On Saturday 19th May, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in a small ceremony at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. In the grand scheme of things, it probably wasn’t that small. But compared with the weddings of Prince Charles and Prince William, it was certainly a less formal, more low-key affair. In many ways, this represents the couple themselves; neither of them are flashy, and both are more down to earth than many would expect royalty to be.
Having said that, there has still be a lot of comment on social media about the wedding, and not all of it is positive; there have been comments on Facebook calling Meghan a “gold-digger”, claiming that the new Duchess of Sussex is “low-class”, gambling over how long their marriage will last. This kind of comment was not given to either the Duchess of Cambridge nor to Lady Diana Spencer, at the time of their marriages, perhaps due to the fact that they came from supposedly ‘higher class’ families. Meghan Markle, therefore, poses a number of firsts for the monarchy; she is the first mixed-race woman to marry into the royal family, she is the first real commoner (despite being related to Edward III distantly through her father), and, possibly the most intriguing of all, she is the first American to marry into the monarchy. This, more than anything, shows how much the Windsors have changed.
In 1936, Edward VIII was forced to abdicate the throne, in order to allow him to marry the American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. The only difference in this is that Edward was king, while Harry is not expected to take the throne, as he is currently 6th in the line of succession after his nephew, Prince Louis. However, it must be said that this kind of change is an interesting one because now, the people who seemed more outraged about the Duchess of Sussex joining the royal family are the people of Britain.
Obviously, this is a minority view, but it is certainly saying something when one can claim that a supposedly archaic monarchy, according to some, can be more forward-thinking and less prejudiced than the subjects over which they preside. There have been countless comments through the years claiming that Kate, and now Meghan, are the new Dianas, but also exclamations that no one can fill the shoes of the “People’s Princess”. This kind of pitting of royal women against one another has been going on since the divorce of Charles and Diana, with many claiming the Queen and Diana hated each other. Further to that, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has been subject to some of the most negative and cruel comments of the entire royal family; while she did have an affair with Charles during his marriage to Diana, as his current wife, and one could argue, his soulmate from the start, she deserves far more respect than she is given. Camilla is actually a great example of royals working behind the scenes to make the world a better place; she supports and lends publicity to hundreds of amazing causes, such as helping victims of rape and sexual assault, and supporting literacy growth, amongst multiple other worthy charities.
At the moment, the royal family is proving that it has a place in the modern world; though many would say that this is due to the down-to-earth nature of the younger royals. Instead, I would argue that in actuality, the stabilising nature of the Queen, and her 66 year reign is what allows the next generation of royals the natural account of freedom as humans, in a way that the Queen has hardly ever been allowed to be.