The world was treated to another fairy tale wedding when Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle. It seems like just yesterday that Harry’s older brother, Prince William, wed his college sweetheart Kate Middleton and elevated her to pop icon status. Sure, it looks like Meghan is going to simply follow in Kate’s footsteps en route to becoming a princess. But there is so much more that goes into becoming a royal. (Meghan won’t be a princess at all, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Here’s what it really takes to become part of the Royal Family.
For starters, you have to have permission to marry a prince
It takes more than just a friendly handshake and a smile to marry a member of the Royal Family. In order to get hitched, the royals have to get Queen Elizabeth’s permission. Clearly, Princes William and Harry got the green light from their grandmother to propose to their girlfriends, but this isn’t always the case. Queen Elizabeth denied her own sister’s marriage request back in 1952.
Next: One reason the queen may rule against a proposal.
Your life may be scrutinized …
Before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially announced that they were dating, the tabloids had a field day trying to dig up dirt from Meghan’s past. Such is the life of an everyday girl getting into a relationship with a royal. (You may remember a similar situation happening to Kate Middleton when her relationship with Prince William became public.) Lucky for Meghan, Harry has been incredibly vocal in asking the press to respect her privacy.
Next: The role that divorce can play.
… as will your love life
The monarchy has long frowned upon divorcees marrying into the immediate family. (This played a big part in Princess Margaret’s potential engagement being denied by the queen.) Since Meghan Markle was previously married, there was speculation that Queen Elizabeth may reject Prince Harry’s engagement inquiry. But it appears Meghan made a great enough impression that her past love life didn’t play a part.
Next: Here’s where the church comes in.
The role that religion plays
Wars have been fought over what the official Church of England should be, and religion continues to this day to be a big part of the British monarchy. In addition to Meghan’s past marriage, there was speculation that her religion may play a part in whether or not she could marry her prince. In fact, she plans on getting baptized and confirmed in the Church of England before she and Harry get married in the spring.
Next: Time to salute a whole new flag.
The role that citizenship plays
Marrying one of the British princes means moving to the U.K. and, yes, becoming a citizen. It was reported in late November that Meghan Markle will, in fact, apply to be a citizen of the United Kingdom now that she and Prince Harry are married. There is no word as to whether or not she will maintain her American citizenship.
Next: The ‘princess’ issue.
Are Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle princesses?
There was a lot of confusion when Kate Middleton married Prince William: Does that make her the Princess of Wales or not? Technically it doesn’t, since William was given the title of Duke of Cambridge upon their wedding day. (This gave her the title of “duchess” instead of “princess.”) As expected, the queen titled Harry the Duke of Sussex when he was married — making Meghan the Duchess of Sussex.
Next: Will daily life ever be the same?
Giving up ‘daily life’
Marrying a prince doesn’t just come with a fancy title. Day-to-day life also changes drastically. We saw this when Kate Middleton married Prince William and began taking on duchess duties and engaging in more charity work as part of her role in the family. Meghan Markle, known best for her role on the TV show Suits, gave up acting prior to her wedding.
Next: What exactly will everyday life be like, then?
Taking on royal duties
After becoming the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate’s daily duties shifted to taking meetings to stay informed on what is happening in the countr, and attending social events as a representative of the monarchy. There are also charity events and diplomatic trips to fill out her schedule. Meghan, a well-established philanthropist, will no doubt have a full plate of duties as well.
Next: Stand by your man.
Supporting the prince on all fronts
In addition to representing the crown, it is important for Kate — and now, Meghan — to support her husband as well. Take for example Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who spends time going to events as a representative for her husband, Prince Charles. So while Meghan Markle may not see eye-to-eye with Prince Harry on everything, it has become her royal duty to represent him.
Next: Then, there’s all that dirty laundry.
Taking on the family drama
You have to live under a rock not to know about how much the British Royal Family is peppered with drama and scandal. And marrying into the family means potentially being pulled into the chaos. Kate Middleton has certainly had her fair share of feuds with other royals. (Or really, just with Princess Beatrice.)
Next: Bodyguards become a normal thing.
With a heightening position in the Royal Family also comes an increased need for security. (This was something that Princess Diana actually grew tired of very quickly after marrying Prince Charles.) But this undoubtedly has become part of Meghan’s life since marrying Harry — a heightened level of security around her wherever she goes.
Next: As if she isn’t in the tabloids enough already …
The rumor mill
Thanks to 24-hour news reels, there is no shortage of rumors and made-up stories about the royals. So marrying into the family means a lot more ridiculous — and sometimes untrue — press. Since Princes William and Harry have been in this spotlight since they were young boys, their significant others are also pulled into the rumor mill.
Next: Privacy for the family becomes a little harder to come by.
Immediate family in the spotlight
As an actress, California native Meghan was able to be on TV without garnering too much off-camera attention — and subsequently maintaining her family’s privacy. There is heightened interest in Meghan’s family and upbringing because of her marriage to Harry. (Whether she likes it or not.)
Next: Meghan’s wardrobe is as famous as she is.
The fashion police are on high alert
A high profile means that everything you wear is judged. Kate Middleton is the perfect example of this — almost every outfit she dons is featured in a magazine. Now, Meghan Markle isn’t able to walk down the street without the tabloids noting what she’s wearing.
Next: The spotlight just keeps getting brighter.
Body image pressure
With the pressure to dress a certain way also comes the pressure to maintain a certain body image. Kate Middleton knows this well, since her thin frame has come under scrutiny on multiple occasions. Meghan no doubt has had to take on this pressure as well — especially as the public waits to see when she and Prince Harry have their first child.
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