Royal weddings, royal births, pomp and circumstance and an attractive couple accustomed to the limelight make for the kind of story all can enjoy in political dark times. The mix of royalty and race gives this story importance beyond the fairy tale.
When Britain’s Prince Harry announced his intention to marry Meghan Markle, the engagement became more than celebrity watches and social media and what can legitimately be called fluff news. His choice of an American, an actress, a woman older than he and a divorcee signaled something bigger than the monarchy’s willingness to recognize the realities of the 21st century.
Monarchs were once assumed to be appointed by birthright to an authority granted by God. In a Western world without empires, royals became the aspirational example of the national character. Queen Elizabeth II has embodied that identity for nearly seven decades.
Now Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have the opportunity to be an example of the realities of a global nation. The great thing is that Harry and Meghan work despite coming from very different worlds. They work as royals, living gracefully in the spotlight. They work as parents, glowing with wonder over their first child, a mixed-race child.
Mixed-race children are the fastest growing demographic in Britain. America is about to become a minority majority nation. Caucasians will remain the largest single group, but the shorthand minority will apply to whites as legitimately as it has historically has only to people of color.
Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, happened because Brits that believe their economic needs are being overlooked and claim superiority because their personal ancestry is tied to a particular slice of history feel threatened by the changing face of what it means to be British.
The white supremacists who marched with torches through Charlottesville, Va., or attacked Jewish houses of worship elsewhere, feel threatened by the fact that theirs is no longer the default face of the United States.
Meghan, Harry and little Archie demonstrate that the best designation for any person is “human.” If the British monarchy can accept a biracial American as a duchess and, even more amazingly, a mixed-race American citizen in the line of succession to the throne, humans can stop separating themselves by race, nationality or even gender.
As people move around the world in unprecedented numbers, some by choice and most because of dire circumstances, mixing will be inevitable. It should be celebrated rather than feared.