesn’t believe that Meghan can understand what he is going through and that she only wants to know the real Diana the way everyone else does, this prolific angel without any flaws. He rushes into the night in a huff and Meghan chases him again (two chases girl? You are too independent for that), only to be confronted with a lion once again. Was it the same lion from his first visit? We will never know, but are left to assume that it is, and as the lion runs away again, we get a level of acceptance from Diana and a need to let go of his anger in losing her. He has found his life partner now. Harry finally a peace, breaks down in tears while Meghan consoles him both emotionally and physically (why does this always happen in movies?) and Harry wakes up the next day with nothing left to do or say, but Marry Me Meghan.
The movie runs through the next few motions – from Meghan meeting with the Royal publicist to air all her family’s dirty laundry, to reviewing her strategic Vanity Fair cover – don’t airbrush out her freckles, OK? Harry debates moving to California and is even willing to go to Toronto, but after a chance meeting with her hairstylist’s niece (stretch), Meghan quits her job and commits to being by Harry’s side in London. She can do more as his partner than she can as an actress on Suits. DUH. But don’t forget guys, she didn’t care about his money or anything. He’s nice. She’s good.
The last approval they need comes from the one & only: Queen Elizabeth and I’ve got to say, in my perfect world I do believe that the Queen had such an easy acceptance of commoner Meghan because the corgis loved her right away. That is how most decisions should go. If the dogs are down, so are we. She also reminds us that Meghan isn’t the first biracial babe in the Royal Family, Queen Charlotte was biracial so not to worry MM, the Queen is COOL WITH IT.
The movie ends with that famous roasted chicken proposal where we get our final Meghan is sassy moment, interrupting Harry explaining the ring design to actually give consent. She says yes! And we fade out to this delightful finale montage, summarizing their fairytale romance and ending on real life footage of the pair.
All things considered, I have to honestly say I enjoyed this movie much more than I thought I would. I was quite ready to poke fun at it all and while it had it’s quips, it definitely had a higher production quality than I expected and the two leads had an incredible chemistry that went beyond their commitment to the roles. Despite my belief that they went a tad easy on the Royal Family’s acceptance and even joy towards Harry and Meghan’s relationship, I do appreciate that Lifetime addressed both the negative role the press continues to play on the couples’ relationship and were realistic about how race and social standing will be a constant challenge as they grow in the public eye. It’s an obstacle they’ve face head on, as a partnership and I only hope that Lifetime gets the rights to a one year anniversary update movie, because I need to know how things are going from Hollywood’s point of view and I personally prefer watching these two delightful actors run through the royal motions over the real thing.