The bride wore white. The interior, too, of St. George’s chapel where Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were wed, was awash in white, referring to the guests, who represented the cream of British society. “Cream,” of course, can be taken as shorthand for white, and the black people who did make it inside were too few to be called a “smattering,” so for all intents and purposes, it looked as though the “cream” was speckled with a few flecks of black pepper, TV-wise. If you were black and were inside the chapel, it’s most likely that you were (a) related to the bride, (b) a friend of the bride, (c) a member of the choir, (d) delivering a sermon, or (d) a black person with a marquee name. Much has been said and written about the bride being bi-racial and how her marrying into the British royal family represents the multi-culturalization of a thousand-year-old institution, but the thing is, Meghan Markle was the right shade of black, meaning she was half-white. Now if she were ebony….
I don’t think it’s fair to burden the new princess with such expectations as reforming the British monarchy in light of the changing composition of British society. Her entry into the royal family is symbolic, true, but if you think about it, what was Buckingham Palace supposed to do when presented with Harry’s choice of bride—say no? Of course not, an institution so attuned and dependent on public esteem is acutely aware that even voicing “reservations”
about the bride will incite whispers of snobbism, anti-Americanism, or worst, racism. Had such a union been proposed in the closing years of the last century, there would have been howls, of that I am sure, and the convenient excuse would have been the bride’s being a divorcee, and it was the issue of divorce that almost brought down the monarchy with Edward VIII’s abdication. But with Meghan Markle, what wasn’t there to like? Sure she was divorced, but so are all but one of the Queen’s four children. She’s educated, a working actress ergo a woman focused on her career, and a crusader for feminism and the environment, issues she was involved in long before she met her prince so there’s no dilettantism there. By any account, she is a worthy
addition to any family.
As for being an agent for change, of that I am not too sure. The new princess is lauded for being outspoken and opinionated, qualities which people expect she will bring to her new royal life. That is doubtful. Before her new status, Meghan Markle had the luxury of being able to speak her mind—her new status will curtail that. The royal family is not supposed to dabble in politics and their public statements are carefully prepped by government to ensure that their
pronouncements will not contradict official policy. Consider Prince Laurent of Belgium, for example. Early this year, the 54-year-old prince saw his annual £280,000 state allowance cut after he violated the Belgian government’s ban on royals’ meeting with foreign officials. Princess Harry—oddly, her official title—will likely contend with the same strictures. Her causes will be carefully vetted, and expect that when she does speak on public occasions, what
you will hear will be laden with pablum motherhood statements. Look at what Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has become: a Stepford—oh, sorry—Windsor wife.
You will notice, though, that the one person absent was the one ever-present. Diana, the mother of the groom, would have been 56 had she lived to see her youngest wed. All throughout, there were references, from the choice of white roses—reputedly her favorite—to
the engagement ring and bouquet, constant reminders of her influence—of her—gone, but not forgotten. However, for an institution that ate her up then spat her out, it’s sheer hypocrisy to capitalize on her sainted memory, almost as if the respect that was never accorded to her in life was being given to her now only because she was more useful to the Palace dead than when she was alive. (The only family I know that does that are the Cojuangco-Aquinos, whose repetitive invocations of the parents’ names I find tiresome and over-worn. Really, these cadavers deserve to R.I.P.)
Here is where we women who have wedded and have experienced marriage should offer Meghan some advice. Actually, Harry and his brother should know this intuitively from the example of their parents. Diana and Charles were the stars of what was billed as “The Wedding of the Century.” It was attended by pomp, circumstance, more pomp and, in hindsight, ghastly over-the-top extravagance. Then the marriage foundered, in the most acrimonious of divorces. Would things have turned out differently had the Waleses opted for a simpler ceremony with less fraught expectations of happily-ever-after? No one knows, but if there is one gem of wisdom that engaged couples should be told, it is that they should not mistake the wedding for the marriage.