Harry and Meghan’s Downward Slide Accelerates as Their ‘Heart of Invictus’ Documentary Fails To Make Netflix Top 10

Netflix is not expected to renew the deal, according to the Wall Street Journal, after the couple’s other lucrative deal with Spotify was canceled, with the Sussexes not receiving a full payout due to failing to meet productivity benchmarks.

AP/Peter Dejong, file
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, duke and duchess of Sussex, visit the track and field event at the Invictus Games at the Hague, Netherlands. AP/Peter Dejong, file

Might things be looking rosier for Prince Harry if he were a princess? According to audio tapes unheard until recently, the duke of Sussex’s mother, Princess Diana, said that at Harry’s christening in 1984, the prince of Wales at the time, King Charles, said, “We thought it would be a girl.” 

That was not to be — nor, apparently, was Hollywood success a guarantee for the renegade royal despite his marriage to a former actress, Meghan Markle. Now, Harry’s “Heart of Invictus” documentary has failed to crack Netflix’s top 10 in both Britain and America since it was released last week. 

It is just the latest sign that absent a sudden infusion of innovation or luck, the power couple’s lock on West Coast fame and fortune could be no more than a pipe dream. The new five-part series documents six athletes who compete in the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded servicemen and women that, to his credit, Harry founded in 2014.

The deal that Harry and Meghan signed with Netflix is said to be worth $100 million. With that kind of money at play, it would not be unreasonable to expect that a documentary like “Heart of Invictus,” for which Harry served as executive producer, would chart better. That is all the more so because the previous series from the duke and duchess of Sussex, “Harry & Meghan,” was the streaming service’s second most successful documentary on record.

What went wrong? Neither the Los Gatos, California, streaming company nor the prince’s production company, Archewell, have commented publicly about the new series’s disappointing performance. It bookends a troubled summer for the decreasingly popular pair that started in June when Harry and Meghan’s deal with Spotify, worth a reported $20 million, fell apart. The Wall Street Journal reports that the couple “hasn’t met the productivity benchmarks required to receive the full payout from the deal” and that Netflix is unlikely to renew their agreement.

Unlike in “Harry & Meghan,” the  duchess of Sussex appears only infrequently in “Heart of Invictus,” which could partly explain the show’s diminished appeal. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal had earlier reported that the Sussexes’ Netflix efforts were “undermined by their inexperience as producers and trouble finding material consistent with their brand.” 

Following the trials and tribulations of British royals has long been an American pastime, and the new series dispenses with that category of vicarious drama. Harry did, though, find a place to renew his criticism of his family. When he returned from the war in Afghanistan in 2008, he says in the series, his “biggest struggle” was that “no one around me really could help.” That latest dig did not go unnoticed in Britain, which is looking increasingly askance at the exiles.

Prince Harry was 12 years old in 1997 when Diana was killed in a car crash at Paris. In the series, he also says, “Unfortunately, like most of us, the first time you consider therapy is when you are lying on the floor in the fetal position probably wishing you had dealt with some of this stuff previously.”

Harry and Meghan, a native Southern Californian, purchased a Montecito mansion with a market value of about $14.7 million in 2020. The exclusive oceanside hamlet of Montecito is undeniably beautiful, and it is situated less than a  hundred miles from Hollywood. Yet it is more than light years away from it in spirit: all salty air and sylvan charm, but no show business hustle or angst. The thrill of having Oprah Winfrey for a neighbor does not necessarily age as well as a good Santa Barbara wine. Was the move a miscalculation?

Harry, for one, has not looked the picture of joy lately. On Friday, the 38-year-old father of two was photographed at a Beyoncé concert on the Coast appearing to be so dejected that he was variously described as looking “absolutely miserable” and, according to a body language expert, “like a man with a lot on his mind.”

Meghan was also in attendance with her mother and looked reasonably cheerful, but she, too, has been no stranger to stress. Last month, she was spotted wearing an anti-stress patch, which she may or may not be endorsing as she moved about Montecito. She was also inexplicably wearing a wool coat despite the warm summer season. 

Subsequent to the somewhat sad Beyoncé concert spectacle, the duke of Sussex was caught snubbing, after a fashion, “Nepo baby” Brooklyn Beckham and his wife, the actress and billionaire investor’s daughter Nicola Peltz, at Los Angeles Football Club stadium. The duke walked past the son of the English professional footballer David Beckham without so much as saying hello.

Star soccer player Lionel Messi was playing in the match Sunday night, and David Beckham is co-owner of Inter Miami, the team that Mr. Messi captains. Amid some claims that he and his wife Victoria have previously leaked stories about the Sussexes to the press, a feud is said to have erupted between Meghan and the Beckhams, leading to the Beckhams being given a deliberate cold shoulder, what is known among some as being “Markled.” Perhaps as evidence of that, the duchess of Sussex was a no-show at the game despite being invited. 

The guest list included big names like Leonardo DiCaprio, LeBron James, Jason Sudeikis, and Will Ferrell. If nothing else, it seems that Ms. Markle missed out on a night of the kind of serious Hollywood hobnobbing she’s said to crave. That is how some of the best Hollywood deals happen.

Back on the British Isles, where Meghan is said to be increasingly unpopular, schadenfreude pervades. A respected royal biographer, Tom Bower, recently gloated on television that the couple’s marriage will “end in tragedy” and that Meghan and Harry are terrified of running out of the money they need to pay for their lifestyle. 

As for the duchess’s absence from the soccer match and the snubbing of the younger Beckhams, was she at home watching Netflix? One thing is for sure, her husband’s latest gift to streaming needs all the support it can get. 


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