Whether we are monarchists or in a favour of a republic, the announcement of Prince Harry`s engagement to Meghan Markle is definite cause for a little champagne! The British and the Americans have long enjoyed a ´special relationship´, sharing the pleasures of language, culture and friendship. Recently, with first Brexit and then the election of Donald Trump, this relationship has however appeared threatened by intolerance and isolationism.
The happy couple met eighteen months ago, on a blind date. So powerful was the magic of this encounter that it was soon followed up by a five-day holiday in Botswana, where the Prince said they camped “under the stars”. On their return from this holiday, they managed to keep their relationship confidential, only revealing it to the full blast of media attention around month five.
Much of this attention, predictably from certain British tabloids, was discriminatory and racist, focusing on Meghan Markle`s mixed racial origins – her mother is an African American and descended from a slave.
This week the couple gave a television interview from their home Nottingham Cottage, in the grounds of Kensington Palace and rather charmingly described by Harry as “our little cottage”. We learnt how the Prince had gone down on one knee to propose to the beautiful Meghan, while they were roasting chicken for their dinner, and offered her a ring that he had designed himself and which contains two stones that once belonged to Princess Diana.
Members of the royal family are trained from birth to communicate with ease as they go through the various episodes of their royal `series`, surely the longest running and probably the most successful ever. Meghan has also clocked up seven years in the TV drama ´Suits`, no mean feat in a profession in which success does not necessarily equate with longevity. She is equally a born communicator.
Don`t get me wrong though. I do not mean to snipe. The couple`s engagement is fantastic news! The symbol of a member of the British royal family not only marrying someone from outside his own circle – as the Prince put it -, but also ´reaching out` across the Atlantic to embrace an articulate and successful professional woman involved in humanitarian work, is an extremely powerful one. Harry has done a lot of travelling, as a soldier in the British army and more recently as the Queen`s representative, and I hope I will be forgiven for using here the cliché ´travel broadens the mind´.
It also extremely good news that this international couple are intending to use their position and the “responsibility of having a voice” to work for change in the world and involve young people in this process. Harry spoke during the interview of their shared “passion for change”. It remains to be seen what they will actually achieve in the years ahead, but I am sure that they will be able to use their ability to communicate and their considerable empathy to help develop a new and inclusive purpose for a younger monarchy, while providing a counter model to the haters and isolationists. Let`s hope that their political minders give them the space to do this.
Apparently Meghan was immediately loved by the corgis and this is probably an excellent omen. Anyway, I´m raising my glass – very best of luck to both of you!
The author, James Mayor, is the founder of Grape Discoveries, a wine and culture boutique travel company
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