The upcoming royal wedding is the most anticipated event of the year in the UK and possibly the world. But is it really such a fairytale?
We grow up with the idea that every little girl in the world wants to be a princess. Whether you blame classic fairytales like Cinderella or the many Disney films that have become the new classics, there's no escaping the concept. For girls, it's usually one of the top three "things you'd like to be when you grow up," right up there with veterinarian and astronaut. But while in these stories the royal wedding is the beginning of a wonderful life with a happily-ever-after, history has proven that it’s actually more of a nightmare. An unhappy marriage, a royal house that doesn’t really accept you, or a life that condemns you to strict protocols that you have to follow no matter what: most of these royal marriages have shown that becoming a princess isn’t as great as the average commoner would think.
On Saturday, May 19th, the rebel of the Windsor family is “finally” (as it has been often put) tying the knot for good, but his choice of a bride hasn’t been as well received as his brother's was for many different reasons, including the bride’s race, nationality, and of course, social status. Not only is Meghan Markle biracial (something that has made her the target of a nasty, racist backlash), but she’s also American, and a divorcee, which has been a huge no-no for the royal family since forever (the Queen herself forbid her sister to marry a divorced man). If you remember, Elizabeth II’s uncle had to abdicate as king when he married the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Now, this is part of all the royal gossip and history, but that’s precisely what I want to talk about. Why the hell do people care so much about this stuff?
For starters, despite their many attempts to change and convey a more modern image, the monarchy is no longer a relevant political institution. By this I mean that, in political terms, they no longer represent how a country works, and they don't have that much influence over what happens in their country. Their role has more to do with the national identity and the collective fantasies surrounding their lives. Their status is in such jeopardy that many people believe that, if Prince Charles becomes king one day, it would mean the end of the monarchy. But that’s another story. We’re talking about the royal wedding happening on Saturday.
Whenever a commoner joins the royal family, a lot of people don’t care about jumping to conclusions, claiming that they’re only doing it for the money and the social status they can provide them. With Markle, it hasn't been any different. But the more news and articles about the wedding I see, the more I’m convinced that it isn’t as great as we'd like to believe. For Markle, who has told the world she’s a feminist, the idea of having to renounce to so many things for love doesn’t sound that appealing, if you ask me. But the real nightmare I’m talking about isn’t even about all the things she'll be giving up, but rather the horrible position she's putting herself in.
Think about it: ever since the announcement of Harry and Meghan’s engagement, the press and people in general have been constantly comparing her to Kate Middleton in every single way you can imagine. They compare their looks, the way they walk, talk, stand, absolutely everything. And this isn’t only happening in the US and the UK; I’ve even heard Mexican radio shows where people are sure that allowing her to marry into the family will be a terrible mistake as an institution because she lacks the class they represent, and all sorts of stupid comments that make me lose my faith in modern society. Is it really necessary to compare two completely different women and objectify them in that way?
The most interesting, and honestly depressing, part of all this is that it's not just trashy tabloids talking about these things. Even important academics have jumped in to express their opinions on these people as if they were there to let anybody comment and say whatever they feel like. That was the case of Hilary Mantel, who once mentioned that Kate Middleton wasn’t anything but a mannequin selected by the crown to breed children. Why are we still putting women in that position in the 21st century? Was that really a necessary observation? But more importantly, what do you care? That’s the core of the subject: what the hell do we care? What’s so entertaining about this that it makes people get really into all of these nonsensical discussions?
In the end, this is all part of the circus that modern monarchies represent. Yes, they’re not perfect and benevolent characters, and I don’t even doubt that there’s something cold and Machiavellian behind the sudden change of strict norms of the monarchy by receiving into the family someone that doesn’t really go with their profile, but do we really have to scrutinize every single inch of their bodies as if they didn’t have an identity or thoughts? Why are women in these positions more scrutinized than men? Why do we have to reduce who they are to what are they wearing, how they wave, how they smile, or even how they talk? Again, if that’s the price to pay to become a princess (which she won't, by the way), don’t count me in.
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