Meghan Markle’s Elephant Documentary Is All About The Importance Of Family

It’s hard not to hear Meghan’s narration without thinking of her own relative drama, writes Hanna Flint.

Meghan Markle narrates DIsney+ documentary focused on a family of elephants

by Hanna Flint |
Updated on

Ever since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would be resigning their Royal posts back in January, the world has been wondering if Meghan would return to her Hollywood roots. Well, this week, the same week she and Prince Harry officially give up their HRH duties and titles, she has... sort of.

The former actor has lent her voice to one of Disney Plus’s new original natural documentaries about elephants living in the Kalahari desert in Botswana. Meghan recorded the voiceover last autumn and donated her fee to the Elephants Without Borders conservation charity located in the African nation where the film is set. It follows one particular herd of Kalahari elephants as they migrate across the desert in search of sustenance and safety in a land filled with predators, baking heat and dwindling resources.

Elephant has all the trappings of an entertaining nature documentary; stunning cinematography and footage filmed over months paint a brilliant portrait of these beautiful animals’ wild existence alongside lions, crocodiles, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and pretty much every creature you see in the opening sequence of The Lion King. Through fast-cut sequences and Meghan’s narration, it shows that these elephants’ continued survival in an unforgiving landscape is because of the knowledge passed down from their ancestors for millennia.

‘For elephants,’ Meghan says in the opening few minutes, 'family is everything.’ This familial unit is led by 50-year-old elephant Gaia, ‘a position earned through age and wisdom.’ Shani ‘is the oldest and wisest after her sister, the great matriarch,’ and Jomo is Shani’s one-year-old male calf who ‘has a lot to learn about being a part of the herd.’

Elephant will stream on Disney+
Elephant will stream on Disney+ from April 3 ©Disney+

‘Almost everyone here is related to Gaia: sisters, cousins, daughters, grandkids,’ Meghan says. ‘In this tight knit group, someone always has your back.’

It’s hard not to hear Meghan’s narration without thinking of her own relative drama. Unlike this herd of elephants, her relationship with her own family is not what anyone would call ‘tight knit’ by any stretch of the imagination. Ever since her romance with Prince Harry was revealed in 2016, she has had to deal with her estranged siblings and father repeatedly speaking negatively about her to the press.

She was once labelled ‘cold’ by her half-sister Samantha and called ‘duch-ass’ on Twitter, while her dad Thomas Markle has been an endless source of embarrassment by giving vitriolic interviews to news outlets with an obvious bias against her, staging paparazzi pictures ahead of her wedding in 2018 and leaking the private letters he sent her too.

Then there’s the Royal Family Meghan has married into. It has its own wise matriarch in Queen Elizabeth II, but the familial institution has seemingly not provided her, her husband or son Archie with enough of the support required to survive the unforgiving landscape of the British press.

Meghan's mother Doria has been a guiding influence
Meghan's mother Doria has been a guiding influence ©Getty

However, just like these elephants, she has had to adapt to the changing surroundings for the sake of her own family and may have looked to another matriarch in her life for guidance. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, has been a guiding influence throughout her life and has reportedly not just been a rock for her daughter but her son-in-law too.

So maybe the Duchess of Sussex does have something in common with the elephants she so passionately talks about. Her mother Doria is the Gaia of her family, a steely but loving force who has guided her daughter and son-in-law with the knowledge and experience she has gained by being a single mother and financially independent.

And Meghan herself is like Shani, learning as much as she can from her matriarch in order to become one herself and do right by her young son too. The Sussex family is now even more tight knit and, like these Kalahari elephants, they always have each other’s back.

Elephantwill stream on Disney+ from April 3

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