We can’t help it. It’s nearly impossible to look at Prince Harry’s relationship with Meghan Markle without comparing them to Prince William and Kate Middleton. The two unions are quite different on the surface — Will and Kate’s long courtship compared to Harry and Meghan’s whirlwind romance. But while both relationship makeups work in their own right, there’s a chance that Harry and Meghan’s unconventional relationship may even work better.
Here’s a look at how the two compare. (And don’t miss the one factor that may actually make Harry and Meghan’s relationship more difficult, on page 5.)
First, we look past the weddings
It’s too facile to compare these two relationships based on how their weddings played out. Yes, that seems like an easy indicator because the royal family tries to keep everything private and the internationally televised wedding is our best window into their lives. However, dissecting the grooms’ body language or the couples’ kiss out on the balcony aren’t the best indicators.
Next: Here are the factors you DO want to look at …
Next, we look at age
When we observe these two relationships, it’s important to note the different ages the couples got engaged at. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who met each other in college, got engaged in their late 20s after being together for nearly a decade. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on the other hand, were both in their 30s when they got engaged. (And as we previously mentioned, dated for a shorter period of time.)
Next: Let’s dig a bit deeper …
What the age factor means
Relationship expert Andrea Syrtash tells Business Insider Harry and Meghan may have a leg up on having the better relationship because they got engaged in their 30s. “Our early and mid-20s are a time of discovery, not only of who we are and what we want, but who we want to be with,” she explains. “It’s good to evolve into that. I think it’s a positive sign that Harry and Meghan had experience on their side.”
Next: On that note …
The benefit of bringing experience
Relationship therapist Rachel Sussman adds that bringing more experience into the union means Harry and Meghan have figured out what they want. “Usually, in your 30s you know what you like; you know what you don’t like,” she summarizes. She adds this could potentially backfire on William and Kate, who got married younger. “Prince William and (Kate) Middleton may potentially grow apart. Sometimes someone will feel that they’ve matured more or they’re growing apart or that one is changing and the other one is the same.”
Next: But wait just a second …
We aren’t saying Harry and Meghan’s relationship is perfect, by any means. In fact, starting a relationship later in life may affect a couples’ sense of independence. “You’re more set in your ways by the time you’re in your 30s,” Sussman explains. “You’ve been dating (other people) and living independently for 15 years already. It might not be as easy to set up house. It might not be as easy to share expenses and to have financial disclosure.”
Next: When comparing them to Will and Kate …
Keep the monarchy in mind
It’s imperative to note that where Princes William and Harry are in the line of succession also has an effect on their relationships. Most notably, how they act in public. Sussman tells Business Insider the Duke and Duchess of Sussex “can be more flexible because they’re farther down in line for the throne” when it comes to growing as a couple. “The more you can be yourself, and the less scrutiny you have, the healthier that is for a relationship,” she says.
Next: Last but not least …
Looking to the future
When all is said and done, there’s really no surefire way to determine how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s marriage will evolve. But experts do point out there are tools to ensure their union is a happy one. Sussman tells Business Insider she recommends couples who meet later in life remember they have a fun journey ahead of them. “The best is yet to come. I’m committed to spending my life with this person.”
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!