Their story is also being framed within “the history of British colonialism and race and its relationship to the monarchy,” Mr. Cogan added. In other words, issues that are sure to make the monarchy stammer.
In the series, Ms. Garbus puts the couple’s personal archive into context, interspersing the self-shot video diaries with formal interviews and archival footage of the royal family. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is heavily featured, as are Harry’s boarding school buddies, Meghan’s security team in Canada, her college friends and co-stars from the TV show “Suits.”
Filming began in November 2021 and ended in July, months before the death of Queen Elizabeth II. When asked if Harry and Meghan had control over the final product, Ms. Garbus said it was a collaboration. When pressed as to whether the couple had final approval over the series, she responded: “It was a collaboration. You can keep asking me, but that’s what I’ll say.”
The project is something of a culmination of the issues Ms. Garbus has chronicled for the past two decades. Whether it’s social justice seen through the lens of the prison system (“The Farm: Angola, USA” and “Girlhood”) or uncovering the troubled personal stories of famous yet enigmatic figures — Bobby Fischer, Marilyn Monroe and Nina Simone — mental health and righting systemic wrongs are topics she returns to time and again. (Ms. Garbus also directed a documentary series about The New York Times called “The Fourth Estate.”)
In the case of Harry and Meghan, Ms. Garbus said that the story was already in place when she became involved, a first for a filmmaker who prefers to determine how best to approach her subjects. The documentarian Garrett Bradley was previously attached to the project, but the two sides parted ways because Ms. Bradley’s vérité style did not mesh with the couple’s interests. Representatives for Ms. Bradley declined to comment.
Ms. Garbus said that Harry and Meghan were interested in telling their love story within the historical context of the British monarchy. Ms. Garbus wanted to expand on that and explore how their personal pasts affected their present.
“I’m always really interested in psychology and how someone’s childhood determines their future and what impact they will have on the world,” she said. “In this story with both of them, I was able to look at that.”