Jacinda Ardern distances herself from Harry and Meghan over new Netflix show

London: New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved to distance herself from Prince Harry and Meghan, saying her involvement in a new Netflix documentary series on leadership had nothing to do with the couple.

Ardern, along with teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, is among seven “extraordinary leaders” interviewed on Live to Lead , presented and co-produced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Harry and Meghan meet with Jacinda Ardern during their 2018 tour. Credit:AP

The prime minister’s office has issued a statement that clarifies that her interview took place more than three years ago and that her involvement had nothing to do with the estranged royals, who were brought in at a relatively late stage of the project.

The documentary, made with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and inspired by the late South African leader, will be released by the streaming service on December 31.

It was made by the New Zealand-based production company Blackwell & Ruth and produced in association with the Sussexes’ production company, Archewell with the couple listed as executive producers.

“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,” the statement, first published by The Times, said.

“Originally we were advised the outputs would be printed and digital books, short films and audiobooks.

The interview was conducted on November 8, 2019 and in March 2020 a short book entitled Jacinda Ardern (I Know This to be True) was published based on the interview.

The statement explained that other participants also had their contributions published, including Ginsburg, Steinem, Thunberg and Stephen Curry, an American basketball player.

Ardern’s office said in March 2021 the Nelson Mandela Foundation advised they had secured an agreement with Netflix to broadcast the series of interviews, including the 2019 interview with the prime minister.

The fallout continues from the Netflix series Harry & Meghan. Credit:Netflix

“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,” the statememt said.

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

Amid the ongoing fallout of their six-part docuseries, which has reopened wounds between Harry and his father, the King, and brother William, the Prince of Wales, Harry is expected to embark on a mega media blitz to promote his tell-all memoir ahead of its release in the new year. He has also confirmed a handful of TV interviews, including with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper to air on January 8, just two days before the book, Spare, hits the shelves.

The couple appeared in an almost two-minute long preview for Live to Lead, clad in black against a white background for the seven-part series, which features Arden, who is one of 14 elected leaders throughout the British realm where the monarch is head of state.

“This was inspired by Nelson Mandela, who once said ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived’,” Harry says in the trailer. And Meghan adds: “It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.

While the royals have long fought for environmental causes, under Harry’s grandmother, the late Queen Elizabeth, they were cautious to align themselves with or endorse partisan political figures.

Likewise, Ardern would be wary not to be seen to pick a side in the ongoing royal feud.

Ardern met the Sussexes during their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2018, when the Duchess was pregnant, and later said she had been impressed by Meghan’s stamina.

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