Meghan Markle to break boundaries as first mixed-race royal
When Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry on Saturday, she’ll become the first ever mixed-race woman to marry into the Royal Family.
It’s a milestone not lost on the United Kingdom’s Afro-Caribbean community, with some saying the Royal Family has long represented a certain type of “Britishness” that left little room for diversity.
For many, Markle represents change.
Lawyer and writer Afua Hirsch, who has a white father and black mother, has never followed a royal wedding before. This time, she says, is different.
“I have plenty of friends, people of colour, who have never been interested in the royals -- and some of them actually have a republican ideology. They just can't help themselves but be interested in this wedding, because there’s something about her they find compelling,” Hirsch told CTV News.
Markle was born in Los Angeles in 1981 to a Dutch-Irish father and African-American mother. She’s been open with her personal identity struggle and has written about having to choose which box to check when asked for her race as a child.
Markle’s background has also raised some uncomfortable questions about race. In a recent interview, British sociology professor Kehinde Andrews compared Markle to “a splash of coffee in the monarchy.”
“She won’t be allowed to be a black princess. The only way she can be accepted is to pass for white,” Andrews told Newsweek. “If there are people who are celebrating, it’s a bit naive, and they’ll be very disappointed.”
Hirsch agrees that many black people are wary of the Royal Family and view it from a distance.
“I grew up here. I'm a British person but I always felt excluded from Britishness. And one of the institutions that most powerfully fed that exclusion was the Royal Family,” she said.
Markle joins the Royal Family at an interesting time. The U.K. has recently been embroiled in the Windrush scandal, a political blunder in which a generation of migrants – many of them from Caribbean nations -- were falsely accused by the government of entering the country illegally. British Prime Minister Theresa May eventually apologized for the scandal after some victims lost their jobs and even faced deportation.
The royal wedding will take place Saturday at Windsor Castle. CTV News’ live coverage from Windsor, led by Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme alongside royal historian Hugo Vickers and Canadian music icon Jann Arden, begins at 4 a.m. ET. CTVNews.ca will stream the wedding, which will also be available one the CTV News GO app.
With a report from CTV’s London Correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian