Friday, June 14, 2024

Royal Treatment

May 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Feature

With a spectacular wedding set for this month, Meghan Markle prepares to make history in the British royal family.

On May 19 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, Meghan Markle, 36, will wed 34-yearold Prince Harry of England. The marriage will bring an African-American woman into the innermost sanctum of the British royal family headed by Queen Elizabeth — a turn of history that has captivated people worldwide.

Markle’s story reads like a modern-day fairy tale: born August 4, 1981 in Los Angeles, she pursued a career as an actress — appearing in a number of television series until landing the role of Rachel Zane on the USA Network series “Suits” before her engagement to Prince Harry. The daughter of divorced parents — yoga instructor and behavioral health specialist Doria Ragland, an African American; and businessman Tom Markle, a white man — Markle recalls a childhood that equipped her with social consciousness.

Markle was eleven years of age when she exercised her first advocacy for women’s rights. While watching television in her classroom, she was disturbed by a soap commercial that said, “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.” Some of the boys in Markle’s elementary classroom started laughing and saying to Markle and the rest of the young girls, “Yeah, women belong in the kitchen.” Markle was shocked and hurt — and after receiving encouragement from her parents, she wrote to the Ivory Soap Company to complain that the commercial was sexist and stereotypical. The company responded by changing the commercial.

Markle was primarily raised by her mother and the two have maintain a close relationship. Nicknamed Flower as a young girl, Markle describes her relationship with her mom as the best. “We can just have so much fun together, and yet I’ll still find so much solace in her support. That duality coexists the same way it would in a best friend,” says Markle.

In 2014 Markle penned an editorial about her mother called, “Love Letters,” where she expresses the love and embrace of her cultural heritage in the words. She wrote, “Dreadlocks, nose ring, yoga instructor, social worker, free spirit, lover of potato chips, lemon tarts and if the Deejay cues Al Green’s soul classic, “Call Me,” just forget it. She will swirl her hips into the sweetest little dance you’ve ever seen. Swaying her head and snapping her fingers to the beat like she’s been dancing since the womb. And you will smile. You won’t be able to help it. You will look at her and you will feel joy. I’m talking about my mom.”

Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland

Holding her own as a fashion aficionado, Markle’s wedding dress is speculated to be made by a Canadian  designer brand called Erdem because it is a favorite in royal circles. Markle will be the first African-American to become a British royal, but perhaps not the first black woman. There remains some debate over the true racial heritage of Queen Charlotte (1738-1820), wife of King George III. Some historians believe that was a direct descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.

Once Markle marries Prince Harry and take her place alongside British royalty in the United Kingdom—she will be known as, “Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Wales,” using her husband’s name—while any children born to the couple will be a Lord or Lady, not a Prince or Princess. The married couple will be instead known as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex if given by the Queen. This is because due to the rules governing the British crown, only those born into the royal family can use the title Prince or Princess followed by their first name. Prince Harry’s mom, Diana, was known as the Princess of Wales — a courtesy title held by the wife of the Prince of Wales — but she was never formally referred to as Princess Diana for the same reason.

It is almost guaranteed that Queen Elizabeth II will instead bestow the couple a Dukedom before their wedding, making Meghan Markle a Duchess know as Duchess of Sussex — much in the same way Kate Middleton has become the Duchess of Cambridge. Also, Duchess of Clarence and Duchess of Buckingham are available as the line has died out so this is the Queen’s gifts to bestow on the couple. Their children could be called a Prince or a Princess if the Queen decides.

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