The new Netflix series Harry & Meghan has been controversial.
Some like it, some hate it.
What’s clear is that it’s not quite what anybody expected.
Prince Harry, in particular, indisputably comes across as a mature young man with considerable integrity.
Here are the top signs that he’s a real leader who won’t back down in the face of pressure or the sway of public opinion.
1) Willingness to serve
The first of the signs of genuine leadership shown by Prince Harry in the Netflix documentary is the fact that he’s not all about himself.
Harry knows his life is far from typical and comments on that numerous times.
But he also strove from a young age to escape the royal rat race, including by going to volunteer in Lesotho, Africa and by getting involved in charities.
Eventually he entered the military, but instead of the short and ceremonial officer’s stint at Sandhurst such as that done by his brother, Harry actually became a soldier.
Harry served in the British military for 10 years, including two tours in Afghanistan, achieving the rank of Captain.
He acknowledges that this set him apart from many members of his family who didn’t have the same length or type of experience among the armed forces.
Harry considers the lifelong friends he met in the military and on deployment to be his “second family” and he bonded with them in a very deep way.
As he said, living and working with normal and working class people in life or death situations changed him completely.
“The bubble within the bubble that I grew up in got burst.”
2) Admitting his mistakes
Harry & Meghan has drawn some criticism for supposedly being “woke” and promoting a viewpoint that’s critical of traditional institutions of power including whiteness as a social and racial force.
Nonetheless, nobody of any ethnicity would argue that the British royal family has historically been an imperial machine of fearsome force, underlaid by deep strains of racism and injustice.
Despite many considerable accomplishments, there’s no doubt that the British Empire was at least partly stratified along racial lines, with the king and queen at the top.
Harry acknowledges that his background blinded him to the experiences of many people, including those who were not white or rich.
As he said, “we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”
This is a definite sign of maturity and leadership, because whether or not you agree with Harry about racism against Meghan and the issues with the modern royal family, him owning up to his own privilege and background is the sign of a mature leader.
3) Willingness to work through a difficult relationship
Prince Harry and Meghan fell in love quite fast and quickly realized they weren’t just interested in a fling.
But the odds were stacked against them from the start, including the vicious rumor mill fed by the press and the “royal correspondents” working together with Buckingham Palace gossip-mongers.
This made the relationship hard, as did the later issues with Meghan’s family, including her dad selling out to the press and starting a lot of fake drama over his own daughter.
The sad thing about much of it was that it really had nothing to do with Harry and Meghan or their love for each other.
But all of this drama still impacted them greatly.
Despite that, Harry and Meghan find a positive and proactive way to look at their relationship and stayed together.
In fact, they see their union as a coming together of two wholes. Both were interested in activism and volunteering long before meeting and choose to focus on their mutual strengths and natural affinity for each other’s missions in life.
As Harry puts it:
“What she was doing, what I was doing, that sort of all came together in this beautiful matrimony.”
4) Brutal honesty
Prince Harry shows leadership in this documentary by being brutally honest.
Some are accusing him of airing dirty laundry or being overly dramatic, but if anything he’s very restrained.
He’s simply telling the truth about how his late mother Diana was mercilessly hounded by the bloodthirsty press…
About how his new wife was racially and personally slandered by some palace insiders and the press in various ways…
He’s telling the truth about his own experience in the world and how he’s come to see it.
That doesn’t mean he believes the royal family is all junk or that he completely dismisses a potentially positive and beneficent version of the Commonwealth.
It simply means that he’s willing to “go there” in terms of the issues with royalty, wealth, privilege and ethnicity.
At one point in the series, for example, Meghan talks about how bizarre it was for her to learn to curtsy and pay so much deference to the queen, something many Americans can likely relate to.
Harry looks slightly uncomfortable and doesn’t laugh about it, even though he may agree to some extent.
The point is that he still recognizes some real respect for royalty and for his late grandmother. He’s just choosing to open up honestly about the problems as he sees them.
5) Refusing to be emotionally blackmailed
Meghan experienced suicidal depression after giving birth to Archie, partly as a result of media persecution and the abuse coming at her from family members and the rumor mill.
Harry was under enormous pressure to get her to stop speaking out at all and to fall completely into line with royal protocol.
As the series points out, however, Meghan was often blamed for tiny protocol breaches that William’s wife Kate Middleton was praised for.
This double standard is troubling enough on its own.
But the way that Harry and Meghan were pressured into just taking any poor treatment they received and shutting up about it was certainly ugly.
However, one of the 10 signs of genuine leadership shown by Prince Harry in the Netflix documentary is that he completely refused to be backed in a corner or emotionally blackmailed.
In fact, the more he was told to shut up and stop whining about racism and media treatment, the more he spoke out loudly about it.
6) Loving without codependency
Relationships are hard, and even serious love can quickly turn into codependency.
This is where one or both partners depend on each other for their well-being and sense of self.
But Harry and Meghan don’t do this.
In the documentary and according to their friends, their strong bond isn’t at all codependent.
They trust each other and rely on each other in many ways, but they don’t expect each other to fix their lives or provide happiness.
“H and I are really, really good at finding each other in the chaos,” Meghan notes in episode 4.
They are both strong individuals and both offer a lot to the relationship.
They’re stronger together, but they’re never helpless or weak alone, and that’s the key that seems to make them work.
7) Honoring family
Some critics have said that the new series is a cash grab and that Harry is disrespecting his family by airing out the dirty laundry of why he and Meghan choose to live their own lives in the United States instead of staying in the royal circuit.
However if you look at this objectively then it becomes clear that Harry is actually honoring his family above and beyond anything else.
He repeats that he wants to do what’s best for he and his family a number of times, meaning Meghan, he and his baby Archie.
But if you think about it, Harry is also honoring his late mother Diana. Instead of allowing his wife to potentially come to a tragic end as his mom did, Harry took brave steps to protect her.
Instead of putting his royal role above his husband’s role, he’s putting his wife and kid first.
8) Marrying for love
There’s no doubt that Harry married for love, similarly to his father Charles.
However, while Charles resettled into a more royal role and tried to avoid controversy, particularly following his split from Diana, Harry still remains a major focus of media and public attention.
This is part of the reasons for the Netflix series, according to Harry’s telling: he wanted he and Meghan to really have a widely-accessible platform for telling their side of the story.
While parts of what happened with them and the royal family have leaked out, Harry wanted to make sure he and his wife had their voices fully heard and were able to talk about what happened.
There’s no doubt that Harry could have married someone who was less controversial, British, fully white and wouldn’t have raised so much interest or potential controversy as Meghan.
But he didn’t. He married for love.
That’s what a leader does: stays true to their heart and what they truly want, even if everyone else is shouting in their face that they’re an idiot or wrong.
9) Being an attentive and involved father
Another of the undeniable signs of genuine leadership shown by Prince Harry in the Netflix documentary is that he is a good dad.
It’s clear that young Archie is a focus of he and Meghan’s life and brings them both enormous joy.
Not all men want to be that involved in their young son or daughter’s life, but Harry does.
Showing real leadership in society, profession and one’s relationship is admirable.
Showing it in parenthood is another step further and it seems hard for anybody not to admire how Harry plays an active role in his young son’s life.
Harry’s a good dad and that’s something that audience members can look up to with inspiration.
10) Making your own path in life
Next in the top signs of genuine leadership shown by Prince Harry in the Netflix documentary is the idea of forging your own path in life.
Harry was born with his life already all set out before him.
He could have just smiled, shook hands and coasted for the rest of his life, living as a privileged royal and never stepping out of line.
He could have married who he was expected to and just played the privileged game.
But he didn’t…
Harry watched his mom being chased and gossipped to death and experienced the hardship of divorce and young adulthood, getting in trouble and even physically clashing with the press.
These factors and his own strong personality led him down a different route.
He ended up making his own path, and in the end this turned out not to be very acceptable to the royal family.
The idea that he’s parted ways and gone his own way for the sake of getting more famous and money makes no sense.
He’s done it because he says that following his own unique path in life is what’s meaningful to him and what he believes is necessary to protect his family and wife.
Harry’s blazed his own trail in life, and eventually every man has to decide to some extent whether he will make his own path or follow those already trodden by everyone else.
Being a true leader
Being a true leader is ultimately about being willing to learn and to serve.
Those who push others around are not leaders by any means, even if they have power.
Experiencing the downsides of royal power and growing up in a famous family caused Harry to seek alternative avenues for becoming a man and a leader.
He found those avenues in Lesotho and the military, and became a true leader.
As friends said, the main thing that surprised them was that Harry succeeded in having such a beautiful and intelligent woman fall in love with him.
But that’s what happens when a man becomes truly sophisticated, strong and mature.
In the end being a true leader isn’t about the recognition or the titles. After all, plenty of people criticize Harry and take cheap shots at him as well or call him a woke joke.
But he’s still much more of a leader than many modern men will be, and the reasons are above.