BREAKING FROM TRADITION
Britain’s Prince Harry and US actress and activist Meghan Markle surprised no one when they announced their engagement on November 27th for they have been a high profile couple for more than a year. Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, plan to marry in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, in May.
They met in Toronto on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. After a second date, Harry invited Markle to join him on a trip to Botswana in Africa where they went camping “under the stars” and were able “to get to know each other” without daunting intrusions from the public. When news of their romance surfaced in October 2016 they faced a flurry of insulting and inflammatory social media and press comments about Markle, a divorcee of Caucasian and African-american descent. Harry condemned the nastiness and warned it put Meghan in danger. Racism is widespread in Britain although less flagrant than in the US. The number of Britons of African and Caribbean origin is 3 per cent of the population in England and Wales while only 2 per cent identify as mixed race.
Writing in The Guardian, Afua Hirsch pointed out that “Britain is racist, it’s still very racist.” However, the union of Harry and Megan could “change Britain’s relationship with race” due to the “symbolism of a royal marriage. From now on it will be impossible to argue that being black is somehow incompatible with being British.”
Harry’s father, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip have expressed support for the couple while Meghan’s parents have welcomed the engagement. The royals have had time to digest Meghan as a potential daughter-inlaw while her parents have no say in the matter as she is an independent woman in her mid-thirties.
The Queen said she “is delighted to see Harry in a loving relationship.” Her comment shows that she feels this is what her grandson needs. Twelve years old in 1997 when his adored mother, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris, Harry was deeply shaken and disoriented. Since the Windsors — in contrast to Princess Diana — are cool and disconnected as a family, he may not have received the emotional support he needed.
He did not do well in school. Unlike his elder brother William who took a Master’s degree at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, Harry did not opt for higher education but he joined the army (a duty princes must perform) where he trained as a helicopter pilot. He became a playboy who often embarrassed the Windsors with his antics. The Queen must be relieved as he is about to settle down with a woman of character. Since he is now fifth in line for the throne after his father, elder brother William, and his two children, there is little chance Harry will become king. He will be sixth in line once William’s third child is born.
Guardian commentator Hirsch observed that “the very concept of the royal family is the anthesis of diversity.” In 1947, Princess