Home News King Charles to honor Ted Sarandos despite Harry, Meghan and The Crown

King Charles to honor Ted Sarandos despite Harry, Meghan and The Crown

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It’s easy to imagine the speculation and conspiracy theories swirling around this odd bit of royal news: King Charles III is set to honor Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos with a prestigious U.K. award.

This news should certainly raise some eyebrows. After all, Sarandos runs the streaming giant that famously produced “The Crown” and paid Prince Harry and Meghan Markle millions of dollars to spill royal gossip and criticize the monarchy in their blockbuster docuseries “Harry and Meghan.”

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos arrives for the Film Independent Spirit Awards 39th annual ceremony in Santa Monica, California, February 25, 2024. (Photo by Valerie MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos arrives for the Film Independent Spirit Awards 39th annual ceremony in Santa Monica, California, February 25, 2024. (Photo by Valerie MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images) 

Both fans and detractors of the  Duke and Duchess of Sussex could wonder if the royal family is playing some kind of PR long game by giving Sarandos an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) “for his services to the creative industries,” as Variety and the Daily Mail reported. The CBE is one of the highest honors that can be awarded in the U.K., just a step below a knighthood, according to the U.K. Gazette. These U.K. honors, including honorary knighthoods and damehoods, have been given to other famous Americans in the past, including Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates and Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Sarandos’ name turned up in an “honors list” released by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last month, the Associated Press and Daily Mail reported. “Oppenheimer” Director Christopher Nolan and his producer wife Emma Thomas also are on the list after their blockbuster biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” swept the movie awards season. Nolan and Thomas have been named a knight and dame respectively.

King Charles III Inspects 200th Sovereign's Parade At Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
CAMBERLEY, ENGLAND – APRIL 14: King Charles III inspects the 200th Sovereign’s parade at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on April 14, 2023 in Camberley, England. The parade marks the end of 44 weeks of training for 171 Officer Cadets. It is the first time King Charles III has inspected Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst since becoming Monarch. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) 

Twice a year, the king announces a list of honorees, the Gazette said. The Daily Mail reported that the prime minister’s office provides input for honorees as does the the British Foreign Office, which recommends awards to non-British citizens. It’s the job of the king or another royal family member, such as Prince William or Princess Anne, to hand out the honors in person at a gala ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It’s not known though when such a ceremony will take place.

It’s easy to imagine the speculation behind Sarandos getting this honor. Perhaps, the royal family and the U.K. government wants to get on the media mogul’s good side and make him less inclined to support future Netflix projects that reflect negatively on the monarchy or that rehash painful past events.

In Harry and Meghan’s 2022 Netflix series, the California-based couple accused the royal family of dismissing their concerns about the U.K. tabloid media’s harsh, sometimes racist, treatment of Meghan. The renegade royal couple also portrayed Harry’s big brother, the future king, as being hot-tempered and accused him of conspiring against Meghan, while they said that Kate Middleton was not overly friendly when she first met Meghan.

Meanwhile, recent seasons of “The Crown” portrayed Charles as plotting to encourage his mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, to abdicate and of being jealous of Princess Diana’s star power. The show also dealt quite a bit with Charles and Diana’s tumultuous marriage, showing Charles’ sometimes callous treatment of his younger wife and his affair with the future Queen Camilla while still married. At least, the most recent season presented Charles in a more positive light — as a forward-thinker who wants to modernize the monarchy and as a caring, well-intentioned father to sons William and Harry.

Dominic West as the future King Charles in Netflix's 'The Crown.' (Courtesy of Netflix)
Dominic West as the future King Charles in Netflix’s ‘The Crown.’ (Courtesy of Netflix) 

The news of Sarandos’ CBE comes after “The Crown” wrapped up its final season in November and as a report last month described how Harry and Meghan are “wearing out their welcome” in Hollywood. The industry news site The Wrap reported that couple squandered opportunities with Netflix, Spotify and other media companies with their sense of entitlement, need for control and lack of experience, while failing to deliver on an early promise to produce hit movies, award-winning documentary series and high-minded podcasts.

The Wrap report also suggested that the couple’s $100 million deal with Netflix may be petering out, even though Bela Bajaria, the streaming company’s chief content officer, said in February that they have “a couple of unscripted things they’re working on.”

The Sussexes’ Netflix deal mainly yielded “Harry and Meghan,” which was a “legitimate” hit, The Wrap said. It set a record for the biggest debut for a Netflix documentary with a total 81.6 million hours watched on its first four days of availability, amounting to more than 28 million households watching, The Wrap said.

Unfortunately, production on “Harry and Meghan” was “difficult,” The Wrap reported. One source said that dealing with the couple was “a nightmare” because they were fiercely protective about how their story was told. “Harry and Meghan made the collaborative process very hard, to the point that there was no collaboration at all,” the insider said.

Netflix also produced the less popular but generally well-regarded “Heart of Invictus,” which focused on Harry’s international games for wounded service men and women. But other projects were shelved or are nowhere close to production, The Wrap said.

“Taking on Harry and Meghan was a great coup for Netflix,” U.K.-based public relations and branding expert Mark Borkowski told The Wrap. “It probably got a lot of eyeballs and subscriptions, but they (Harry and Markle) never delivered.”

While in the audience at the Golden Globe Awards in January, Sarandos was put on the spot for Netflix’s relationship with Harry and Meghan. In his monologue, host Jo Koy said that best actress nominee Imelda Staunton had done such a good job playing Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” that Harry had called her to ask for money.

Sarandos also was caught on camera laughing and shaking his head uncomfortably, when Joy quipped: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will still get paid millions of dollars for doing absolutely nothing — and that’s just by Netflix.”

 



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