The internet blew up with the news of another royal engagement recently. Prince Harry announced his betrothal to American actress Meghan Markle on Nov. 27. The prince stands at fifth in line to the throne, and his bride will become a duchess. Their match stirred controversy from the moment their relationship became public. A variety of traits make Markle an unlikely — and groundbreaking — heir to the throne.
1. An American royal
According to CNN, Markle made a name for herself as not only a television star, but a humanitarian committed to gender equality. The American now lives in Toronto where her TV show Suits shoots, but grew up in Los Angeles.
About as soon as they revealed their courtship, the British tabloids and social media commenters jumped on her. The fact that she’s not British, had been married before and comes from a biracial background all made news. Her ethnicity sparked such brutal coverage that Prince Harry warned the media to stop harassing her.
Next: What did the tabloids say about Markle?
2. Some media said brutal stuff
“Meghan Markle has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” read the statement.
The Daily Mail headlined a story “Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton: Gang-scarred home of her mother revealed – so will he be dropping by for tea?” It erroneously reported that Markle’s mother lives in a “run-down area” in Crenshaw, Los Angeles. The tabloid painted Markle’s upbringing with both class and racial overtones.
Last November, The Daily Star Online reported that Harry “could marry into gangster royalty — his new love is from a crime ridden Los Angeles neighborhood.”
Next: Her racial background formed part of who she is.
3. She opened up about her biracial background
Markle shared her story on Elle UK, talking honestly about what her racial identity has meant to her. Living in Los Angeles, the Rodney King riots greatly impacted her view of the world. More recently, racial unrest across the country had a same impact.
“As a biracial woman, I watch in horror as both sides of a culture I define as my own become victims of spin in the media,” she said. “[These events are] perpetuating stereotypes and reminding us that the states has perhaps only placed bandages over the problems that have never healed at the root.
“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification … I have come to embrace that. To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
Next: Markle’s religion also marks a turning point.
4. Markle comes from a half-Jewish background
According to Vox, Markle comes from a half-Jewish background, on her father’s side. She attended Catholic school growing up, although she does not practice the religion. Tablet Magazine assures us Markle law does not require her conversion, as of 2015.
“The Act of Settlement of 1701 prohibited marriage to Catholics for heirs to the throne under pain of losing one’s place in the Line of Succession,” it points out. “This was overturned by special amendment in 2015 … but has never said anything about marriage to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, or members of any other religion – probably because such a thing never seemed like even a remote possibility.”
Next: You’ll love this next interesting facet of Markle’s life.
5. The actor married once before
Markle follows in the footsteps of Wallis Simpson, a divorced American who married into the royal family nearly 81 years ago. At that time, then-King Edward III abdicated the throne rather than end the relationship. Britain clutched pearls over the courtship, partly because they started dating before Simpson officially divorced her husband. They later got divorced in May 1937, nearly six months after Edward abdicated.
Next: Markle also comes as the product of what our grandparents call “a broken home.”
6. Her parents also divorced when she was a kid
According to Vanity Fair, Markle’s parents did not stay married, divorcing when she was 2. That did not mean her childhood ran rife with contention, however. Markle told the magazine, “What’s so incredible … is that my parents split up when I was two, [but] I never saw them fight. We would still take vacations together. My dad would come on Sundays to drop me off, and we’d watch Jeopardy! eating dinner on TV trays, the three of us.”
Next: What does the queen think of the match?
7. But does the monarch approve?
When asked if she thought the queen opposed the match, royal biographer Sally Bedell Smith said, “The queen is remarkably open-minded and she’s very tolerant. I would imagine that the queen’s view of this would be: If they’re in love and they’re well suited, then they should proceed.” Her prediction came true after the palace officially announced the match. Messages of congratulations came quickly from the queen and her husband Prince Philip. The couple said they were “delighted” and wished Prince Harry and Ms. Markle “every happiness.”
Prince Charles, Harry’s father, said he was “thrilled,” while Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement that the engagement marked “a time of huge celebration and excitement.” Prince William and Middleton also said they were “very excited for Harry and Meghan.”
Next: The in-laws also expressed excitement.
8. The actress’s parents also gave their blessing
CNN reports that Kensington Palace released a statement on behalf of Markle’s parents, Thomas Markle and Doria Ragland. “We are incredibly happy for Meghan and Harry. Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person. To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and are very excited for their future together.”
Next: What does Markle think of all the excitement?
9. The royal fiancé takes the press in stride
The New York Times reports that Markle takes it all with a grain of salt. Even when racism, sexism, and worse comes her way, she tries shrugging it off. “It’s a shame that that is the climate in this world. At the end of the day I’m proud of who I am and where I come from. We just focus on who we are as a couple.”
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