With the royal wedding fast approaching, it is not unusual that entertainment news outlets – NBN included – are obsessing over the future bride-to-be and scrutinizing every possible detail about the engagement and marriage to follow. Look at virtually any celebrity magazine and you will be bombarded with dramatized stories about the royal couple’s honeymoon plans, wedding cakes and invitation lists. While some readers may indulge in the obscene amount of coverage Prince Harry and former actress Meghan Markle have received since the announcement of their engagement, most of the attention is on the bride’s unique background. Meghan has set forth a new royal era that has taken both the media and the public by storm.
Unlike many preceeding royals, Meghan does not embody the typical British monarch. She was born and raised in America, has been divorced, is three years older than her fiancé and spent most of her career as a successful actress on the USA Network show Suits. She is also biracial, unlike any other members of the royal family. Anyway you look at it, Meghan diverges from the traditional image upheld by current and past monarchs. But you probably already knew all of that because of the ultimate fun fact: she attended Northwestern.
The soon-to-be royal also has a long list of achievements. Besides her role as an actress, she was a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada, gave a speech on gender equality at a United Nations convention and wrote an article for Time magazine about menstruation in poor countries. It seems like she has done it all: actress, humanitarian and now, royal.
While her many accomplishments prior to the engagement are certainly impressive, what makes citizens across the world obsess over Meghan is arguably not her many achievements, but rather her proximity to the typical citizen. Like The Sunday Times correspondant Roya Nikkhah put it, she “has so much more in common with the rest of the world than members of the aristocracy or blue-blooded people who’ve traditionally married into the royal family.”
Sometimes it can be hard to relate to members of the royal family who seem very distant, both in status and influence. It is simple to praise Kate Middleton for her elegant style and grace, as well as her extensive charity work and adorable family. Although Kate was not born into royalty, she has become an important symbol of English society. Her royal etiquette, however, creates a gap between her and common people. In contrast, Meghan’s background makes her more approachable and accessible to the typical person. She worked hard to build a career for herself and thrived in doing so. The fact that she is an alumna of Northwestern already makes her more relatable to most Wildcats than many of today’s famous or influential world leaders. While going to Northwestern may in itself reflect some privilege, she has been open about some of her college experiences, making it easier for people to connect with her.
Now that Meghan is engaged to Prince Harry, people of similar backgrounds have reason to believe that they too can become royalty. If Meghan rose to the role of an influential monarch, who is to say the next person can not do it, too? Of course, love between the bride and groom was the defining factor in their relationship, but perhaps Meghan would have never met her future husband in the first place had she not first worked hard to land a successful job. After all, she was in Toronto filming her TV show when she was set up on a blind date with Prince Harry by a mutual friend. While Meghan did enjoy certain privileges that have made her who she is today, such as having supportive parents that pushed her to pursue her career, her hard work reminds people that it is possible to get past barriers, both of tradition and practice.
Although some Brits are not so pleased with Meghan’s engagement to one of Britain’s most “eligible bachelors” because of the myriad of traditions she is breaking at once, with some espousing quiet racism, it is this rupture that has others infatuated. With the wedding to take place in less than two weeks, outlets of all sorts will continue to fill up your feed with countless articles detailing the couple’s every move. Prince William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 was watched by 2 billion people worldwide, which hints Harry and Meghan’s will likely be no different.
Whether you like Meghan or not, there is no denying she has stolen the world’s spotlight. Her modern take on royalty is unprecedented and compelling. As for Northwestern students, the fact that she is one of us makes her that much more engaging. While this wedding has captured the attention of the media, Meghan has captured the affection of the people.