What is it about the courtship and upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that just makes me happy? It’s not an easy thing for a jaded, forty-something like myself to admit that I could actually be smitten by a royal wedding, but it’s true. Believe me, I don’t get smitten (or use the word smitten) easily. Except for maybe Goldie Hawn because she is truly delightful in every way, but I digress. Though there are a plethora of “reasons” for me to root for and take some level of pleasure in watching this royal love story unfold, it has still taken me by surprise.
I vividly remember the Charles and Diana saga with all its pomp, circumstance and round-the-clock media coverage. I also recall the less scrutinized but just as attention-grabbing Andrew/Fergie spectacle. Both pairings captivated many and later took us all back down to Earth as reality stripped the fairy tales clean of their golden luster and big ’80s hair and shoulder pads. Once the truth was out, the masses again realized that happy endings are rare, even for royals.
Fast-forward to Prince William and Kate. It’s been seven years since their I do’s and how oddly normal they seem, happy even. It’s as if, somehow, despite the weight of the monarchy, international fame, fortune and yes, even good looks (such an albatross, I’m told), they are are not imploding under the pressure. They actually love one another and their love may even be growing as their family does. (Bear with me, I swear I’m not usually this sappy.)
Then along comes impish Prince Harry, the reason for my recent deep-dive into ‘Now-why-am-I-interested-in-these-people?’ terrain. Handsome Harry could easily have gone the way of entitled frat boy or international playboy at any point in his life. He’s a literal prince. Yet he didn’t. Enter Miss Rachel Meghan Markle, an L.A.-born actress and self proclaimed feminist. She has spent recent years dedicating herself to such humanitarian causes as gender equality, clean drinking water and other issues concerning global women’s empowerment. As if that weren’t enough, Miss Markle even admitted to succumbing to a 90210-inspired Doc Martens phase not all that long ago. Could she be more relatable?
Miss Markle is also biracial, which shouldn’t be relevant except that its seeming irrelevance to the world is in and of itself highly relevant. As the father of three mixed-race daughters (ages 7, 11 and 12) my first reaction to the news of the engagement was an eagerness to tell my girls about this new soon-to-be princess who is so much like them. Then I realized that biracial fact probably means more to me than it does to them. I imagine my girls would be just as nonplussed if Harry were marrying a man. The world they were born into is far from perfect but much less rigid than the one I knew at their age. Meghan’s biracial background is a lovely sidenote for my family. I know it means much more to many but it’s no longer a stigma and that’s the headline for me.
As the father of three mixed-race daughters (ages 7, 11 and 12) my first reaction to news of the engagement was an eagerness to tell my girls about this new soon-to-be princess who is so much like them.
I am certain we are by no means living in a post-racial world following President Obama’s two terms in the Oval Office. However, I do see signs of progress in the coverage of Miss Markle’s lineage. Her family tree has garnered more than a few mentions in the press but I personally never felt like it was something the future princess was playing up for publicity’s sake. That may be what first sparked a fuzzy feeling for me about this new breed of royal. Meghan is proud of her biracial roots and there are many young girls of color elated to see some of themselves in her. Further adding to Meghan’s relatability is the recent rash of estranged Markle family members ready to cash in on their proximity to her. I mean, who among us doesn’t have a jealous half sibling ready to spill all to a tabloid or an embarrassing dad?
I like that Harry and Meghan don’t seem to need us watching them all the time. They appear to go on about their lives, okay to let us look some but not clamoring for our constant attention. Kardashians they are not. I don’t feel them playing to the cameras. I’m sure they must, no one can be that “on” all the time but they seem to be doing it for the right reasons. They are speaking out, using their platforms on the world stage wisely and with what seems like humility and purpose.
Look, could I be wrong? Absolutely. Could this new couple turn vapid, fall prey to their own PR machines and be photographed canoodling with sexy new paramours on separate yachts in the Aegean Sea next Thursday? Maybe, but I don’t think so. However their story unfolds in the years to come on magazine covers, on TV screens and strewn across Internet gossip sites, I right now believe they are the real deal. I see them as young, hopeful, genuine, idealistic, caring and in love —And that thought gives me some level of comfort in a world where they may well be the exception rather than the norm.