The granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Ndileka Mandela, has called out the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for using his legacy to promote their newest Netflix documentary, describing it as “deeply upsetting and tedious”.
In an interview with The Australian, social activist Ndileka Mandela admitted she admired Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for having the “confidence to break away” from the royal family, but criticised the couple’s involvement in the documentary series Live to Lead, which they say has been inspired by Nelson Mandela.
“I admire Harry for having the confidence to break away from an institution as iconic as the royal family,” Mandela told The Australian. “Grandad rebelled against an arranged marriage to find his own path in life. But it comes at a price, you have to then fund your own life, I’ve made peace with people using grandad’s name but it’s still deeply upsetting and tedious every time it happens.”
Mandela, 57, revealed that her family has not received monetary compensation for the documentary. The writer also said that Prince Harry needed to be more “authentic” and follow his own story, and believed that the couple never “properly met” her grandfather.
“Harry needs to be authentic and stick to his own story, what relevance does grandad’s life have with his?” she said. “I don’t believe he nor Meghan have ever properly met granddad, maybe when Harry was young at Buckingham Palace, but they are using his quotations in the documentary to draw in people and make millions without the Mandela family benefiting. I know the Nelson Mandela Foundation has supported the initiative but people have stolen grandfather’s quotes for years and have used his legacy because they know his name sells – Harry and Meghan are no different from them.”
Live to Lead, which premiered on Netflix on 31 December, profiles seven “leaders” who are committed to making a difference in the world, not including Nelson Mandela. However, the docuseries is said to be inspired by the South African anti-apartheid activist.
In the trailer, Prince Harry says: “This was inspired by Nelson Mandela who once said ‘what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived…”
Meghan completes the quotation, saying “…it is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead’”.
The series is produced by Prince Harry and Meghan in collaboration with their production company, Archewell Productions.
Despite Ndileka Mandela believing that the duke has never properly met her grandfather, Prince Harry has often spoken highly of Nelson Mandela and honoured him at the United Nations on Nelson Mandela Day.
During a trip to New York City last July, Harry delivered a special address at the UN in which he revealed that he has a picture of his late mother Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela hanging on his wall.
“We’ve also come to know him through the photographs of a person who, even when confronting unimaginable cruelty and injustice, almost always had a smile on his face. For me, there’s one photo in particular that stands out,” Prince Harry told the assembly. “ On my wall, and in my heart every day, is an image of my mother and Mandela meeting in Cape Town in 1997.”
According to Prince Harry, the photo was given to him by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who he and Meghan met, alongside their son Archie, in 2019.
Prince Harry also shared that when he first looked at the photo, “straight away what jumped out was the joy on my mother’s face”.
“The playfulness, cheekiness, even. Pure delight to be in communion with another soul so committed to serving humanity,” he said. “Then I looked at Mandela. Here was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, asked to heal his country from the wreckage of its past and transform it for the future. A man who had endured the very worst of humanity, vicious racism and state-sponsored brutality. A man who had lost 27 years with his children and family that he would never get back. 27 years. Yet, in that photo and so many others, he is still beaming. Still able to see the goodness in humanity. Still buoyant with a beautiful spirit that lifted everyone around him.”
In August 2022, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zwelivelile Mandela, disputed Meghan Markle’s claim that people in South Africa “rejoiced in the streets” after her marriage to Prince Harry.
The duchess recently toldThe Cut that a South African actor from the cast of the 2019 live-action version of The Lion King pulled her aside during the London premiere.
“He looked at me, and he’s just like [right],” Meghan recalled. “I just need you to know: When you married into [the royal family], we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.”
However, Zwelivelile said the joy of Black South Africans who celebrated Mandela’s release in 1990 “can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding”.
“Madiba’s celebration was based on overcoming 350 years of colonialism with 60 years of a brutal apartheid regime in South Africa. So it cannot be equated to as the same,” he told the MailOnline. “Nelson Mandela’s release from jail was the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives. It can never be compared to the celebration of someone’s wedding.”