On November 27, 2017, a long-expected announcement came from representatives of the British royal family. The 33-year-old Prince Harry had become engaged to his girlfriend, 36-year-old American actress Meghan Markle. Ever since that day, the eyes of the world have watched the couple’s public actions intently. They appear to represent a new kind of royal couple, and one happy – it seems – to break the rules every now and again. Even their wedding ceremony may feature at least one major rejection of a royal wedding tradition.
Just by becoming engaged to Markle in the first place, Prince Harry was breaking a long-standing “rule” of British royalty. The head of the royal family – Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II – is also the head of the Church of England. That religious institution believes marriage is for life and is firmly against divorce, and yet the actress herself is a divorcee.
Markle married American film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, but legally dissolved the union two years later. To most people that is quite an insignificant factor, but not to the British royal family. The Queen takes her responsibilities as leader of Church of England very seriously. When her own son, Prince Charles, remarried in 2005 after divorcing Princess Diana, the monarch did not attend the civil wedding ceremony.