For over two years, biracial actress Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry’s relationship have made headlines across the world. The budding romance which sparked after the two were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, led to one and a half years of dating, and soon after a royal engagement.
From Markle’s upbringing by her Black mother, Doria Ragland, and her White father, Thomas W. Markle in View Park-Windsor Hills, to her former marriage to actor and producer Trevor Engelson, many headlines attempted to attack her character and values.
Although the actress has received heavy ridicule over her past, many people of color and millennials see her as a “true life Cinderella,” using #IssaRealLifeFairytale and #SecureTheCrown on social media. Despite the mixed views on the couple’s relationship and or relevance, one thing no one can deny, is the royal wedding’s display of love and celebration of Black culture!
On Saturday, May 19, millions of Americans tuned in to watch Markle and Harry tie the knot at the St. George’s Chapel at the Windsor Castle in England. Some people even hosted royal wedding viewing parities.
The ceremony began with Markle walking up the steps of the castle as British royalty, friends, and the couple’s family eyed her modern style bridal gown. Also present during the wedding were Black celebrities, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, Idris Elba and his financee Sabrina Dhowre, and Markle’s co-star from the TV show “Suits,” Gina Torres.
Prince Charles, father of Harry, walked the bride down the aisle to his son since Markle’s father was unable to attend the wedding due to medical reasons.
The non-traditional wedding continued with odes to Black culture throughout the ceremony with the address given by Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church USA, Reverend Michael Curry, and a gospel performance by choir conductor Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir who sang, “Stand By Me.”
“The late Dr. King said, ‘we must discover the power of love and when we do that, we will make the world a new world.’ Love is the only way, there is power in love,” said Curry.
“My brother, my sister, God loves you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in His All Mighty hands of love.”
Markle continued to make a statement through her choices of incorporating non-traditional elements into the wedding. She asked 19-year-old Black cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, to play during the wedding, used bridesmaids and page boys from both the bride and the grooms side, and chose a unique wedding flavor, lemon and elderflower cake covered in fresh flowers, completely different from the traditional rich fruit cakes with marzipan and thick white icing the royals are accustomed to.
For some, the statement was a response to the negative light that shined on South Los Angeles and Markle after the announcement of her engagement. Proving that beautiful things can come from the city of South L.A., the Black community, and Black culture.
Transforming from Actress to Duchess
Markle, now known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, will continue on her journey of “royal boot camp.” She has given up her acting career, social media, blogging, signing autographs, privacy and her personal safety, leaving her friends and family behind to start a new life in England. However, she will continue her work of international advocacy alongside her husband, Prince Harry.
Although Markle is not the first American actress to marry into the royal family or the first woman of African American descent to marry into the royal family (it is believed that King George III wife, descended from Black Portuguese royalty), she is however, the first in contemporary times.
Additionally, Markle’s mother, Ragland, is however, the first African American parent of a member of the British royal family! For some, Markle and Ragland’s image in the royal family, will act as a representation for young women and girls of color, proving that despite the racism going on in the world, times are changing.