Step aside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, there is a new ‘royal’ couple getting set to take Hollywood by storm – at least on the small screen.
To mark the Sussexes’ third wedding anniversary on Wednesday, TV network Lifetime unveiled the first image of the two actors chosen to play the Duke and Duchess in a new made-for-TV movie about the couple’s ‘escape’ from royal life.
The photo shows New York-based Broadway star Jordan Dean stepping into Harry’s shoes, and his trademark red hair, for the very first time, while embracing actress and blogger Sydney Morton, who will take on the role of Meghan in the small-screen flick, which promises to reveal ‘what really happened at the palace to drive the couple away’.
Although their physical similarities with Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, are not entirely spot-on, the actors certainly dressed the part for the newly-released still, which shows them posing in near-identical ensembles to those worn by the Sussexes for their final official engagement as senior members of the royal family in March 2020.
Surprise! Lifetime marked the Sussexes’ third wedding anniversary by releasing the first image of the actors playing the couple in Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace
Inspiration: In the photo, the actors are seen modeling near-identical ensembles to those worn by Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, for their final official engagement as royals in March 2020
The Duchess of Sussex: Actress and blogger Sydney Morton, who is best known for Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It, will take on the role of Meghan
The Duke of Sussex: New York-based Broadway actor Jordan Dean will play Prince Harry – and already shares the royal’s signature red hair
Dean – who has a number of small on-screen roles to his name, including a turn in Netflix series The Punisher – is seen wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and mint green tie, while Morton – who is best known for her part in Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It – is pictured in a bright green caped dress that appears to be designed after the Emilia Wickstead number worn by Meghan on last year’s Commonwealth Day.
Harry actor Dean is also sporting bright red hair and a beard, while Morton has her locks pulled back in a low updo, a style often sported by Meghan during her brief time as a royal.
Neither actor has yet commented on the announcement of their new roles, however the news has certainly thrust them both into a much brighter spotlight than they have occupied before.
Both boast a number of small on-screen roles to their name, with Morton previously appearing in
The on-screen couple are the third pair to portray Harry and Meghan for Lifetime – which has already released two other movies about the Sussexes in the last few years.
Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace follows 2018’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, which covered the early days of their relationship, and 2019’s Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal, which focused on the royal wedding.
Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser played Meghan and Harry, respectively, in the first biopic, which explored how the couple’s relationship blossomed from their first date in 2016 to their engagement in November 2017.
It aired in May 2018, just days before the couple’s royal wedding.
The second movie offered a playful, fictional account of the events immediately leading up to Harry and Meghan’s May 2018 wedding and their first few months as husband and wife. It aired in May 2019.
Actress Tiffany Smith played the Duchess of Sussex, while British star Charlie Field took on the role of the Duke of Sussex in the film.
Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace will offer a fictionalized account of ‘what really happened inside the palace that drove Harry and Meghan to leave everything behind in order to make a future for themselves and their son Archie,’ according to Deadline.
Like Netflix’s The Crown – but on a much tighter budget – the movie will feature actors playing senior members of the Royal Family including Prince William and Kate Middleton and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Producers will no doubt draw heavily on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive Oprah Winfrey interview, which aired in March, although it remains to be seen if it will go near controversial topics such as the alleged racist remark about Archie.
Speaking to Vanity Fair about the second film, screenwriter Scarlett Lacey – who has returned for the third installment – explained that the plot features a mix of truths and fiction.
According to Deadline, the new film will ‘detail Meghan’s growing isolation and sadness, their disappointment that “The Firm” was not defending them against the press’s attacks and Harry’s fear that history would repeat itself and he would not be able to protect his wife and son from the same forces that caused his mother’s untimely death.’
It will also look at ‘family feuds’ between Kate and Meghan, Charles and Harry and Harry and William, it is reported.
The movie will be directed by Menhaj Huda and executive produced by Merideth Finn and Michele Weiss.
Speaking on the release of the second film, Lacey suggested she had gained access to some of Meghan’s and the royals’ inner circles, although she did not name any names.
She told Vanity Fair: ‘Some of the people I talk to are close to the royals. Others are Hollywood friends of Meghan, and others are journalists and experts in the royal field.’
However she acknowledged that the movies – which portray Harry and Meghan in a highly favorable light – are definitely a mixture of fact and fiction.
Airing on Lifetime five days before the pair married in real life, the first movie charted the whirlwind romance of Meghan and Harry by mutual friend Violet von Westenholz, to their time in Botswana where they fell in love.
It culminated in Prince Harry going down on one knee in his Kensington Palace apartment to ask Meghan to marry him.
It also featured other members of the royal family, including Kate Middleton, who will no doubt play an even bigger part in the third film.
The second film touched on the lead up to the wedding, and touched on Meghan’s relationship with her father.
Lacey said at the time: ‘This film deals with the drama of planning a wedding: the moment you’d much rather elope, the moment your family might mess it all up – and they nearly do.’
Star Tiffany said in the same interview: ‘We got to do some stuff with Kate, which I really liked.
‘I think one of the biggest things, obviously, about Meghan is that she’s such a supporter of other women and women’s empowerment. That was something I think was important for all of us to focus on, myself included.’
Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace will reveal ‘what really happened inside the palace that drove Harry and Meghan to leave everything behind,’ according to Deadline. Pictured, Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser starred in 2018’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance
Deborah Ramsay (Duchess of Cornwall), Steve Coulter (Prince Charles) and Murray Fraser and Parisa Fitz-Henley as Prince Harry and Meghan in 2018’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance
Casting for the third film is underway with production scheduled to begin this spring for a release later this year. Pictured, the actors playing the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in 2019’s Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal
The third film will cover the lead up to Megxit. Pictured, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Harry and Meghan’s last official royal engagement with the family in March 2020
The second movie offered a playful, fictional account of the events immediately leading up to Harry and Meghan’s May 2018 wedding and their first few months as husband and wife. It aired in May 2019. Pictured, a scene from the film showing the actress as Meghan in her wedding dress
The character of Meghan admitted she felt as though she’s ‘pretending to be a beautiful swan’
What happened in the first two Harry & Meghan Lifetime movies?
HARRY & MEGHAN: A ROYAL ROMANCE (2018)
Airing on Lifetime five days before the pair married in real life, the movie charted the whirlwind romance of Meghan and Harry by mutual friend Violet von Westenholz, to their time in Botswana where they fell in love.
Things eventually heat up as the young couple are filmed seemingly naked and entwined in bed until Harry can take it no more, going down on one knee in his Kensington Palace apartment to ask Meghan to marry him.
It also featured other members of the royal family, including Kate Middleton.
Kate was depicted as the grim common sense throughout the film, who pops up seemingly with the express purpose of throwing cold water on Harry’s fun.
HARRY & MEGHAN: BECOMING ROYAL (2019)
A scene showing the actors playing Meghan and Harry kissing after their wedding in Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal
Becoming Royal promised to ‘pull back the curtain to reveal untold joys and challenges’ faced by the couple, as well as key moments like their pregnancy announcement.
British actor Charlie Field, who appeared in an episode of Poldark, was cast as Prince Harry, while American actress and presenter Tiffany Smith, who has had minor roles in shows including Jane the Virgin, played Meghan.
Other key moments included Meghan’s first solo royal engagement and their first royal tour.