Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/ LEAL-OLIVAS
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/ LEAL-OLIVAS

There is to be another royal wedding and the inevitable media frenzy has begun. The marriage between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is different because it signals a decisive break with the past.

Writing for online magazine Slate, Ruth Graham put it this way: "The future Duchess of Sussex is a 36-year-old biracial American divorcée who was previously best known for acting in a basic cable drama. At one point, any one of those descriptors — her age, race, nationality, marital history, or profession — would have effectively disqualified her from a royal marriage."

The precedents for marrying a divorced person are harsh. Princess Margaret was famously forbidden from marrying Captain Peter Townsend in the 1950s because he was divorced. She would have had to forfeit her royal rights and go into exile for five years. She broke up with him.

The Times (of London) chimed: "It is one of the clearest signs of how much the royal family has evolved over the last century that the fifth in line to the throne is to marry a divorcée who was brought up a Roman Catholic.

"Little over 80 years ago the monarchy suffered one of its gravest crises when Edward VIII had to abdicate in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American who had been twice divorced."

Markle promises to bring something very different to the royal family. Graham again: "If Markle is an atypical royal on paper, however, she is a perfect choice for Harry, PR-wise. She’s gorgeous, stylish, poised, and has said she’s ‘proud to be a feminist’. She has a long record of philanthropy, working with the UN on gender-equality issues since before she met her fiancé. Earlier this year, she wrote an op-ed for Time magazine about the stigma around menstruation in the developing world."

And she has 2.3m followers on Instagram, where she publishes the usual fare — two bananas spooning, pets looking cute, food, and pictures of herself playing with impoverished children.

hartleyr@tisoblackstar.co.za

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