FIRST, A NOTE: We’re having some technical issues, so the pics in this recap may not be loading right now. If that’s the case for you, rest assured, we are working on it!
What better way to open Royal Wedding Week here at GFY than with a recap of a royal wedding movie? Gentle readers, it is my great pleasure to inform you that Lifetime’s Harry and Meghan movie is actually…pretty darn good.
We open in Botswana, 1997, with Little Harry and Little Wills riding in an open Jeep through the glorious Botswanan countryside before immediately cutting to Little Harry placing that HEART-RENDING “Mummy” note on Diana’s coffin, so if your first question about this drama is, “are they actually gonna open it by killing Princess Diana?” the answer is, “DUH, IT’S A LIFETIME MOVIE.” (Please do not misunderstand me: I fully recognize the importance of twisting that emotional knife right off the bat. They’re only got two hours to build up your sympathy for this prince, and the best way to do that is to remind us all that he has suffered real tragedy and loss. I’m just saying: We’re REALLY diving right in!)
Behold Tiny Harry (not bad casting), and medium Wills (not withstanding the expression on his face in this screengrab, he’s fairly good casting, especially compared to their casting of Adult William, which is OFFENSIVE):
And Chaz, who looks…fine. Close enough!
Speaking of casting, Botswana looks a lot like California as Chaz waxes poetic about how he’s brought them to Africa because it’s a place where they can FEEL, and Wills interrupts thusly: “You’re not going to start quoting Lion King again, are you?” he asks. Reader, I laughed. I need to confess something to you, and it’s that this movie is not terrible. That said, I do not think that a hilltop in Botswana, two minutes after their arrival, was where Prince Charles explained to Tiny Harry why he “made them walk behind [Diana’s] coffin,” and I also doubt he was wearing an ascot when they had that conversation, but apparently Lifetime disagrees with me on both counts. All you really need to get from these opening scenes, though, is that Tiny Harry is VERY SAD about his Mum dying, that Charles isn’t a monster, and that the actress playing Diana is rather good casting.
Oh, and also that she comes back as a lion in times of need to communicate with Harry. I am not making that up. That is Movie Harry’s contention. It’s both INCREDIBLY corny and also kinda works? (I have to give credit to the writers for the Lion/England symbolism if nothing else, even if it was accidental.)
I have to say…I did not think this movie would open with a Charles almost shooting the reincarnated soul of Princess Diana in the form of a majestic wild creature but life is, as they say, a rich tapestry.
MEANWHILE, in Los Angeles, Tiny Meghan is playing feminist games with her Barbies (Ken — although it’s not a Ken doll — stays home to cook dinner while Barbie trots off to work), and making irritated faces about sexist TV ads before stomping into the kitchen to complain about said sexists ads to her father, who happens to be washing the dishes. Look at this young, HIGHLY ANNOYED little face:
I must admit that I love and admire Tiny Feminist Meghan: All my Barbies were too busy murdering their rivals and having wild affairs to hold down a real job, but I did once throw a real aggressive hissyfit when my middle school instituted unannounced locker checks. (I told everyone that this was a VIOLATION OF MY CIVIL RIGHTS which, honestly, it probably was.) But while I mostly just speechified to everyone in a state of high dudgeon, Tiny Meghan writes a letter and gets the sexist ad changed and goes on Linda Ellerbee’s news program and was basically a better citizen than I was. This is actually a good little scene, closing with a nice warm moment with Thomas Markle, when he reminds Tiny Meghan of what he told her when she didn’t want to fill in “the ethnicity form” at school (“I didn’t want to choose between you and Mom,” says Tiny Meghan, who is extremely cute): “Draw your own box.” This movie does a surprisingly decent job of tackling the question of Meghan giving up her career in order to ultimately be with Harry — it establishes how truly important it is to her very well, and I think it does decent lip service to the reasons she might decide that acting does not specifically need to be the way she effects change in the world going forward.
And from this warm and cozy moment with Thomas Markle, we cut to 2016 and Grown-Up Meghan, giving a very impassioned speech about how she will not be silenced….in character as Rachel on the set of Suits. (Speaking of casting, Parisa Fitz-Henley is an excellent Meghan Markle; the casting people put all their effort into casting her [correctly!] and then when it came time to cast their William, apparently fell into a well.) It is here that we learn Meghan Markle argued — politely, yet firmly! — about being gratuitously filmed in a towel and was a professional employee who was thoughtful about her job, and not a pushover.
While she is advocating for herself on set, Grown-Up Harry is constantly partying (and landing in the paper for it; this is a bit of a fiddle with the timeline, as Harry was rather boring by 2016, but I get it, writers. I feel you) and being scolded for it by Stuffy Grown-Up Wills, who is SO POORLY CAST that I thought for a moment that this person was going to be Harry’s social secretary or whatnot. With all due apologies to this actor, NO:
WHAT. No. This isn’t even close! It’s like LEGALLY ACTIONABLE how bad this casting is. As is, for the Cambridges, the crux of this scene: Wills thanks Harry for making him (William) look good; Harry says Wills always looks good; Wills says that’s actually Kate, he “shoves her out there and she makes [him] look good;” Harry gallantly reminds Wills that Kate is the best thing that ever happened to him, and Wills rolls his eyes before noting that Harry needs to be searching for His Royal Bride somewhere other than a club. First: I TAKE UMBRAGE WITH THIS PORTRAYAL OF WILLS AND KATE. Is Lifetime just super-pissed they couldn’t get Camilla Luddington back to reprise her role and decided to get revenge via character assassination? The entire characterization of Wills and Kate is all over the map in this thing; I think the aim was for them to start out as doubtful and then grow to love Meghan but they kind of start out as total assholes who then swing wildly toward being the presidents of the Meghan Markle fan club, and the weird emotional arc they were given is my biggest issue with this movie. More than the lion, or the aggressive use of the phrase “prince of England,” even.
Regardless, next please enjoy this bit of exposition from More Grown-Up Prince Charles to an abashed Harry: “I hoped after the Nazi Uniform, and the stripping down and showing off the family jewels in Las Vegas, that we were past this.” He’s VERY angry about the fact that Harry got drunk in a bar — noting that (a) it’s a blessing the Queen didn’t see the pics because it would have “killed her” (dude, her uncle WAS an actual Nazi and that didn’t do her in, so I think she can handle a pap snap of Harry aggressively opening a bottle of champs in a private club superimposed with a sassy ejaculation double entendre for a headline) and (b) if Harry keeps acting out like this, it will bring down the monarchy. So I guess this version of Chaz is a REAL drama queen? Because that seems like a bit of an overreaction. After he storms out, Kate and Wills try to talk Harry into being less of a hot mess, and the choice this film has made is to make Kate really VERY lukewarm on marriage: “[It] isn’t so bad” is her glowing blurb. “Is it, Will?” she asks, AND HE IS SILENT. I HAVE NOTES ABOUT THIS. (He does agree after she nudges him.) She also suggests, basically, that Harry should consider settling for Cressida, and no one points out that the real issue with Cressy is that she didn’t want to settle for him (allegedly).
Casting-wise, this Kate is…
Decent? The dress isn’t bad, though (it has shades of this Erdem number). But I feel like I really cannot make a judgement because I remain so distracted by how awful this William is. He is…I…need to speak no more because I feel I will commit an unkindness toward this actor who is surely a decent and worthy man. But I feel like Actual Wills is watching this at home and keeps pausing it to screech at Kate, “DO YOU THINK I LOOK LIKE THAT???” (Kate’s response, obviously, will be to kindly pat him on the arm and turn the page in her Tatler. She’s wearing a face and a hair mask and she really doesn’t have time for this with a wedding in less than a week.)
Over in Toronto, in the Suits make-up room, it is exposited that Meghan and her “fancy chef,” have broken up, and she’s single again. “And not getting any younger!” says one of the make-up artists. “It’s fine,” Meghan says. “Having a man doesn’t define me. I just want to fulfill my potential. Whatever it is.” And that’s much nicer than what I would have said — namely, “wow, fuck you, and also you’re fired.”
Her stylist/fashion PR friend Violet Von Westenholtz has a MUCH better reaction when she hears that Meghan (wearing basically this dress) is single again, namely that she has someone — handsome, rich, well-connected, and “unlike his older brother, he still has all his hair” — that she’d like to set her up with. (This is after Meghan offers to take her stylist with her to Wimbledon to see Serena; see, don’t call your co-workers OLD AND DRIED UP and maybe you’ll set great seats to the tennis!) (Also, wow, this movie hates William!)
So, obviously Meghan and Harry go on this blind date — the movie pretends that Harry went (platonically) with Violet Von Westenholtz to a red carpet event and actually walked the press line with her and that’s where this concept was floated, and I can assure you that did not happen, but whatever. You have to figure out a way to visually move your plot along; you cannot have a film that’s all just characters texting each other, so I will allow it in the name of cinema. Regardless: Harry is not into this date, conceptually, and when he’s dropped off late to meet Meghan, tells his PPO to “come in at the usual hour,” to rescue him and of course I think we all know what is going to happen here, and it does: They hit it off, he’s stunned by her beauty, she scolds him for being very late (and teasingly shows him how to use his watch; it’s quite charming), the PPO is sent on his merry way, and they share all about their lives and talk about philanthropy and Harry recites “Invictus,” and yada yada yada, we’re all going to a wedding on Saturday.
I have to say: These two actors have excellent chemistry , and Parisa Fitz-Henley is VERY GOOD in this part. She is very VERY charming and likable and warm, and it’s quite believable that these two people would be on a date for ten hours. I have to admit, I got really sucked in at this part; basically all the scenes where these two are having an emotional moment were super-effective for me.
After the ads: Meghan is reading The Crown (which wasn’t even out in 2016, although I enjoyed her joke that she was reading “a script” and I will allow it for the sake of that gag), and chatting with her mother — Doria is VERY STOKED that her child had an amazing date with Prince Harry, as you would be — and then Harry himself calls and identifies himself as “Harry Mountbatten-Windsor” WHICH HE WOULD NEVER. YOU GUYS. GOOGLE. THIS IS ALL OVER THE INTERNET. HARRY WALES. Ugh, I know this script was written in two weeks — and for two weeks, they did a good job! — but come on. I just let you get away with that Crown thing! Anyway: For their next date, they go to Botswana (which I’m pretty sure is still California), and it’s a sad fact that no one EVER takes me to Botswana — not a Mountbatten-Windsor, not a Wales, not some regular old Joe on the street. It’s starting to make me feel bad about myself!
“He Botswana’ed her,” Wills says to Kate and her ABSOLUTELY ABSURD HAIR, before noting that “it’s his move.” WHAT is HAPPENING here:
Kate went through a Barrel Curl Period, but not in 2016 and NOT LIKE THIS. She looks like a British Nellie Olsen megafan. She’s is not thrilled that Meghan is American or an actress — but, honestly, who cares because Harry and Meghan are having an amazing time in Botswana. He’s making her do her best Britney with a snake:
She’s feeding him carrots that he then feeds to a giraffe (??):
And, more importantly to the emotional heart of the plot, they talk about how Diana Wanted Harry And Wills to Be Normal, and that he once got menaced by a lion that he thought was his dead mother; she tells him about her parents’ divorce and her at times emotionally complicated identity as a biracial woman; he mentions that people sometimes think he’s not Charles’s kid due to his red hair; and eventually they bone in a really glamorous tent. It’s basically exactly what you’d want for a romantic destination date with a hot prince. (She is also wearing a very cute striped robe the entire time.) Their heart to heart is also…a very good scene? I feel….unmoored by how good these two actors are together in these scenes, and how enjoyable this is. SO much of this movie is them having Really Emotional Conversations In Bedrooms and that is one of my favorite things to watch and to write. (I feel like The Royal We is like 45% Emotional Conversations In Bedrooms, and only partially because that book also has stealth a lot of banging in it.)
After the ads (and the banging), and back in England, Harry is very enthused about Meghan to Wills and Kate and they’re both like, “we LOVED Suits!” and then Wills uses the phrase, “a bit of a giggle,” which I refuse to believe that Wills would EVER say, and then Kate opines that as a divorced biracial actress, Meghan makes “Wallis Simpson look like Dame Judi Dench.” WALLIS SIMPSON WAS A LITERAL NAZI SO I REALLY DON’T THINK SO, KATE. This Kate is kinda…mean? Did the writers of this program just watch King Charles III for all their history bits? She then wonders if Harry is “ready for this” — meaning the press scrutiny, I guess? That scene was a mess; it feels like the writers got notes on their characterization of Wills and Kate at some point (who knows if they were asked to make them more enthusiastic, or less), and they didn’t have enough time to actually fully address the note, so their scenes ended up a bit wonky, more often than not.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Meghan has confided in her hairdresser what’s going on (because safari is rough on a woman’s tresses and he knows something is up) and how very into Harry she is, and her hairdresser is like, “You do not want to end up royal roadkill. You’ve seen The Crown, what they put people through.” And then Meghan is kinda like, “oh no AM I GROUP CAPTAIN TOWNSEND IN THIS SCENARIO?” (What she SAYS is that she knows this has to be only a fling and she cannot get too attached and she needs to stay focused on her goals: “Glass ceilings, not glass slippers.”) So she calls Harry and is telling him how this is too hard, and they should “just let it be what it is, no more,” and then there’s a knock at her trailer door and IT IS HARRY WITH FLOWERS. Well. That would be hard to resist.
He also presents her with the Infamous Matching Beaded Bracelet They Can Use To Remember And Think of Each Other Always, which is also romantic, if something likely to be seized on by cranky bloggers as being sort of obnoxious and coy in the moment:
Post bracelet-presentation, they go to a Halloween party being thrown by the Suits crew in costume, the better to disguise Harry from prying eyes (how very The Royal We of them! As that does happen in the book, although technically Nick never makes it to the party in that scene, I suppose), both of them wearing costumes provided by Doubtful Neil The Hair Guy: Meghan is Hillary Clinton and Harry is a frog (get it? You have to kiss a lot of frogs?). (“It would be an honor to snog the first female president,” he tells her. Remember when we thought that was gonna happen? That a woman would be president, I mean, not that Harry was going to make out with HRC, which would have been a scandale none of us foresaw!) Obviously, Harry eventually gets recognized at the bar and these drunk Canadian crew members start negging him about allegedly staged press photos of him in his helicopter, like, okay, I have notes here: (a) if you’re worried about being recognized in public, DON’T TAKE OFF YOUR MASK, DUMMY, and (b) I was under the impression that Canadians were more polite than this, and (c) do we REALLY think drunk bros at a Toronto bar have really well-formed conspiracy theories about the way Kensington Palace handles Prince Harry’s PR? Because I do not. And then Drunk Bro says, “GUESS WHAT? YOUR GRANDMA CAN KISS MY ASS!” Which…makes me laugh. The Drunk Bro is sorry about inviting Her Majesty to romance his posterior when he realizes that Harry is there with Meghan, which happens when she sweeps in to protect the honor of the Queen and rips off her Hillary Clinton mask in the process. Then some girls take a cell phone picture of them and they leave, but the cat is out of the bag. (Are these random girls? Is this crew party at a bar? Are ALL these people on the crew? I have a lot of questions and most of them stem from the fact that this never happened, as far as I recall, and it feels slightly half-baked.)
So, the movie opines that this is how the news that Meghan and Harry are dating got out, but correct me if I’m wrong: In my memory, nothing so noteworthy happened — certainly no frog costumes — the news just eventually leaked. Having said that, “the news just leaked” is not very visual, so I get why they noodled with this plot point.
One thing they did not noodle with: After the news breaks, the press are camped out at the Suits set, yelling at Meghan through the gate, and her costume here is PERFECT:
Over in the UK everyone is mildly concerned about The Tig and Kate is wearing yet another flowered dress in a shape she’d never wear; y’all, she doesn’t wear patterned day dresses that much. The costumer here did EXCELLENT work on Meghan but she kinda snoozed on La Middleton:
Anyway. The phrase, “THAT BLOG IS PART OF HER IDENTITY!” is used herein, which sort of says all you need to know about the next few turns of event: blah blah blah “neutrality is part of the deal,” yadda yadda Kate only gets to have opinions at home, etc etc etc to endorse Italian wine is undignified. Harry wonders if one of the reasons that everyone is so upset is that Meghan is black; Chaz blusters he doesn’t care about that, but he does wonder if this romance is appealing because it’s going to “piss off The Firm” and I need to note that we were WAY into this scene before I realized this was Charles, AGAIN. This actor always seems like a high level social secretary:
Anyway, it is decided that what everyone really needs to do is meet Meghan, and Kate sniffs that they might as well find out if she can handle this whole thing, or what. (At home, the Real William is probably railing against this unflattering take on Kate and the Real Kate has said nothing because she’s fallen asleep.) I also think what they were TRYING to do with some of this Kate stuff is examine how strange it must be for Kate to see rules that she felt she had no choice but to follow be (seemingly) potentially swept away for someone else and how she resents that but also has great sympathy for what Meghan is going through and that’s an interesting thing to explore and they don’t manage to land that plane at all. In part because that’s also a complex thing to explore and this movie, although two and half hours long (!), has a lot of ground to cover.
So Meghan meets the family under a giant portrait of Diana. When props makes a portrait of an actor, I always wonder if they get to keep it; it seems like the actress who played Diana should be allowed to hang this over her fireplace:
Obviously, Wills and Kate are super nice to Meghan, and are totally won over in like one second and have never met someone they love more than Meghan after two seconds of talking to her. (She IS great!) But, for some reason, this “meeting the family” party includes ALL KINDS of random people and isn’t just a nice tea with Wills and Kate, which is highly unlikely. But the reason for that is so that some mean aristocratic random can essentially thunder at Meghan that she’s probably a social climber and a user and Harry will never marry an American and and she better toughen up (you’re legally obligated to put this scene in every piece of creative work in which an American/commoner falls for a British prince). This Mean Aristocratic Random also TOUCHES MEGHAN’S HAIR, in case you had any lingering doubts that she is THE WORST. (Harry later calls her “a troll,” which made me laugh.)
So Meghan goes outside to take a moment, and Harry follows; she tells him that she’s beginning to feel like she doesn’t belong here, and might never belong, and that it’s going to be very difficult to deal with the racism that’s about to come their way. He doesn’t really seem to think it’s going so bad — not in a dismissive way, exactly, as much as just a completely clueless one — and so she tells him a very moving story about a time when she was a child, and a white man called her mother by a racial epithet (Lifetime does actually use the n-word here, which surprised me) and what a violation that was for them both. Parisa Fitz-Henley is very good in this scene. Camilla Luddington was okay in the Wills and Kate version of this and is now starring on Grey’s Anatomy; I hope this movie launches PF-H into the next echelon of acting work. (She would, in fact, be totally good on Grey’s, which I am apparently really invested in yet again. SHONDA, I CANNOT RESIST YOU.)
And, in fact, the paps do find Doria and they’re TOTAL ASSHOLES to her, and they’ve also completely SURROUNDED Meghan’s house to the point where she has to call the police; I am impressed that the movie actually full-on uses the disgusting Daily Mail “Meghan’s Mom Is Straight Out of Compton” headline and story that did in fact apparently prompt Harry to release his Romantic Declaration of Back Off You Absolute Assholes. Having said that, the film makes the argument that he did not tell Meghan that he was going to do this, and I do not believe that at all. I truly, truly do not think Harry would ever had released that statement without telling Meghan that he was doing it. (Wills: “What do you think about this?” Kate: “Honestly, I think it might be the most romantic thing I’ve ever read.” SUBTEXT: “WOULD YOU HAVE EVER DONE THIS FOR ME?!?” )
Post Romantic Declaration, Harry comes to LA to talk to Meghan (and meets Doria, who is like, “good luck with this whole thing, because she’s VERY ANGRY RIGHT NOW,” and FYI Doria is the best in this movie) and I also don’t think this makes any sense, because…you would not just fly to LA from London to talk to your girlfriend about this surprise statement you put out. You would have told her first, and also if you didn’t do that, you would have talked to her on the phone about it before getting on a plane, because she would have called you to ask you what you were thinking when you did this, if she were mad and surprised about it. I TRULY understand the difficulty of figuring out how to structure this movie so most of the big angsty scenes are face to face — books are easier in that you can just write that SoAndSo texted that he wanted to talk about this in person, and thus SuchAndSuch is waiting with baited breath in her flat to yell at him — but I feel like this doesn’t totally hang together; I also do not think that Meghan broke up with him over this statement, as happens next. (Although I get why you feel like you’d have to construct some kind of conflict here from a story-telling perspective. Trust me, writers of this movie. I TRULY FEEL YOU IN MANY WAYS.) And the other side of the coin is that, despite all my notes, this IS a good scene — Meghan is angry that she’s spent all this time telling her relatives (some of whom are terrible! Like her terrible sister!) to turn down cash from the press who want the scoop on their romance, and Harry just went and tweeted it out, and she feels like his statement is paternalistic and patronizing. “I am saying I think you should find someone who wants you to take care of them for the rest of their life,” she eventually says. “That’s not me. I’ve worked too hard to be my own woman. I was happy before I met you, and I’ll be happy again.” And all my other notes aside: That’s a good way to get into this break-up, if you’re going to have them break-up. And then she TAKES OFF HER MEANINGFUL BEADED BRACELET AND KICKS HIM OUT!
In every one of these movies, there is a scene wherein the royal bride to be, broken up with her love, cries to her mother and her mom tells her to get a grip — in the Wills and Kate version, Camilla Luddington had to sob in the bath while clutching a glass of wine — and Doria is an admirable Get-a-Grip Mom and gets a sobbing Meghan out of her bed to watch Diana’s funeral on YouTube and then she explains to her that there’s A LOT OF REASONS why Harry might super hate the press — namely that he doesn’t want the press to take her from him the way they took away his mother. “How can you blame him for trying to protect the woman he loves?” she asks. And I….might have cried a little bit here? Am I okay? I am having all these feelings. Because then Doria drives Meghan to the airport so she can retract her break-up of…well, like 45 minutes. STILL. IT WAS STILL ROMANTIC.
So they make up and suddenly we’re at Pippa’s wedding and they don’t even TRY to recreate Pippa’s gown (although I suppose you could argue that maybe Pips had two gowns and this is just the reception one, but why am I fan-wanking a teensy detail of a Lifetime movie?), and there is a lot of re-written history in these next few scenes: (a) Meghan was invited to Pippa’s reception all along (I spent ALL NIGHT waiting to see if there would be photos, and I had theatre tickets!) and (b) the film takes Princess Michael of Kent and her racist brooch and renames her “Lady Victoria” and has her wear it here, so that Harry can tell her off. “It’s a symbol of our imperialist domination in Africa and it’s something we should be bloody well apologizing for, not flaunting,” he says, and it’s a very good speech but I wish they’d used Princess Michael’s actual name and called that old bat out by name. (Maybe the name “Princess Michael of Kent” felt like it might be too confusing to the layperson watching this?) Anyway, instead of being abashed by Harry’s speech, these two wretched hags to whom it is delivered really get going — calling Harry stupid, saying things like “what’s a DISGRACE is you dating this woman!” and so on — and Harry kinda has to hold Kate back because she wants to tackle them, and then Chaz comes over and tells these awful women that they’re DRUNK and making ASSES of themselves and EMBARRASSING THEIR WHOLE FAMILY and then he KICKS THEM OUT OF THE PARTY. And THEN he tells Harry that he and Cams want to met Meghan and “if anyone has a problem with that…they can talk to the first in line.” ZING!
That was all rather satisfying. Murray Fraser got so righteously indignant that his Scottish accent snuck out a bit (he’s been fairly on top of it until now), and who amongst us hasn’t imagined the speech we’d give, telling off Princess Michael of Kent for her bigoted taste in jewelry? Also, here’s Camilla. She’s rather good! (Charles and Camz were NOT at Pippa’s reception, I don’t think, but I accept the artistic license in the name of the dressing down Charles gave.)
So Harry goes and gets Meghan to bring her to the reception and I did not think that Charles meant, “I want to meet her IMMEDIATELY” but…okay. Chaz and Camilla are obviously lovely to Meghan — Meghan calls them “your highness,” and it should have been “your royal highness,” I’m pretty sure, but I’ll let that go because they also have Cams and Meghan bond over booze, which seems accurate as far as Camilla goes. Terrible Bella The Random Aristocratic Troll is once again Terrible (this time about how Meghan’s ovaries are probably dry husks withering inside her rapidly aging body), but this time Kate tells her to can it and drags Meghan off to the bar. “Us commoners need to stick together,” she says, and then confides that, speaking of ovaries, she is knocked up once again. “My ladies in waiting don’t even know.” That is probably because Kate doesn’t have any ladies in waiting. (This must have been toward the end of the two-week screenwriting period wherein Google stopped working.)
And while Meghan and Kate bond over Kate’s primary job as a “baby machine” — her take on it — Harry is telling Camz and Chaz that they always should have been allowed to wed, and Camilla points out that then he wouldn’t exist and he’s wonderful and I really don’t think these three had THIS particular emotionally thorny convo at Pippa Middleton’s wedding reception.
There is obviously romantical dancing:
And, the next morning, pillow talk, about Meghan’s quickly dying eggs and where they’re going to live and what happens next and she’s kinda freaking out and you know what solves it? Avocado toast, over which this freak-out continues: “Women in your world are expected to give up their careers for the honor and duty of being royal. I want children, and a career. I never wanted to be a lady who lunches. I wanted to be a woman who works,” Meghan passionately tells Harry, who points out that being a mother IS work (Happy Mother’s Day!) and with this, Meghan agrees and spirals into noting that she is 36 and she needs to start her family NOW now and being a mother can’t hold her back and they have to start figuring this out, because she is FREAKING OUT! And Harry’s response is, “yep, well, gotta go to this thing. This…royal…thing.” And Meghan and I make the same WTF?!?!?!? face.
She runs over to Wills and Kate’s apartment to ask them with the hell is happening with Harry, and I’d like to note Kate has NEVER worn this shirt:
Anyway, Wills points out that Harry always gets weird around the anniversary of Diana’s death, which is coming up, and so Meghan takes him to visit Sentable, where he can heal his soul via playing soccer with children and also with more glamping:
Whilst glamping, Meghan tells Harry it’s okay for him to be sad and miserable about Diana, but he does NOT want to talk about it, and she sort of makes him and AGAIN this is a good scene! There is anger and feelings and rage and they get into the fact that Diana was actually really complicated and sometimes very difficult and not the saint she’s been made out to be in death — and I DID NOT expect this movie to go there — and Harry is sort of jerky in his pain and storms off into the wildness and THEN THE LION RETURNS. I was going to say that they had me until Diana The Lion returned to give Harry a piece of her mind…and yet that also kinda worked for me, because he cries and she cries and presumably the lion also cries, and I ALSO kind of got misty here too? Look, it’s a Lifetime movie, but it’s a good Lifetime movie.
Then there is the Grief Bang:
Post Grief Bang, Harry proposes. It’s very romantic! And after that, it is a race to the end of this movie. (Spoiler: Meghan says yes.) SO MUCH is jammed into the last twenty minutes: There’s a lot of blah blah blah about how Meghan must be prepared to enter the world as Harry’s betrothed, and how her family is a mess and they truly all need to shut it — in the course of this, they get the title of Samantha Markle’s book, Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister, wrong, though that might have been a legal dodge — and also how the Vanity Fair cover looks amazing. (Meghan pushes back on her freckles being airbrushed out and we all know that worked out.)
Next, Harry tells everyone that he’s moving to Canada/California, and also we all know how that worked out. (I do love that this movie pretends for two seconds that Harry is going to move to LA. It does give a little zing to the idea that she isn’t the only person making all the sacrifices, because at least he offered.) But of course she quits her job, because she wants to move to London and live in the palace and embrace this new life. She’s not giving up her career for him, Meghan says: Instead, she met a little girl on set who make her realize that the best way for her to change the world is being by Harry’s side. I feel like you need to see this little girl — who also happens to get the scoop that Meghan and Harry are engaged and apparently keeps that secret. SHE IS THE CUTEST:
Next, Meghan meets the Queen. They have her — Meghan, not Her Majesty — in that Self-Portrait dress she wore to the Christmas luncheon, which is well done. Also entertaining: That this version of the Queen makes a joke about throwing Meghan into the Tower if she were involved in The Crown. I am always here for a good joke about The Tower. Anyway, the Queen gives her a good speech about how dang hard it is to be in the royal family, and asks: is Meghan ready to give up her life? Meghan admits that she doesn’t know; that she understands that the whole world is going to scrutinize everything about her if she marries Harry, every day for the rest of her life, and that she will be standing for something “bigger than herself” (which is literally a line from The Royal We) and that is terrifying to her. But she also really, really loves Harry, and that means she doesn’t actually have a choice at all. At this, the queen takes her into another room and shows her a painting of Queen Charlotte, who may have had African heritage. “You’re of mixed race, Harry. So am I,” the Queen says, before noting that one of the things she loves about this painting is that it is very authentic. “Just like you,” she says to Meghan, extremely kindly. And she gives them her blessing, of course.
Back at home, Meghan is wearing a great striped sweater and making dinner, and when she turns around from checking on their roast chicken, Harry is down on one knee to propose properly, with her ring and everything. He explains the meaningful provenance of the jewels, including two diamonds from a brooch that Diana she always wore. “She wouldn’t have just approved of you. She would have loved you,” he says, and he’s crying. She’s crying. And I’m kinda crying?
At the palace, the Queen calls everyone together — her privy council, I guess? Who knows? A bunch of old cranky looking folks — and announces with great cheer that Harry “will married a divorced, African-American lady. Everyone on board? Lovely!” I just have to note that for some reason, the Queen is wearing…a tiara with her day clothes. Which is not…a thing that ever happens. But okay. This version of the Queen is VERY cuddly so maybe she is also prone to taking her jewels out for a whirl.
And so the movie ends with…a montage of the movie that we just saw, that fades into actual Harry and Meghan footage on their first official engagement (which kind of brought home what good casting Parisa Fitz-Henley was), and that is not how I expected that to end, because WOW IT IS CHEESY! I literally typed, “and the movie ends with their engagement announcement,” because that is how I would have pulled that one off. But I was very very wrong. Why don’t people ever ask me these things!?
Fuggery: 3 out of 10. Ugh, everyone in this movie looked basically right (other than Kate, and I assume that is because this movie had its hands too full with Kate’s character’s motivations to deal with her clothing). I had to deduct points for the crackpot idea that Her Majesty tootles around the palace wearing her tiaras all the time.
Fromage: 6 out of 10 because it is still a Lifetime movie. Please know that I say that as a person who watched nine hours of Grey’s Anatomy on Lifetime on Friday night. Being enjoyably cheesy is not a sin. Also: The cheesy score was lower before they ended with a weird-ass montage of the actual people. That is…not…how you end a movie if you have a good ending moment for a movie. Obviously, you end on the engagement photocall and them walking back into the palace hand in hand, someone says something about how they’re a team…forever, and roll credits.
F*ckwittery: 4 out of 10 because this movie was actually really pretty good??? Parisa Fitz-Henley was QUITE good, and Murray Fraser was actually pretty good as Prince Harry, too. I had very neutral expectations coming into this — in part because it is weird for me to watch a movie based on real people that nevertheless feels similar in parts to a book I co-wrote that is loosely based on two other real people in the same family? But it was really enjoyable! GOOD ON YOU LIFETIME.
Overall: 4 out of 10. It’s weird that a low score here basically is a vote of confidence and I only now just realized that because it’s basically never happened before. You will be very happy to watch this movie when it reruns and you’re flarging around the house some Sunday, it is SHOCKINGLY entertaining.
Do you like books about American women falling in love with British princes? We wrote one!