Here's How Meghan Markle Is Breaking Royal Wedding Tradition In The Most Refreshing Way
When rumors started swirling that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were dating in October 2016, the internet lost it. How often do we get to see American representation (especially by a woman of color!) when it comes to the royal family? Not often, if ever! Just being who she is is one of the ways Meghan Markle is breaking royal wedding tradition, and on her wedding day, she broke the mold even further.
She walked down the aisle partly on her own, and partly with her father-in-law Prince Charles, instead of with her own father. She and Harry held hands throughout the ceremony. She opted to feature a sermon by The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church (and the first African-American to hold that position). She also had a choir composed primarily of people of color. None of these are typical choices for a British royal bride.
Below, even more ways Meghan's wedding and marriage to Prince Harry is so different from anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s 2018, y’all! Progress, at last.
1. Meghan is not a traditional royal bride.
Not only is Meghan American, but she’s also Catholic, half black, and divorced — all factors that would’ve caused controversy had she met and married Harry 20 years ago. It wasn’t until 2005, when Prince Charles married the divorced Camilla Parker Bowles, that the law was changed to reflect more current societal standards. I mean, divorced people get married all the time, but in the 1950s, when Princess Margaret (Queen Elizabeth’s sister) wanted to marry the also divorced Capt. Peter Townsend, she had to make a tough choice. Marry Townsend, or give up her title? According to People, she announced to the public, “Mindful of the Church’s teaching that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before any others.” Ouch.
But thankfully, it’s not the 1950s, and Harry can marry anyone he wants, really, especially since there’s virtually no chance he’ll ever be king. He is fifth in line, after all. According to People, in 2015, the Queen changed the rules so that any senior member of the royal family could marry a Catholic. The only catch is that if Meghan and Harry’s potential kids were to be raised Catholic, they couldn’t inherit the throne, since the monarch is also the head of the Church of England.
Meghan is also half black, making her the first woman of color to join the royal family we know today. Can I get a yaaaaaaaas?!
2. Harry & Meghan’s wedding cake was a different flavor than the traditional.
Traditionally, royal wedding cakes are of the fruitcake variety. Prince William and Duchess Kate had an eight-tiered fruitcake on their wedding day, because, well, it’s tradition! But not Meghan. She and Harry opted for a lemon elderflower cake from Violet Cakes, a London-based bakery. It might not seem like a huge deal, but it’s nice to see Meghan be able to have some say in what is no doubt the biggest day of her life. Also, fruitcake in general is kind of random? IDK. Give me chocolate or give me death.
3. Harry & Meghan didn’t have to invite world leaders that they honestly don’t know.
Because Harry is so far down in the line of succession, his wedding isn’t considered “an official state occasion and is regarded as a private ceremony,” CNN reports. That said, he and Meghan did not have to invite world leaders and stuffy dignitaries that they’ve never even met! So while I’m kind of bummed there will be no epic reunion between Prince George and former President Barack Obama, it's kind of great that Harry and Meghan don’t have to get married in front of a bunch of randos they don’t know. Honestly, who wants that?
4. The wedding wasn't at Westminster Abbey.
To be fair, Meghan and Harry aren’t the first royal couple to get married at St. George’s Chapel instead of at Westminster Abbey. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles held a short prayer service there when they got married in 2005, and in 2008, Harry’s cousin Peter Phillips married his wife, Autumn Kelly there, W magazine reports. So while they're not exactly breaking tradition here, they are making a statement. St. George’s Chapel accommodates 800 people, as opposed to Westminster Abbey, which accommodates 2000. It's also just outside Central London, and about an hour drive to Buckingham Palace, so no balcony kiss for these two. This just goes to show that Meghan and Harry value their privacy, and probably plan to be significantly more chill than the rest of the royal couples.
5. They invited members of the public.
On March 2, Kensington Palace announced that Harry and Meghan wanted "their Wedding Day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too." They made that happen by inviting 2,640 people to the Windsor Castle grounds to watch them and their guests arrive.
According to an official press release, 1200 people were nominated by nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices. Meghan and Harry asked that they include "young people who have shown strong leadership, and those who have served their communities." 200 of their public guests were from the charities that Harry and Meghan work with, 100 were from two local schools, 630 were Windsor Castle community members ("including residents of Windsor Castle and members of the St. George's Chapel community,") and 530 were members of The Royal Households and Crown Estate.
6. Meghan walked herself down the aisle.
Remember those adorable photos that circulated of Meghan's dad, Thomas Markle, reading a book called Images of Britain? Turns out those were staged, according to a report from Mail On Sunday, that was confirmed by Meghan's half-sister, Samantha Grant. On Monday, following that incident, Thomas reportedly told TMZ he would not be attending the wedding because he did not want to "embarrass the Royal Family or his daughter." But then on Tuesday (confusing, I know), he said he actually suffered a heart attack the week before the wedding, and although he checked himself out early in order to be able to attend, he ended up having heart surgery on Wednesday.
These conflicting reports resulted in a statement from Meghan via Kensington Palace on Thursday, where she confirmed her father would not be attending the wedding. "I have always cared for my father and hope he can be given the space he needs to focus on his health," the statement read. Given the circumstances, Kensington Palace announced on Friday that Prince Charles would be the one to walk Meghan down the aisle. And if that wasn't untraditional enough, Meghan actually walked herself down most of the aisle, and was joined by Prince Charles when she reached the Quire (where the main guests were sitting). Charles actually refrained from the traditional "hand over" and instead stood behind her as she approached Harry. Yes girl!
So yeah, Harry and Meghan are doing things a little differently, and honestly? Good for them! It's way past time the world had a royal couple we can (somewhat) relate to, and I, for one, can't wait to see how else these two continue to change the world's perception of royalty. Long live the Duke and Duchess!
7. Meghan didn't bow to the queen.
Following the wedding ceremony, Meghan didn't bow to her new husband's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. However, it's a royal tradition to bow to the queen (Kate Middleton did at her wedding).
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