Four hours of Lifetime on a Monday night
Okay, so the Lifetime movie Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal aired last night. Lifetime movies are a sub-genre of film that are historically cheesy, campy, and usually pretty awful. In that sense, this movie was pretty on brand, but, yet, comfortingly exactly what you’d expect from a Lifetime movie. In that sense, with the bar lowered significantly, it wasn’t all bad.
I decided to take notes as I watched and then share the notes here. I also stuck around after the movie showing to watch an hour-long special called Baby Fever and then a 30-minute special called Royal Rebels, which aired before the Royal Wedding in May 2018 but I never saw.
Pro tip: To best understand Becoming Royal, find a way to watch the movie’s precursor, Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, which aired right before the Royal Wedding on May 13, 2018.
· Becoming Royal opens in a wedding scene, which I could immediately tell wasn’t Harry and Meghan’s wedding because of the dress. Meghan is filming her final episode of Suits, a TV show she’s worked on for seven years, since 2011. The unavoidable subtext here and in the coming scenes is how much Meghan gave up to marry Harry – her career, her home country, her religion, her life, really.
· Early on in the movie a character comes into play who is only referred to as Jess – many of you were asking me who this character is and if she’s really in Meghan’s life. Yes, she is – that is Jessica Mulroney, Meghan’s best friend and prominent fashion stylist. Her twin boys were page boys at the Royal Wedding and her daughter Ivy, who is featured semi-prominently in this movie, was a flower girl.
· So, cut to one of two sex scenes with Harry and Meghan – look, I am all for a good sex scene, but for some reason thinking about these two having sex makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t like to think of anyone in the Royal Family having sex. Yuck.
· I wrote in my notes here that “Only someone with her toughness could have done it” – no, not have sex with Harry, ha, but deal with all of this. Take on the Monarchy and all of its baggage. I really admire Meghan and this movie gives a glimpse as to why.
· The actress playing Meghan, Tiffany Smith, looks so much like Meghan in some scenes that I think it’s news footage from the actual event, but, nope, it’s Smith. And while the actor playing Harry, Charlie Field, might not look like Harry so much, he sounds just like him. It’s eerie.
· I appreciate the movie’s nods to a real, genuine, budding friendship between Kate and Meghan, and that it highlights what I just said in an earlier post – they are not and were not feuding, and the beef, if any, is between the brothers.
· The movie kicks off after the engagement in November 2017 and goes through the leadup to the Royal Wedding and ends with a verrrrry cheesy shot of Harry and Meghan looking in a baby carriage at Archie.
· William is portrayed to look like a total asshole in this movie. While I do think William’s personality is inevitably changing as he is realizing more and more each day that he is not just William but is the future king and the chosen upholder of the British Royal Family, I have never thought of him as even close to this much of a prick. In this movie, I hate the William character. Yet…
· I really, really love Charles and Camilla in this movie (definitely not my M.O. in real life, generally). The scene where Charles offers to walk Meghan partway down the aisle after her father, Thomas Markle, is no longer going to do it – and him saying that he never had a daughter, so it would be his honor – I mean, what else can you ask for in a father-in-law?
· Something I keep thinking throughout this movie: May we all have a partner who is a champion for us like Harry is for Meghan.
· You’ll notice Doria, Meghan’s mom, keeps calling her “Flower.” That’s Meghan’s nickname from childhood.
· Not only did Meghan have to give up so much to become Royal, but she also had to take on everything from being baptized in the Church of England, of which the Queen is the head of – Meghan grew up pretty non-religious but did attend a Roman Catholic school – and taking self-defense classes.
· I love the scene with Meghan and Jessica and Ivy Mulroney where they are gathered around the mirror looking at Meghan in her wedding dress and tiara. One of Meghan’s stylists looks at her and says “Perfection.” Then Meghan takes a wisp of her hair out of the perfectly coiffed half-updo and lets it frame her face before saying “Imperfection.” Okay, yeah it’s cheesy, but the message is clear: Meghan is here to show that imperfection is beautiful. And I’m so here for that.
· My favorite movie is Sixteen Candles and, despite that movie being a comedy and hilariously funny, my favorite scene in that movie is where Samantha (Molly Ringwald) and her dad are alone on the couch at night and Samantha is telling her dad about her crush on Jake Ryan. And her dad says such beautiful words to her that I cry every single time because that’s what every father should say to every daughter, ever. Well, Meghan’s dad isn’t there for Meghan’s ride to St. George’s Chapel, but instead we have the fabulous Doria in the car with her, giving a soliloquy with as much emotional impact as the Sixteen Candles speech. They are looking out at the crowds cheering as they drive by, and Doria – who, with a nose ring and dreadlocks, is fierce and beautiful and certainly unlike any mother-of-the-Royal-bride before her – says “They’re cheering for the real love between you and Harry.” How centuries of tradition are being overturned today. As a woman who is also very close to her mama, this scene struck a chord.
· I didn’t know this tidbit, but in the movie it says Meghan specifically told Clare Waight Keller, the British designer of her Givenchy wedding dress, to make her dress a little bigger so she could breathe in it. Well, mission accomplished. (If you’ll read my past posts, you’ll see I thought it was way too big.)
· There’s a lot made mention in this movie about Meghan’s cookbook release, where Meghan started to really do things her own way.
· Back to the “I hate the William character in this movie” narrative, Meghan’s taking on political issues causes William to want to split the households, essentially kicking Harry and Meghan out of KP because of Meghan’s outspokenness. Who really actually knows whose decision it was for Harry and Meghan to leave KP (slang term for Kensington Palace), but William is certainly being portrayed as the villain here.
· Meghan is seen reading “Our Deepest Fear” from Marianne Williamson – both mine and Oprah’s favorite spiritual writer whose book, Return to Love, changed my life and who, interestingly enough, is one of the 25 billion Democratic candidates for President of the United States in 2020 – at an event. (Side note: This poem is often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela, but it was actually written by Williamson in Return to Love in 1992.) I like it so much that it’s worth a reprint here:
“Our Deepest Fear”
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
· Okay, back to the movie as it wraps up. So many people have written a narrative in their minds about Meghan: She’s a bitch. She’s bossy. It’s her way or the highway. And, rather than get to know Meghan (at least as much as one can from a distance), people are lazy, averse to any type of change to the Royal status quo, and just believe what they’ve heard. Meghan is a freaking boss, she’s powerful, she’s kind, she’s complex – but, at the end of the day, she is a good human being. And I am glad that movie got that message across.
· Nearing the tail end, here comes the inevitable Diana throwback scene, which is awful but not as awful as the Diana throwback scene in the last Harry and Meghan Lifetime movie when Diana was reincarnated as an African elephant, I think it was? Or some animal while Harry and Meghan were in Botswana.
· And then it’s over, with Harry and Meghan looking into a pram at baby Archie.
If you hung on for the follow up documentaries, good for you! Not much from them that we haven’t already talked about or won’t talk about in the future, but in Baby Fever they interview (press hungry) Samantha Markle, which I could have done without. They also make mention that many thought Meghan was having a home birth, which Archie’s birth certificate proves that she didn’t; she gave birth at Portland Hospital in London, right at sunrise. (Cue metaphors here…) Also, Baby Fever touches on the fact that the Lindo Wing tradition of Royal mothers like Diana and Kate trotting their newborns out in full blowouts, makeup, and in heels is a relatively new tradition, and that it’s actually pretty weird and non-human, which is why Meghan opted not to do it. I think those were the highlights; my air conditioner once again stopped working during this hour and I was fooling around with that and trying not to go completely crazy for part of this documentary.
The last half hour of my marathon four hour Lifetime binge (the most I’ve ever watched Lifetime in one sitting in my, well, lifetime) was the Royal Rebels documentary, which highlighted the top 10 ways Harry and Meghan’s wedding broke tradition. Those reasons are:
10. They didn’t have a long courtship. Nope; they’d dated less than two years from meeting to marriage. To contrast, William and Kate dated for 10.
9. The bride must be royal or British. Nope; an American girl all the way.
8. No divorcees allowed. Nope; we all know Meghan was married before, from 2011 to 2013.
7. No Catholics allowed. Well, Meghan wasn’t all the way Catholic, but she did go to a Roman Catholic school.
6. No public displays of affection. Harry and Meghan break this rule on the daily.
5. Marry on a weekday. I actually hadn’t thought about this until now, but it’s true, Royal Weddings are usually on Fridays. Everyone gets a holiday and an extra-long weekend and is happy. Meghan, an American, brought the American tradition of marrying on a Saturday across the pond.
4. The bigger the church, the better. Harry and Meghan decided that they wanted quality of people rather than quantity of people, so they chose the relatively small venue of St. George’s Chapel.
3. Don’t break the mold. What, there’s not always a gospel choir singing “Stand By Me” at Royal Weddings?
2. The guest list. What, Oprah’s not at every Royal Wedding? Well, she damn well should be.
1. The Queen’s seal of approval. Let’s put it this way – theirs was not a wedding the Queen herself would have likely planned. But it felt like them. And it was wonderful.
So, there you have it. If you’re looking for high-quality cinema and TV about our favorite Family, this is not it: If you haven’t, go watch The Crown on Netflix (absolutely stunning and a must see for even the most casual Royal Watcher) or stream The Queen (I cry every time at the scene where the Queen is alone with the deer; it is so rich with symbolism), about the immediate aftermath of Diana’s death and the Queen’s response to it or The King’s Speech, about Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, and his stammer. Now that’s the good stuff right there.