On May 19th, Prince Henry of Wales was married to Meghan Markle, now a former actress recognized for her role as Rachel Zane on the well-known TV show Suites.
Understandably, many people were excited about “the wedding of the year.” Millions of fans and followers of the Royal Family could not help but fawn over Markle’s beautiful wedding dress, the loving gazes the bride and groom shared with one another during the ceremony, and the extensive celebrity guest list. Unsurprisingly, the Royal Wedding was a trending topic on multiple social media sites, such as Twitter and Tumblr.
Markle was also applauded for “embracing” her African-American heritage. Unfortunately, when Markle’s engagement to Prince Henry was first announced, there were quite a few people who could not handle the fact that Prince Henry was getting married to a person of color. This could be seen during the couple’s first interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain. The interview was streamed on Periscope, and comments containing derogatory terms like “jungle fever,” “gold digger,” “biracial commoner,” “whitest black girl,” and “unsuitable” appeared on the screen during the broadcast (Parke).
Markle was lauded for responding to the hateful, racist opposition by ensuring that her black identity was integral to the wedding. For instance, “Bishop Michael Curry — a black American Episcopal from Chicago—gave an address on the redemptive power of love that quoted liberally from the black spiritual tradition” (Grady). Curry’s speech contained quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. and also “spent time on the legacy of slavery” (Grady), which is undoubtedly an uncomfortable topic for the Royal Family. Curry’s address was “a break with royal wedding tradition,” which typically had “British priests from the Church of England preside over royal events” (Grady).
However, there were a number of people who were extremely unhappy about the wedding. A few days before the event, it was revealed that Simon Dudley, the Tory council leader in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, ordered the police to “clear the area of rough sleepers and beggars before the royal wedding” (Nagesh). After the heavy backlash, Dudley defended himself, stating that he had made a mistake, but the damage had been done. Protests were quickly organized. A popular one was “No Jacket Required,” which was led by Rising Up and had more than 1,000 attendees.
Even now, people are unsure whether or not the controversy surrounding the Royal Wedding was worth the uproar it caused. While some defend the Royal Family, claiming that the negativity was unneeded and exaggerated in the time of this happy occurrence, others point out that a wedding, even a royal one, is not an excuse to treat the homeless in such a manner. Although people may wish for this controversy to blow over, this will most likely continue to be a problem for future royal weddings as well.
Parke, Phoebe. “If You Think Racism Is Over Now That Harry’s Met Meghan, Read These Tweets.” Grazia, Grazia, 28 Nov. 2017, graziadaily.co.uk/celebrity/news/meghan-markle-racism-twitter/.
Grady, Constance. “Bishop Michael Curry Brought the Black American Church to the Royal Wedding.” Vox, Vox, 19 May 2018, www.vox.com/culture/2018/5/19/17371708/royal-wedding-address-sermon-bishop-michael-curry.
Nagesh, Ashitha. “Protesters Are Going to the Royal Wedding with Sleeping Bags and Cardboard Signs.” Metro, Metro.co.uk, 14 Jan. 2018, metro.co.uk/2018/01/14/protesters-going-royal-wedding-sleeping-bags-cardboard-signs-7228382/.