First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a new monarchy in the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle love story? Over 29 million people in the United States, woke up in the wee early morning hours on May 19th to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle, and hundreds of thousands more lined the streets of Windsor (many of whom camped out for days) to catch a glimpse of the newlywed couple as they rode by in their carriage to wave hello! Yes, at first glance, this wedding may have seemed like just another over-the-top royal wedding with all of the traditional elements in place: church—check, beautiful flowers—check, a carriage—check, and the Queen herself—check! But if you take a closer look, this “traditional” wedding was anything but traditional, and many think that it marked a turning point in British history toward a more modern monarchy. Why?
Love: It was a marriage of love, not matchmaking. Well, not exactly. A friend did set them up, but the relationship that blossomed into marriage was an organic one built from mutual respect and love. Prince Harry’s mom, Diana, Princess of Wales, once told him that he should marry for love, and he did just that.
Royal vs. Commoner: While others before him married commoners (Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Charles’ first wife, although a direct descendent of Stuart King Charles II, was not a royal but part of an aristocrat family. Prince Harry’s brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton, whose family is quite wealthy but also not royal.), Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle was a marriage between a prince and a girl who came from modest means (Meghan’s mom is a social worker, and her dad is a retired lighting director on an American TV show).
Divorced Bride: Queen Elizabeth approved of Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle despite the fact that Meghan had been married before. The last time anyone from the Royal British family married an American divorcee, he had to abdicate from the throne. In other words, he had to step down as king!
I’ll Give Myself Away: Tradition is that the bride is given away to her groom by her father, but Meghan Markle decided that she would give herself away to Prince Harry and thus walked down part of the aisle by herself.
An African-American Bishop: Bishop Michael Curry is a name the world won’t soon forget. He was invited to the wedding to give a two-minute sermon to the couple. Those two minutes turned into thirteen, and the Bishop’s sermon was delivered in a style that no British monarch had likely seen before. What was he aiming to preach? The importance and power of love.
Gospel Singers: Yes, the church choir sang, but so did a group of African American gospel singers comprised of the Kingdom Choir and some of the best vocalists in the United Kingdom. They sang Stand by Me and This Little Light of Mine. It was Prince Charles’ office who requested that the gospel choir be a part of the wedding.
Did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding step away from tradition? We’d say so. But did it mark the beginning of a different kind of British monarchy? That remains to be seen, but if this wedding is any indication, the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex are definitely going to be turning some heads in the days to come.
What do you think? Was this simply a wedding, or did it symbolize something bigger?