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Duke and Duchess of Sussex's use of Mandela's name is 'upsetting and tedious', claims granddaughter

Ndileka Mandela attacks couple for using the late South African president in their new documentary to pull in ratings and fund their life

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela's widow, in Johannesburg in 2019 CREDIT: Chris Jackson/Reuters

The granddaughter of Nelson Mandela has criticised the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for using the former South African president’s name to pull in Netflix audiences in their latest documentary, saying: “It’s deeply upsetting and tedious.”

In an interview with The Australian, Ndileka Mandela, a social activist and writer, said she admired Harry and Meghan for having the courage to break away from the Royal family, but was left “deeply upset” by them using the leader’s legacy to fund their life in California.

Speaking from Johannesburg about the couple’s seven-part Netflix documentary Live To Lead — released on New Year’s Eve and inspired by the anti-apartheid campaigner — she said the Prince needed to follow his own script.

“Harry needs to be authentic and stick to his own story, what relevance does grandad’s life have with his?” she said.

“I don’t believe he nor Meghan have ever properly met granddad, maybe when Harry was young at Buckingham Palace, but they are using his quotations in the documentary to draw in people and make millions without the Mandela family benefiting.

“I know the Nelson Mandela Foundation has supported the initiative but people have stolen grandfather’s quotes for years and have used his legacy because they know his name sells – Harry and Meghan are no different from them.

“I admire Harry for having the confidence to break away from an institution as iconic as the Royal family. Grandad rebelled against an arranged marriage to find his own path in life.

“But it comes at a price, you have to then fund your own life, I’ve made peace with people using granddad’s name but it’s still deeply upsetting and tedious every time it happens.”

Ndileka Mandela said that Prince Harry 'needs to be authentic and stick to his own story' CREDIT: Maurizio Degl Innocenti/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

During a visit in 2015, Prince Harry told the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory: “I was fortunate enough to meet Madiba a number of years ago and I have treasured that memory ever since.”

Last July, he revealed he has a picture of his mother with Mandela on his wall, as he paid tribute to the anti-apartheid hero on Nelson Mandela International Day.

Diana, Princess of Wales, met Mandela in Cape Town just three months before her death in August 1997.

Harry observed his mother's “cheekiness” in the image as he paid tribute to the former South Africa president during a keynote speech at the UN headquarters in New York.

He said: “On my wall and in my heart every day is an image of my mother and Mandela meeting in Cape Town in 1997.

“The photo was presented to me by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. When I first looked at the photo straight away what jumped out was the joy on my mother's face, the playfulness, cheekiness even.

“The pure delight to be in communion with another soul so committed to serving humanity.

“And then I looked at Mandela, here was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

“Yet in that photo and so many others he's still beaming, still able to see the goodness in humanity, still buoyant with a beautiful spirit that lifted everyone around him.”

Nelson Mandela with Princess Diana in Cape Town in 1997 CREDIT: ANNA ZIEMINSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The couple’s latest series is part of a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix.

Before the release of Live To Lead, which profiles seven “leaders” as defined and picked by the couple, Netflix chronicled their exit from the Royal family in Harry & Meghan, which was the most-watched documentary in the streaming platform's history.

In the six-episode series, rolled out in two instalments, the couple criticised the monarchy and British media, claiming palace aides were prepared to lie to protect Prince William but not them.

The Duke also accused the publishers of the UK’s Mail on Sunday of causing his wife to miscarry.

Among those profiled in Live to Lead, which was produced in collaboration with Nelson Mandela Foundation, are the late Mandela, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the late US Supreme Court judge, and Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist.

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, agreed to be interviewed years ago by the foundation “producing resources for future leaders, with the focus on young leaders”.

She recently tweeted the first she knew of her being drawn into the Sussexes' project was when Netflix released the trailer for Live to Lead, which launched on Sunday.

A documentary called Heart Of Invictus, about the Duke’s Invictus Games, is also due for release next year.

Live to Lead comes ahead of the publication of the Duke’s memoir Spare on January 10.

The Duchess of Sussex claimed in a recent interview that a South African cast member from The Lion King’s 2019 production had told her the nation celebrated her wedding just like they did Mandela’s release from jail in 2013.

Ms Mandela, 57, head of the Thembekile Mandela Foundation, said the apartheid hero’s release from jail was “the culmination of nearly 350 years of struggle in which generations of our people paid with their lives (and) their (Prime Harry and Ms Markle’s) marriage can never be compared to the celebration of grandad’s release”.

“That’s chalk and cheese, there is no comparison,” she said.

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