Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s exit from the Royal Family has already prompted its fair share of real-world controversy, but further drama has now been injected into Megxit, courtesy of a new trailer for Lifetime’s upcoming movie about the couple’s ‘escape from the palace’.
The network released a new teaser clip for the film, Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace, on Instagram this week, revealing a very dramatic – and fictionalized – portrayal of The Firm and its most senior members.
Although the new trailer is just 30 seconds long, it is packed with plenty of conflict and emotion, with actress Sydney Morton – who plays the part of Meghan – seen questioning whether she ‘made the world’s biggest mistake’ by marrying into the Royal Family, while Prince Harry, depicted by Jordan Dean, insists that he ‘will do everything in his power to keep his wife and son safe’.
But while Morton and Dean were both seen stepping into their roles in the first teaser shared by the network, the new clip offers insight into the very stuffy way in which some of the other senior royals will be depicted, revealing glimpses at the on-screen versions of the Queen, Prince William, and Kate Middleton.
Harry and William’s late mother, Princess Diana, who would have turned 60 on July 1, is also featured in the quick trailer, with actress Bonnie Suter stepping into her shoes.
In what appears to be a flashback scene, Suter is seen standing at a podium making a speech, while wearing a black silk jacket with a velvet lapel – a near-identical design to the dark green ensemble worn by Diana in December 1993 when she publicly announced that she would be stepping back from her public duties in order to take on ‘a more meaningful public role with a more private life’.
Royal drama: Lifetime has released a second trailer for its upcoming movie about Prince Harry and Meghan’s ‘escape from the palace’, in which the couple – played by Jordan Dean (left) and Sydney Morton (right) – express frustrations about royal life
Error: Morton, who plays the part of Meghan, 39, questions whether she ‘made the world’s biggest mistake’ by marrying into the Royal Family, while Harry – played by Dean – vows to do ‘everything in his power to keep his wife and son safe’
Poignant: During a flashback scene, actress Bonnie Suter steps into the shoes of Princess Diana in what appears to be a reenactment of the December 1993 speech in which the royal announced she was ‘reducing’ her public duties
The speech was made one year after Diana and Charles announced that they were separating, and saw the former opening up about her struggle to deal with the ‘overwhelming attention’ she had received in the wake of that news.
‘I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become,’ she said at the time. ‘Nor the extent to which it would affect both my public duties and my personal life, in a manner, that’s been hard to bear.’
Many have drawn clear comparisons between Diana’s 1993 speech and the announcement that Meghan and Harry made when they revealed they would be stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family in order to ‘carve out a new progressive role within the institution’.
The scene will no doubt add further fuel to speculation that the movie will focus, at least in part on her legacy, and the impact that her life and death had on the Duke of Sussex in particular.
All of the characters are filmed sitting down for interview-style shots, throughout which they offer up pithy one-liners while classical music plays in the background.
In the clip, Meghan appears to grow increasingly upset with the demands of royal life, telling the camera at one point: ‘I never thought this would be easy. But I wanted to make the Queen proud.’
She then asks: ‘Have I made the world’s biggest mistake?’
While her line is played, Morton is depicted as removing an ornate hat from her head while staring into the mirror.
Her Majesty: The Queen – who is played by an as-yet unnamed actress – also makes her debut in the second trailer, in which she firmly insists that ‘the Monarchy will always survive’
Opinion: The reported tension between Meghan, 39, and Kate, 39, is also alluded to in the trailer, with actress Laura Mitchell portraying the Duchess of Cambridge as stating that anyone marrying into the Royal Family know what ‘they signed up for’
Warning: Prince William, played by actor Jordan Whalen, tells the cameras that the ‘Monarchy is at stake’, perhaps suggesting that Harry and Meghan’s departure from the Royal Family could cause chaos for The Firm
The trailer concentrates mostly on the divisions between the different royals, and the imagined views that each of them may have taken in regard to Harry and Meghan’s departure from the Monarchy, with Prince William actor Whalen voicing serious concern about the future of the Royal Family.
The reported tension between Meghan, 39, and Kate, 39, is also alluded to in the trailer, with Mitchell portraying the Duchess of Cambridge as being resolute in her opinion that those marrying into the Royal Family know what ‘they signed up for’.
‘This is the life we signed up for. Here, we value dignity above all else,’ she says, while flashing a copy of the large sapphire engagement ring that once belonged to Princess Diana and was given to Kate by William when he proposed in 2010.
One clip shows the Queen, Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton all sitting in a room together having what appears to be a very tense discussion, in what may well be an imagining of the talks that took place between the senior royals in the lead-up to Megxit in January 2020.
At the time, it was revealed that Harry, 36, had a private heart-to-heart with the Queen following a family meeting at Sandringham, and it is understood that Her Majesty made the decision to allow her grandson and his wife to quit their royal roles after this talk.
According to Daily Mail editor-at-large Richard Kay, the discussions between the royals remained ‘calm’ – however what is shown on-screen during the Lifetime movie may well offer a more intense portrayal of the Megxit summit.
Fraught: In the clip, Meghan appears to grow increasingly upset with the demands of royal life, telling the camera at one point: ‘I never thought this would be easy. But I wanted to make the Queen proud’
Discussions: One clip shows Harry, William, the Queen, and Kate having what appears to be a very tense discussion. It may be that this is intended to portray the Megxit summit that took place ahead of Harry and Meghan’s exit from the Royal Family
Thus far, Lifetime has shared very little detail about the exact plot of the movie, only promising that it will offer viewers 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.
‘It 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.’
The latest trailer comes just weeks after the release of the first teaser, which saw Dean and Morton acting out several heated discussions between Harry and Meghan, during which the former was seen expressing his fears that his wife is being ‘hounded to death’.
‘I see you literally being hounded to death and I’m helpless to stop it,’ the actor tells his on-screen partner, echoing comments made by Prince Harry during his Apple TV+ series, in which he said that his late mother, Princess Diana, was ‘chased to death’ and admitted that he was afraid of ‘history repeating itself’ with Meghan.
The trailer also showed Dean and Morton reenacting scenes from the Sussexes’ bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired in March, sitting down in a lush garden while wearing near-identical outfits to those modeled by the Duke and Duchess for their primetime chat with the TV mogul.
Although Lifetime has shared little about the exact plot of the movie, which was shot in Vancouver, on-set images have previously revealed that producers were planning to include the explosive interview after Dean was seen sporting the same style of grey suit that Harry wore when he spoke with Oprah.
Dramatic: The new teaser comes just a few weeks after Lifetime offered the first glimpse at Dean and Morton stepping into their royal roles
Pivotal moment: The actors were seen in the first trailer recreating the Sussexes’ explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey
Spot the difference? Dean and Morton modeled near identical outfits to those worn by the Duke and Duchess during the primetime sit-down (pictured) and they sat against a very similar lush garden background
Morton meanwhile wears a faux baby bump under a black low-cut dress with white splatter-style embellishments over one shoulder, similar to the pricey Armani dress that Meghan modeled for the sit-down, and the actress is also seen with several bangles on her wrist, and a large engagement ring on her finger.
During the short clip from the scene Morton also places a hand on her fake baby bump, mimicking the way in which Meghan rested her own hand on her growing stomach during the Oprah interview, which was filmed while she was pregnant with her second child Lilibet Diana.
The network has not yet revealed who will play the role of the TV mogul, and the person does not feature in the trailer with Dean and Morton, who are also seen looking somewhat apprehensive while sharing a private moment before the interview began.
Although very brief, the trailer offered a great deal of insight into the direction that the movie is likely to go and suggests that much of the plot will focus on dramatized versions of Harry and Meghan’s private conversations about whether or not they should quit the royal family.
At one point, Morton is seen breaking down in tears and being comforted by Dean, however she also reassures her on-screen husband of her abilities to handle any challenge that is presented to her, saying: ‘I am the person who is strong and gets things right.’
In what appears to be a sign that the on-screen Sussexes will ultimately choose their relationship over their commitment to the royal family, the duo are seen telling one another, ‘I can’t lose you,’ while Dean kisses Morton on the forehead.
Emotional: The trailer also sees the actors playing out imagined conversations between Meghan and Harry during which they tell one another, ‘I can’t lose you’
Fears: At one point Dean tells Morton that she is being ‘hounded to death’ and that he is ‘helpless to stop it’, echoing Harry’s comments about his mother, Princess Diana, being ‘chased to death’ and his fears about ‘history repeating itself’ with Meghan
Terror: One clip in the trailer shows Dean lurching out of bed in the middle of the night, having apparently been woken by a nightmare, while Morton is seen cradling her on-screen son in the background
The movie trailer depicts the two royals as being very much in a state of turmoil over their decision to step back as frontline royals, with Dean frantically lurching up out of bed at one point, apparently waking from a terrifying dream, while Morton is seen cradling a baby in the background.
Other glimpses into the movie show Dean modeling a military uniform in scenes that appear to portray the couple during their final weeks before Megxit, before Harry was stripped of his honorary military titles by the Queen.
As part of an official Megxit deal between the Sussexes and the Queen, which was finalized earlier this year, Harry was stripped of all military titles, including Captain General of the Royal Marines, and he therefore can no longer wear his uniform in any official capacity.
Baby Archie also plays a part in the brief trailer, with a young infant shown lying happily on the floor playing with some toys.
Filming on the movie began last month in Vancouver, where its stars have been regularly photographed filming a variety of scenes – including a recreation of Princess Diana’s deadly car crash and a reenactment of a home video that Harry and Meghan shared during their Oprah interview.
The video is thought to have been filmed by Harry and it showed Meghan and Archie playing together on a beach in California with one of their two dogs.
On-set images taken earlier this month captured Dean and Morton filming near-identical scenes on a Canadian beach with a young actor who is thought to be playing Harry and Meghan’s son Archie as a toddler, and they were holding the same blue Chuckit! dog toy on set that Meghan and Archie played with on the beach.
Timeline: The trailer shows Dean modeling a military uniform, which suggests that the movie will cover the Sussexes’ final days in the royal family. After Megxit, Harry was stripped of his honorary military titles and can no longer wear his uniform
Young star: A baby boy who is thought to be playing the role of a young Archie is also seen in the teaser trailer
Behind the scenes: Earlier this week, Lifetime shared several candid images of Dean and Morton on-set in Vancouver, where they were seen looking far happier than in the trailer
The movie is the third installment in a series of films about Meghan and Harry, and Dean and Morton are the third set of actors to take on the roles of the Duke and Duchess, having only been publicly unveiled as the stars of the upcoming movie days before filming began last month.
Get ready: The network has yet to announce a release date for the movie, simply saying that it is ‘coming soon’
The latest on-set images were taken two weeks after Lifetime shared the first photos of Morton and Dean stepping into their royal roles to publicly announce that they had been cast as Meghan and Harry.
Although their physical similarities to Harry and Meghan are not entirely spot-on, the actors certainly dressed the part for the photo, which showed 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.
Dean is seen wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and mint green tie and also sporting bright red hair and a beard, while Morton is pictured in a bright green caped dress that appears to be inspired by the Emilia Wickstead number worn by Meghan on last year’s Commonwealth Day.
Her dark locks were pulled back in a low updo, a style often sported by Meghan during her brief time as a royal.
Shortly after the announcement was shared, Morton marked the occasion on her Instagram account, where she revealed that she and Dean are actually old friends.
‘The cat’s out of the bag!’ she wrote. ‘Very grateful to be working with these wonderful people! AND I get to be on this wild ride with an old friend?? Literal dreams! Thank you everyone for all your kind words! Let’s goooooooo.’
See the resemblance? Earlier this month, Dean and Morton were pictured recreating a home movie that the Sussexes shared during their interview with Oprah, along with a young boy who is playing the role of Archie as a toddler
First look: They appeared to be recreating the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s home video, which showed the expectant mom playing on the beach with their son
Acting: Morton appears to have been studying Meghan’s mannerisms, including the way she touches her belly when she is pregnant (right). Meghan is pictured cradling her baby bump while pregnant with Archie in 2019 (left)
Who’s who? Dean (left) was dressed casually in a gray T-shirt, cargo shorts, and a baseball cap – a look that Harry has been seen wearing before (right)
Both stars have a handful of small on-screen roles to their names, and they have each made appearances in Netflix series in the past. Dean was featured in the 2019 show The Punisher, while Morton snagged parts in the 2020 mini-series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker and She’s Gotta Have It, which ran from 2017 to 2019.
On her website, Morton describes herself as an actress and blogger, which is eerily reminiscent of Meghan’s life before she met Harry and joined the royal family. When the couple began dating, the Los Angeles native was starring in hit show Suits and ran a lifestyle blog, The Tig.
Dean has also made several appearances on Broadway in hit shows like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Mamma Mia!, and Cymbeline.
The on-screen couple is 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.
First look: The new on-set snaps were taken exactly one week after the first photo of Dean and Morton as Harry and Meghan was shared by Lifetime. The photos showed them wearing outfits that look just like those sported by the Sussexes last March
The Duchess of Sussex: Actress and blogger Morton is best known for her roles in Netflix shows She’s Gotta Have It and Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
The Duke of Sussex: New York-based Broadway actor Dean has made several appearances on Broadway in hit shows like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Mamma Mia!, and Cymbeline
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.
The new movie will be directed by Menhaj Huda and executive produced by Merideth Finn and Michele Weiss
Like Netflix’s The Crown – but on a much tighter budget – Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace will feature actors playing senior members of the royal family including Prince William and Kate Middleton and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, all of whom will be portrayed by the same actors who appeared in the earlier installments.
Producers will no doubt draw heavily on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s explosive Oprah 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. It will also look at ‘family feuds’ between Kate and Meghan, Charles and Harry and Harry and William, it was reported.
Lacey also suggested she had gained access to some of Meghan’s and the royals’ inner circles, although she did not name any names.
‘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,’ she said.
Debut: Parisa Fitz-Henley and Murray Fraser debuted the roles for Lifetime in 2018’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, which covered the early days of the couple’s relationship
Next up: In 2019’s Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal, the main roles were played by Tiffany Smith and Charlie 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, who will no doubt play an even bigger part in the third film.
The second film touched on the lead up to the wedding as well as 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 Smith 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.’
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.