The public loves a royal wedding.
People from around the world who know nothing about the British monarchy get swept up in the hysteria.
Soon they’ll have a chance to overdose on another royal wedding extravaganza, and the bride-to-be is someone you wouldn’t expect.
It’s not too surprising that former “bad boy” Prince Harry is settling down. But it is surprising that he’s marrying a divorced American actress, something that would’ve been truly scandalous in years past.
From The New York Times:
He is a flame-haired former wild child, who courted controversy in his youth by smoking cannabis and by once wearing a Nazi uniform to a party. She is a biracial, divorced actress from abroad. Together, they are taking the British monarchy — that most conservative of institutions — into a more modern era.
Prince Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and fifth in line to the throne, is engaged to Meghan Markle, his American girlfriend, the royal family said on Monday.
The prince, 33, and Ms. Markle, 36, will marry in the spring, a statement from Clarence House added.
Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are expected to be known as the duke and duchess of Sussex after they are married, according to the British news media, although she may be known informally as Princess Meghan. If Prince Harry were to decline the dukedom, he would remain Prince Henry of Wales — his official name.
The pair have dated for more than a year, and made their first official outing together in September in Toronto at the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style competition for wounded or sick members of the military and veterans.
Like his brother, Prince Harry grew up in the public eye, first as a son of the heir to the throne, and then as an adolescent struggling over the loss of his mother, Princess Diana, who died in a car accident when he was 12. His grief played out in what he described as “total chaos” in his 20s, a period that was gleefully pounced on by the tabloids.
The relationship of Prince Harry and Ms. Markle also has been the subject of intense scrutiny.
The announcement of their engagement ended days of fevered speculation by the British news media, some of which, in anticipation of the event, tried to find any royal connection with Ms. Markle. (The Daily Telegraph breathlessly reported an unverified study showing that Ms. Markle’s ancestor was an aristocrat who was beheaded by Henry VIII, a distant relative of Prince Harry.)
But other stories about Ms. Markle’s ethnicity and middle-class background — her mother is a black yoga instructor and her father is a white cinematographer — have drawn the ire of the royal family. The prince himself issued an unusual statement last year, denouncing the “racial undertones” of news coverage of Ms. Markle.
Prince Harry’s reputation has changed markedly in recent years. In his younger days, he acknowledged wanting to be a “bad boy,” but he has emerged as possibly Britain’s most popular royal.
The unusual couple also met in the most unusual way considering his status as a royal: a blind date.
In their first interview since the announcement, Ms. Markle revealed that she had very little understanding of the British royal family and its significance.
“I didn’t know much about him,” she told the BBC, referring to her fiancé, adding that the pair had been set up on a blind date by a friend.
“The only thing I asked her was, ‘Was he nice?’ ”
Their relationship is not the first in which a British royal has fallen in love with an American partner who had been married before.
King Edward VIII caused a constitutional crisis in 1936 before he abdicated to marry the American socialite Wallis Simpson, who was divorced. The Church of England at the time opposed the marriage, and the king chose love over his royal duties, with his brother taking his place to become King George VI.
Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, divorced in 1996.
Prince Harry served on active duty in the British military for about a decade, rising to the rank of captain. He served two tours in Afghanistan, where he co-piloted an Apache helicopter and was a weapons officer.
She is best known for her roles in the television legal drama “Suits” and in the science-fiction series “Fringe,” and she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in September. Ms. Markle is also notable for her charitable work — she is a global ambassador for World Vision Canada — and she has worked for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
It appears Prince Harry has matured from his turbulent youth, and the pair seems to be grounded and happy.
The media scrutiny will likely be unbearable, so all the best to the newlyweds-to-be.