Banter-filled behind the scenes footage from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2017 engagement interview with the BBC appears to undermine their claims it was ‘orchestrated’ and ‘rehearsed’.
The British public and media were enchanted with the Duke of Sussex’s easy relationship with his then wife-to be who had had told interviewer Mishal Husain: ‘His family’s been so welcoming’.
The couple looked deeply in love on their Kensington Palace sofa five years ago, describing how the ‘stars were aligned’ when they met and both waxed lyrical about how much the ‘wonderful’ Prince William and his wife Kate had embraced their relationship.
At one point Meghan rested her chin on her fist while looking adoringly at her now husband, who could not help but smile back while being filmed for their first TV interview together. They also burst out laughing, pulled funny faces and played up to the BBC cameras as Harry joked about Meghan finishing his sentences.
But in the third episode of the Sussexes’ Netflix documentary, released yesterday, Meghan referred to the interview an ‘orchestrated reality show’ and declared: ‘It was, you know, rehearsed’, much to the chagrin of Ms Husain.
Harry and Meghan’s engagement excitement in a BBC interview was clear for all to see in a series of candid and funny shots not shown to the millions who watched in Britain and later around the world in 2017
There was lots of horseplay in between takes where Meghan fit her hand on her chin and smiled mischievously when Harry, who also mucked about, joked about his then fiancée finishing his sentences
Meghan said in the docu-series released yesterday called the engagement interview ‘orchestrated reality show’ and said: ‘It was, you know, rehearsed.
The BBC broadcaster gasped when she heard the claim on live radio yesterday morning before declaring: ‘Recollections may vary’ – the same carefully chosen words used by the Queen to dispute allegations made by her grandson and his wife to Oprah in 2021.
BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell then waded in on the debate around the Sussexes’ allegations, branding it ‘absurd’ that the media were ‘out to destroy’ her.
When footage between takes of the 2017 interview emerged, MailOnline lifted the lid on Harry and Meghan’s off-mic antics including a number of tender jokes about the Suits star not letting him get a word in edgeways.
The couple’s engagement excitement was clear for all to see in candid and funny footage never shown to millions in Britain and around the world when the interview went out on a November evening five years ago.
Harry and Meghan were shown laughing, joking and chatting with each other, interviewer Mishal Husain and other people off screen.
The microphones were switched off but expert lipreader Tina Lannin told MailOnline that Harry was ribbing his then fiancée for interrupting him.
While he was believed to be describing their safari in Botswana last year Meghan cuts across the prince and says: ‘It was five days, yeah’.
Showing their relaxed relationship Harry then told her: ‘She wants me to say something’ and saying ‘Goddammit’ while slapping his leg in faux outrage. After apologising Meghan barks jokingly: ‘Do it again!’.
Ms Lannin also revealed the happy couple describing the moment they fell in love.
Miss Markle said: ‘Six months. We both knew.’ Before Harry added: ‘The relationship there, we both knew there was something there that was solid, so solid, so powerful. We were willing to have a go.’
The interview itself contains accounts of their courtship that appear different in the new Netflix docu-series.
Harry told Mishal Husain that he proposed in the kitchen during a ‘standard, typical night’ in their cottage at Kensington Palace, with Meghan recalling: ‘We were just roasting chicken. Trying to roast a chicken. And it just was an amazing surprise. It was so sweet and natural and very romantic. He got on one knee.’
She added: ‘As a matter of fact I could barely let you finish proposing, I said – can I say yes now?’
They were unable to contain their laughter and excitement in footage cut from the interview with the BBC
Harry makes a funny face and makes Meghan laugh out loud in footage not shown at the time
But in episode two of the Netflix show, Harry reveals that he actually proposed in the garden outside the cottage, on a picnic rug surrounded by 15 electric candles. Meghan not only had time to record herself calling up a friend named Jess to say ‘Oh my God, it’s happening!’ but was also able to shoot a souvenir video of the ‘joyful’ scene.
Harry and Meghan’s relationship with William and Kate is strained, but at the time the thanked their thenm neighbours at Kensington Palace, with Meghan calling her sister-in-law ‘wonderful’. Harry said both William and Kate had been ‘amazing’.
Harry talked about how he kept the relationship secret before introducing Meghan to them. He said: ‘It was exciting. I’d been seeing her for a period of time when I literally didn’t tell anybody at all.
‘And then William was longing to meet her and so was Catherine, so you know, being our neighbours, we managed to get that in a couple of, well, quite a few times now, and Catherine has been absolutely amazing, as has William as well, you know, fantastic support.’
Ms Markle said of Kate: ‘She’s been wonderful.’ Harry spoke of the support his family had given him.
‘The family together have been absolutely, you know, a solid support, and my grandparents as well have been, have been wonderful throughout this whole process, and they’ve known for quite some time,’ Harry added.
BBC journalists have hit out at Meghan and Harry’s Netflix show with Radio 4’s Mishal Husain and BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell wading in on the debate around the Sussexes’ allegations.
Radio host Ms Husain said ‘recollections may vary’ in response to Meghan and Harry’s claim their 2017 interview with her following their engagement was ‘staged’.
It came as Mr Witchell also branded Meghan Markle’s claim that anyone was ‘out to destroy’ her as ‘absurd’. He quoted one of Meghan Markle’s statements in the first three episodes of the Netflix documentary released yesterday which said ‘no matter what I did they were still going to find a way to destroy me.’
Referring to the Duchess’s allegation, Mr Witchell said: ‘The first point who is they she is referring? I think it is the Palace but most particularly the press. But the idea that anyone was out to destroy her frankly I think is absurd and simply does not stand up to proper and reasonable scrutiny.’
BBC journalist Ms Husain was presenting BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when she was confronted with Meghan’s allegation about their engagement interview being ‘rehearsed’.
‘We know recollections may vary on this particular subject, but my recollection is definitely very much: asked to do an interview and do said interview,’ Ms Husain said.
Meghan and Harry sat down for an in depth interview with experienced BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain in November 2017, looking happy as they chatted about how they met, fell in love and their hopes for the future.
The interview received a positive response and was, on the face of things, a PR success, cementing the couple’s popularity with the British public.
Meghan and Harry sat down for an in depth interview with experienced BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain in November 2017
The interview came after they posed for photographs during a photocall
Netflix viewers are instead told that the interview was part of an ‘orchestrated reality show’ with the Duchess of Sussex claiming: ‘It was, you know, rehearsed.’
Later she adds: ‘We weren’t allowed to tell our story, because they didn’t want it.’
Harry agrees: ‘We are not allowed to tell our story. That’s true. That’s the consistency.’
Meghan and Harry sat down for an in depth interview with experienced BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain in November 2017 (here Ms Husain is pictured in 2019)
The allegation has been vigorously disputed by the BBC.
Ms Husain told Radio 4’s World at One yesterday that prior to meeting the couple at Kensington Palace: ‘We went and had a conversation with Harry and Meghan and two members of their team beforehand and we talked about what the interview would cover, what they felt comfortable sharing.
‘After that, we went and set up our cameras. They went away for a bit and did their photocall and when they came back we recorded a 20-minute interview.’
The then-director general of the BBC, Lord Hall, has issued a statement defending Ms Husain’s journalism.
It says that Meghan’s allegation that the interview was ‘an orchestrated reality show’ is ‘simply untrue’.
The broadcaster’s royal correspondent Mr Witchell described the docu-series as ‘relatively benign so far’ as he appeared on the News at Six last night.
‘Now if you were watching these three hours without all the surrounding noise you might think this was a rather touching love story of a couple seeking happiness but of course there is no escape from that surrounding noise,’ he said.
‘And I think Buckingham Palace on the central and most central and most sensitive issue of race will be relieved there is no new explicit allegation against the royal family – though Harry does say there is a huge level of unconscious bias.
‘His main complaint – and it is a familiar one – is of press intrusion. And this suggestion that there is, what amounts really to a conspiracy between the Palace and the press. And that I think is where credibility is really stretched beyond what is reasonable.
Mr Witchell described the docu-series as ‘relatively benign so far’ as he appeared on BBC News
Meghan and Harry shared never-before-seen photos and videos in their Netflix documentary
The couple say they haven’t been able to tell their story – until now – as the first episodes were released
Their documentary covers the start of their relationship and the early days of dating
‘Consider one of the things that Meghan said – ‘no matter what I did they were still going to find a way to destroy me.’
‘The first point who is they she is referring? I think it is the Palace but most particularly the press.
‘But the idea that anyone was out to destroy her frankly I think is absurd and simply does not stand up to proper and reasonable scrutiny’
But he said, Meghan and Harry ‘obviously are convinced that they were victims.’
He later appeared on the News at 10 where he described Meghan and Harry as ‘a couple who continue to divide opinion very sharply.’
‘It’s a couple who either could not or would not fit into the accepted template of the British royal family.
‘Supporters I think will see these films and regard them as a touching love story, a couple seeking happiness in difficult circumstances.
‘Critics will see the films and see them as further evidence of their indulgence, their self obsession.’
He said: ‘Royal officials who were assigned to them tried desperately to help them. They found it very, very difficult. And yet it is the Sussexes who are convinced that they were the victims.’