The Duke and Duchess of Sussex must now “get specific” in their allegations of mistreatment at the hands of the palace and press, former aides have urged, as they condemned the “disgusting” Netflix comparison with Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Sussexes, whose six-part documentary begins on Thursday, are due to set out the “challenges” they faced during their time in the Royal family, explaining to a new audience why they felt they had no choice but to leave.
In an incendiary trailer, programme-makers set images of the late Diana, Princess of Wales being chased by paparazzi as the Duke compared the treatment of his wife with that of his mother and spoke of the “dirty game” surrounding the palace.
On Wednesday, former aides called on the Duke and Duchess to use the documentary to finally lay out their grievances in detail, adding to the “emotional narrative” with facts.
Some spoke of the “outrageous” and “lazy” comparison between the Duchess and her late mother-in-law, with one claiming: “It’s as if the facts no longer matter at all.”
Thursday’s Netflix launch will include the first three of six episodes, expected to detail the blossoming relationship of Prince Harry and Meghan and, later, how their life in Britain began to unravel.
The trailer has already been criticised for using dramatic footage and photographs of chaotic paparazzi scenes which were revealed to be unrelated to the couple. Some were taken of the then-Kate Middleton, one at a Harry Potter premiere, and another outside the court case of model Katie Price.
On Wednesday, multiple sources said they were not aware of similarly “scary” paparazzi situations or car chases experienced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to warrant a comparison to the Princess Diana era.
The Duke himself, speaking in the trailer, has said: “No one knows the full truth. We know the full truth.”
In a sign of what is to come in the full documentary, called Harry and Meghan, he added: “There’s a hierarchy of the family.
“There’s leaking, but there’s also planting of stories. It’s a dirty game.”
Over footage of Diana, Princess of Wales, being pursued by paparazzi, he said: “I was terrified. I didn’t want history to repeat itself.”
Old news footage shows the Duchess being hailed as a “rock star” on her introduction to royal life, before - as the Sussexes say in an on-camera interview - “everything changed”.
“I realised, they’re never going to protect you,” says the Duchess.
Former palace aides, some of whom are bound by confidentiality agreements, are becoming increasingly frustrated by the claims, feeling unable to respond to them.
Several pointed out that the Duchess received “glowing” media coverage, with the palace issuing statements on her behalf from the Duke in a “full throttle” effort to support them.
“This is all narrative,” said one of the documentary scenes so far. “They say ‘everything changed’ but what do they mean?
“What was so bad that it warrants making a comparison with Princess Diana? They seem to be equating her death with a few negative stories and gossip.
“Are they talking about [news stories about] tiaras and bridesmaid dresses? Or Thomas Markle? Or the bullying stories?
“And placing it against images of a woman who was hounded in a different era of terrible media and died in a car crash. It’s disgusting.
“If they’re saying they have to flee the UK because of how they were treated, they’ve got to get specific. But they won't, because there’s nothing there.
“This is pure narrative. It’s outrageous, it’s lazy and they can’t be allowed to get away with it anymore. It’s as if the facts no longer matter at all.”
Another said: “So far these are hollow, emotional accusations. It’s never backed up with specific examples or evidence.
“They’re frustrated by negative press, that’s what it boils down to.”
The programme has been given a 15 rating on the grounds of “language” and “discrimination”, suggesting it will strongly tackle the issue of racism.
It will include contributions from Christopher Bouzy, who analysed the negative social media comments about the Duchess, and tells viewers: “It’s about hatred, it’s about race.”
The first three episodes will air on Netflix at 8am UK time on Thursday.