The Meghan Markle story is part of the ongoing process of change in the west at a time when the United Kingdom has been slow to enter the 21st Century.
The UK royal family is a symbol of nationhood and history. So watching the family and its evolution is watching the UK itself and how the country adapts to a swiftly changing world where it is no longer an imperial power.
Prince Harry, the duke of Sussex and the favourite grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, is a senior royal. That means he is in the inner circle of the royals, with huge privileges as son and brother of future kings of England, in addition to being the queen’s grandson.
Interestingly, the royal prince looks more like royal kings himself going back centuries. It is astonishing how the handsome prince looks like forebears such as King George and the last Russian tsar, who was a cousin of Queen Victoria. In other words, in terms of possessing the blue blood of royals, he is as royal as they get.
Prince Harry fell in love with a black American divorcee named Meghan Markle. This was very much like when King Edward the Eighth fell in love with an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, and ultimately was forced to abdicate as a result.
However, Harry is not king, as senior as he is.
The British are obsessed with the royal family. And rightly so. The royals are a real-life soap opera who are symbols of a society rooted in privilege and social class. They are also integral to the history of the UK. Though the empire no longer exists, the activities and narratives of the royals are part of the daily life of the Briton.
Brexit, for all the evasion and obfuscation, is underlined by a UK that has always been a highly prejudiced society, which is also xenophobic and racist. That is a simple fact that most Britons black and white are fully aware of, even though it is the “great unspoken.”
Ms. Markle has been described by the right-wing British press as an uppity hustler, opportunist, social climber and gold digger, along with a host of other epithets. This treatment simply exposed the underbelly of the UK like Brexit has done. Black Britons, like this writer, are not surprised at the fallout from a blue-blooded royal marrying a woman of colour.
But there is a silver lining. Brexit, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have exposed the change that is taking place in British society. Today the UK is being shaken to its roots.
The UK is an anachronistic place that dislikes change. Britons are naturally conservative. The UK is a centre-right country.
However, great change is on the horizon whether Brits want it or not. Whether the UK post-Brexit will survive in its present form remains to be seen. Europe, for all its faults, is much more change-oriented today than a post-Brexit UK rooted in the past.
Prince Harry’s greatest legacy will most likely be as the royal who first recognised that change was inevitable and swiftly decided that anachronism would destroy his life. He is the UK’s agent of change, who would not allow anachronism and the petty-mindedness of a racist right-wing press to destroy his life. He was not having it.
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