Hollywood's bizarre Meghan Markle references raise questions

Possible Megan Markle References to this have surfaced in several films, raising the question of whether Hollywood screenwriters are making playful connections to royalty.

The Duchess of Sussex was a cultural force, attracting both fans and anti-fans for a number of years with high-profile interviews and bombastic allegations against the royal family.

The little mermaid is the latest film critics say may contain a subtle nod to Meghan. Kate Middleton And Princess Diana, although the director has denied this. However, it’s not the only film to feature such a tongue-in-cheek nod to the Duchess. It’s not possible to know if every moment is conscious, and any moments that are will likely be intended as light-hearted asides rather than serious political commentary.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attend the Endeavor Fund Awards at Mansion House in London on March 5, 2020. Several Hollywood films appear to reference the Duchess.Chris Jackson/Getty Images

‘The little mermaid’

The 2023 remake of The little mermaid hits theaters May 26 and stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, the mermaid who must give up her voice to marry a prince named Eric.

page six reported that in one scene, Eric tries to guess Ariel’s name, suggesting she could be “Diana” or “Catherine.” After a negative reaction from the mermaid, he adds: “OK, definitely not Catherine.”

Harry’s mother is Princess Diana and Kate Middleton’s full name is Catherine, although the media tends to call her Kate. However, director Rob Marshall denied any connection when asked by a journalist on the red carpet: “True or false, there’s a little nod to Kate Middleton in this film.”

“Absolutely wrong,” Marshall said. “I don’t know where that came from. This is the insane thing. There is absolutely nothing true about that.”

@news.com.au Clarifying these royal rumors 👑 #melissamccarthy #KateMiddleton #The little mermaid #disney #thelittlemermaid2023 ♬ Original sound – Fandango

However, Meghan herself has compared her story to Ariel’s in the original version and said she was silenced by Buckingham Palace.

In March 2020, Meghan told Oprah Winfrey that she watched the 1989 version The little mermaid at her and Harry’s home in Kensington Palace: “I said, ‘Oh my God! She falls in love with the prince and therefore has to lose her voice.’ But in the end she gets her voice back.

Oprah asked, “And this happened here? Do you feel like you got your voice back?” Meghan replied, “Yes.”

The reference in the 2023 version is arguably even more bizarre, if not intentional. That would mean that the screenwriters chose the very film that Meghan herself is referring to; remade it with the unique selling point that Ariel is now a woman of color marrying a white prince; and then dunked the names of Meghan’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law in the same breath, all purely coincidental.

Moviegoers might want to judge for themselves how negative Ariel’s reaction is to the suggestion that she be called “Catherine.” However, if it is as hostile as page six suggests, then the film even correctly identifies where the animosity lies in these key relationships between Meghan and Harry.


M3GAN tells the story of a little girl named Katie. Her parents died in a car accident and she is being raised by her aunt, the maker of the eponymous AI robot doll who is said to be every child’s new best friend.

Aside from their names, there are two moments that seem to reference the royal family, including a scene where M3GAN doll watches Katie play a fantasy game.

The girl says, “It’s me, Princess Katie.” Moments later, she adds, “Hey M3GAN, look at this” and shoots an arrow at the doll.

Later in the film, the prototype M3GAN puppet is scheduled for a public demonstration. Toy company CEO David records a promotional video that appears to reference a famous quote from the Duchess.

As he describes how the doll helped Katie recover from the death of her parents, David says, “Look at that face: the child is not only surviving, she’s doing fine.”

Meghan Markle’s first interview, in which she acknowledges the pressures of royal life, was in October 2019 with Tom Bradby from British broadcaster ITV. She famously said, “It’s not enough just to survive, is it? That’s not the meaning of life. You have to thrive, you have to feel happy.

And Meghan told Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 how happy she and Harry were after leaving the royal family: “Now that we’re actually on the other side, we’ve actually not only survived, we’ve actually thrived. Do you know that … . I mean, these are miracles.”

“Meg 2: The Trench”

The film, directed by Jason Statham, tells the story of a bald Englishman who, along with other characters, is being pursued by a megalodon, a type of giant prehistoric shark that actually existed at the same time as the dinosaurs.

Aside from its protagonist’s name and nationality, the film will be released on Meghan Markle’s birthday, August 4th.


spy thriller citadelAt Amazon Prime makes a more explicit royal reference when a crime boss likens breaking into an office to “getting caught between the Duchess of Cambridge’s legs,” as Kate Middleton put it The sun.

The newspaper pointed to Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a friend of Meghan’s, in the lead role in the series, although there is nothing to suggest that Chopra Jonas had a role in writing the script.

Jack Royston is chief royal correspondent for Newsweek, based in London. You find him on Twitter at @jack_royston and keep reading his stories Newsweek‘S The Royals’ Facebook page.

Do you have a question about King Charles III, William and Kate, Meghan and Harry or their family for our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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