By: Melinda Murphy
It’s every little girl’s dream: “When I grow up, I want to marry a prince.” Of course, most of us get older and dreams of castles and glass slippers fade away with childhood. But most of us aren’t Meghan Markle, an American actress scheduled to wed England’s Prince Harry on 19 May. Holy Royal Wedding! Can you imagine being her?
When Harry met Meghan
Rumours swirled for a long time about who actually made the royal match back in June 2016, setting the couple up on a blind date. Turns out, it was Violet von Westenholz, a woman who works in public relations. It’s hard to believe, but it really was a blind date in every sense of the word for these two famous people: Markle, an American, didn’t know much about Prince Harry and he’d never even heard of the television actress. Prince Harry says he knew the night they met that she was the one.
Who is Meghan Markle?
The soon-to-be Duchess is an American actress of bi-racial descent: her African-American mother is a social worker and her Caucasian father a retired Hollywood lighting designer. The two divorced when she was just six years old.
Meghan is also a divorcee; her ex of two years is a Hollywood producer. It wasn’t so long ago when divorced people were not allowed to marry into the royal family. Prince Harry’s great-great uncle actually abdicated the throne so he could marry a divorcee and his grandmother’s sister had to famously end a relationship because it was with a divorced man. This has to do with the royals’ relationship to the Church of England and its stance on divorce, which has changed in recent years. The 2005 wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was the first marriage in the family between two divorced people.
Many assume Markle is the first biracial member of the Royal family, however, it’s quite possible that Prince Harry’s great-great-great-great-great grandmother, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, was biracial. She was married to King George III and was queen for 60 years, dying in 1818. Queen Charlotte was directly descended from the black branch of the Portuguese Royal House and one portrait seems to confirm her racial makeup. However, her biracial background can never be completely cemented.
The early years
At age 11, Markle watched a commercial for dishwashing soap at school, which said, “Women are fighting greasy pots and pans.” One of the boys said, “Good. That’s just where women belong. In the kitchen.” An angry Markle got busy writing letters that eventually got the company to change the commercial to replace the word “women” with “people”. The story landed Markle on Nickelodeon’s Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.
Television proved to be Meghan’s calling, though she struggled for years as an actress until she landed the role of Rachel Zane on Suits. Markle has also delved into social media. In 2014, she launched the now-defunct lifestyle blog (royals don’t blog) called The Tig. She’s estimated to be worth S$6.5 million. That’s quite a dowry, eh?
The two were engaged in November with the blessing of the Queen. Harry designed the trilogy engagement ring himself; the centre 2.5-carat cushion-cut diamond is a new stone from Botswana and the two side stones belonged to Princess Diana, Prince Harry’s mother. The prince has always loved Botswana and he took Meghan there when they first started dating. Experts estimate the ring’s value to be about S$230,000. Naturally, it has launched a whole new trend in jewellery.
Markle was baptised and confirmed into the Church of England in March. She’s also started the process of becoming a British citizen, which takes years. Rumour has it she’s also working out hard to get her already fabulous physique into top shape. The thought of the entire globe looking at you in your wedding dress is probably great motivation to make it to the gym.
What will that dress look like? You and everybody on the entire planet wants to know, but that’s top secret info. No word even on who will design the dress, though fashion watchers are all full of theories. All we do know is that the uber fashionable Markle likes dresses that are “classic and simple”. In an interview with Hello, she said, “I personally prefer dresses that are whimsical or subtly romantic.”
Those stunning pieces of jewellery come with a lot of rules! No pretending it’s a Frisbee. But seriously, Meghan must wear a tiara on her wedding day. No ifs, ands or buts. It should sit at a 45-degree angle when viewed from the side. Usually, the wedding tiara comes from the bride’s family and then she trades it in for one from the groom’s family after the wedding. This rule has been broken in the past and brides have borrowed one from the groom’s family for the ceremony. It’s not like most gals these days have a spare tiara sitting in their closet.
The wedding party
Will Prince William be the best man? Probably. After all, Prince Harry stood up for Prince William though Harry has lots of buddies, many from childhood. Meghan’s bestie, Lindsay Roth, has been her friend since college at Northwestern University (where she double-majored in Theatre and International Relations). She’s also really tight with her pilates trainer and her stylist. But get this: protocol dictates that royal brides don’t have adult bridesmaids, though there are exceptions, such as Catherine’s sister Pippa.
One thing you can count on is that Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the children of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, will be included. Their new baby brother will likely be there, too.
The guest list
Didn’t see an invite in your mailbox? Guess you’re not one of the lucky 600 guests invited to the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, one of the most famous and iconic landmarks of the British royal family. Another 2,640 members of the public will also score an invite for part of the day, including 1,200 civic leaders. Of course, there will be a fair share of celebrities, too, with the likes of Elton John and the Beckhams rumoured to be attending. Most of Meghan’s family seems to have been left off the guest list, including her estranged half-siblings, which has ruffled their feathers. One of her cousins even wrote to Clarence House demanding to be invited. Sources say her mother will attend the wedding and that her shy father will come out of reclusion in Mexico to walk her down the aisle. He isn’t likely to give a speech.
All royal cakes are fruit-flavoured and this one is no exception. The wedding cake will be lemon and elderflower flavoured, decorated with fresh flowers made by London’s Claire Ptak, owner of the London-based Violet Bakery. It’s possible nobody will actually eat the cake that day. If the couple follows protocol, the cake will be cut up and the slices sent out as gifts. One slice of William and Catherine’s cake sold for more than S$11,000 at auction in California. Geez.
Expect white garden roses, foxgloves and peonies arranged by floral designer Philippa Craddock. Interesting titbits? Peonies are regarded as a symbol of good fortune and happy marriage. White roses are associated with new beginnings. Foxgloves? Hmm, well…they are poisonous and the word “foxglove” is said to come from the phrase “folk’s gloves” with the word “folk” referring to fairy folk. Picking them is supposed to make the fairies angry.
Check this at the door
Of course, marrying a real prince isn’t all it’s cut out to be in Disney movies. Meghan will have to give up a lot of things you might not expect. For starters? She traded in her acting career for a life of humanitarian work, a trade she seems excited about given her passion for charity. She has been a counsellor for One Young World and has been involved with the USO. She is also a global ambassador for World Vision Canada.
She’s also had to say goodbye to social media, taking selfies, giving autographs and showing her bare legs. (She has to wear nude stockings, something she neglected to do for her engagement photos. Oops.) No more red nails as royal nails can only be painted a neutral colour. And she’s not supposed to eat shellfish. Seriously. That’s because in the old days shellfish made people sick more often than other foods and royals don’t have time to be stuck in bed. Of course, rules are meant to be broken and the Queen has also eased up on some of these restrictions as she’s gotten older. All to say, royals have been seen sneaking an occasional oyster here and there.
She has to always have funeral-appropriate clothes with her wherever she travels. Why? Because Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George, died when she was vacationing. She had no appropriate clothes with her and the paparazzi were all over her as she arrived back to be with her family. The Queen wants to make sure that never happens to another royal.
A big thing? Markle can no longer vote, nor share her political views, which might be hard for this outspoken feminist. What isn’t clear is if this California-born woman has to give up her American citizenship or if she has to give up her right to vote in the US.
Life with the Queen
Whenever she meets the Queen, she must curtsy. If the Queen stands up, she has to stand up. If she’s in the same residence as the Queen, she can’t go to bed before Her Majesty, though apparently Princess Diana didn’t abide by this. And there will be no playing the game Monopoly at Buckingham Palace as the Queen has banned the game at the Palace because it’s too “vicious”!
I’m sure Meghan’s father breathed a giant sigh of relief (as did the British public) when they heard that the royal family will foot the bill. Bridebook, the UK’s top wedding planning website, did some figuring and they estimate the cost to be – are you ready for this? – S$58 million! To be fair, almost all of that goes to security (S$55 million). It’s not an easy task keeping them safe as their carriage procession travels throughout Windsor including Castle Hill, High Street, Sheet Street, Kings Road, Albert Road, Long Walk and back to Windsor Castle. Plus, there is security at the ceremony, the reception and the private evening reception Prince Charles will also give the couple inviting close friends and family.