If you weren’t swept by the significance of the marriage between Prince Harry and Megan Markle on Saturday, 19 May 2018, you’re a cold-hearted cynic or you’re blissfully unaware of the groundswell of public discourse on diversity and a need for greater inclusion. The fact that the mother of the bride, Doria Ragland, was resplendent in her dreadlocks and an elegant outfit, so poised and graceful; Bishop Michael Curry awakened the angels in heaven and the gospel choir brought rhythm and soul to an otherwise staid, exclusive centuries-old institution, allowed me to forget my humdrum, daily challenges and made my soul sing. That’s before we even get to the actual love-story of the two beautiful, compassionate human beings.
Obviously, social media was awash with commentary. Most complementary and happy, but it wouldn’t be the real world if we didn’t have the haters and detractors. One that stood out for me was a post by someone, from the masculine sex; a pic of a much younger Meghan with a friend posing outside Buckingham Palace. Sweet. But the comment just killed it; something along the lines of “a purposeful princess in waiting’. What? Meghan Markle was definitely not a woman waiting to be married, let alone a princess. With public and media interest heightened around this feisty, independent, drop-dead-gorgeous woman, we’ve come to understand that the Duchess of Sussex was nurtured decades ago, before she even entered her teens.
While we reminisced about the beauty of the recent nuptials later that day, Mr T and I got into the discussion of whether this was an achievement or not. A male radio talk show host summarily dismissed a male who called the morning show the day before the wedding to enthuse that the marriage was indeed an achievement. Hubby tended to agree with the talk show host; this was nothing significant. There has been no accomplishment that is usually associated with academic, career, business or even altruistic achievement. So, becoming a member of British aristocracy is really nothing to aspire to. Sure.
But I saw a different side of the argument. Merely being welcomed into the Windsor family is not, what I would consider, an achievement. The two most notable commoners have been the late Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge, more recently. So been there, done that. This wedding signifies a major shift in our worldview and therefore is a historic achievement. Not just for Meghan Markle, but for her husband, as well. It is significant as another glass ceiling has been shattered. It’s reminiscent of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. I just smile thinking about it. Black, brown, people of colour, whatever you’d like to call us, are sending a clear message to the world: we are not just equal, we are more than capable of holding positions of leadership and elevation in any society.
On the marriage. It must never ever to be associated with achievement. For anyone. Particularly, women. And as we take on roles of power and independence and ascend to higher echelons, those among us who may not be attached through matrimonial vows are still viewed as inferior, some are the most vulnerable in society. Marriage, in itself, is a concept founded on the basis of human interaction. We crave companionship, love, community and so on. But it has been sanctified by religious and political order as a formal union and creates another level in the stratosphere of contemporary culture.
You may disagree with the institution, but what is very clear is that our patriarchal society still favours men over women in this merger. Women throughout the ages continue to believe that their place in society is as a wife. A subservient one, at that. What the Duchess of Sussex has shown is that you can create your own rules. At 36 years old, divorced, an actress and black, she has, like Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Oprah, Michelle Obama and many others before her, paved the path for all of us to dream. Not about being married, but living our true authentic selves and achieving beyond expectations.