by Mel Dikert
After dating for over a year, Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle have recently announced their engagement and plan to be married in the spring of 2018. The pair met via a blind date set up by a friend, in which Markle commented, “The only thing I asked her was, ‘Was he nice?’” According to the New York Times, the couple only recently had their “first official outing together in September in Toronto at the Invictus Games” and the announcement of their engagement ended extensive “speculation by the British news media, some of which… tried to find any royal connection with Ms. Markle.” One example was The Daily Telegraph which reported an unsupported claim that Meghan has an aristocratic ancestor who was beheaded by Henry VIII (a distant relative of Prince Harry).
Prince Harry was apparently known to be a bit of a “bad boy” when he was younger–partying heavily, wearing a Nazi costume in 2005 and getting caught using racial slurs in a video in 2009. He has since apologized, said the New York Times, and his defenders have said that “he has matured since those early years,” citing his outspoken advocation for mental health and other charities and, against normal palace protocol, opening up to the media about the years of grief he suffered after his mother’s death. Last year, he even took an HIV test and did a live broadcast on Facebook to promote the importance of being tested. Despite his younger years, Prince Harry has become one of, if not, the favorite British royal.
His future wife-to-be has not been receiving the same loving treatment. The media has been angering the royal family with rude comments on Markle’s being biracial, coming from a middle-class background and the fact that she is a divorcee. According to the New York Times, Markle and her family were subject to much abuse and harassment because of this, prompting Prince Harry to make a statement last year that would abolish “the smear on the front page of the newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments.”
Though they anticipated the amount of scrutiny their relationship would be under by the media, the couple commented that they still had not been prepared for the reaction they received. Mallorie Hoeland (‘21), upset at the backlash, said, “I don’t understand the media outlash. Their lives are their own.”
Thankfully, Markle has been able to ignore the media’s treatment of her for the most part. The New York Times reported her saying, “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.” The 36-year-old American actress is most well-known for her roles in the TV series “Suits” and “Fringe,” as well as her charitable work as a global ambassador for World Vision Canada and her work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“The British Royal Family will be gaining an amazing new member. Meghan’s background doesn’t make her any less of a duchess, and I don’t understand the hatred people are showing towards her and her family,” said Jesse Gallagher (‘21). “Meghan and Harry are really great together, and I think Meghan’s outgoing personality will help Harry break out of his introverted shell. I’m expecting many babies!”
Prince Harry and Markle’s future marriage will actually not be the first of its kind. According to CNN, “The British media has previously compared Markle to Wallis Simpson, the divorced American whose relationship with King Edward VIII led to his 1936 abdication.” This time around, however, there is a lot less controversy and the couple’s marriage will be another push into a more modern era for the British monarchy, which is a historically conservative institution. A contrast to the current queen’s “more traditionally aloof style,” this newer generation of British royals has been trying to “connect better with the public” by portraying themselves as “modern, inclusive and down-to-earth,” said the New York Times. After their marriage, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are expected to receive the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex and live in the Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace where Harry already lives.