Upon entering St. George’s Chapel independently at the Windsor Castle to exiting the wedding ceremony to the song “This Little Light of Mine” – Etta James’ civil rights anthem, the now titled HRH Duke and Duchess of Sussex (did you know Meghan will be the first woman to ever hold this title? True.) did indeed curate their wedding ceremony uniquely to themselves.
While the true reason as to why Meghan’s father didn’t attend the ceremony may never be known, her choosing to walk the first length of the aisle on her own is absolutely fitting and most appropriate. The customary practice of “giving away” a grown woman has for some time discomfited me as it is an antiquated tradition which began as the daughter was seen as property being given to the husband. As traditions are powerful and some are most worth continuing (a procession afterwards to thank and greet the guests, exchanging of the rings, vows, just to name a few), symbolically and in order to move forward as a culture and in society, knowing why traditions were created is important as what we keep and what we leave out often speaks louder than any words. Meghan walking confidently and gracefully and of her free will to marry Prince Harry was symbolic and quietly powerful. Inviting Prince Charles to join her the final length of the aisle was a lovely gesture, and I applaud the queen (or whomever, or maybe no one’s permission was needed) for supporting this break with tradition for both lengths of the aisle.
Viewing the entire event from arrivals to the final carriage procession to wave to celebrators of the marriage who came from near and far, perked my emotions and prompted more than a few teary-eyed moments. While it might be tempting, and understandably so, to compare Meghan and Harry’s wedding to previous royal nuptials, letting this wedding (as all wedding should) stand alone as a moment in and of itself not only for the couple, but for the world’s current culture as well as the moment of a modern woman’s choice of whom and when and how to wed her love is much deserved.
Perhaps part of the reason many more people around the globe came to celebrate yesterday’s special occasion just outside of London is because the royal British family has been depicted more intimately as of late (albeit on fictional sound stages) in Victoria and The Crown. The opportunity and likelihood that more sympathy has grown for their lavish, yet restricted life is quite possible. After all, both drama series debuted well after Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding in 2011. And yes, Meghan is visually striking and her style choices are impeccable and have inspired many a blog and shopping post (even on this blog), but what moves me, what keeps my attention when it comes to this couple, and especially Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is her intelligence, her independence, her strength and femininity (and it doesn’t hurt that she is devoted doggie mama as well – did you hear that the her beagle Guy drove with the queen on the eve of the wedding to Windsor Castle?).
Some in Britain fear that Meghan may “celebritize” the monarchy too much and on the other end of the spectrum others worry that by being more approachable, outwardly more congenial, make the royals appear “normal” and thus “the less people will see the point of the institution of monarchy.” However, one of the good fortunes that remains of being a part of a royal family is having an expansive and significant platform to do good, to reach and meet people from around the globe, to cast influence. And if that influence is one to promote love as Bishop Michael Curry so passionately and beautifully shared with the 600 invited to the wedding, one of equality, one of inclusion and one of supporting of soldiers whose lives and limbs have been given for their country, than the potential “normal” they may become is something I would welcome and look forward to.
What was most refreshing about watching a royal wedding was watching an accomplished, successful, intelligent, philanthropic, feminist, feminine woman step forward into an adventure for something that is never guaranteed for any of us – the giving and receiving of love. While yes, we may choose to give love (and if we are to heed Bishop Curry’s sermon, we absolutely should), we can never control or know what will or if it will be reciprocated or for how long. And it can be absolutely frightening, especially after hurts and heartbreaks of any kind to continue to be confident in our life journey, but if Meghan demonstrates something most wonderfully, it is to be the strong, focused individual on something more than “getting married” or “being in a relationship”. Instead focus on what you can bring to the world. What is that one (or two or three) amazing gifts that you can contribute? If it means an exploration with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a USO tour to Afghanistan as Meghan did in 2014, say yes. If it means becoming an ambassador for One Young World and speaking out about gender equality and modern slavery, say yes. If it means refusing to be a “lady who lunches and rather a woman who works” as Meghan shared she always preferred to be the latter, say yes. And if it means taking the opportunity to be a UN Women advocate and an ambassador for World Vision traveling to Rwanda for a clean water campaign, say yes.
What you say yes to will be unique to you, but the point is to stop focusing on the limiting notion of a “fairy tale” as the traditional Disney films would have us to believe. Instead focus on the legacy you want to leave, the inspiration you want to give to the world and how you can contribute positively. If along the way you meet your “Prince Harry”, fantastic. But ultimately you need to be in love with your journey because that is what will light up the world.
To the bride and groom, to the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex, may their union be strong, long and loving, and may the world be better because they were united.
Updated 5/21/18: The Duchess of Sussex’s website is now up, and prominently displayed is the following: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”
Articles and posts from around the web you may enjoy about the details of the Royal Wedding:
~As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wed, a New Era Dawns
~an NPR interview with Bishop Curry about the scripture which inspired his sermon
~The history of the Aquamarine ring of Princess Diana‘s that Meghan wore after the reception
~All the details of the dress, designer, veil and more
~Thanks Meghan Markle, We Needed That
~A few extra details shared by Habitually Chic. Did you notice the empty chair by Prince William? Discover what many speculate was the reason.
~The Cellist – Sheku Kanneh-Mason (need I say more?)
~Vogue UK’s images of the guests to the Royal Wedding
~(view all 53 here)