The filmmaker, 53, opened up in the final episode of the Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan.
He said in 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle called him on the phone and made the request.
Tyler said Harry, 38, and Meghan, 41, “were pretty serious on the phone” when they called to ask, when usually their chats are more lighthearted. ”
Perry explained: “I go, ‘Okay, what’s going on?’ They said, ‘Well, we’d like for you to be Lili’s godfather.’ I go, ‘Whoa.’ I had to take a minute to take that in.”
“And I thought, ‘I’d be honored. I’d absolutely be honored,’ ” he added.
After getting off the phone with the couple and thinking about what they had asked, Perry said he realized he hadn’t thought of all that is involved, so he called back and made it clear that if it involves going to the UK and being in church with the royal family, then he would have to refuse.
He explained: “I called them back and go, ‘Uh, hold on a second — does this mean we gotta go over [to the U.K.] and do all of that in church with [the royal family] and figure all that out? ‘Cause I don’t wanna do that.’ Maybe we can do a little private ceremony here [in the U.S.] and let that be that, and if you have to do it there, then that’s okay.’ ”
Earlier in the episode, Perry said he first got acquainted with Meghan after he sent her a letter ahead of her wedding saying he was praying for her, amid the “hurtful” controversy surrounding her and her strained relationship with her dad, Thomas Markle.
He explained: “I couldn’t even imagine this woman finding the man that she loved, the man of her dreams, and him being a prince, and then to walk into all of that madness and need the security of family and then have your father do some horrible things.
“When my life changed and success started to come, family members became different people, and I know how hurtful and horrible it can be.”
He added that he “immediately empathized” with Meghan.
In the docuseries, Tyler Perry and Meghan recalled their first conversation on the phone years later, during which Meghan cried while opening up about how she felt she was treated in and by the media.
He said: “”To tell Meghan that I felt her feelings were valid, [that] hurt. I didn’t want to have to say that to her — I didn’t want her to feel that. But I didn’t want to lie to her. She was afraid of them destroying her, or going crazy, or them making her think she was crazy.”
Tyler said he recognized “symptoms” of “abuse” in Meghan, having witnessed his own mother being abused.
“This woman was abused. And so was he,” Perry said of Meghan and Harry’s treatment by the palace. “To use the institution to try and do all the things that a batterer would do — like, ‘Here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re gonna cut off the money, we’re gonna not leave you security, we’re gonna do all those things to make you comply and come back.’ ”
“And for the both of them to have the wherewithal to say, ‘I don’t give a damn if it’s the palace. I’m out of here.’ I applauded that,” Perry added.
When Meghan and Harry left the royal family in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they didn’t have a plan for a place to stay where they would feel safe with their then 1-year-old son Archie Harrison.
Perry then offered them his property in Los Angeles, California.
Harry told Tyler Perry: “You said, ‘Stay as long as you need to.’ We said, ‘Maybe we just stay forever.’ ”
Harry continued: “It was bliss, because no one knew we were there.”
Meghan added from behind the camera: “It’s secret, so at least during COVID-19 we can take the dogs for a walk and have a little slice of normal life.”