A place of refuge. Prince Harry revealed that his and wife Meghan Markle’s stay at Tyler Perry’s house in 2020 was a secret from his family at the time.
“No one knew we were there,” Harry, 38, said during episode 6 of the Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan, which aired on Thursday, December 15. “We were there for six weeks and no one knew. My family still thought I was in Canada.”
The England native and Meghan, 41, reached out to Perry, 53, in March 2020 looking for a safe place to stay after the location of their new home in Canada was made public. Following their decision to step back from their duties as senior royals and move across the pond, the couple found themselves and their son Archie, born in May 2019, without any security.
“This was like a week before COVID and we’d been stuck at this house where everyone in the world knew where we were, unprotected, no security,” Harry explained.
The Tyler Perry’s House of Payne creator first became acquainted with Meghan when he reached out amid drama with her father, Thomas Markle.
“When my life changed and success started to come, family members became different people. I immediately empathized with her,” the filmmaker explained in Harry & Meghan. “This was before [the Sussexes’] wedding [in 2018]. And I sent her a note, just praying for her just to be able to move through it and hold on and let her know that everything in her life had prepared her for this moment, or so I thought.”
The Duchess of Sussex — who is estranged from her 78-year-old father — remembered Perry’s gesture of kindness and reached out to him for support when she and Harry were living unprotected in Canada.
“I could hear the fear. It was palpable. I mean, I could hear it,” the Madea star said, recalling Meghan’s phone call asking him for help. “So, I asked her, what was she afraid of? And she took a deep breath and she started listing the things. And I said to her, ‘Every one of your fears are valid.’ … She was afraid of them destroying her, or going crazy, or them making her think she was crazy. … I saw my mother be abused for years. I knew the symptoms.”
After the couple’s stay at Perry’s home, which Harry called “just bliss,” they’d grown so close to the Ruthless director that they asked him to be godfather to their daughter Lilibet, born in June 2021. The Louisiana native recalled being surprised by the inquiry.
“I had to take a minute to take that in. And I thought, ‘I’d be honored. I’d absolutely be honored,’” Perry said. “And I got off the phone, took it all in and then called them back. I go, ‘Uh, hold on a second. Does this mean we got to go over there [to the U.K.] and do all of that in the church with them and figure all that out? I don’t want to do that. … Maybe we can do a little private ceremony here and let that be that, and if you have to do it there, then that’s OK.’”
Before security concerns led Harry and Meghan to contact the Emmy winner, fears about their safety also contributed to their decision to transition away from royal life.
“By the nature of being born into this position and with everything else that comes with it and the level of hate that has been stirred up in the last three years — especially against my wife and son — I’m generally concerned for the safety of my family,” the Duke of Sussex explained during episode 1 of Harry & Meghan, which aired on December 8 along with episodes 2 and 3.
After the couple’s move to Canada, a royal insider told Us Weekly in February 2020 that Harry was “determined to protect” his family by moving across the pond, telling Us, “That was his No. 1 priority and that’s exactly what he’s done.”