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A look at the Canadian content in ‘Harry & Meghan’

Glimpses of Meghan’s one-time home in Toronto and the family’s Vancouver Island retreat shown

There’s scant Canadian content in the first three episodes of Prince Harry and Meghan’s Netflix docuseries, “Harry & Meghan,” but they include brief glimpses of Meghan’s one-time home in Toronto and the family’s Vancouver Island retreat.

The first half of the docuseries, which debuted Thursday, traces the famous couple’s high-profile romance, lambastes the British press and tabloids for their intense coverage of the duo, and documents a litany of racially charged headlines and online comments that began to emerge once they went public with the relationship.

Anyone who watched the Oprah Winfrey interview last year won’t find any bombshell revelations about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, says Toronto-based royal expert Patricia Treble.

But Treble was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of more casual images that appear to be self-shot videos and selfies, as well as intimate photos of family life with their children Archie and Lilibet.

That includes what appears to be a self-shot image of Meghan early in the first episode in a home on Vancouver Island while Prince Harry is in London. Later, several shots and photos show a happy Meghan in Toronto.

Here’s a look at a few of the Canadian moments in “Harry & Meghan”:

The “Suits” days: Most of the Canadian content comes in the second episode, where colleagues detail Meghan’s acting days with the TV series “Suits.” She spent seven seasons on the Toronto-shot legal drama, and the Netflix docuseries includes footage of her on set joking with co-stars including Patrick J. Adams. Colleagues note she was generous with fans, too, and was not shy to let them take selfies with her or put their arms around her.

“My impression regarding Canada is that Meghan has warm memories of her time in Toronto, before her relationship with Harry was being covered by the press,” royal watcher Carolyn Harris says after watching those scenes, which describe Toronto as a comfortable haven for actors.

“We see a bit of a contrast between Canada and the United Kingdom as Canada being a place where you can be someone who’s on TV and be able to even go about your daily business without a lot of intrusion.”

Life in Toronto: The revelation of Harry and Meghan’s courtship sparked a media frenzy in the tree-lined downtown residential neighbourhood where Meghan rented a home. We’re told in the docuseries that British paparazzi set up camp around the house as they watched her comings and goings, with some neighbours allowing press to install cameras on properties that overlooked Meghan’s backyard.

“She talks about how much she enjoyed the neighbourhood that she lived in and being able to go to the grocery store … and all of that changed once she began dating Prince Harry,” says Harris, a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s school of continuing studies.

Kimberley Ducey, an associate sociology professor at the University of Winnipeg, was struck by how difficult life in Toronto became for Meghan, who at one point says she asked police to disperse media surrounding her home but was told there was nothing they could do. In another instance, we’re told gates had to be installed around the “Suits” trailers out of fear someone would break into Meghan’s trailer.

“That was interesting, and how the U.K. media kind of moved in on Toronto,” says Ducey, co-author with Joe Feagin of “Revealing Britain’s Systemic Racism: The Case of Meghan Markle and the Royal Family.”

But there are gaps: Harris notes the docuseries does not reveal particulars about Meghan’s Toronto social circle beyond the cast of “Suits.” That includes no obvious mention of Jessica and Ben Mulroney who attended the royal wedding and were said to be very close friends throughout the duo’s courtship.

Scant attention was also devoted to the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, a sporting event for wounded, sick, or injured military veterans created by Prince Harry. The docuseries includes a few photos but Harris says she’s surprised the show doesn’t explore the event in greater detail.

“That was their first appearance as a couple,” she says.

What’s ahead: The final three episodes are set to drop on Netflix on Dec. 15, with the next episode expected to dive into the May 2018 wedding. That could offer more Canadian content since the Mulroney children figured prominently in the wedding party, with then-four-year-old Ivy serving as a bridesmaid and then-seven-year-old twins John and Brian famously holding the veil’s lengthy trail.

Harris notes that was followed by a temporary move to Canada to spend winter 2020 on Vancouver Island while they hashed out a plan to step away from royal duties. Harris expects future episodes will return to Canada for that part of their story and “maybe some scenes of them out and about in nature over Archie’s first Christmas.”

“It’s likely we will see more footage from Archie’s first Christmas when they were in Canada and then Vancouver Island,” says Harris.

“Just as we’ve had a lot of Toronto early in the series, we’re likely going to see more of Vancouver Island later in the series.”

—Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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