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Meghan and Harry have received a wave of newfound compassion from royal fans after Netflix’s latest season of The Crown was released over the weekend. Avid watchers have taken to social media as the fictionalised drama examines Princess Diana’s miserable life behind Palace walls, with many claiming it is now obvious why the Sussexes felt they had “no other option” but to leave royal life behind. One account tweeted: “If you weren’t Team Meghan and Harry before, you definitely will be after watching this season of The Crown.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been adjusting to their new life across the pond over the last eight months.
They now live in California, have a historic Netflix deal under their belts, their own lavish mansion and have signed up to the same high-profile public speaking agency as the Obamas.
Away from the Palace machine and the confines of royal protocol, the couple appear to be enjoying their new freedom.
However, according to biographer Sean Smith, it has not all been plain sailing.
For instance, after the George Floyd protests which began in June, Meghan wanted to speak out on racial injustice.
Yet, Mr Smith claimed: “She hesitated. The old Meghan would have plunged in, speaking up defiantly about what was right.”
She regularly spoke out about humanitarian issues prior to joining the Firm officially in 2018.
But the “relentless and ongoing negativity” combined with the “way the Royal Family ground down any hint that one of the Firm might put their head above the parapet had inevitably had its effect”.
He continued: “She was like a prisoner who had escaped down a dark tunnel and, surfacing, needed time to adjust to the light outside.”
The royal had planned to make a special graduation address to her alma mater, Immaculate Heart, as the class of 2020 had been denied their traditional ceremony due to the pandemic.
Yet, she was reluctant about incorporating any message about the civil unrest from George Floyd’s death into her speech to the graduates.
She eventually changed her mind and agreed to go ahead with it — but acknowledged her hesitation in the speech.
The Duchess of Sussex said: “I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart, and I realised that the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing.”
This uncertainty is a far cry from Meghan’s past comments, where she has admitted she has the “gift of the gab” and claimed to avoid any media coverage of her life.
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In her 2017 Vanity Fair interview, she said: “I don’t read any press. I haven’t even read press for Suits.
“The people who are close to me anchor me in knowing who I am. The rest is noise.”
It is therefore surprising that, even though she is no longer a working royal, Meghan would hesitate to voice her real thoughts due to fears of backlash.
Her representatives revealed how the spotlight on her as the Duchess of Sussex has taken a toil on her over the last few years.
In her privacy case against Associated Newspapers, they explained that she had felt “prohibited from defending herself” against negative publicity and “unprotected” by the royal institution despite being a popular, senior royal.
Yet, the couple have not been immune to criticism since they left the royal frontline either.
They have been scrutinised for keeping hold of the Sussex dukedom while no longer representing the Queen.
Others have pulled them apart for seeming to cash in on their royal status through their huge commercial deal with Netflix.
Even so, the Duchess of Sussex noted that she is “happy to be home for so many reasons” when speaking from her childhood state of California back in August.
She is also living much closer to her mother Doria Ragland now, who she has described as her “best friend” and who is thought to be looking after Archie.
Meghan and Harry are not expected to return to the UK until next year.
Indeed, the pro-Sussex biography ‘Finding Freedom’ even claimed that after a difficult departure back in March, the Duchess never wanted to set foot into “anything royal ever again”.
‘Meghan Misunderstood’ by Sean Smith was published by HarperCollins in 2020 and is available here.
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