Like most of the world, I have been enthralled by the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today. There are a couple of things that I have had in the back of mind all day.
As a child in Nigeria, I did grow up knowing a bit about the royal family. It was just something that seemed so glamorous especially because of the glitz that Diana, the Princess of Wales, brought to her role. It is against this backdrop that I view the resurgence of the British Monarchy into public consciousness in the last few years. It has been incredible to see the way that Prince Williams and his brother, Harry, have navigated the media landscape in their adulthood. Of course, they have brought have their fair share of scandals. In the last few years though, each of them has managed to carve a role for themselves that is beyond just being wealthy royal men.
With his marriage of the last few years, Williams is seen as the happily married young father. His marriage to Catherine helped to solidify the brand that Prince Harry is now extending with his marriage to Meghan Markle. When Williams gave Catherine his mother’s iconic ring, he essentially made sure that his mother would never be forgotten. He also bought into the goodwill that the public still has for Diana by making her such a prominent part of his union with Catherine. Catherine has been very brand conscious by trying to replicate the style of parenting from Diana’s playbook. Instead of stuffy royal protocol, the Diana style of parenting involves fulfilling your duties while making sure that your children know that they are loved and can have carefree moments of childhood.
It is this very of the royal family building that Prince Harry is tapping into when he ensured that the news of his engagement prominently featured the information about his mother’s diamonds. Harry in the past few years has really tapped into his mother’s goodwill. His public rehabilitation from a young man who seemed on pushing every boundary to a young public servant making sure that children and veteran are not forgotten can be linked to the Diana playbook. With his use of his mother’s diamonds to propose to Ms. Markle, Harry is declaring that he is his mother’s child and that the part of her that is him is a very important part of who he is.
I find it interesting that despite the fact that the princes still have their father alive and have known him longer than they knew their mother, a big part of any story about them is about their mother.Watching the interview Harry and Ms. Markle did to announce the engagement, it struck me deeply that more time was spent dissecting his relationship with his mother and her family than anything else family-related. It is very clear that Diana’s influence is still heavy.
The other thing that was very clear in the interview, with Harry and Ms. Markle, is the bond between them. Theirs is a bond that appears to be strong and loving. There were moments watching that interview where I felt like I was intruding on a private moment. For a couple that has to spend a lot of their relationship publicly, I hope they retain that ability to close off the world and focus on each other.
Looking at them as a couple in their mid-thirties, I was happy to see that love there. At this age, it could be easy to be cynical and to be protective of one’s emotions. I am glad to see that it is possible to find love in your thirties. Not the kind of love that is based on responsibilities. The kind of love that sweeps you off your feet and makes you want to only speak to your significant other. The kind of love that allows you to shut off the gaze of a million eyeballs and still look at each other like you are the only ones in the room. I was looking at Harry’s body language during the latter half of the interview. One of the things that struck me is when he crossed his legs towards her. In practically created a barrier between them and the world. I hope that barrier stays in place figuratively.
Like Barack Obama said, all the joy and the happiness in the world is all I hope for Prince Harry and his bride.