The Royal Wedding is not another Cinderella story

A look at why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s union is worth celebrating

A display at the Mastantuono family’s Royal Wedding viewing party.

On the morning of May 19, British royal Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle on live television, affording the general public a true “Where were you when...?” moment.  While this may not sound important to the average Queen’s student, the story of Markle—an actress turned real-life princess—offers a universal lesson.      

Years from now, I’ll remember where I was when the royal couple tied the knot: at my cottage, surrounded by amazing women, popping champagne, brewing Earl Grey tea, and buttering one too many homemade scones. 

While it’s safe to say that my family has a strong case of royal fever, I don’t think we’re alone. An estimated 13 million people—or around 40 percent of Canada’s population—tuned in across the country to watch the couple say, “I will,” in a sunny Windsor, England.

This begs the question: why is there such widespread fascination with, what really is, just a wedding?  

Since the blind date in July 2016 that brought them together, the world has watched Harry and Markle’s fairytale romance unfold. Despite her seven-season stint on the popular legal drama Suits, Markle lived a relatively quiet life in Toronto before becoming associated with the Royal Family.

Within months of meeting, Markle was juggling her career as an actress and blogger, all the while flying across the world to spend time with the Prince. 

Once engaged—and once she traded walking her dogs down the streets of Toronto for a walk down the aisle—Markle instantly drew global envy and public obsession.

Although Markle managed to find and marry her Prince Charming, she’s no Cinderella. 

She exceeds that fairy-tale by a country mile.  

Markle, who is now the first-ever Duchess of Sussex, is a remarkably non-traditional wife by royal standards. Not only is she an American actress, but also a biracial divorcée,  passionate humanitarian and social activist. 

Successfully protesting a sexist Proctor & Gamble soap commercial at only 11 years old, Markle’s a longtime advocate for women’s rights and gender equality. She has dedicated her adult life to working with charitable organizations like World Vision, One Young World, and the United Nations. 

And if the Royal Wedding itself is any indication, her role as Duchess won’t stop her from fighting for change.  

The televised ceremony, hailed by The Guardian as “a rousing celebration of blackness,” broke royal tradition in a variety of ways. 

In a nod to Markle’s mixed heritage, the wedding service featured an electrifying sermon on the “redemptive power of love” by African-American bishop Michael Curry. Viewers and attendees were also treated to The Kingdom Choir’s soulful rendition of African-American singer Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” and a performance by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the first black musician to win the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year award.   

The wedding has certainly left many people excited for how Markle will use her new royal platform.  

Shortly after her wedding to Prince Harry, Kensington Palace launched Markle’s own page on the Royal Family’s official website. Sitting amongst a brief overview of her life and an account of her charitable endeavors is a promising quote from the Duchess herself: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.” 

Back in February, at the first annual Royal Foundation Forum, Markle confirmed her plans to continue to empower women and girls, taking the opportunity to reference the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements. 

“You’ll often hear people say, ‘Well, you’re helping women finding their voices’ and I fundamentally disagree with that,” Markle said. “Women don’t need to find a voice. They have a voice. They need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen.” 

While the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may seem trivial at best to those of us living across the pond, there is significance behind all the pomp and circumstance. When the Royal Wedding craze dies down, the new Duchess will continue to inspire and empower millions.  

Much like Kensington Palace and the Royal Family, our own university honours its history and long-standing traditions. For us at Queen’s, Markle stands as a reminder that while tradition should be respected, we need to make room for improvement, diversity and inclusion on and off campus. 

Taken at face value, the lesson to be learned from Markle’s groundbreaking induction into the Royal Family may seem to be “anyone can be a princess.” However, in reality, Markle’s impressive accomplishments prove anyone with enough passion and drive can bring positive change to even the most traditional environments. 

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