Hereditas Historiae

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The Sunday Times (leading article) - 20 May 2018 


Meghan and Harry have cheered us all up


'The sun shone brightly on Windsor yesterday on what was a great British occasion. The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was different - not least the impassioned sermon by Bishop Michael Curry, a hymn to love - and it gave new meaning to the special relationship. The ceremony combined tradition with modernity. It was a moment to celebrate.

Some might be tempted to say there has been too much fuss over the wedding of the sixth in line to the throne, but there may not be another occasion like this for a generation, by which time the royal mantle will have passed to a different generation. The Queen, at 92, is in the final few years of her reign. The Duke of Edinburgh is 96.

The marriage of Harry and Meghan demonstrates that, despite the age of the woman at the head of the institution, our longest-serving monarch, the royal family is adaptable. Harry, the new Duke of Sussex, has shown himself to be popular and at ease with the public, if not always with the media. He has had his difficulties, particularly in coming to terms with the death of his mother, but with maturity has come strength, and this marriage will make him stronger.

The new Duchess of Sussex is a confident, mixed-race American woman who has given up a successful acting career for a life in the royal goldfish bowl. That she has done so says much about her love for Harry, but also about her belief that she will be able to carry it off successfully. She will speak out on the role of women in society and on other issues, as she should.

The royal family will always be different - the accent is still out of time - but with this marriage it begins to look a little more like the country it represents. It may help, at the margin, to make the country more at ease with itself. The fact that Meghan, a divorcee, comes from a dysfunctional family puts her in touch with the many couples who can recall their own pre-wedding family dramas. As some have pointed out, if you are marrying into a family that has had its own issues with dysfunctionality, it probably helps.

You do not have to be a monarchist to be cheered by yesterday’s happy event. We enjoy these occasions. Dame Tessa Jowell, who died earlier this month, was celebrated for her role in bringing the Olympics to London in 2012. Although many bridled at the cost, it was a happy time. Yesterday’s wedding showed again that we do this kind of thing well, the pageantry updated by gospel. It was good showbiz and oddly moving. At the very least, the television pictures beamed to Meghan’s homeland and the world were a cheerful advertisement for this country.

Above all, these occasions provide an opportunity for us to put other concerns to one side, for the moment at least. Two decades ago this might have seemed unlikely. After the death of Diana, the monarchy - the “dignified” branch of the constitution - was in crisis, its survival in doubt. It took the spin-doctoring skills of a new Labour government under Tony Blair to help bring it back from the brink.

Now the positions are very different. The monarchy, under a queen for whom there is respect and affection, looks secure. As Policy Exchange’s opinion poll today makes clear, it helps keep the “united” in United Kingdom. The government, on the other hand, has barely a working majority, parliament is divided by Brexit and the Labour Party has been captured by extreme leftwingers.

So this is a time for wishing the happy couple every success. In Arnold Bennett’s novel The Card, a cynic sneers about the hero: “What’s he done? Has he ever done a day’s work in his life? What great cause is he identified with?”

“He’s identified,” said the speaker, “with the great cause of cheering us all up.” So thanks Meghan, and thanks Harry, for cheering us all up.'


Marten Morland, The Sunday Times, 20 May 2018