Will Meghan Markle spend the rest of her life smiling while watching demonstrations of crafts, sports, and industry? Thats the real life of a princess
Its great to be married, if thats a thing that you want to do, and it looks like Meghan Markle is very keen on being engaged to Prince Harry. As a British citizen, Im happy for her, and them. But as an American citizen, I cant help but think that we may be overlooking a crucial fact in our excitement: that the British royal family and its attendant institutions are anachronistic and bonkers.
Now, America is currently being run by a despot who would love to style himself and his offspring (well, the offspring who he likes) as some kind of divinely ordained ruling family. So it might be easy to forget that America basically exists because some British colonialists decided that they werent into being ruled by some guy because he had some distinguished ancestors and money and jewelled hats.
Those colonialists themselves were problematic in their own way they were colonialists, for one but it nonetheless remains true that this country was founded on the belief that it was not a good idea for a country to have a royal family.
And it still isnt: its true that this royal engagement is no doubt a bright spark in the year for Britian, which has had a lousy 2017: blighted by rotten politics and on the path to be broken by Brexit. Its important and historic that Markle will be the first woman of color to marry into this family, a group of people who dont have a history of, well, not being racist.
But even if everyone gets a day off work which is a silly thing that happens in the UK sometimes for royal weddings the wedding will not be a gift to the subjects of the Queen.
Instead, it will serve as another reminder to everyone that Britain is a nation that is riven, and crippled, by primordial ideas around class and race, with real antagonism around social mobility.
Its also a country where the easy passage of immigrants is getting harder and harder: presumably Markle will get waved through at the border, but in the meantime many British families are being torn apart by stricter immigration laws, even in cases of spouses who have lived in the UK for a long time. And dont get me started on the 2012 Jubilee Flotilla: a spectacle that was so grim and anachronistic that it inspired me to leave the country after nine years.
The election of Donald Trump confirmed that anyone could grow up to be president in the US really, anyone, even if theyre a stupid and horrible person but Britain is still a place where a person who is not white and not Christian will never be the head of state (any children of Harry and Meghan will be far down the line of succession, after all of William and Kates children).
In the meantime, Markle is quitting her job to marry Harry. Maybe she doesnt like her job, who knows, and shes certainly showed great commitment to charity work (she and Harry met at the Invictus Games). But thats anachronistic, too another tradition that doesnt make sense in either Britain or America.
In Mondays photo call, she showed that she is clinging on to her independence: her legs were bare, rather than sheathed in old-fashioned nude hose, the kind that makes your legs look a mannequin-like, as is the normal style of the family.
Markle could be a trailblazer. But will she also be expected, like her sister-in-law-to-be the Duchess of Cambridge, and so many royal women before her, to spend a great deal of the rest of her life smiling while watching demonstrations of crafts, sports, and industry? That is the real life of a princess, and it seems very strange.
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