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Mr Obama and his wife Michelle are influential figureheads around the world, having spent eight years in the White House as the US President and the First Lady. The former President was able to get to know Prince Harry and his fellow senior royals through state visits to the UK. He also teamed up with the Duke of Sussex for the Invictus Games back in 2017.
Not only is Mrs Obama considered a source of inspiration and close friend to Meghan Markle, but the couple have just replicated the Obamas’ megawatt deal with Netflix to produce informative and “hopeful” documentaries, too.
The depth of the men’s friendship was put on display when Harry guest-edited BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in December 2017 and invited the former leader for an interview.
Harry asked what was going on in the outgoing president’s mind during Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony earlier that year.
Mr Obama said: “The first thing that went through my mind was, sitting across from Michelle, how thankful I was that she had been my partner through that whole process.
“You’ve got to know Michelle quite well and she is spectacular, funny, and a warm person.
“She’s not someone who was naturally inclined to politics, so in some ways, despite the fact that she was, I think, as good of a first lady as there has ever been, you know, she did this largely in support of my decision to run.
“And for us to be able to come out of that intact, that our marriage was strong, we’re still each other’s best friends, our daughters turning into amazing young women, the sense that there was a completion, and that we had done the work in a way that preserved our integrity and left us whole and that we hadn’t fundamentally changed…
“I think that was a satisfying thing, next to all the work that was still undone and concerns about how the country moves forwards.”
Harry and Meghan have portrayed their marriage in a similar way, with the Duchess of Sussex once referring to it as a “love story”.
Years before the couple decided to step away from the life behind royal lines, Harry asked Mr Obama: “How did it feel to step off that treadmill after so much blood, sweat and tears?”
BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond later noted there was a “note of wistfulness” in the royal’s voice when he asked this question, suggesting Harry may have been influenced by this key interview.
The former President replied: “It’s interesting, I always said to Michelle and I think she would agree with this, that it was some strange good fortune on our part, that we didn’t become famous or in the public eye in any significant way until we were in our Forties.”
He added that by that point he was a “grown man”, and settled.
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Mr Obama continued: “Michelle and I had the arguments that married couples have and so I think although the process was in some ways surreal, we were steady in knowing who we were and what we believed in and what was important.
“When I got off the treadmill so to speak, it didn’t feel like my life was wrapped up in having had this position.
“And my relationship with my family and my friends, the values that I cared about, felt pretty consistent, so the break did not feel as abrupt.”
Harry, in contrast, has been in the limelight all his life.
Mr Obama added that he enjoyed being free of the “pomp and circumstance of the presidency”.
Harry’s reluctance to be involved with the Palace machine has been commented upon several times since he left the royal frontline.
Commentator Mr Dymond said back in January: “Close up, it was painfully clear that there great chunks of the job [Harry and Meghan] simply could not stand.”
He added: “Harry hated the cameras and was visibly bored by the ceremonial.”
The Sussexes’ decision to follow in the footsteps of the Obamas with the Netflix deal has not gone unnoticed either.
The New York Times remarked: “Netflix executives have said the Obamas have also proved to be valuable as a magnet for other deals: In Hollywood, the cool kids want to be around other cool kids.”
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