I wasn’t going to write anything about Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary, in part because I didn’t want to dredge up my own history of indiscriminately going public with family issues (indiscriminately being the operative word there.) But after seeing the first three segments of their documentary, I changed my mind. Watching them, listening to them, there were things I could relate to, and things I hope they will come to look at from a wider perspective. 

 For anyone who hasn’t been chased, surrounded, and yelled at by paparazzi, I can tell you it’s both terrifying and infuriating. In the 80s when my father was president, I had only a fraction of what Harry has had his whole life, and obviously he bears the cruel weight of knowing that the paparazzi’s actions led to his mother Diana’s death. His trauma runs deep and wide. But there was a night when I and the actor I was dating came out of a movie screening and suddenly a swarm of people with flashbulbs enveloped us. They were shouting, I was blinded by the flashes of light, and being acutely claustrophobic I panicked. I bolted, started running through the streets with my Secret Service agents running after me, my boyfriend running after them, and the paparazzi left in the dust. It sounds funny now, but it was definitely not funny then. There were a few times when my house was surrounded – one of them being when my father bombed Libya — and I was trapped inside, listening to a couple of reporters shout toward the house, “Are you afraid Kaddafi is going to come kill you? Your father killed his son.” When night fell, I snuck out the back gate into the alley to walk my dog. 

 It’s a helpless feeling – you’re outnumbered, they aren’t going to stop, and they will get the last word. Harry has a right to be bitter, so does Meghan, but that doesn’t mean that bitterness has to be the whole story. The documentary I wish they had made is one where they talked with other members of the Royal Family, asked how they coped, where their emotions took them. I want them to be curious about what may lie beyond their own woundedness. What lessons might there be? What insights might they gain? It would be fascinating to hear Harry and William talk openly about their shared experience of growing up in a family in which tradition dictates your behavior and questions regarding tradition are not welcomed. Even if Charles wouldn’t participate in such a project, it’s a large extended family, I’m sure many would speak to them on the subject of growing-up-Royal.

 Again, I had only a small version of what Harry has had, but I understand that feeling of woundedness – that something beyond your control is holding you hostage. In the 80s, that woundedness was my calling card. It hovered there every time I introduced myself to someone…”Hi, I’m Patti. My mother doesn’t like me and my father bombed Libya. So, please feel sorry for me because I have issues.” For a while, it works – people think, Wow, that life would be really hard. But ultimately, people want to know that you are doing something with your woundedness, that you are reaching beyond it and looking at things through a wider lens – with curiosity and a willingness to learn.  

  I don’t believe that our experiences are supposed to be jail cells. I think they are meant to be gateways. They are meant to invite questions: How can I see this differently? How have other people processed a similar experience? Maybe in a year or two Harry and Meghan will make another documentary in which there is an exchange of voices, a conversation about the influence of trauma in one’s life, and the pressure of tradition, how it doesn’t leave room for healing, or for the natural rhythm of change. There are important truths to be explored beyond just the truth about their own lives. My wish is that they take on that challenge.


  1. Arlene W. Leib says:

    Fantastic share. Good for you!

  2. Christine Kludjian says:

    So beautifully expressed, with great insight and awareness.

  3. LA Newman says:

    Nice Commentary and obviously not done under the guise of racism, which seems to be all over the place (except Black Twitter)
    Horrible what happened to you. I wasn’t a fan of your father’s policies but I would never blame it on you. And what is that about your relationship to your mom, had no idea ?! 💔💔💔

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