Back in late November, Merriam-Webster announced that their Word of the Year for 2022 is “Gaslighting”. Let’s give credit where credit is due though because the word really started picking up cultural use exactly around this time six years ago, in December 2016, with Lauren Duca’s piece in Teen Vogue, “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America”. And now Prince Harry is saying it. He’s not only saying it, he’s accusing the British royal institution, an institution into which he was born (!), of gaslighting him and his wife Meghan Markle. 


It's a clip from a new trailer for Harry & Meghan that Netflix released today in which the series gets into the couple’s decision to quit royal life and move to America, which is where it was building to in volume one: touching on the monarchy’s colonial history, its role in the slave trade, the casual racism performed by members of the extended family, and the overt racism of the British media that was condoned by the royal family. All that was groundwork to set up for the part of Harry and Meghan’s story where they talk about how they were treated by the institution and now we know the word Harry uses to describe it. 

And he gets specific. Very specific. 


There are some who have said that Harry & Meghan covers no new territory from what the Sussexes told Oprah Winfrey in March 2021. We know the broad strokes of what happened – that Harry and Meghan did not feel supported within the Firm, that there is an “invisible contract” between the monarchy and the tabloid media, that a senior member of the British royal family was inquiring about Archie’s skin tone.

The new trailer suggests that the couple, and Harry in particular, will be filling in the details as it’s his voice in the preview making this accusation: 

“They were happy to lie to protect my brother. They were never willing to tell the truth to protect us.”

Those are two incendiary statements….and you can imagine the reaction to it today as the UK press has seized upon these statements; the combination of Harry calling it “institutional gaslighting” and his claim that people lied to protect Prince William is, not surprisingly, what’s generating the big headlines. Which is exactly what Netflix wants. 


Already last week the media gave them all kinds of free publicity, resulting in big viewership numbers for Harry & Meghan, even bigger numbers on the first episode than The Crown. And we haven’t even gotten to volume two, when it appears the hottest tea is spilling all over the place. 

A trailer like this not only sets off the media, it builds anticipation for the audience. 

WHO is “they”? Who lied to protect William? And WHAT did they lie about?! What could William possibly need protecting from? Why did they have to lie for him? What did they need to cover up? 

That part of the story definitely wasn’t covered with Oprah. So if Harry is going there… well… this counts as new territory. 

Of course it could just be a deliberately sensational trailer. These clips and their accompanying statements don’t come with any context. We don’t know what the larger conversation was that prompted Harry to fire these shots. It may be that when we do see the episodes and the moments in which these comments are made, it won’t be as provocative. Still, they’re definitely dialing up the drama in volume two. 

The reaction to volume one was already borderline hysterical. They’re going to be apoplectic on Thursday and Friday.