In a country that prides itself on royal history and traditions, the wedding of American actress Meghan Markle to Britain’s Prince Harry promises something distinctly new: several American touches.
They’ll be unmistakable both during the May 19 nuptials in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and at the glittering banquet afterward for 600 guests.
Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church (part of the worldwide communion of Anglican churches), will speak at the wedding. Interspersed amid the classical and sacred music will be a rollicking performance by an English gospel choir.
Gospel music is a fusion of African-American spirituals and hymns that traces its roots to slavery. Markle’s mother is herself descended from slaves. Markle’s father is white.
Markle and her prince will have a decidedly modern wedding cake.
Shunning the traditional English fruitcake, the couple has commissioned an organic lemon-and-elderflower cake with buttercream icing, decorated with spring flowers and created by California-born, London-based pastry chef Claire Ptak.
One hint of the couple’s trans-Atlantic tastes came early: The royal wedding invitations are printed on English card stock with American ink.
Markle, 36, was recently baptized into the Church of England and has applied for British citizenship. If she chooses to retain her U.S. citizenship as well, any future children would be able to claim dual citizenship too — a first for the British royal family.
Citizenship aside, Markle already has an international background. She graduated in 2003 from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, after double-majoring in theater and international studies. She studied in Madrid for a semester and interned at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. Her career in television and film took her all over the globe.
Princess, duchess, or both?
As Markle prepares to assume full-time royal duties, there is much speculation about the title she’ll carry.
Guided by tradition, the British monarch will almost certainly bestow a royal dukedom upon her newlywed grandson. Royal watchers expect the 33-year-old Harry to be named Duke of Sussex, so Markle, in addition to becoming a princess, will likely also become the Duchess of Sussex — and for reasons of protocol, that’s the title she will probably use.
One thing is certain: When they emerge from St. George’s Chapel, Prince Harry and his bride will embody the modernization of the British royal family. The marriage of a divorced, American actress to a British prince is perhaps unexpected, but in the 21st century, it’s embraced as a love story that people everywhere can celebrate.