Our Europe Editor, Brittani Barger, from Tennessee, U.S.A, shares her thoughts on the announcement of fellow American, Meghan Markle’s engagement to Prince Harry.
Earlier this week Clarence House announced that Prince Harry was to marry American actress Meghan Markle, and it has since been confirmed that it will take place in May 2018 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Of course, Meghan is not the first American, or the first American actress, to marry into royalty. Rita Hayworth and Grace Kelly did long before her. However, that was a different generation. The majority of us following the news now were not old enough or even born to remember what it was like when Rita and Grace became royal.
So what is it like as an American hearing the news? For most of us, we are happy for the couple and proud that one of our own will now become a member of the British Royal Family. It was top news all across the States this week with Harry and Meghan’s faces plastered to newspapers and magazines. The New York Post‘s cover showed the excitement many have over the upcoming nuptials with the caption “American Princess. It’s a revolution! Harry to wed Yank.”
Many don’t seem to understand that Meghan will not be a princess in her own right. She will not be Princess Meghan. She’s likely to become Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex (or another dukedom) if Her Majesty bestows the title upon Harry on the day of his wedding. If The Queen chooses to not give Harry a dukedom, then she would be referred to as Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Wales (like was done for Princess Michael of Kent). However, as she will still hold her American citizenship when she marries Prince Harry, she will be an American ‘princess’ to many here.
Oh, what would our Founding Fathers have to say about Americans and their fascination with the Crown? Then, we were so fed up with the Royal Family, we overthrew them but will now have one of our own join their ranks. We have come a long way since kicking crazy King George III out and ridding ourselves of the British Monarchy.
It has been announced that Meghan will become a citizen of the United Kingdom, as well. According to United States law, if she still holds her US citizenship when she and Harry have a child, that child, too, will be an American citizen through her (as was done with the three children of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (née Kelly). This would put their children as the closest Americans in line to the British throne (as the two grandchildren of Princess Anne through her son Peter and his Canadian wife Autumn are the closest Canadians in line to the throne). Of course, Harry and Meghan’s children could always renounce their citizenship when they are older like Prince Albert of Monaco did when he was 21.
A recent study looked into Meghan’s family background, and as a Tennessean, I was pleasantly surprised to see her grandparents were from East Tennessee – Chattanooga to be exact. Growing up roughly an hour and a half away from Chattanooga myself, it is nice to see someone like her have roots in our great state like myself. Any type of royal tour that comes to the US with Harry and Meghan, I can say, that they would be welcomed with open arms. She may not have been born and raised in Tennessee, but the way it works around here, we will happily say she’s one of us.
For Americans, too, when they now hear a member of the Royal Family speak they will hear one with a similar accent – who grew up in a life probably not too dissimilar than their own in the US. Meghan will bring a bit of her American flare and culture into the UK and the Royal Family. Some American traditions and customs will come along with her, and I’m sure Harry will want their children to be exposed to both cultures – the UK and the US. They probably will grow up celebrating American Thanksgiving (long said to be Meghan’s favourite holiday) each November, although maybe not the 4th of July, as much. They may grow up enjoying American sports like baseball, basketball, (American) football, and ice hockey. They could grow up to be fans of their mom’s hometown teams like the Los Angeles Kings or Los Angeles Rams.
I’m sure many Americans couldn’t care less about an American marrying into the most well-known family in the world, but for those that do, it is an exciting time. We get to see one of our own officially carrying the flag for the UK, but also the US, in wonderful, poised fashion. As the saying goes here, “You can take the girl out of America, but you can’t take the America out of the girl.”
I know she will make us all very proud on both sides of the pond.