Britain is built on a foundation of tradition. We still say sir and madam. We still change the guard. We still wait until someone is using the hand dryer to use a public toilet cubicle. Well today tradition took a left hook to the jaw as it was announced that Prince Harry will be marrying Meghan Markle – an American, an actress, a divorcee, a “commoner”, and woman of colour.
This is a defining moment for the British Royal Family. A real sign of the modernisation of a dynasty that still keeps a billion dollar hat encased in a medieval keep. A lot of people are now saying that this will be a unique platform for her – but is the actual reality that this is a unique platform for the Windsors? A way to show the doubters and modernists that the Royal Family can persevere after the end of the empire, and at the beginning of a new aware, digital, and outspoken world.
We live at a time when the abolishment of the British Royal Family is a whispered, but constantly pondered political issue. The main reasons against disbanding are always the same – tradition, tourism and international relations. The reasons for are always the same – outdated, expensive, and out of touch. Could an announcement like today’s swing the balance? I think so. I think this is the perfect opportunity for the Royals to maintain their apolitical poise, but to also publicly acknowledge that colour and background are non issues. I think we can all agree that senior Royal statements always sound pre-written, forced, and stagnant. This could now be the time for actions to speak louder than words.
The Queen and Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Prince William and Catherine, and other members of the Royal Family have already released statements on how “thrilled” they are and how they wish the couple “every happiness”. No delayed responses. No strategic statements or withholding detail. Just seemingly genuine family sentiment. At a time of such racial division both in the US and the UK, for the world’s most famous and influential family to embrace and accept a black woman into their otherwise ivory towers is a leap forward for breaking perceptions and showing that they too are growing up and getting with the times. A hard thing to do when you live in palaces and have a solid gold coach on standby at all times. Just ask Elton John.
I also believe that the way forward is not to smash tradition, but to add to it. What I’m not suggesting is that the couple should get married in a registry office and have the reception at Wetherspoons. I think that a Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s wedding is fitting and important – because that means they are treating Meghan how we treated Kate. And so we should. Let’s not forget that Kate only became a much-loved humanitarian after her engagement. Meghan has been speaking and campaigning for women long before she met the World’s most eligible bachelor. Could she become a modern age Diana? It may not be as silly as it sounds.
Today’s news has excited me. Not because I’m a bumbling royalist who wants an extra bank holiday, but because I think this could be the revitalisation that the senior members of the Royal Family need.
I guess only time will now tell what happens next.