The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have released the 2020 Archwell Audio Holiday Special ahead of the official podcast launch which is scheduled for sometime in 2021.
Harry and Meghan invited a slew of their famous friends, including Elton John, Deepak Chopra and James Corden — just to name a few — to reflect on what has been a tumultuous year.
Explains Meghan, “We thought, what if we can bring together some people that inspire us — people that we admire… and get their thoughts on what they learned from 2020.”
It was a year that refused to leave the couple themselves unscathed, with the pair facing mixed reviews in the court of public opinion after announcing they would be taking a step back from their royal positions and forging a new path for themselves.
The holiday episode of the forthcoming podcast is almost like a further extension of that question with the couple acknowledging that mental health has been at the forefront of our minds in a year marked by death, illness, isolation, economic disaster and political upheaval.
In a series of recordings, similar to spoken diary entries, Harry and Meghan’s guests share the challenges they faced in 2020, how they overcame them and the lessons they learned along the way.
Renowned professor, podcast host and best-selling authour Brené Brown explained the fear she experienced during the ongoing pandemic as she contemplated how best to protect her children from the mental health issues associated with social disconnection.
Anti-racism activist and authour Rachel Cargle recalled the fear and pain she felt as, in what she described as the height of the pandemic, she received the news that her mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was unable to have visitors due to the ongoing health crisis.
For comedian, actor and late-night host James Corden, there were some upsides to being in lockdown, one of which was discovering that he doesn’t suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out.)
“I’m very happy staying in, I could lose a day just staring at the corner of a rug. That’s what I’ve realised and I’ve been okay with that,” he said. Corden also spoke fondly about the joy he had found in spending time with his family and the way it had positively affected his relationship with them.
And while many a joke has been made about the prevalence of Zoom calls, happy hours and trivia nights, for Sir Elton John, they proved to be a crucial touchstone as he was unable to see friends and extended family.
The singer, who is considered high risk due to being in his 70’s and diabetic, explains that as a recovering alcoholic, he hosts AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) meetings in his home each Sunday and that shifting to video calls was a godsend.
“If it wasn’t for Zoom, I don’t know what we’d have done, I really don’t. It’s been a lifesaver,” Elton says, giving the platform the only testimonial it will likely ever need.
Perhaps the 33-minute audio offering could best be summed up by the legendary Deepak Chopra who muses, “My mantra now has to be love and action, that we should do something to help people. Because love without action is irrelevant and action without love is meaningless….What I am learning now is that humanity is ready for a new story.”
The episode undeniably veers into platitude territory more than a few times and can certainly feel over-earnest in its messaging but fans of the couple, and their impressive guests, will no doubt find satisfaction in its objectives.
Wrapping the podcast, Harry and Meghan remind their listeners that love wins, quote Dr Martin Luther King and share the song that played on their wedding day as they walked down the steps of the church.
Then, having saved the best for last, the young couple invite their son Archie to the mic to wish everyone a happy new year and to be honest, his adorable voice kind of makes me think we might actually have one.