Even in the modern world, the Royal Family’s lives are bound by centuries-old traditions. Almost every aspect of their existence is dictated to them – from the clothes they can wear, their opinions on current events (or lack thereof), and perhaps most significantly, who they can marry.
The latter is especially true of senior royals, and the most prominent example of this came in the 1930s when King Edward VIII was forced abdicate the throne to marry divorced American socialite Wallace Simpson, as her status as a divorcee made their union unacceptable by royal standards.
This abdication went on to change the course of history, causing Edward’s younger brother, George VI, to take his place and subsequently putting Elizabeth II in direct line to the throne despite the fact that at the time of her birth in 1926 no one ever expected her to become queen.
During the early part of Elizabeth’s reign, tradition also forced her to make some extremely difficult decisions when it came to marriage, forcing her to prevent the union of her younger sister Margret and the divorced Peter Townsend in 1953, as was recently dramatized in The Crown.
In the twenty-first century, however, the traditions which had once broken the hearts of royals were lapsed when it came to marriage, and this led to the future king Prince Charles marrying the love of his life, Camilla Parker Bowles, then a divorcée, in 2005.
So, naturally, when it came to choosing a bride of his own, Prince Harry, was going to follow his heart and once again engage in a royal first.
Dubbed the Playboy Prince for his rebellious antics in his youth, Prince Harry broke with tradition in November of last year when he announced that he was engaged to divorced Amerian actress Meghan Markle, but what really raised eyebrows was that Meghan herself was mixed race.
To discover how the couple was subject to racist abuse, watch the video below:
Meghan’s mother Doria is African-American whereas her father, Thomas, is Dutch-Irish, and the 36-year-old duchess describes herself as mixed race – a difference which she revealed led to her being singled out for racist abuse when she was younger too.
In an article for Elle magazine, Meghan wrote, “Being biracial paints a blurred line that is equal parts staggering and illuminating.”
“While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that.”
“To say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
While Meghan and Harry’s marriage was arguably the most progressive royal union the world had ever seen, the most progressive ever is just on the horizon as the Royals will soon be having their first gay wedding – something which would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
The union was recently announced between Lord Ivar Mountbatten (Queen Elizabeth’s cousin), pictured on the bottom left, and his partner James Coyle. Their relationship was publically announced in 2016. Prior to this, Lord Mountbatten had been married to a woman.
Despite the upcoming wedding being extremely unconventional by royal standards, Lord Mountbatten’s extended family are reportedly extremely supportive, and Prince Edward (the queen’s youngest son) and his wife Sophie have said that they “adore James” – although they will be unable to attend the upcoming wedding this summer.
What’s more is that Lord Mountbatten’s ex-wife, Penny, who is the mother of his three children, has agreed to walk him down the aisle.
“It was the girls’ idea,” she said. “It makes me feel quite emotional. I’m really very touched.”
Unlike Meghan and Harry’s wedding, however, the first gay royal wedding will be very small, with around 120 people attending, James revealed.
“For me, what’s interesting is I don’t need to get married because I’ve been there, done that and have my wonderful children; but I’m pushing it because I think it’s important for him,” Lord Mountbatten said. “James hasn’t had the stable life I have. I want to be able to give [him] that.”
We would like to take this opportunity to wish the happy couple all the best for their upcoming nuptials. Their union is a reflection of the fact that the monarchy has changed for the better – and this progressive change will undoubtedly help it to survive long into the future.