Skip to main content

Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their royal engagement

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's future wife
by Genevieve, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY-2.0)


Just last week we were talking about the 70th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. But now there’s even more royal marriage news to celebrate. As you've probably heard by now, Prince Harry (his royal title is actually Prince Henry of Wales) and Meghan Markle are officially engaged.

Markle is joining the highly select group of American women who have married into foreign royal families. Outside of Hallmark movies, where an American girl falling in love with a prince and becoming a princess is an oft-repeated and popular plot device, it rarely happens.

There have been less than a dozen American women who’ve married royalty. American actress Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainer of Monaco in 1956, and Queen Noor of Jordan, born Lisa Najeeb Halaby, who married King Hussein of Jordan in 1978, are two famous examples. Town and Country Magazine profiles 11 American women who married into royalty in this article


Grace Kelly in an undated MGM publicity photo

And, of course, Britons are not likely to forget Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American socialite who caught the eye of Edward, Prince of Wales, and for whom he abdicated his throne in 1937 after being crowned King Edward VIII of England. The relationship between Wallis and Edward precipitated a constitutional crisis.


Wallis Simpson in 1936



Meghan Markle is also an American, and she's been divorced, too, but that’s where any similarities between her and Wallis Simpson end.

Unlike Wallis, Meghan was divorced long over before she met her prince.

And far from being the social climber Simpson was, Markle has had a professional career as an actor and model (she’s probably best-known in this country for her role as Rachel Zane in the USA Network show Suits).

She’s also been involved in charitable and humanitarian work around the world. In 2016 she was a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda to support the Clean Water Campaign. She's also involved in other international issues, serving as an ambassador for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. 

Finally, in contrast to Wallis and Edward, Harry and Meghan’s wedding won’t have any consequences that could affect the royal succession. For one thing, Harry isn't the reigning monarch, as Edward was. The Prince is currently fifth in line to be king, and after his brother's third child is born this spring, Harry will drop back to 6th position, making it highly unlikely that either he or his children would ever inherit the throne.

Readers of this blog may be interested to know that there's a Regency-era parallel to this marriage between an American and a Briton at the highest level of society, but the social leader in question was the son of an American president who would one day be a U.S. president, too, and it was his wife who was English. 

When Louisa Catherine Johnson, an English girl of 19, met John Quincy Adams in London in 1794 and fell in love, she was destined to become not only his wife but also the first First Lady born outside of the United States. (There have been only two to date – Louisa and our current First Lady, Melania Trump, who was born in Yugoslavia.)

Louisa Adams by Gibert Stuart, circa 1821-26


Louisa had an American father and an English mother, but despite her paternal American roots, her husband's political enemies faulted her for being English. She came with Adams to America in 1801, and thereafter she divided her time between the Adams family seat in Quincy, Massachusetts, a home in Boston and a place in Washington, D.C. Her grandson Henry Adams said of his English-American grandmother that the fact that she was never fully accepted in Boston society was her “cross in life.”

Markle has announced that she will retire from acting (I imagine being a royal is a full-time job) and my guess is that she’ll immerse myself into the charitable work that Harry and the rest of royals do as a matter of course.

An announcement from Clarence House, the home of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, said that Harry and Meghan's wedding will take place next spring. The announcement also said that additional wedding details will be revealed “in due course.” However, it’s already been reported by the BBC News that the wedding will be in May in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle and that afterward the newly-weds will live in Harry’s current residence, Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace.

According to British online news source The Telegraph, it’s traditional for male members of the royal family to get a title on their wedding day (for Prince Philip it was the Duke of Edinburgh; for William it was the Duke of Cambridge) and it’s likely Harry will be given the currently vacant title of Duke of Sussex. If that does indeed happen, Meghan will become the Duchess of Sussex.  


I’d like to join millions of others in sending the newly-engaged couple my congratulations and good wishes. And I like to think that Diana, too, if she were here would be just as happy as her son is about his upcoming nuptials.

The Prince in 2017 in Toronto at the Invictus Games,
taken by E.J. Hersom, CC-BY-2.0

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Additional sources for this post include:

The First Ladies (Seventh Edition) by Margaret Brown Klapthor, White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C., c. 1994


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Cato Street Conspiracy

Conspiracy and treason go hand in hand. Throughout history, conspirators have huddled in back rooms and dark corners in secret, concocting schemes that are both dangerous and illegal. So it’s no surprise that their plans often spiral out of control and end in disaster. 
A good example of a conspiracy plot gone wrong happened during the Regency. It’s been dubbed the Cato Street Conspiracy because of where the conspirators were caught. This is a tale that, according to historian J.B. Priestley (author of The Prince of Pleasure and his Regency) “begins in absurdity and ends in horror.”
The year was 1820. Though the Napoleonic Wars were over, Britain had paid a heavy price for its victory against the French. The costs of the war had strained the country’s economy. The working classes were hit hard by periods of famine, rising food prices due to the Corn Laws, and high unemployment, the latter driven by soldiers returning from the battlefields of Europe and looking for work. And of course, t…

The end of the Holy Roman Empire, or what happens when the Empire doesn't strike back

This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper
T.S. Eliot wasn't actually describing the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire when he wrote those words in his poem, “The Hollow Men.” Nonetheless, his words are an extremely apt way to describe the end of the Holy Roman Empire, which ended quietly with a stroke of a pen exactly 212 years ago in August of 1806. That’s when the last emperor decided it was his duty to abdicate, letting the ancient dominion under his protection dissolve rather than allow Napoleon to usurp the role of Holy Roman Emperor and everything that came with it. By that August the end of the empire had become inevitable. Napoleon’s victory over Russia and Austria at the Battle of Austerlitz in December of 1805 and his formation of the Confederation of the Rhine the following July (after he convinced 16 German princes to renounce their allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire and join him) were fatal blows. Throughout its thousand-year history, the Empire e…

Macaroni Men and Yankee Doodles

November is a month that here in the United States is defined by food, culminating in a huge Thanksgiving Day feast. It's also the month we honor our military veterans. So I'm going to focus on both food and patriotism - especially an Italian pasta product that became synonymous with a controversial English fashion and developed uniquely American associations.
During the 18th century, it was all the rage for young men of the English nobility to take a trip through Europe to soak up its art and culture. It was called the Grand Tour.
In Italy, these privileged lads discovered a pasta dish far removed from their usual British fare. It was called maccaroni, and they raved about it when they got back home. The travelers became known as the Macaroni Club, though there is no evidence an actual club ever existed.
But it wasn't their love of pasta recipes that made the club members distinctive. Along with foreign food, these young aristocrats adopted a style of dress and behavior that…