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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's private 'meadow' garden photo controversy explained

Misan Harriman was behind the lens of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's home pregnancy announcement

Prince Harry and Meghan walking through trees looking at each other
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
13 March 2024
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's photographer has broken his silence after it was suggested that he may have edited a picture of the royals in the garden of their Montecito home.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have only released a handful of carefully selected family images since stepping back as senior royals in 2020, and one of the most memorable was their pregnancy announcement in 2021.

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After relocating to America with their son Prince Archie, they purchased a $14.6 million (£11.93 million) home in Montecito, California. Since then, they have shared snippets of the interior and the sprawling grounds on social media and through their Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan. 

Before the documentary offered an access-all-areas look at the gardens, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had released a breathtaking photo announcing they were expecting their daughter Princess Lilibet.

WATCH: Prince Harry tends to private garden as Meghan Markle picks fresh flowers in wholesome home video

Lying on her back with her head resting in Harry's lap, pregnant Meghan looked radiant with her hand on her blossoming baby bump as her husband gazed lovingly down at her. The beautiful image was only made more perfect by the romantic backdrop, which included a grass lawn surrounded by lush flower beds and a willow tree that hung overhead.

After it was announced that the snap was taken in the couple's garden, fans were delighted to have an idea of the shrubbery and tranquil privacy the pair must enjoy – until it was hinted that the backdrop was not the original.

meghan entrance© Netflix
Harry and Meghan shared peeks inside their family house on their Netflix docuseries

Misan Harriman opened up about his remote photoshoots during the coronavirus pandemic on the Private Passions podcast, including the one he took of the royals. "My most well-known virtual shoot is the portrait I took of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announcing their pregnancy. It's a very joyous image.

"The technology allows you to take over a phone or iPad and they can hear my voice and I can still press a shutter and compose with ease," he explained to host Michael Berkeley.

meghan markle prince archie princess lilibet montecito home© Instagram
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex live with their two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet

Michael prompted Misan to discuss how the final image was achieved, asking: "They weren't actually under a willow tree, they were lying outside in a meadow, weren't they?"

To which Misan ignored any mention of their setting and sweetly explained: "Yeah they were lost in their love, at home, in their garden, comfortable, celebrating new joy, new life. The fortitude of hoping for light in life after such loss that they went through with the miscarriage."

During the chat, Misan added that in all of his "intimate" photoshoots: "I don't like retouching my images," adding that he encourages his subjects to share the raw unedited versions of themselves. When asked whether he's often asked to change anyone's appearance, he said: "No, I make sure that I let them know how beautiful they are."

However, after some began linking Meghan and Harry's supposedly edited 2021 image to the Princess of Wales' "doctored" Mother's Day photo, the photographer spoke out on Instagram denying the claims.

Archie in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's garden at their Montecito home© Netflix
Archie helped his father pick oranges at their Montecito home

"This is crazy," he said, "Any mention of meadows and willow trees came out of the person doing the interview, not my mouth. I did my best to ignore it and focus on what I wanted to talk about."

He finished by plainly stating: "The only thing that was changed was the black and white colour grade."

We got a better look at Harry and Meghan's outside space during their home videos shown in their docuseries. The property features a large lawn which Harry turned into a soccer pitch and a slip-n-slide for his children, as well as large trees and manicured hedges surrounding the area. 

Elsewhere there is an outdoor swimming pool, an al fresco dining spot surrounded by roses and huge Grecian plant pots out the front of the house.

DISCOVER: The royal photoshop controversy that went viral before Princess Kate's Mother's Day picture

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