The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have persuaded their closest friends and family to spill the beans on camera, promising an “unprecedented” explanation of why they were “forced” to leave the palace and Britain behind them.
But the Royal family has little to fear from the dramatic Netflix documentary, their allies believe, claiming there is simply nothing true left to say.
Royal sources have described promised bombshells as “very wearying”, with the palace hoping not to have to “engage” directly or formally with any claims made about the family.
In the firing line, The Telegraph understands, will be the media, the institution and to some extent the UK public, with an examination of its culture and the “state of the British Commonwealth today”.
The Sussexes’ friends and family will speak publicly for the first time about “what they have witnessed”, with speculation that the Duchess’s mother Doria Ragland, the only relative on either side of the family known to be fully trusted, may make her television debut.
It will also feature interviews with historians and cultural commentators, who will explain how the Duchess’s experience in Britain played out against a wider culture.
The six-part series is rated 15, suggesting it will tackle difficult themes. The rating, in line with British Board of FIlm Classification, could cover discussion of suicide and self-harm, the use of “discriminatory themes” and racist language in context.
As seen in a one-minute trailer aired on Thursday, the Duke and Duchess will undertake their own on-camera interviews as part of their multi-series deal with streaming giant Netflix.
The show, set to be broadcast from Thursday, is described by Netflix as “investigative” and “intimate”, placed in the category of “social and cultural documentary”.
It will, sources said, explain to a new audience why the couple believed leaving the working Royal family and Britain was their “only choice”.
Their supporters hope viewers, particularly their key new US audience, will “come away with empathy for them” and an understanding of a “new context” to their departure.
The content of the series has been looming over the palace ever since rumours – consistently denied until recently – of a reality television or “at home-style” programme from the Sussexes.
The finished version, which has been edited down to the wire, is predicted to be even more damaging than initially feared, swapping cosy behind-the-scenes insight into their Californian private lives for a no-holds-barred re-telling of the “challenges” they faced.
Inside the palace, multiple royal sources have told The Telegraph, there is a feeling of weary resignation.
“It’s the law of diminishing returns,” said one. “What more is there possibly left to say?”
Another predicted the show would be “Oprah Plus. Oprah with more crying”.
“They’re going to go over a lot of the same points,” they said. “It will feel more dramatic and they’ll have to up the ante but in terms of narrative points, there can’t be anything left.
“If she [Meghan] has saved anything from the Oprah interview, I can’t imagine what it is.”
A third conceded that, nevertheless, “everyone would prefer it didn’t exist”.
An exasperated palace insider added: “For a couple who moved to America in search of privacy, they do seem rather in the spotlight.”
Those familiar with the programme during the editing process have suggested the series will make allegations about the palace as an institution, showing the couple as victims of what Prince Harry has called the “invisible contract” with the media and a perceived lack of protection.
Asked about negative press, expected to form a significant part of the documentary, one source said: “Was the coverage that bad? No, it was glowing.
“Meghan had great press, until real things happened: staff started leaving, her father started waging war.
“There might have been a bit of sexist woman-vs-woman stuff, but what is the Princess [of Wales] meant to do about that?”
Directed by two-time Oscar-nominated Liz Garbus, the series – called Harry & Meghan – is described by Netflix as a “never-before-seen look at one of the most-discussed couples in history”.
The Duchess has previously spoken briefly about the show, pitched as a historical documentary and a love story, in an interview in which she appeared to distance herself and Prince Harry from the finished, edited product.
“It’s nice to be able to trust someone with our story – a seasoned director whose work I’ve long admired – even if it means it may not be the way we would have told it,” she said.
‘Timing is totally deliberate’
The first trailer for the series was launched on Thursday, just as the Prince and Princess of Wales set out on a three-day trip to the US.
“The timing is totally deliberate, everything is so predictable,” one friend sighed at the time, describing the reaction within the palace as closer to amusement than fury.
“None of this is a surprise. There’s no subtlety.”
On the notion that the Wales and Sussexes are now competing for the sympathies of both the UK and US audience, they added: “People have already taken sides, there aren’t many left that are persuadable.
“As far as I can tell, only one couple is actively trying to persuade them while the other is getting on with their working programme with no drama.”
Next week, the Royal family will continue with their engagements in the UK. The Queen Consort will invite children into Clarence House to decorate the Christmas tree as per her annual tradition, while the King will visit Luton.
The first instalment of Harry & Meghan, the first three episodes, is reportedly launching on Netflix on Thursday, with the final three coming a week later, the same day as the Princess of Wales’s Westminster Abbey carol concert for her charity patronages.
The trailer shows Prince Harry telling the television audience: “No-one sees what’s happening behind closed doors. I had to do everything I could to protect my family.”
On the question of why they agreed to make the show, Meghan adds: “When the stakes are this high, doesn’t it make more sense to hear our story from us?”