I am a bit like Prince Harry... an iconoclast. I have never been obsessed with the monarch, nor terribly impressed with their grand gestures of opulence and influence. Why should I have been? I am an American. An African American. A woman who knows her history. The history of colonialism, imperialism, neocolonialism, and the slave trade... propagated on the content of my ancestry, in large part by the generations upon generations of the royal family over there in Buckingham Palace. Like most of us, I have felt justifiably detached and instinctually unmotivated to join the bandwagon of wde-eyed dreamers looking up at the castle. The headlines were sufficient. The Netflix show, The Crown, offered a new interest. But again, I am compelled by my DNA to give no more than polite acknowledgment of the main events and keep it moving.
When the news of Prince Harry dating the bi-racial American actress Meghan Markle began rolling in, however, my polite acknowledgment was accompanied by a raise of the eyebrows and one of those cocked head nods. Oh okay, Prince Harry. I see you. He suddenly seemed to be the realization and expansion of Princess Diana's global, humanistic perspective. He was breaking tradition in a bold and modern way, simply by courting Meghan. He defended her and his choice to be with her against the inevitable bigotry and vitriol that lines the underbelly of the west. I was becoming a fan.
I don't remember when I found out they were engaged. I don't recall ever knowing the date of the wedding until it was less than a week away. The Friday before the big event, I laughed as my hairdresser responded to a client under the dryer, "Why would I wake up at 4 a.m. to watch their wedding? They're not going to wake up to watch mine." I agreed. No extra effort would be made on my part either. I was certain I'd see the highlights the next day without even trying.
So before leaving to go bring some value to my community, I scrolled my Instagram, saw the dress, the reception dress, the tiara and the image of her pageboys and bridesmaids following her up the steps. I paused for a while on the image of her and her mom waving through the window on their way to the chapel. But all in all I was satisfied. The two of them looked radiant. I was happy for them both.
After teaching my drama workshops and absorbing all of the benefits of having been of service to the enthusiastic teens who attended, I found myself on the couch, deciding whether or not to press "Watch" under the picture of the glowing Megan and Harry on my streaming service. I had already received giddy texts form my aunt, grandmother and mother who had obviously watched. Why not. We'll have something to talk about.
3 1/2 hours later I am typing hearts and flowers on twitter for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex with stars in my eyes and a girlish grin.
It was Meghan, it was the Gospel Choir, it was Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey, it was the cellist, Sheku Kanneh Mason. It was the passionate Bishop Curry quoting Dr. Martin Luther King that hooked me. And not just because they are American excellence, but let's just state the obvious. It was because they were black. And they were not bystanders, they were not wide-eyed dreamers. They were the story.
It was Doria Ragland. Gorgeous, proud, emotional mother of the bride, Doria. So familiar. She was my aunt, my mother, my professors from university, my mentors. She was me.
And let's just be real. The Royal Wedding was specular. I have a sense I am as feminist leaning as the Duchess herself, but what woman would deny such a grand affair for her day? None that I know personally. And as far as I am concerned, The Duchess of Sussex, like all women and especially all intersectional women, deserve to feel like a princess at least for a day.
Congratulations, Duke and Duchess! May your fairytale continue to bring the west ever closer to harmony.