A royal ro­mance that has hope for all of us

Toronto Star - - CANADA - Emma Tei­tel Emma Tei­tel is a na­tional colum­nist.

Who knew that Prince Harry, the seem­ingly daft but cute Bri­tish monarch prone to don­ning Nazi ap­parel and walk­ing around in the buff, would be the guy to fi­nally usher his no­ble brood into the 21st cen­tury?

And yet it’s true. News emerged re­cently that Prince Harry is dat­ing Amer­i­can ac­tress Meghan Markle, who un­like the re­lent­lessly Cau­casian Bri­tish monar­chy, hails from a mixed-race back­ground. Markle’s mother is African-Amer­i­can; her fa­ther is white. No big deal, you might be think­ing. Wel­come to 2016, where in­ter­ra­cial unions are more com­mon than ever be­fore. Be­sides, as far as sto­ries about di­ver­sity and rep­re­sen­ta­tion go, there are far more in­ter­est­ing ones float­ing around right now than “When Harry Met Meghan.”

CoverGirl just named its first Mus­lim brand am­bas­sador, Nura Afia, who wears a hi­jab; the Na­tional Women’s Hockey League wel­comed its first openly trans­gen­der player; and DC Comics re­cently launched

Mid­nighter and Apollo, the first main­stream comic to star a pair of same-sex, crime-fight­ing, su­per­hero lovers.

What’s so spe­cial about one het­ero­sex­ual in­ter­ra­cial cou­ple com­pared to all of that?

Not much, un­til you con­sider the Bri­tish monar­chy’s long and check­ered his­tory of royal big­otry. A mere half-mil­len­nium ago, in 1596, Queen El­iz­a­beth I, free-spir­ited daugh­ter of Anne Bo­leyn and Henry VIII and pa­tron of Shake­speare, wrote a let­ter to the may­ors of sev­eral English ci­ties, com­plain­ing that too many black peo­ple had be­gun show­ing up in the coun­try. (She sub­se­quently also re­quested that they be de­ported, although she made no noise about build­ing a wall.) Of course this was the 1500s, when, we’re led to be­lieve, you didn’t have to be royal to be racist.

For more re­cent proof, let’s fast for­ward back to 1986, and eaves­drop on Prince Philip, Duke of Ed­in­burgh, warn­ing a group of Bri­tish ex­change stu­dents in the Chi­nese city of Xi’an that if they stayed in China any longer they’d be­come “slitty-eyed.” (Prince Philip later dou­bled down on the com­ment, al­leg­ing that no­body in China seemed to mind the re­mark, so why should any­body else?) And who can for­get Princess Michael of Kent’s in­fa­mous New York restau­rant tantrum of 2004, when the Princess, (wife of Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of to­day’s Queen El­iz­a­beth) al­legedly told a ta­ble of AfricanAmer­i­can din­ers, who she felt were hav­ing too good a time, to “go back to the colonies.”

In tol­er­ance terms, in short, the roy­als have been, as the kids these days like to say, a “prob­lem­atic” lot.

But their youngish prog­eny: Wil­liam, Kate and, yes, even Harry, are con­versely kind of cool. They are mod­ern. Prince Wil­liam, echo­ing his late mother Diana’s gay-friendly bent, be­came the first Bri­tish royal in his­tory to ap­pear on the cover of an LGBT pub­li­ca­tion (At­ti­tude Magazine). And Prince Harry, while per­haps not the sharpest tool in the shed, seems to have come along way since the Nazi cos­tume in­ci­dent.

My in­ten­tion here isn’t pri­mar­ily to give ter­rif­i­cally priv­i­leged white peo­ple props for be­ing less big­oted than their an­ces­tors, but to point out that this pro­gres­sive shift in the mind­set of Eng­land’s royal fam­ily may one day open the doors of Buck­ing­ham Palace to all dif­fer­ent kinds of suit­ors. Thanks to ex­am­ples like Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the role of ro­man­tic part­ner to a prince or princess, one pre­vi­ously re­served for white het­ero­sex­u­als, is ex­pand­ing surely, if slowly.

Per­son­ally, I’ve never been able to fully com­mit to royal fas­ci­na­tion; I al­ways sus­pected that were Prince Ge­orge to grow up to have more in com­mon with Boy Ge­orge than King Ge­orge, he’d prob­a­bly be asked by the fa­mil­ial pow­ers that be to keep quiet about his sex­ual pro­cliv­i­ties.

But if Harry mar­ries Meghan in the next decade or so, maybe not.

And come three or four more decades, we may all have a shot — colour, creed and ori­en­ta­tion be damned — at shack­ing up with mem­bers of one of the rich­est, and cer­tainly most ex­clu­sive, clans on the face of the planet.

Sure, wor­ship­ping roy­alty — an ar­chaic, re­gres­sive and crim­i­nally ex­trav­a­gant pri­vate club — is prob­a­bly as il­log­i­cal as it is em­bar­rass­ing.

But as soon as the pos­si­bil­ity arises — how­ever tiny — that you too might one day be asked to join, it’s funny how rea­son­able and nec­es­sary that pri­vate club can start to look.


An in­ter­ra­cial royal cou­ple could mean the doors will open for a di­ver­sity of suit­ors one day, Emma Tei­tel writes.

Re­ports that Suits star Meghan Markle is dat­ing Prince Harry have re­cently been cir­cu­lat­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.