What was remarkable and of profound significance behind the pomp and pageantry of the attending Royal family celebrities and glitteretti at the Royal wedding of Meghan Markle with Prince Harry was the acceptance of the bride into the Royal family with due deference and dignity without condescension or murmuring demur. The bride, Meghan Markle is a mixed race American divorcee Hollywood actress, three years older than Harry in age. It was indeed an incredible amazing sight to watch the presence of the Queen 92 and her husband Prince Philip 96 who had undergone a hip surgery only a month ago to bless the wedding couple. The Queen and Prince Philip sat quietly at close distance from the African American mother of Meghan throughout the wedding service in the Windsor castle chapel. Also, what was of no less importance than watching Prince Charles, the heir apparent to the throne and her would-be father-in-law take the arm of Meghan to walk her down the isle to the alter. It was royal etiquette at its best.
It was monarchy evolving as an institution in keeping with changing times transcending iron crust royal prejudices of rules, race, class and colour. It felt less like history and more like myth. British monarchy now has made a giant leap forward from past church inhibitions prohibiting royal marriage with a divorcee, which forced king Edward VIII to abdicate the throne in 1937 in favour of his lady love, Simpson, a twice divorcee American socialite. Meghan's royal wedding embodies and legitimises the culture of tolerance in a multicultural society Britain has become, anti-immigrant Brexit, notwithstanding.
The organisation and planning of the wedding ceremony and service make it abundantly clear that Meghan wanted to make a point of her racial identity to put her heritage first and at the centre stage in full view of built-in attending white celebrities and royal audience. A woman of strong personality and an advocate of women's empowerment, she once eminently said 'Woman must have a seat at the table and if not available, she must create one'. Dressed in majestic wedding attire, she conducted herself in the wedding service with extraordinary courage, grace and regal dignity without betraying the slightest nervousness. The long-impassioned sermon by charismatic African American Bishop on virtues of love and inclusion, vice of 'dysfunctional' relations was perhaps a powerful implicit indictment of royal fickle marriages and marital scandals of alleged infidelity in recent times particularly that of Prince Charles with Princess Diana leading to divorce and his marriage later with Camilla Parker, divorce of Prince Andrews with Sarah Ferguson, Princess Anne's divorce and abortive love affair of Margaret, Queen's sister with Peter Townsend. The sermon visibly unnerved the Royal family who looked at the Bishop with gaping wonder and listened to his sermon with raised eyebrows. The British people are usually reticent in expressions. Bishop's frank and forthright message in the sermon was a breath of fresh air into the stiff royalty that must have felt a trifle stifling.
There was an impressive presence of African American celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Clooney, the tennis champion with her husband. The prayer by priest of black church of England and the solo music by Sheku Mason, the first black musician to win BBC young musician award in its 30 years' history and the gorgeous rendition of Ben key's 'Stand by me' performed by Christian choir of Black Britons were all stamps of assertive black presence in the congregation. There have never been so many minorities of clergy men and musicians before at the Windsor chapel. In a place predominantly so white and in an institution exclusively so white it was a gesture of profound significance. It was hugely symbolic on a global stage with potential to change the world view of the Royal and perhaps even Britain's view of itself.
The royal wedding of Harry and Meghan is a fusion of pageantry and pluralism, monarchy and modernity. The royal couple is a potential agent of change for the Royal family.
The writer is a former diplomat.
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