Explained: How New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern is embroiled in Harry and Meghan controversy

Explained: How New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern is embroiled in Harry and Meghan controversy

New Zealand Prime Minister Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during an interview in her Wellington office. AP

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern being featured in the latest trailer for Netflix docuseries backed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has caused fresh controversy.

The project, entitled Live to Lead, is inspired by anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Their voices give us hope.
Their actions shape our world.
Their leadership inspires our future.

Live To Lead — a documentary series presented by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex — premieres December 31 pic.twitter.com/zhhxChEi3Y

— Netflix (@netflix) December 19, 2022

Let’s take a look at the row:

Constitutional crisis

According to nzherald.co.nz, snippets of Ardern in the trailer for the series have given the impression that the New Zealand prime minister, the leader of a Commonwealth Nation, is taking the side of Harry against his father King Charles (who is sovereign and head of state).

This comes on the heel of Harry and Meghan making several explosive claims in their Harry and Megan docuseries about stepping down from their royal duties, racism in Britain and privacy issues.

Harry during the series revealed that the stress of action against The Mail on Sunday caused Meghan to miscarry and that his brother Prince Charles screamed and shouted at him during fraught meetings in the lead-up to the pair leaving their royal duties.

Also read: Harry and Meghan are not the first royal victims. They won’t be the last

New Zealand PM distances herself from Harry and Meghan

Ardern’s office quickly swung into action — issuing statement clarifying that she had had no contact with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex regarding the project and that she was unaware that she would be featuring the series when recording her interview.

According to Daily Mail, Ardern’s statement read, “In early March 2019 the prime minister was approached by the Mandela Foundation to participate in a project to develop accessible resources on key attributes of leadership targeted at aspiring young leaders around the world, based off a one-hour interview.”

Ardern was “advised the outputs would be printed and digital books, short films and audiobooks”.

While the interview was conducted on 8 November, 2019, she was only notified that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would present the story in May “nearly two-and-a-half years after the interview was recorded.”

“All communication throughout has been with the foundation (there has been no communications with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex regarding the project),” the statement added.

Also read: How the British royal family viewed Meghan before her wedding to Prince Harry

Jacinda Ardern in ‘Live to Lead

The trailer of the series features interview snippets with Ardern and Mandela and others such as environmental activist Greta Thunberg, former US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, social justice activist Bryan Stevenson, former South African judge Albie Sachs, South African rugby player Siya Kolisi, and journalist and activist Gloria Steinem.

The nearly two-minute video clip shows Ardern standing at a podium saying, “As leaders, we have the keys to create a sense of security and a sense of hope.”

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s interview was featured in Netflix’s ‘Live to Lead’. Twitter/@netflix

Prince Harry and Meghan said that the series was about people who have made brave choices.

“To fight for change, and to become leaders,” the couple added.

The seven-part docuseries series was created by New Zealand-based production house Blackwell & Ruth in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Sussexes’ production company, Archewell.

It is slated for Netflix release on 31 December.

With inputs from agencies

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