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EDITORIAL: Americans and the royal wedding
What is it about royal weddings?
Most of the time, Americans have a benign indifference toward the members of the British royal family. Since the death of Diana in 1997, there have been few occasions when the members of the house of Windsor made headlines on this side of the pond.
Except, of course, when there's a wedding.
For those who escaped the news, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19.
Harry is, of course, the younger brother of Prince William, who with his wife, the former Kate Middleton, continues to push Harry further down the line to the throne (child No. 3 was born April 23). At 33, Harry had a 10-year career in the British Army and will probably never be king.
Markle, or rather the new Duchess of Sussex, is an African-American actress, the first black person in the British royal family in modern times, although as an actress she is obviously American royalty. She's 36, divorced, and ended her role on USA's "Suits" in March to take on her new duties as a member of the royal family.
On Saturday, Americans coast to coast held watch parties to watch the pomp and circumstance, from the groom's walk to the chapel with his brother and best man to the arrival of the guests to Meghan's walk down the aisle with her new father-in-law, Prince Charles.
The wedding revived the fancy hat industry in this country, with women supplementing their tea dresses with everything from broad brims to fascinators (which were very big for William's wedding, if you recall). Men coordinated their bow ties and handkerchiefs, and sites from New York's Plaza Hotel to British pubs in California served up breakfasts with drinks to toast the newlyweds.
"It was a real-life fairy tale," said Erin Massa, 34, who watched at a Minneapolis pub, according to The Associated Press. "If someone my age from America can suddenly become a princess, essentially, anything really is possible."
That an American becoming a royal would be cause for celebration and tears of joy would appall the founding fathers, who fought an entire war to break away from Britain and then fought another to make sure their country stayed separate.
But that was 200 years ago. Since then, the U.S. and Britain have developed a "special relationship" of mutual respect and trust. After all, Britain stopped trying to recolonize us after the War of 1812.
Which is why in 2018 the anglophiles among us felt free to sigh as they watched the horse-drawn carriage drive away after the black, American bishop gave the couple and the world a sermon on love.
There are hopes that Meghan Markle's new position will give blacks in England and in America a new mentor and role model. But for many, including Meghan Woods, who was watching the festivities at the Plaza, the fantasy wedding had a simple message.
"There are so many terrible things going on in the world that when there's something like this — love bringing people together, a reason to celebrate," she said, "why not?"