LONDON—To most families, Meghan Markle might seem like the ideal daughter-in-law. The American actor and humanitarian graduated from Northwestern with a double major in theater and international relations. She’s devoted to public service, acting as a global ambassador for World Vision and a United Nations advocate for women. And she has a distinctly entrepreneurial bent—until recently, Markle ran her own food and lifestyle website, thetig.com.
The British monarchy, though, is not most families. So the announcement on Monday morning that Markle was engaged to Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, signifies more than just a wedding in the spring of 2018 and a surefire media frenzy. It’s also a sign that by accepting Markle—a divorced, biracial American who had a Catholic education—the monarchy is ready and willing to change. Markle, 36, is the first American set to marry into its ranks since Wallis Simpson sparked a constitutional crisis in 1936.
Rumors surrounding the impending engagement of Markle and Prince Harry peaked in recent days after Markle was seen accompanied by bodyguards from the Metropolitan Police’s protection unit, signifying her upgraded status within the ranks of the royals. (Markle also reportedly listed Prince Harry’s address in Kensington Palace on her two dogs’ passports.) But the announcement on Monday from the Clarence House Twitter account—the organization representing Prince Charles, Harry’s father—made the news official.
The Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle. pic.twitter.com/zdaHR4mcY6— Clarence House (@ClarenceHouse) November 27, 2017
The phrasing of the statement seems noteworthy; the Queen, it reveals, was “informed,” while Markle’s family was the one whose approval was actively “sought.” Nevertheless, a Twitter account representing the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announced that both were “delighted for the couple and wish them every happiness.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the principal leader of the Church of England, reportedly gave his blessing several months ago for Markle and Prince Harry to have a church wedding. And a spokesperson for Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were married in 2011, reiterated that the General Synod Ruling of 2002 approved marriages for divorcées within the Church of England.