His Royal Highness Prince Harry is about to get hitched to American actress Ms Meghan Markle, in what promises to be a global wedding extravaganza. The future Duchess of Sussex is a 36-year-old biracial American divorcee previously best known for acting in lightweight television fare.
But don’t compare her to the last divorcee to rock the royal family. Back in the 1930s, King Edward VII, as head of the Church of England, could not marry divorcee Wallis Simpson. The looming constitutional debacle resulted in the ‘The Abdication’, which saw the king renounce his throne, handing the reigns to his brother, who became George VI (father to QEII).
Even Harry’s own great Aunt, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, who fell in love with the married Captain Peter Townsend, was at the mercy of harsh religious and royal strictures. Margaret faced the choice of forfeiting her royal title and income and leaving the country for five years, or breaking it off with Cpt Townsend. Under significant familial and social pressure she ultimately chose the latter.
How things have changed. Kensington Palace sources have already confirmed that Harry and Meghan will have a full church wedding. In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given his blessing and while no date has yet been announced, the nuptials will most likely take place before June next year.
So it bears mentioning that this most stuffy and conservative of institutions has done a remarkable job of modernising itself in recent years. Prince William’s 2011 marriage to C= ‘commoner’ Kate Middleton, was one huge step away from the stricture for royals to marry from their own class. Although, let’s face it, Kate with her glossy hair and svelte silhouette, isn’t a massive imaginative leap from well-to-do upper middle-class to princess.
Ms Markle is yet another step in the direction towards modernity. Not only is she divorced and American, but she’s also had that most un-aristocratic of things, *gasp* a career. Yet, despite all that atypical background, this future royal is a PR’s dream. Obviously the brains of the operation, she’s beautiful, stylish and poised, as well as possessing serious philanthropic and feminist bona fides. It’s almost as if she’s been auditioning for this role for years.
It seems former wild child Harry could not have picked a more suitable applicant to re-inforce that modern cool prince vibe thing he has going. In fact, his choice of bride is almost a savant level manoeuvre. She ticks all the boxes required to conform to Modern Royals™ house brand, while gently bringing some totally on trend social justice flavour to the party. It’s a transatlantic marketing masterpiece.
So while we all await the next season of The Crown (to find out what happens to Princess Margaret), we can all have a bit of fun squealing about the latest royal dream couple.