Harry and Meghan’s Master Class on Real Change

A few months ago a neighbor and I got to talking about Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, known on this side of the pond as Meghan Markle. My neighbor is like me in a way: much more abreast of the happenings with the Windsors than typical Americans.

“She is going to break under the pressure.” And as for Harry, “I feel like he’s going to stray.”

I wasn’t so convinced, on either count. Let’s take a deeper look at who we’re talking about, if I may as a realist with an optimistic inclination. She’s achieved respectability and success as a TV actress in Hollywood. It’s an industry notorious for subjecting women to intense scrutiny, and doubles down on that scrutiny with extra disrespect when it comes to Black and mixed-race women like Meghan. I’ve seen everything from wildly rude and catty red carpet slights, invectives hurled in the comment sections of women’s online magazines to racist insults and death threats on social media. Hopefully, the devouring pressures of Hollywood might have prepared Ms. Markle for what was to come of life in The Firm, as the British royal family is known? And besides, her husband is a distant heir to the throne. His whole close family would have to pass away for him to ascend. Without the heavy weight of the crown in his future, it seems like the Sussexes could carve their own path in a way that protects their family and confers more dignity to that institution status.

Well, it looks like my neighbor and I were both right, in different ways. Meghan has been unhappy, as my neighbor thought. She isn’t putting on a stiff upper lip and facing down the press, like I thought she would, though.

Together with her husband, Meghan announced a plan to address their dissatisfaction on Instagram.

And then came that clip from the behind the scenes documentary of their travel to Africa, in which Meghan explained to the interviewer that things are tough, and very few people really ask about how she is doing. It should have been a reality check for a lot of royal watchers. But like Americans and their fervent obsession with their guns, regardless of how many lives are sacrificed, the Brits don’t care whose lives are tormented, as long as they get their royal fix. Their feeble and threadbare justification is that taxpayers pick up the tab for the Sussexes’ security, travel and living expenses. I bet none of these mixed-race yahoo-neanderthals even know what kind of an impact crater these costs are leaving in their household budgets. Even if they knew the few pence they have to part with per annum, none of that would entitle the public to their ravenous, voyeuristic obsession with every aspect of the Sussexes’ lives or the openly racist insults that have been hurled at Ms. Markle and her son. But what can you expect from that ilk.

A lot of people conveniently forget that Prince Harry has survived public scandal, had public relationships and he has matured into a grown man who will make his own decisions. More than likely Ms. Markle appeals to an independent streak, and a willingness to be more connected to the world of possibilities, instead of tied to frigid, overcast England, the institutions that come with being the king, and the bloodsuckers called the British press.

Remember all the hullabaloo and fuss after the Cambridges’ wedding, when Will drove that Aston Martin from the wedding, and how the press gushed that ‘this is a modern couple doing things their way?’ The Brits have a pretty low bar for what it means to be ‘independent,’ don’t they? 

What tickles me is to watch some of these grown women barely conceal their bitterness that a commoner, a biracial American divorcee and former TV actress not only married the Prince of England, but “lure him away” so that they couldn’t get their daily “bash a royal” fix.

Oh, England. Take a clue — or several — from other European royal houses and chill.

So! This is a wise move on the part of the Sussexes. Hopefully, all things will work for their advantage for the most part. 

And tell me, if the British monarchy receives the mother of all shake-ups and is abolished, say, before Prince George can take the throne, whom do you think will be better positioned to adapt to private, financially independent lives? A couple where the wife established her wealth, success and respect before she married her prince, or a crown prince and the perfectly nice wife who never did?  

 

Meghan Said ‘Yes’ to Prince Harry’s Proposal!

Blame it on my tea-drinking commonwealth heritage or my love of Jane Austen, monogrammed stationery, and bone china. But when the British royals announced on Monday that American actress and humanitarian Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are engaged, I took notice.

Meghan Markle and Prince Henry of Wales spilled the news outside of Clarence House in London.

We should have all suspected that Ms. Markle was going to get a special ring (and it is special, let me tell you!) when faithful monarch watcher Vanity Fair reported last month that Meghan intended to move to London, give up her acting career and focus on philanthropy full-time.

It’s almost another Grace Kelly type of situation, where an American actress married into a reigning European monarchy and the already intense media curiosity was turned up quite a few notches. Ms. Markle is widely popular due to her work on the successful TV show “Suits,” via STARZ, and her long record of admirable humanitarian and philanthropic work.

Why do we care? Down-to-earth Meghan is one of us.

One of the reasons Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s engagement is attracting interest — aside from his lineage — is her lineage: She is biracial, with an African-American mother and a white father. On that historical side note, the couple is not a ‘first.’ Prince Harry comes second to Prince Maximilian of Liechtenstein in scooping up an African-American bride. He married then Angela Gisela Brown, a New York fashion designer, in 2000. Her Serene Highness Princess Angela is first person of known African origin to marry into a reigning European monarchy. They have one son, Prince Alfons Constantin Maria of Leichtenstein.

They’ve got a growing teenager on their hands!

It’s hard to tell what it is about American women that have these two European princes besotted, but they are obviously happy.

How the news unfolded

Technically, His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales – or Prince Charles to the common folk and foreigners – announced the engagement of this very adult couple. Apparently, they will have the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in May 2018, and life afterward at Nottingham Cottage in Kensington Palace.

I must say … I like how these Windsors set up their chapels and ‘snug’ cottages.

Kensington Palace, the residence of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, announced the statement from Meghan’s parents, Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle.

The Independent, one of Great Britain’s more well-regarded newspapers of record, has all kinds of details about the engagement and the ring, but here is a photo: 

It’s pretty special, with the large center stone from Botswana (they recently vacationed there) and the two outer stones from the private collection of Lady Diana, formerly HRH Princess of Wales.

You could say that the engagement breaks with centuries of British royal tradition, and it does. Markle is divorced. Also, her African lineage on her mother’s side could make the royal family more diverse and, according to some, reduce some of the stigmas that some Black British citizens have felt living in that society.

I don’t know about that last part, though, racial issues aside. Perhaps contemporary non-white Britons have been so fed up with the other side of what the Windsor family represents — a lineage enriched by centuries of England oppressing foreigners and its lower classes — that the monarchy is far less enthralling as it used to be. One tourist from Los Angeles who was outside Buckingham Palace when the news broke said:

“It’s exciting that he’s engaged to an American, I think that’s every American girl’s dream,” she said. “Now there’s hope for us Americans, for American girls.”

Is it every American girl’s dream to fall in love with and marry a wealthy prince? I don’t agree, for the obvious reason that young girls have a vast array of accessible dreams to them today. Girls of African descent, in particular, are taught to put their hope and trust in their own abilities and not to entertain too many hopes of being swept away by a rich, handsome husband. Especially not in modern American society, where it takes two incomes to live well. That was the case with both Princess Angela and Meghan Markle. They were both super accomplished professionals before their merit landed them in the company of these to-be-smitten princes.

Of course, when Black women grow up they are not above bestowing the affectionate term ‘my king,’ or ‘my Boaz’ on their husbands. But that is for a later conversation about the differences between Black womanism and white feminism.