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7 surprising revelations from Netflix’s ‘Harry & Meghan’

Netflix's documentary series, which premiered Dec. 8, delves into the couple's courtship, marriage and exit as senior members of the royal family. (Video: The Washington Post)

After spending six years — the entirety of their courtship, engagement, marriage and early parenthood — under the watchful, often reproachful eye of the tabloid press, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex can hardly be blamed for wanting to tell their side of the story.

That’s the motivating idea behind “Harry & Meghan,” the new six-part Netflix docuseries about the couple. (The first three episodes premiered Thursday; the next batch drops Dec. 15). Directed by Liz Garbus, the series is intended as a corrective to long-held assumptions about the royal couple who “stepped back” from their roles in 2020 to raise a family in California — assumptions about their relationship with the media, for example, as well as with Meghan’s family and Harry’s.

The episodes now available for streaming deal with the first two; royal-family gossip addicts will probably have to wait until next week for the good stuff. But in the meantime, here are the most startling revelations from “Harry & Meghan” thus far.

Harry and Meghan spent a week camping in Botswana together after only a couple of dates.

Because the two were having trouble coordinating their busy schedules, Harry invited Meghan to come along on a trip to the African country, with which he has said he has a “deep” connection. Before she left, Meghan says on-screen, she told friends she sure hoped she and Harry got along as well as they thought; she then recalls sleeping in a tent with the prince and waking at night to the sound of an elephant munching leaves just overhead. Meghan later says she told Harry she trusted him to protect her out in the wilderness because of his familiarity with the nation.

After the British media found out about their relationship, Meghan says Harry warned her not to engage with paparazzi, even cordially, for fear she’d be said to be courting attention.

Soon after tabloid photographers began routinely following Meghan around, she stopped one day to greet them and tell them to stay warm in the Toronto weather. Harry immediately told her not to do that, she says. “I was like, ‘I’m just trying to be pleasant. I don’t know what to do, I’ve never dealt with this before.’ He says, ‘Right, but the U.K. media are saying you love it.’”

‘Harry & Meghan’ series trashes British tabloids, but spares royals — so far

Photographers stalked and harassed Meghan in Toronto (where she lived while she was filming the USA Network series “Suits”).

Silver Tree, a friend of Meghan’s and a producer on “Suits,” says tabloid reporters tried to buy call sheets from production crew members to find out when Meghan would be on set. “There were people breaking into the area where their trailers are, trying to get pictures of her coming in and out of her trailer,” Tree says. “I was terrified someone would just be in her trailer waiting for her.”

Meghan says she alerted authorities when paparazzi staked out her house but initially received little assistance. “I said to the police, ‘If any other woman in Toronto said to you, “I have six grown men who are sleeping in their cars around my house and following me everywhere I go, and I feel scared,” wouldn’t you say it was stalking?’ … And they said, ‘Yes, but there’s really nothing we can do because of who you’re dating.’” She finally got security help, she says, after receiving a death threat.

Meghan says she strategically wore mostly beige, white and black clothing while she and Harry lived in London.

Royals can’t wear the same color as the queen at group events, or even the same color as another more senior royal, Meghan says. So she opted for neutrals, both to avoid accidentally matching the queen’s famously jewel-toned wardrobe and to blend in — because, given Meghan’s racial background and her American upbringing, there was “no version of me joining this family and trying to not do everything I could to fit in.”

Meghan enjoys a close relationship with Ashleigh Hale, the biological daughter of her half sister Samantha Markle.

Meghan says in the docuseries that she barely knows Samantha, the half sister who has claimed she “raised” Meghan for 12 years. Hale, too — who was adopted as a young child by her paternal grandparents — says she was estranged from Samantha until 2007, and met Meghan then, too. Despite the fact that Hale is technically Meghan’s niece, the two developed a relationship that both Hale and Meghan describe as more like that of sisters.

Despite their close relationship, Meghan says, she and Harry were discouraged from inviting Hale to their wedding in 2018.

The small communications team at Kensington Palace was already spread thin representing the two of them as well as Prince William and Princess Catherine. Consequently, the couple says, the team was not up to the task of explaining to the public or the press why Samantha wouldn’t be invited to the nuptials but Samantha’s biological daughter would. “I was in the car with H, and I called [Hale] and I had her on speakerphone and we talked her through what guidance we were being given and why this assessment was made,” Meghan says. “And that’s painful.” Hale says she was “hurt on some level” by the decision but ultimately understood.

Meghan says her father’s absence on the day of her and Harry’s wedding was baffling and mysterious.

At Meghan and Harry’s wedding in 2018, Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, was supposed to walk her down the aisle. Days before the event, a report surfaced that Thomas had accepted money to stage photos in which he was seen exercising (“shredding for the wedding”) and reading books about Britain. Meghan says she contacted her father to ask if the report was true; she says on-screen that he denied it but she didn’t believe him.

Meghan also says she found out that he wasn’t coming to the wedding from TMZ.

After it was reported that he would miss the nuptials because he was in poor health, Meghan says she called and texted her dad repeatedly, unable to reach him. “ ‘Are you okay? What hospital are you at?’ ” Meghan recalls asking desperately via text. Meanwhile, “The world is watching this drama play out.” When she finally got a text back from his phone number, Meghan says, she doubted it was really him. “You know how people text, right? My dad used a lot of emojis, a lot of ellipses,” she says. “This was just the opposite.

“And it called me Meghan,” she adds. “All my friends call me Meg, and my parents call me Meg. I was like, ‘That’s not my dad.’”

“It’s incredibly sad what happened. She had a father before this, and now she doesn’t have a father,” Harry says. “I shouldered that. Because if Meg wasn’t with me, her dad would still be her dad.”

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