Unless you’ve been living under the world’s most impenetrable rock, you’d know that come Saturday, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married.
The story goes like this: Rogue, motherless Prince, falls for rising Hollywood star with somewhat colourful background. Both of them are beautiful, likeable, smart and ostensibly good people. What’s not to like?
But even for me, the world’s greatest lover of all things mushy (even peas), the media fanfare around the pair, has been hard to stomach. Daytime television, night time television, radio, print, digital, carrier pigeon– everywhere you dare to turn Meghan and Harry will be there. Last night, I dreamt I was at the wedding. I got tipsy with Camilla, and that was fun, but you catch my drift. The royals are everywhere at the moment, and it’s all a bit much.
While watching one of the many (seemingly continually streaming) TV shows, documenting the couple last night however, it occurred to me how truly momentous their story really is. Meghan is the antidote to all things rigid and bland within the Royal family. She’s the next wave, and symbolic of wider change in a world that’s taken a long time to progress.
A self-proclaimed feminist, Markle has been championing the cause since the age of 11, when she first disputed a sexist dishwashing liquid advertisement by Proctor & Gamble.
Markle wrote to news anchor, Linda Ellerbee, who hosted a kids news program at the time, as well as to powerhouse attorney Gloria Allred and to the manufacturer of the dishwashing soap itself. A month later, P&G changed the ad slogan from “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans” to “people all over America”.
Markle remarked during a speech last year, that the outcome had caused her to reflect on her capacity for influence. “It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions,” she said. “At the age of 11, I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.”
And since that time, she’s helped to shine a bigger, brighter more global spotlight on the need for equality as an “Advocate for Political Participation and Leadership” for the women’s agency of the United Nations. In her role for UN Women, Markle’s spent time at the World Bank and with the team of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She followed up with a trip to Rwanda, which has the highest percentage of women in parliament and where she also met with female refugees.
And such advocacy is not a path that Markle is willing to walk alone– she expects Harry to match her enthusiasm. During a public outing in March, Markle proclaimed to a fan that her soon to be husband embraced being a feminist. Prince Harry backed this up during a trip to Brixton, telling young DJs discussing gender equality: “As males we have to do our part or it’s not going to work.”
Despite possible backlash, the couple have reinforced this message time and time again. Speaking at the first annual Royal Foundation Forum along with Kate Middleton and Prince William last month, Markle was asked how she’d continue to focus on the empowerment of women and girls within the royal charitable vehicle.
She didn’t hesitate. Drawing on the examples of #MeToo and #TimesUp she argued that men’s support of women makes a “fundamental difference.” ‘What’s interesting is, I hear a lot of people – when speaking about girls and women empowerment – you’ll often hear people say, “well, you’re helping women finding their voices and I fundamentally disagree with that”,’ she said.
‘Women don’t need to find a voice, they have a voice, and they need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to be encouraged to listen.’
Critics have suggested that Markle’s pursuits in this space, verge on political and are therefore not in line with the royal agenda. But, the whole point is that Meghan and Harry are redefining the way things have been traditionally done. This is their purpose, and in doing so they’re shaking up the establishment in the best way possible.
A wedding is something to look forward to. A royal wedding, with a truck-load of hype, pomp and millions of dollars propelling it, is even more exciting. But, a royal couple, with big vision, huge passion and no fear, is the most invigorating aspect of this all.