5 Reasons why you should care about the Royal Wedding
WORDS BY NICOLE BAXTER
With the nuptials of Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle on the cusp of being broadcast from Great Britain to the world, and as with all weddings of the Royal variety, many have wondered why it is that millions of people will tune in live to see two people they’ve never met walk down the aisle. Royal weddings are bouts of pomp and circumstance that captivate our attention, and it isn’t always clear why. I, myself, can remember where I was when William and Kate got hitched in 2011 more precisely than my class content from the first half of this semester (and no, it’s not just because I’m British, seeing as 66% of Brits couldn’t care less about the event). So, in the pursuit of some kind of justification for my Royal obsession, I’ve researched the 5 main reasons why I care about the Royal Wedding (and why you should, too).
1 – A new arena
All we have seen from the Royal family now for generations is marrying within the same academic and classist circles (aka, Rich White People™) – Kate met William at St. Andrews University, for instance, indicating that Kate grew up privileged and with access to the best education money could buy. Markle is a departure from these regular social circles, not only by being American but by having to work hard for her career and her success – she wasn’t born into poverty, but she wasn’t wealthy, either. She will likely mean a greater acceptance for more divergence from the norm for the Windsor’s in the future, which can only be a good thing for class relations and attitudes in one of the world’s most hierarchical social structures.
2 – A new type of leader
Markle not only makes history as the first American to successfully marry into the British monarchy (Edward VIII abdicated the throne before his marriage to Baltimore’s Wallis Simpson in 1936), but also as the first biracial member of the family. As the success of 2016’s Black Panther taught the world, representation is key, and having a woman of mixed race amongst the British royals is exciting. She is an incredibly positive role model, particularly for young girls, as she has been an advocate for organisations including UN Women and World Vision. She has worked to help refugees as well as women without access to proper sanitary products and has been working to end gender inequality since age 11, when she publicly protested a sexist advertisement. The Royals have always held an aspirational value, but I believe with Meghan Markle’s influence, aspiration can become imitation and create a real, positive difference throughout the world.
3 – A casual affair
Prince Harry is 6th in line to the throne – and keeps getting pushed back in the line of succession with each Prince and Princess popped out by Kate and Wills – so it’s unlikely that Harry will ever get the crown. This means that the wedding will be far less formal than Will and Kate’s, as Will is second in line behind Prince Charles. This, combined with the couple’s youthfulness, means that it’ll be a much more enjoyable proceeding.
4 – An essential human need
The world (and media) loves the Royals for the same reason we love other celebrities (even those with no discernible talent, like Bachelor contestants), and that’s escapism. We all subconsciously love absolving ourselves in worlds different from our own – whether it be a 3-week long TV show binge, a good book, or scrolling through the feed of some Instagram model. It serves as a way to mediate our own place within society and remind ourselves of our values and priorities. Similarly, big ceremonies like the Royal wedding act as food for our need of tradition and ritual. Not everyone chooses to escape via the Royals, but they’re such a popular choice (and hence the subject of public fascination) because they’re not fanbase specific. In order to be a fan of Oprah, you probably have to have seen the Oprah Winfrey show; to escape via a novel, you probably need to have read it. This isn’t the case for the Royal family; they are publicly identifiable both within and outside of the Commonwealth and have well-known rituals that have developed a meaning for many.
5 – A dialogue
As with all high-profile people and events, the media coverage surrounding Harry and Meghan’s nuptials has been controversial and disparate, with some worrying rhetoric being used in regard to Markle’s biracial background. There are heart-warming perspectives on the soon to be Duchess of Sussex, such as in the Lifetime featurette, “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance”, when fictional Meghan (portrayed by Parisa Fitz-Henley) is approached by a young black Canadian girl and her uncle, who says ‘“For a little girl like her, someone like you marrying into the royal family, that’s huge. This is going to change the way people see the world.”’. On the flip side of the coin, however, controversial Daily Mail columnist Rachel Johnson described Markle’s mother as ‘a dreadlocked African-American lady from the wrong side of the tracks’, criticised Markle’s large number of ‘racy’ scenes in television series Suits (which Markle herself spoke out against), and analysed her using terms such as ‘a bolter’, ‘teasing’, ‘scrumptious’ and ‘exotic’. The wedding gives us all the chance to focus on the rhetoric and language being used to describe Markle, her family and her community – and thus, condemn stereotypical and racist representations. The inclusion of Markle in the Royal family is only going to be beneficial to the dialogue surrounding multiculturalism and race relations in Britain, which has been a problem as of late in the Brexit era. The break away from the traditionalism will most likely expose new debates amongst the media and the public, and an open dialogue is the first step to achieving real change.
You can watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Henry of Wales and Miss Meghan Markle live on Saturday the 19th of May, Channel 9, 7pm AEST. These nups are gonna be toit.