Every Way Meghan Markle Is Breaking Royal Barriers
Meghan Markle is officially Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex, and the British royal family will never be the same. The elegant former actress is bringing her own brand of activism and outspokenness to the royal family, and it seems that after hundreds of years of staunch tradition, the royals are allowing Markle the space to do so.
Starting with a majestic wedding that shattered expectations, Markle is forging full force ahead in her role as a duchess channeling both her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, and her own brilliance and tenacity. Though she’s following many of the royal rules, including leaving her acting career in the wind, it became very clear even from her royal wedding ceremony that Markle is ready to smash royal barriers.
Putting her roots on display
Weddings, in general, can often be bland affairs where the guests are anxiously awaiting the cake and cocktails. However, Markle and Prince Harry’s royal nuptials were something for the history books. Markle, a biracial woman from Los Angeles, proudly showcased her African American roots at her wedding ceremony, and it was something the royals and much of the world watching had never witnessed before.
Markle asked Michael Curry, the African American presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, to deliver her wedding address. The bishop’s 13-minute sermon was arresting, powerful, and firey. Not only did he talk about love, but Bishop Curry also infused quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech. He said, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.’
Markle also had an all-black choir singing Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” and a 19-year-old black cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason perform a 9-minute solo.
Next: She gets it from her mama.
Strong and unwavering
As soon as news broke that Markle and Prince Harry were dating and certainly after the couple announced their engagement, Markle has been the subject of attacks, hounding, and everything in between (even from members of her own family). Throughout it all, the Duchess of Sussex has been unwavering. It’s a strength she clearly learned from her mom, Doria Ragland, who raised the Suits alum by herself from the time she was six.
For Ragland’s part, she exuded strength throughout the entire wedding ceremony. The Chicago Tribune reported:
Before the wedding, there was lots of discussion among African-Americans about what [Ragland] would do with her hair. Would she discard her signature dreadlocks in favor of a straightened look? Would she remove her studded nose ring for such a momentous occasion? The answer to both was no. And that said a lot about who she is. She did not waver. Perhaps that is where the duchess gets her strength.
Next: Ready to tackle the issues
A staunch feminist and advocate
Like the late Princess Diana, don’t expect Markle to be a quiet and demure presence in the royal family. She may have given up her life in Hollywood, but her passion for children and women’s rights, in particular, will guide her moving forward.
Long before she even met the prince she’s been trying to change the world. The duchess’ official royal bio states,
In addition to her role with UN Women and One Young World, Her Royal Highness became a Global Ambassador for World Vision in 2016. As part of her work with the charity, the duchess visited Rwanda on a clean water campaign that would work to allow young children to continue their education.
In 2017, Her Royal Highness undertook a second learning mission with the organization when she visited India with World Vision to bring a greater awareness to girls’ lack of access to education.
Next: A stunning blend of modernity and traditions
A breath of fresh air
The British royal family isn’t exactly the most modern. Markle’s presence is one way that they are catching up the rest of the world.
Ar’nie Krogh, a London relationship coach, told USA Today,
Compared to other royal families around Europe, the U.K.’s is still pretty conservative and stuck in the past. But we’re in the age of computers and the Internet now and it’s time to do things differently. Markle speaks to younger generations because of her background and career and charity work. However, she also manages to represent the old-fashioned princess ideal. She’s elegant. She has beautiful hair and skin.
Next: Markle seems like she could be your BFF.
Though Prince Harry is very much a prince of the people, his wife is instantly more relatable. Raised by a single mother, educated at Northwestern University, and an actress who appeared on one of the most beloved shows in the last decade, Markle feels incredibly familiar, as if she’s our friend or family member.
Hamish Shephard, the founder of Bridebook, explained to USA Today, “This is partly due to her celebrity. She’s much more relatable. She feels like a more familiar figure than other royals who are very dissociated from society. But she’s not a wallflower. She’s got her feminist and social agendas, and I think a lot of people are really behind her for that.”
Next: The duke and the duchess are obsessed with one another.
All of that affection
It was evident even well before their wedding day that the prince ad the duchess are hot for one another. As far as royals are concerned, their levels of PDA are unprecedented. In fact, Queen Elizabeth gave Prince Harry a talking to about it.
An insider told Women’s Day, “Being affectionate just comes naturally to Harry and Meghan, but it’s totally against royal protocol. The Queen isn’t thrilled about it at all, and word is she summoned Harry to the palace to remind him what’s expected of a royal. All the hand-holding just isn’t the royal way at all.”
However, that didn’t stop the love birds from breaking protocol and clutching hands throughout their royal wedding ceremony. Who knew that real love could break barriers?
Next: A commentary on race in the U.K.
A new moment
Like the U.S., Britain has certainly had its history of racism. Markle lightly addressed her background in her first televised interview with Prince Harry shortly after their engagement. She said, “I’m really just proud of who I am and where I come from. And we have never put any focus on that.”
Markle’s wedding showed that she is deeply rooted in her culture. It’s almost as if she’s bringing Obama vibes to Kensington Palace. Trevor Phillips, a former U.K. politician, told USA Today, “The most significant thing (for black people) is how unremarkable her race is. 25 years ago there’s no doubt that it would have been a massive drama, possibly even a crisis.”
Phillips added, “Today, most white British people are completely undisturbed by her race. I suspect that more people in Britain are far more interested in the fact that she is an actress in a series that they have not seen than they are in her race.”
Next: A woman of the 21st century
A modern woman
Unlike her sister-in-law Kate Middleton who had to come into adulthood under the glare of the world, Markle has had time to discover who she is away from the spotlight. An American divorcee and careerwomen of mix-raced heritage, the Duchess of Sussex is a truly modern woman who won’t be on Prince Harry’s arm for decoration.
As The Chicago Tribune reported, “She is yet another woman with a strong voice and the chance to be a role model for young women, of all races and ethnic groups. She is yet another woman who can show others how to break through barriers, with grace and charm, and still be a mighty force.”
Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.
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