For the first time in the history of the British royal family, an American individual of mixed ancestry has married a senior member of the monarchical household. You may have heard of her. Her name is Meghan Markle. She is half black, half white. A United States citizen. A descendant of Georgian slaves. She is 36 years old. She is previously divorced. Her parents are also divorced. Oh and she used to be an actress, (formerly a Deal or No Deal Model, Suites co-star, among other gigs).
But why does any of this matter? Although it shouldn’t, IT MATTERS! While some British media outlets have downplayed her mixed ancestry, emphasizing England’s growing level of tolerance, and some American outlets have certainly overplayed it, one thing is for sure, what happened at the Royal Wedding has shifted the tide globally, setting a new precedent, and creating a fresh paradigm to which humanity can now aspire to.
Though US history carries its many chapters of shame concerning the slave trade and beyond, the UK is not so different. As a global superpower, it is quite familiar with slavery, and it has exercised its hegemony to occupy many developing regions. Its lasting effects are still seen today.
While the true essence of Markle absolutely cannot be reduced to the above factors mentioned regarding her background, the world unfortunately still tends to operate in that way. The world, often, uses our ethnic lineage, marital status, occupation, financial income, etc. to make sense of our position in society. Thus, according to such worldly standards, what happened at the royal wedding did not make sense.
However, according to some of history’s most surprising yet triumphant eras, this transitional step could make way for some of the most remarkable humanitarian movements. In ancient Hebraic history, we see an overlooked shepherd boy rise up as King and defeat Goliath. In more recent history, we see hero’s like Rosa Parks rise up unexpectedly, forever changing history when she chose to boldly use her voice.
The ceremony itself was an initial, first reflection of this renewed momentum. Layering Anglican traditions with Negro Spirituals, MLK quotes, even Coptic Egyptian blessings, the stage is now set for a season of racial reconciliation that both the United States and the United Kingdom could greatly benefit from.
With Trump’s presidency frequently bringing ethnic tension back to the forefront, and the implications of Brexit remaining continuously present in the UK, this union is no typical marriage. It signifies an alliance that is ever so necessary for today’s climate.
In fact, I would argue, that the term royal, which one Merriam Webster definition summarizes as “of superior size, magnitude, or quality” actually came to life on Saturday, May 19th 2018.
Prince Harry married a woman of both magnitude and quality, a woman who was not afraid to give her African ancestry a platform in Windsor Castle, a woman who carried zero shame regarding her past, a woman with the utmost confidence in her identity because true quality derives not from circumstances to which you are born into, but rather from the decisions an individual chooses to make, and from the raw, authentic condition of one’s soul. Markle, who is no stranger to humanitarian endeavors, could not have been a more suitable, divinely appointed candidate for this position of influence. She understands grit, yet balances grace, she exudes compassion, yet maintains strength.
As an optimist, (and one who has never frankly been enamored by royal wedding shenanigans) this marital union increases my hope for and in the power of love. To transcend color. Transcend geography. And, hopefully now, to also transcend politics, giving other vulnerable communities around the world a chance to be humanized and seen for their true, royal, quality.