As you know, we’ve been following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship quite closely. Other than the fact that we love all things royal, we’re particularly excited at how much the British monarchy have evolved.
Once staunchly traditional, Meghan’s introduction into the monarchy is another step in the royal family’s modernisation (a process that has been slow-paced thus far). It has been 81 years since a royal married an American divorcee, and the first time that someone of African American descent has married into the family.
Fiercely independent and an advocate for gender equality, Meghan’s new life as a member of the British royal family is particularly significant as it reflects current times – where questions of identity, the fight against racism, and the moving away from outdated traditions have taken the spotlight.
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Historically, the English royal family have always married within a certain group – other royals, aristocratic families, and always predominately Anglo. So, when Crown favourite Harry went public with his relationship with Meghan, the world was very pleasantly surprised. Meghan, whose mother is black and father is white, has spoken before of her identity and her experiences as a biracial woman, writing in Elle UK:
“There was a mandatory census I had to complete in my English class – you had to check one of the boxes to indicate your ethnicity … You could only choose one … My teacher told me to check the box for Caucasian. ‘Because that’s how you look, Meghan,’ she said … I couldn’t bring myself to do that … So, I didn’t tick a box. I left my identity blank – a question mark, an absolute incomplete – much like how I felt.”
Meghan’s introduction into the royal family has been celebrated by the black community, with women seeing her as a sign of hope after so many years of oppression.
She Is Older Than Prince Harry
Though it isn’t an age difference that would set tongues wagging, the fact that 36-year-old Meghan is three years older than 33-year-old Harry is still an exciting change from other royal couples.
Despite the age difference not being an issue, Meghan previously revealed in 2015 that she would often have to lie about her age in order to land acting roles, as women in the acting industry have a “shelf life.”
“I’m always told, ‘Don’t say your age’. I’m 33 and I’m really comfortable with that. I think if anyone has a problem then it’s their problem, not mine.”
Image via BBC
She’s Been Married and Divorced
Perhaps the most “scandalous” news to come out about Meghan is the fact that she is a divorcee, having previously been married to music producer Trevor Engelson. The two were married in 2011 before filing for divorce in 2013, citing “irreconcilable differences”. However, the news that a future royal bride-to-be had already been married once before carried less weight than what it may have 50 years ago, thanks to Prince Charles’ divorce of Lady Diana and subsequent marriage to Camilla Parker-Bowles, also a divorcee.
Image via The Sun
As the monarchy is also the Head of the Church of England (a Protestant Anglican church founded by Henry VIII), royals were forbidden to marry anyone outside of this. However, as of 2015, a new law was passed that removed male bias from the line of succession and the discrimination of Roman Catholics.
While Meghan was raised Catholic – she attended the all-girl Catholic school Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles – she will be both baptised and confirmed before their wedding on May 19th.
Image via People
Meghan hails from sunny California, which is a far cry from the often grey London. While Meghan will be the first American to be officially engaged to a member of the British royal family, she is not the first to come close. In 1939, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne and married the previously-divorced Wallis Simpson as the Duke of Windsor.
As the two were never officially engaged, Meghan claims the title as the first American to do so.
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She Lives with Prince Harry
As the royals continue to move with the times rather than against, things that were once considered taboo are now barely shrugged at. Breaking royal protocol, Harry and Meghan currently live together in Nottingham Cottage, a decision that would have been frowned upon not very long ago.
But they aren’t the first do this; William and Kate lived together for quite some time before they were married, a move which first showed how far the British royal family has come.
Image via ABC
She’s An Actress
An L.A. actress based in Canada and best known for her role in Suits, Meghan’s life has been a far cry Harry’s, who was thrust into the spotlight at a young age following the death of his mother, Diana. The welcoming of an American actress into the royal family gives the British Monarchs a Hollywood makeover and presents them in a more relatable light (just take a look at Meghan and Harry’s engagement interview compared to William and Kate’s).
While her naysayers (and thankfully there aren’t many) are quick to point out her risque scenes as Rachel Zane, her experience in front of the camera only helps to make her more appealing as she displays effortless charm in her media appearances. She’s also not the first actress to join a royal family, with Grace Kelly marrying Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956.
Image via USA Network