BREAK­ING FROM TRA­DI­TION

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Cover Story -

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

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