Meghan Markle started working on her Netflix project with David Furnish long before she quit England, back in 2018 — Page Six is told.
We’re told that Markle and Furnish were in active discussions with Netflix while Markle was still a senior working member of the royal family, and still living behind Palace walls.
In March, Markle’s husband Prince Harry insisted they had never thought of teaming up with streamers such as Netflix and Spotify until they sensationally quit the UK for the US in early 2020 — and were cut off financially by his family.
During the couple’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, Harry said the big-money deals they made once they moved to California were “never part of the plan”, adding, “That was suggested by somebody else by the point of where my family literally cut me off financially, and I had to afford security for us.”
Harry said they were able to start a new life thanks to the millions left to him by his late mother, Princess Diana.
“I’ve got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this,” he said.
But during the pandemic, a friend suggested: “‘What about streamers?’” Harry continued, while Markle added: “We genuinely hadn’t thought about it before.”
“We hadn’t thought about it,” Harry continued. “So, there were all sorts of different options. And look, from my perspective, all I needed was enough money to be able to pay for security to keep my family safe.’”
We’re told that the Netflix series was originally just one of a number of one-off advocacy projects that Markle started work on while a working member of the royal family, which included her charity cookbook to raise funds for the victims of the London Grenfell fire and the issue of British Vogue that she edited.
Furnish himself admitted they had worked together on the project for some time, writing on Instagram this week: “I am delighted that we are finally able to announce this exciting animated series … The team collaborating on the series are first class, and @netflix are the perfect partner.”
In a statement, Markle, who is currently on maternity leave following the birth of her baby daughter Lilibet, said: “I’m thrilled that Archewell Productions, partnered with the powerhouse platform of Netflix, and these incredible producers, will together bring you this new animated series … David Furnish and I have been eager to bring this special series to light, and I am delighted we are able to announce it today.”
“Pearl” is the working title for the series, which doesn’t yet have a release date, and will follow a young girl who finds inspiration from influential women from history while on a “heroic adventure.”
Harry had also openly been talking about his Apple + mental health show “The Me You Can’t See” with producing partner Winfrey in early 2019 before leaving the royal family.
Page Six also reported the couple was in 2019 talks with Quibi, the now-defunct streaming platform led by LA supremos Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, about a commercial partnership.
Markle and Harry are extremely close with Furnish and his husband, Elton John. John was friends with Princess Diana — famously updating “Candle in the Wind” in her memory — and has remained protective of Harry and his brother Prince William.
John performed at Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception in May 2018 — singing a number of songs including “Tiny Dancer” and “Circle of Life” — and was a guest on their Spotify holiday special in 2020.
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex came under fire for taking a private jet to visit Furnish and Elton at their home in Nice in the South of France in August 2019 alongside their then-baby son Archie, John fiercely defended them.
“After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home. To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight. To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon-neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint.”
He then called for an end to “these relentless and untrue assassinations on their character that are spuriously crafted on an almost daily basis.”
A rep for the Sussexes was unavailable for comment.