I’ve been hooked on the love story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ever since news broke on Halloween 2016 that they’d been carrying on a secret romance (in Toronto, no less). Like most people I know, my heart had ached for that little boy who walked so bravely behind his mother’s funeral cortège. Since then, I’d always been rooting for him to thrive—and to find the love that his brother, Prince William, so obviously shares with his wife, Kate Middleton. Yet, as Harry’s “laddish” escapades—nightclub debauchery, Nazi costumes, Vegas strip poker—stretched into his late 20s, I admit I had my doubts about the red-headed prince. So did the international media, which wrote him off more than once as a privileged playboy and a loser in love. But Harry’s comeback (a process that began, I’d say, when he launched the first Invictus Games in 2014) is now complete: On May 19, the 33-year-old prince will marry the gorgeous, accomplished, civic-minded Meghan.
This wedding has an electricity it wouldn’t have if Harry were marrying an upper-class British blonde who’d been groomed for the position. At 36, Meghan is far more mature, experienced and independent than the royal brides before her—and the fact that Harry and his family seem to see this as a positive thing is nothing short of revolutionary. (Especially considering that just one generation ago, when Prince Charles was looking for a bride, virginity was considered a nonnegotiable. As for “the spare” to the throne marrying someone who’s divorced—well, talk to me after you’ve watched The Crown.) She’s also biracial (her mom is black and her dad is white), which is almost unheard of in royal-family history. (However, it has been speculated that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, was also of mixed race.)
“Harry is marrying someone who is older than him, a divorcee, an American and a famous name in her own right,” says Katie Nicholl, author of the new biography Harry: Life, Loss and Love. “Even if you’re not a royalist, it’s very hard not to be a little impressed, a little charmed and a little enchanted by this incredible romance.”
Meghan also appears ready to shoulder her share of royal engagements—which surely hasn’t gone unnoticed by her soon-to-be-in-laws. “Look at the Queen’s work ethic,” says Nicholl. “She is impressed by a young woman who knows how to work hard.” In other words, in addition to a seeming soulmate, Harry has found a partner who fits one of the least romantic (but also totally necessary) definitions of a spouse: that of helpmate. (Btw, did anyone else notice that Meghan talked over her fiancé in their first interview? This royal is marrying a partner, not a subject.)
If William and Kate have helped rejuvenate interest in the monarchy among a younger generation, Harry and Meghan could be even more transformative to this centuries-old institution. Combine the couple’s relatability with their commitment to helping the less privileged and you’ve got a celebrity pair that even the most socially conscious millennial can feel okay obsessing over. For me, Harry and Meghan’s love story isn’t a fairy tale, but it’s still pretty fantastic. I’m looking forward to being swept off my feet when the beautiful actress walks down the aisle to meet her handsome prince—and I’m betting you are too.
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