Queen’s Jubilee uncertain as Meghan and Harry plan to descend with Netflix crew

It’s meant to be a celebration of the Queen, but Meghan and Harry’s actions are in danger of overshadowing the entire Jubilee.

We are a good three weeks away from the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee knees-up and already I’m tired. Tired, that is, of the British press’ relentless peddling of the line that the four-day event is all about celebrating her historic milestone and not about the one, single story that billions of people the world over are permanently and obsessively fascinated with.

The Harry and Meghan spectacular.

No matter the $30 million-plus Jubilee budget, no matter the 5000 participants or the specially created puppets of the Queen’s pony, Peggy. No matter the closing pageant which will feature 10 of her favorite horses and a large horde of corgis – the extravaganza has already gone off the rails.

Right now, Fleet Street and royal aides are assiduously trying to push the line that nothing can or should detract from the Jubilee girl and her history-making achievement of managing to stay alive for so long.

But, the truth of the matter is that come that first weekend in June, the show that the world is hooked on will star a retired army captain who has never had a day job and the actress who was sixth on the call sheet for cable dramedy suits.

As preparations and the palace’s meticulously programmed PR campaign ramp up, news broke over the weekend that the expat Duke and Duchess of Sussex would be returning to the UK for the event, despite having been banished from the Buckingham Palace balcony for the main photo-op moment (like all the other non-working members of the royal family).

While the Sussexes’ excommunication from the balcony might have been driven in part by an effort to stop them overshadowing the Queen and the ostensibly August nature of the event, I raise you a carefully considered, fully-thought-out argument.

get real

The Jubilee is going to be a circus dominated by the temporary re-entry to the royal midst of not only Harry and Meghan but also of his permanently disgraced uncle Prince Andrew.

The 96-year-old monarch might have made history as the longest-serving sovereign in the more than 1000 years of a vaguely unified England, but her family’s squabbling, made-for-TV theatrics and deep-seated enmity have already eclipsed her big day and that will only continue to become more so.

While the revelation that Harry, Meghan and their children Archie, 3, and 11-month-old Lilibet will be jetting in for the event having settled that particular question, a couple of new Sussex-related headaches have jumped up in the last 24 hours .

There is of course the $140 million Netflix question. When the Sussexes traveled to the Netherlands last month for the Invictus Games it was with a 30-person crew from the streaming giant trailing their every move. Now, this was technically for the documentary Harry is making for the company, called Heart Of Invictus, one of only two programs created by the couple which were publicly greenlit. (The other, a children’s cartoon that was the brainchild of Meghan called Pearl was axed earlier this month as part of a swath of cancellations.)

Suffice to say, the pressure must surely be on the duo to come up with the goods, especially given Netflix’s stock market woes, having lost $71 billion of share price value.

What would be more of a must-watch draw for the platform’s waning viewership than some sort of behind-the-scenes access to the biggest royal event in a decade?

The result: While the Queen should only be focusing on brushing her corgis in preparation for their moment in the spotlight, Buckingham Palace is reportedly putting plans in place to ensure boom mics and lighting operators aren’t able to breach palace gates.

A well-placed source told the Sun: “There are concerns tension could explode if the Netflix team comes to the UK and tries to exploit their opportunities.

“The worry is they will push it and try to gain access to areas of Jubilee celebration events where they can film Harry and Meghan and their children.”

While there is not a shadow of a doubt that any TV crew would be wholly barred from the grounds of Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace, the same report says there are concerns that the presence of a Netflix crew could “at the very least cause a major distraction”.

“Senior courtiers believe that Netflix will see it as one big opportunity to exploit their mega-millions agreement with the couple.

“So a team of palace aides will be on standby to keep a very close eye on the crew, and act as minders, if need be.”

Whether there are lurking cameras and walkie-talkie-wielding producers frantically yelling “Get the shot!” from outside the gates, what is set-in-stone, gird-your-loins-certain is that the Sussexes will be publicly reunited with William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in what will be the undisputed must-watch moment of the entire four-day bash.

While the Thursday of the Jubilee is Trooping the Colour, from which the Sussexes have been barred, the Friday will see the entire house of Windsor out in force for a service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s life at St Paul’s.

Cue some very dramatic music here.

Of course, the last time the two couples were seen together in public, at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, things were so glacially icy between them they could have refrozen the polar ice caps.

Even the most cunning Netflix producer couldn’t come up with a more gripping mise-en-scene: The two couples, again stuck in another grand church and with the entire global press corp watching. (Me? Rubbing my hands with glee? How dare you!)

No matter what unfolds between the two ducal duos, from blanking one another to polite nodding to fisticuffs, it is this moment and their every blink, twitch and syllable which will be obsessively pawed over and analyzed by the media.

The Jubilee might technically be about marking Her Majesty’s reign, but the thing that most people will most care, click and talk about is this latest gripping, must-watch chapter in the Sussex-Cambridge soap opera. (Oh and whatever stupid attempt at making a comeback Andrew stages. Don’t worry, no one has forgotten about him and his pal, the late convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.)

Yes, the Queen has somehow kept the monarchy afloat in the 20th and 21st centuries, doing a job she has never wanted and has never seemed to actually like, and will get plenty of kudos and applause.

But how can a woman decades past retirement age still turning up for work even begin to compete in the public attention stakes when you have the biggest royal face-off since the Lancasters met the Yorks at Bosworth Field happening half a meter away?

If all of this wasn’t bad enough for the trusty palace aides and courtiers sweating over the details of the Jubilee, there is also the increasingly worrying question of how much Her Majesty we will even see during the Jubilee.

Buckingham Palace has been reminding everyone that the Queen’s attendance at each event during the festivities will only be confirmed on the day due to her mobility issues.

Earlier this month it was revealed that courtiers have put several Plan Bs in place for Trooping the Color including her making the short trip to the Horse Guards Parade in a Range Rover rather than in a carriage or on horseback, for the first time in seven decades . (One option would be for her car to receive a full Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry which is a ludicrously comical image. I’d scratch that one chaps.)

Likewise, this week will see the return of the Buckingham Palace Garden Party, a tradition that dates back to Queen Victoria, and which has not happened since 2019. Her Majesty has been a stalwart presence at these events which see 30,000 people a year invited to the hallowed grounds for a cuppa, a fruit scone and the chance to watch the Queen making small talk.

However, the palace has now revealed that she will not be attending any of the three Buckingham Palace parties to be held this month and the first of which is this week.

It is looking highly unlikely she will ever again. If there is one sentence I foresee myself typing a lot in the near future it is “end of an era”.

And this is how things stand as we begin the countdown to the Jubilee: A frail monarch sadly but inexorably fading from view while the melodrama surrounding her grandchildren is only ramping up anew.

In this, I suppose, the Queen is united with the 40 kings and queens who preceded her. One thing that has nearly uniformly eluded whoever sat on the throne is any sort of real and lasting peace.

Still, heavy might be the head that wears the crown but even heavier are the heads who wear megawatt Netflix deals.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and a writer with more than 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

Read related topics:Meghan MarklePrince Harry


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