The New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has distanced herself from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after the filming of the pair’s new Netflix docuseries, which features the leader. Ardern’s office issued a statement today about her appearance in the show and insists that she was unaware that the couple were involved.
The statement, issued in response to media questions, said: “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.
“Originally we were advised the outputs would be printed and digital books, short films and audiobooks.
“The interview was conducted on November 8, 2019. In March 2020 a short book entitled Jacinda Ardern (I Know This to be True) was published based on the interview. Other participants who also had their contributions published based on their interviews included the late US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the feminist activist Gloria Steinem, the climate campaigner Greta Thunberg and the American basketball player Stephen Curry.
“In March 2021 the Nelson Mandela Foundation advised the prime minister’s office they had secured an agreement with Netflix to broadcast the series of interviews, including the 2019 interview with the prime minister.
“In May this year the prime minister’s office was notified that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex would introduce the series; noting this was nearly two and a half years after the interview had been recorded and permission for its use by the Mandela Foundation had already been provided.
“All communication throughout has been with the foundation (there has been no communications with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex regarding the project).”
As well as featuring Mandela and Ardern, it features environmentalist Greta Thunberg as well as other notable activists and political figures.
In the trailer for the show, the New Zealand Prime Minister is seen standing at a podium giving a speech. Prince Harry talks directly to the camera.
He says in the trailer: “This was inspired by Nelson Mandela, who once said, ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived’.”
Then Meghan adds: “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
Despite the public statement, The Duchess of Sussex has developed a friendship that started after the couple’s New Zealand Royal tour back in 2018.
Meghan reportedly met with the leader privately on that trip.
And in 2019, Ardern and Markle met at Kensington Palace where the Kiwi leader thanked the couple for their hospitality.
Ms Ardern has spoken publicly about what she thought of Meghan, who was pregnant on the tour in 2018, and said she was an “amazing woman”.
She said: “Pregnancy is an often tiring time, but the way she gave everything her all was incredible. She’s an amazing woman and I’m so glad to have gotten to know her.'”