Saturday, May 19, 2018

When Harry Met Meghan

Watching the royal nuptials today, I was amazed by just how smitten Harry is of Meghan.  He literally melted into a teenage boy, as if she were the storybook princess being escorted on his father's arm.  It was really beautiful in that sense, as you see how much love there is between the two,  which the Reverend Michael Curry expounded upon in his rollicking sermon that momentarily transformed St. George's Chapel into a black gospel church.

Town and Country offers a timeline of the events that led up to their engagement last year, as well as the tensions that ensued.  A lot of folks weren't ready for this storybook romance.  There were a lot of ugly anecdotes thrown around, and Meghan found herself having to deal with two half-siblings who tried to suck all the air out of her impending wedding.  Even her father, not in the best of health, got dragged into this tabloid fever, and in the end chose not to escort her down the aisle for fear he would draw more negative publicity toward her.

In a BBC interview, Harry and Meghan said they were blindsided by the tabloids, shocked that their engagement could engender so much controversy.  This is what happens when you try to have a high profile wedding in the Age of Trump.  There was all kinds of talk as to whether the Obamas would be invited and how the Donald would react to no invitation.  In the end, no Obamas and no Trumps, not even Ivanka, who was ridiculed unmercifully on twitter for lack of a royal invite.

Much of this controversy swirls around Meghan's culturally mixed roots and former marriage, both of which have been dissected to no end in the media.  There were those, notably her half-siblings, who lashed out at her as if she were a "cougar" trying to snag a younger prince.  Her half-sister Samantha, from their father's first marriage, made all sorts of outlandish claims in a pathetic attempt to garner attention.  It was like a B-movie version of Cinderella being played out in the tabloids.

Harry immediately rushed to Meghan's defense, pleading to the tabloids to cease and desist in all these unfounded allegations, but there was no stopping the rumor mill once it got churning.  Smartly, Meghan just screened it all out, working with her best friend, Jessica Mulroney, to help arrange the wedding.

I must say the result was glorious.  Not only did Meghan look absolutely stunning in her flowing Givenchy dress, but the choice of ministers and choirs for the event was truly inspired.  In addition to the Reverend Curry's rousing sermon, the Kingdom Choir of South-East England rendered a beautifully subdued version of "Stand by Me," which could be interpreted on many levels.

This was a nice push back to all the negative press, not to mention the prevailing Trumpism that has sullied society as of late.  Most importantly, the royal family appears to have fully embraced Meghan and her mother Doria, which will help continue its reformation in the public eye.  A family that not that long ago was rocked by two sensational divorces and the death of Diana, the people's princess.  It was nice to see Fergie on hand for the wedding, in an effort to show there are no hard feelings, although some say she was a wedding crasher.

Unsurprisingly, there were many references to Diana throughout the event, but from start to finish this struck me as Meghan's wedding.  She was fully in control of herself and looked radiant throughout, getting the last laugh on Amy Schumer, assuming she was even aware of the nasty barbs the racy comedienne had thrown her way two days before.

It seems a lot of folks were looking for something to go wrong.  For Meghan to be the runaway bride or for one of her half-siblings to jostle his or her way into the chapel and loudly voice an objection.  But, the wedding came off without a hitch and now the naysayers will have to crawl back into their holes and wait for the next wedding of the century, some 20 or 30 years from now when George, Charlotte and Louis reach marrying age.

I suppose all this angst is just part of the drama, like some sordid reality show.  Lost in these cheap Hollywood theatrics is that the marriage of Harry and Meghan marks a truly dramatic turning point.  Not only did Harry marry an American but one whose African heritage figured so prominently into the wedding.

Meghan made no effort to hide her past, something that would have been unthinkable not that many years ago.  This is not the same stodgy Britain and royal family that shunned King Edward for choosing American divorcee Wallis Simpson over the throne, or even the ones that turned a callous eye toward Princess Diana until it was too late.  This is a royal family and a  Britain that wants the world to know it is in step with the changing times.

Of course, one can be cynical and say it is all just a new publicity angle, Britain wants to be Great again, but we now have two "power couples" in William and Kate and Harry and Meghan who have great potential to bring the Commonwealth together in a way it has never been before, through the power of love, as the Reverend Curry so joyfully expounded upon.  Here we have two marriages where the partners are equals.  Rather than "honor and obey," Harry and Meghan were asked to "honor and protect" each other.  A subtlety probably missed by many listeners but one that really stuck out to me.

This is a royal wedding that comes in the wake of the #MeToo and#TimesUp campaigns, where women are no longer seen as secondary objects.  What makes these two marriages special is that William and Harry have genuine respect for their wives and expect them to be an active part of their royal lives.  They couldn't have honored the memory of their mother any better than in Kate and Meghan, two strong women who will redefine the roles of princess and duchess in the royal family.


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