There has been many speculations since the announcement of Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan, because it is no ordinary royal engagement.
The Bride-to-be, Meghan Markle brings something different to the British Royal Family.
She is American, divorced, an actress, mixed race and three years older than Harry.
Spouses of members of the British Royal Family are known for their stiff upper lip. They are expected to display fortitude in the face of adversity or exercise great self-restraint in the expression of emotion. It is highly unlikely that Ms Markle will keep that tradition. She is a campaigner with a variety of humanitarian interests and won’t want her marriage to limit her ability to speak out and support various causes – particularly those of gender equality. As an advocate for UN Women, Ms Markle has helped young girls to reach their leadership potentials.
Markle is of mixed race, and the world looks at her as black. Most mixed raced people are often classified as black; Barak Obama is an example. It doesn’t matter if one of your parents is white, people generally see the black side of you only. Markle’s mum is African American and her dad is of Dutch-Irish origin.
Meghan has written emotionally about her parents and about what it is like being a biracial person, and she has described how her father helped her stand up to people who demanded she choose one identity.
Some media coverage have described this as a morganatic or left-handed marriage, which is a marriage of people of unequal social rank. However, Prince Harry took the unprecedented step of issuing a public statement asking for privacy and describing some of the coverage as having “racial undertones” during the early days of their relationship.
A lot was made of Markle’s upbringing in an area described as gang-infested and a place riddled with racial tension in Los Angeles. However, the truth is that Markle grew up in a very middle-class neighbourhood of Los Angeles and attended a private Catholic school.
However, in many ways, she is still an outsider. Prince Harry did not follow a traditional path – he is not marrying the daughter of a grand aristocratic family.
His wife-to-be now has to negotiate her way through the British aristocracy, just like her future sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Fifth in line to the throne, Harry, 33 has been dating the 36-year-old TV star – who found fame in the US legal drama, Suits – since the summer of 2016.
What defines an age disparity in marriage has evolved and vary among societies. The age-disparity of Harry and Meghan has been regarded with a wide range of attitudes dependant on sociocultural norms. A study released in 2003 by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics concluded that the proportion of women in England and Wales marrying younger men rose from 15% to 26% between 1963 and 1998.
Royals rarely marry divorcees
Markle was married to actor and producer, Trevor Engelson. They got married on September 10, 2011, and divorced in August 2013. Historically, royals rarely marry divorcées. Ofcourse, we know that the Queen in 2005 permitted Prince Charles to marry fellow divorcée Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall. That was because the Church of England and the Royal Family have modernised their attitudes to marriage.
In 1955, Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister was forced to forgo her relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend, her late father’s equerry, because he had an ex-wife.
The only sibling of the Queen was told that she would have to renounce her rights of succession to go through with the wedding, and she ultimately chose to stay faithful to “the Church’s teachings at that time – that Christian marriage is indissoluble.”
Before then, King Edward VIII, Margaret’s uncle abdicated his throne after just 326 days of his reign as the king, only to marry American divorcée, Wallis Simpson.
Ms. Markle has been in a relationship with Prince Harry since June 2016. Although they spent time together last Christmas, the actress was not invited to spend Christmas with the Royal Family at Sandringham.
While some took Meghan’s absence at the family gathering as a possible sign of the Queen’s disproval, it was merely down to protocol. The Royal Family has a rule; a girlfriend has no place on the Queen’s Christmas dinner table until she is engaged. So, this Christmas, members of the Royal Family would welcome Meghan to dinner.
The engagement ring
Their long-anticipated engagement was announced by the Prince of Wales with a statement saying the couple, who have been dating for 16 months, will marry in the spring next year.
Kensington Palace said the prince designed Markle’s engagement ring himself – using two stones which belong to his late mother.
The two outside stones are diamonds from the personal collection of Diana, Princess of Wales.
At the centre is a diamond from Botswana, a country that holds special significance for Harry who has visited many times since he was a child.
It is also a place the couple has spent time together over the last year and a half, Kensington Palace said.
The band is made of gold, and the ring was made by Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers and Medallists to Her Majesty the Queen.
In September, Markle told Vanity Fair magazine, “We’re two people who are really happy and in love.”