By Brittney Effner
Prince Harry of the British Royal Family announced his engagement to Meghan Markle Nov. 27. Markle is an American actress who rose to fame with a cheeky role as Rachel Zane on the legal drama “Suits.” In addition to being an actress, Markle is a well-known humanitarian and feminist activist.
The media has been swooning over this couple, following them with an obsession with the Royal Family that hasn’t been seen since Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010.
Already, people are starting to draw comparisons between the chosen brides of Princess Diana’s sons. Markle is currently undergoing the first stages of obsession Middleton experienced the day her proposal was announced.
A fashionable frenzy ensued when Markle arrived at her engagement photo session. Her white coat (from Canadian brand The Line) crashed the brand’s site, and The Line announced the coat would be reissued in March with a new name: the Meghan. Middleton caused a similar frenzy with her fashion choices—a fascination that continues to this day.
Their rings share a deep connection with that of Princess Diana: Middleton wears Diana’s engagement ring, and Markle’s ring was designed with jewels belonging to Harry’s mother and a stone from Botswana.
Markle and Middleton are both beautiful women whose demeanor meet the massive demand of intense public scrutiny.
While these lucky women are bonded in their shared experience of joining the royal family, striking differences between them mark the beginning of a new era for the British Royal Family.
Middleton fits the mold of the type of woman a future King of England should marry, while Markle breaks all the rules, which delights many people. The Washington Post called their engagement “a palace love story to cheer in a season of cheerless news.”
Markle is unique in many ways; besides being an American, she is biracial and divorced.
Her race is groundbreaking for the traditionally white royal family, which hasn’t seen a non-white royal on the throne since the forgotten Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III in the 1700s.
Divorce is not a foreign subject to the royal family — it has caused controversy in the past. In 1931, King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée.
Harry’s grandmother, the Queen of England, tackled another divorce issue in 1953 when her sister fell in love with a divorced man, Peter Townsend. Princess Margaret was told she could marry him if she gave up her throne. Princess Margaret chose her crown.
Markle’s divorce, although unprecedented, seemed to garner little attention from the Royal Family. This might suggest the softening of the stiff British upper lip for which Queen Elizabeth is so famous.
The media seems most focused on what it means for the British monarchy to embrace a biracial member of the family.
Markle was eventually asked about the scrutiny and focus on her ethnicity. She responded by calling it “disheartening” and a “shame.” Rightfully, Markle believes her race is an insignificant detail in her romance with Prince Harry.
Markle’s acceptance into a family ruled by class structure and tradition is a genuine sign that strides are being made toward racial equality.