United Kingdom: A royal wedding unlike any other
With a glorious wedding that mixed two cultures, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle swept “the cobwebs from the dusty old House of Windsor,” said Rachael Bletchly in the Daily Mirror. Markle—a divorced, biracial American actress who, at 36, is three years older than her prince—began the ceremony with a break from tradition, walking herself partway down the aisle before being escorted by Harry’s father, Prince Charles. Much of the rest of the wedding played up the bride’s African-American heritage. Reading from an iPad propped on the lectern in Windsor Castle’s 15th-century St. George’s Chapel, the “flamboyant” Bishop Michael Curry—the first black leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church—invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in a rousing sermon on love that left some royals visibly startled. A gospel choir “sang and swayed” to “Stand by Me,” and black British cello prodigy Sheku Kanneh-Mason played at the register signing. The 600 guests were a blend of Hollywood glitter—including the cast of Suits, the TV show Markle gave up to become a royal, as well as the Clooneys and Oprah Winfrey—and British peers. The multiracial gathering looked much more like modern Britain than any previous royal wedding.
But only the bride’s elegant mother, yoga teacher Doria Ragland, represented her family, said Piers Morgan in the Daily Mail. That’s because her white relatives had “behaved like the worst kind of vile, dysfunctional, money-grabbing misfits.” Her father, Thomas—who split from Ragland when Markle was 6—disgraced himself by staging tabloid photos; her half-sister, Samantha, wrote a grubby book; and her estranged half-brother, Thomas Jr., published an open letter to Prince Harry warning him to dump this “jaded, shallow, conceited woman.” No wonder the tabloids were merciless on the in-laws. Yet the “blatant snobbery” behind that trashing melted away on the wedding day, said Hadley Freeman in The Guardian, when we all cheered for Harry’s obvious happiness. Britons have had a soft spot for the younger prince since Diana’s death, when we watched a heartbroken 12-year-old boy walk behind his mother’s coffin, “his head bent, not daring to look up.” We forgave him his callow youth, with his drunken shenanigans and that unfortunate Nazi costume, and we are thrilled that he is so smitten with his gorgeous wife.
The “sassy, strong-minded, and steadfastly self-aware” Markle will not have to give up her social activism, said Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph. The palace has given its blessing: The bio of the new Duchess of Sussex on the official royal website cites her “lifelong commitment to causes such as social justice and women’s empowerment” and says she is “proud to be a woman and a feminist.” Meghan clearly intends to get right to work. The duchess spent the months before the wedding “eagerly researching” how she could “best be of service to her adopted country,” and she had “endless private meetings” with charities supported by the Royal Foundation. She now has “the opportunity to change the world” just as she has changed the face of royalty. ■