One of my biggest irritations is when people act as if the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s story and exit from the British royal family is some kind of siloed, superficial issue. The Sussexit had huge repercussions for the monarchy, for the British commonwealth, for the media, for global conversations of racism, extremism, misogyny and more. If you ask me, King Charles seems to have made his peace with the fact that many countries will leave the commonwealth and abandon the British monarch as their head of state. Charles knows he’s likely losing the Caribbean countries and many African commonwealth countries in the years to come. Post coronation, he will likely make big, splashy tours to Canada and Australia though, because he cares about “keeping” the “white countries.” The problem is that Australians are watching Netflix!! Aussies watched Netflix’s Harry & Meghan and they are being radicalized to believe that maybe they shouldn’t have a monarch.
For a nation still recovering from the emotional hangover over the loss of its sovereign, the latest Harry & Meghan instalment is triggering sympathy mixed with fierce debate about Australia becoming a republic. As the second volume of the revealing documentary aired this week, charting in detail why the couple decided to carve out a new life in the US, many Australians questioned their country’s future ties.
Bestselling Australian novelist and true crime author Vikki Petraitis told The Telegraph she was saddened by the final three episodes, and in particular about the alleged attempts to silence Meghan. “I saw it as absolute manipulation,” she said. “Now that the Queen has gone, if the Royal family can’t reconcile with Harry and turn the tide so it’s not abusive to him and his family, what hope do they have of surviving?”
On social media the commentary among Australians after the final episodes was at times angry and heated.
“Am reminded that it is high time we in Australia formally unshackled ourselves from this entire family,” said one tweet, from a woman in Sydney. Another user, a male software developer based in Canberra, described the Royal family as an “awkward institution.”
Other Australians, however, expressed dismay and disinterest, with one commenting the show involved “two extremely privileged people whining about how tough it is being them.” Meanwhile, Peter FitzSimons, former chairman of the Australian Republic Movement, commented sympathetically that the controversial series had changed his mind about the couple’s motivations. “I start to get what they were on about,” he tweeted.
In the final episodes, friends of Harry and Meghan noted their Australian tour in 2018 as the “turning point” in which the Palace began to feel threatened by their popularity. “I think Australia was a real turning point because they were so popular,” Meghan’s friend, Lucy Fraser, said in the documentary. “So popular with the public, that internals at the Palace were incredibly threatened by that.”
Australian journalist Natalie Oliveri saw the hysteria first hand when the couple toured the country. She believes their future could have taken a far different trajectory. “I was on the Australian tour with Harry and Meghan and witnessed the insane popularity they had with crowds,” she posted on Twitter. “Sad to see how drastically the situation has turned. Imagine how things could have been.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has long supported the republican movement but so far his focus has been testing the mood with “national consultation” work behind the scenes, rather than any solid sign of another referendum. But with voices on the matter becoming louder after the Netflix documentary, that may well change.
As Melbourne-based academic and scientist Rob White remarked, the loss of Prince Harry to the official royal line-up has been a blow. “I’m no fan of the monarchy – bring on the republic of Australia,” he wrote on social media. ‘But I quite liked Harry… they could have contributed so much – pity.”
Harry even said that directly in the Netflix series, that the family could have had such an incredible diplomatic figure with Meghan, but they ruined it. They threw Meghan away and treated her like garbage. That was the section in the sixth episode where Liz Garbus actually showed some photos from William and Kate’s sad Caribbean Flop Tour too – that was magnificently shady. And it’s just going to keep going too – whenever those horrid people leave Salt Island, they’re going to flop so hard. The Windsors’ “stay with us, please let us rule over you” tours are going to be so funny in the coming years.
Photos courtesy of Instar and Netflix.