Spotify may have called time on its relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but Netflix still believes in Harry and Meghan, with whom it signed a $100 million production deal in 2020. Yet, to date, the streamer’s alliance with the Sussex’s Archewell Productions has had mixed results. Last year’s Harry and Meghan documentary drew eyeballs while having little new to say about the Sussexes or the rift between them and the Windsors. Then came the syrupy Live To Lead, a job-lot of hagiographies of already over-exposed figures such as environmentalist Greta Thunberg and former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. It was “inspirational” telly by numbers and suggested that, a mere two projects in, Harry and Meghan were already winging it.
One issue with Live to Lead was that Sussex involvement was confined to a brief introduction at the start of each instalment. They’ve gone one better – or worse, depending on your perspective – with their latest Netflix collaboration, Heart of Invictus. Meghan is absent entirely from the five-part documentary – a celebration of Harry’s Invictus Games for injured military veterans directed by Oscar-winner Orlando von Einsiedel.
Heart of Invictus’s problem is that it is trying to be two things at once. Harry and Meghan understand that their involvement is the big draw with their Archewell output. They are the brand. And so Harry, founding patron of Invictus, dutifully submits for an interview, “sensitive dad” beard primped and ready to go.
“My name is Harry,” he says in a conversation conducted against the now-familiar backdrop of the California home he shares with Meghan and their children. “I’m a dad of two, I have a couple of dogs…. there are lots of hats one wears. Today is all about Invictus.”
It’s not all about Invictus, though, is it? How can it be? While the struggles of the ex-military personnel profiled in the first instalment are hugely emotive, they ultimately and unfortunately function as filler between the Harry stuff – and it looks like everyone involved knows it.
That said, it’s impossible not to be moved by Tom Folwell, a former army Sapper who lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan and for whom wheelchair rugby represented an outlet for his pain and anger.