'Harry & Meghan' romance gets the Lifetime TV treatment

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As soon as Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement last November, executives at U.S. cable television network Lifetime swung into gear.

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In two weeks, the first scripts were written for “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” a dramatization of their courtship that will premiere on May 13 as the jewel in the crown of a week of Lifetime programming ahead of the May 19 royal wedding in England.

Starring Scottish actor Murray Fraser as Harry and American Parisa Fitz-Henley as Markle, the television film is based on known events in the couple’s almost two-year romance, including their appearances together, Markle’s public speeches and entries from her former lifestyle blog The Tig.

It also weaves in imagined scenes, including their first blind date, an argument, a sex scene, Harry’s proposal and events with key members of Britain’s royal family, including the late Princess Diana; Harry’s brother, Prince William; William’s wife; Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth.

“There is so much drama in the real story we didn’t have to make a lot up,” said co-writer Terrence Coli.

Shot mostly in Toronto, where Markle was based while shooting the TV series “Suits,” the makers say the TV film is motivated by warmth and admiration for the couple. It follows a Lifetime biopic made for the 2011 wedding of William and Kate.

“One of the reasons that we love them so much is because they are a unifying force in a very divisive time,” said co-writer Scarlett Lacey.

Fraser, who had to drop his broad Scottish accent to play Harry, said he did not want to do a mere copycat of the tall, ginger-haired prince.

“I really wanted to see him as a human being who just happens to be a prince,” Fraser said.

Fitz-Henley said she saw Markle as “a really great example of confidence.”

Markle and Harry were not consulted in the making of the film, but the producers say the couple are aware of it and the producers hope they will see it.

“We admire them as a couple, so we hope they watch it and they think it is funny and sweet,” said Michele Weiss, one of the executive producers.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Rollo Ross; Editing by Leslie Adler