• 06 Jan - 12 Jan, 2018
  • Shahed Sadullah
  • London Eye

Whenever there is a royal wedding in the offing, Britain relives the Cinderella fairy tale. The story itself is more than 2,000 years old, the earliest known variant having emerged in Greece when the Greek geographer Strabo in around 7BC recounted the story of Rhodopius, a slave girl who married the King of Egypt. By this time the Romans had conquered Egypt so it is unlikely that there was an ‘Egyptian king’ at that time, but if there had been one, perhaps a slave girl would be as much as he could afford. Since then the story has been rehashed many times till it made its appearance in 1812 in the collection of fairy tales known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

With the announcement of the wedding of Prince Harry, the younger of the two sons of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, to the American divorcee Meghan Markle, we are in Cinderella mode once again, with everything that Ms Markle wears in public receiving the most minute attention. Obviously, she is supposed to be beautiful beyond words and everything she wears is most beautiful beyond words and, for that matter, everything she says is so lovely. Christmas only adds to the magic of it all.

All of which is rather different from the last time a member of the Royal Family wanted to marry an American divorcee.

King Edward VIII had to abdicate in 1938 to do that, an event that ‘shook the world’ coming as it did just before the start of the Second World War. Prince Harry is not in a position where he may be deemed to be in close contention for the throne but even if he were, it is extremely doubtful if anywhere near the same amount of fuss would have been created. Times have changed, and in any case, Ms Markle is much prettier than Mrs Wallis Simpson.

For that matter, Ms Markle’s American heritage has already shown up and the first salvoes have been fired by her half-sister from the other side of the pond, in response to what has probably been seen as a rather condescending remark by Prince Harry. In the course of a radio interview the Prince, while explaining how he was introducing his wife to the Royal Family into which she was marrying, remarked that the royals would be the family that Ms Markle never had. There is no reason to suppose that that remark was made in anything but the best of faith and entirely innocently, not intending to cause any umbrage to anyone. But umbrage was taken by Ms Markle’s half-sister Samantha Grant with whom Prince Harry’s bride-to-be shares a common father. Samantha retorted that Meghan and the rest of the family had been a happy family, thank you very much, which shared many happy moments as Meghan grew up surrounded by a large family.

It has to be clarified here that what goes for a normal happy family in America would perhaps not quite be described in those terms anywhere else in the world.

Ms Markle’s mother, Doria, is African American while her father Thomas Markle, is white. Doria was Thomas’ second wife and Samantha is from his first marriage which was to a white lady. The second marriage also went the way of the first and Doria and Thomas divorced when Meghan was just six years old. Doria was a yoga instructor and Thomas a Hollywood cinematographer. Meghan is not in the first flush of youth herself, having turned 36 last August which makes her three years older than Prince Harry. Ms Markle has said that her rather free spirited mum was the biggest influence on her life. Her father declared himself bankrupt last year and is reported to have moved from California to Mexico. Meghan came to live with her half-brother Thomas Markle Junior at the age of 14. Thomas Junior was arrested in January 2017 for allegedly holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head. I have seen pictures of him and he is not the sort of bloke you would like to come up against on a dark night. Come the royal wedding, how this lot is going to square up with the royals, successors of the empire on which the sun never set, is going to make extremely interesting viewing.

Although Meghan Markle is being touched with the fairy godmother’s wand which the British media is now waving with gay abandon, this is not a time when Americans are held in great esteem or when the much touted special relationship between Britain and the U.S. is at its healthiest. In fact Britain, along with France and Germany voted against the U.S. in the UN General Assembly on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision of recognising Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state of Israel. That does not happen very often. More recently, a Church of England Bishop has urged Americans, many of whom belong to the same denomination, to consider if their support of Donald Trump is compatible with their Christian values. The Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes asked in an interview “If people want to support right wing populism, how are they going to relate that to their Christian faith?” He went on to add, “Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalises the poor, a system that builds walls instead of bridges, a system that says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country.

‘’Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable.”

It isn’t to an honest man, which the Bishop of Liverpool certainly is. But politicians are an entirely different breed and politics makes rogues of us all. •