Crown Chronicles: Meghan Markle has made sure that her sacrifice of the big Hollywood dream is not for nothing
Meghan Markle, the US actress who is set to marry Prince Harry on May 19th at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, is every bit a royal after just four months of being engaged to the British prince. One can easily recall Meghan's nervousness as she performed her first royal walkabout with Harry or her slightly awkward curtsy to the Queen during Christmas at Sandringham. Now, however, those days seem to be behind her. Meghan's charm has proved to be infectious and she has gained enough social mileage to become a darling of the British people. So it isn't surprising that she made history by attending the Commonwealth Youth Forum even before she could become an official member of the Firm, an opportunity that's rarely given to royal fiancées.
News that emerged from the second day of the event was written in flattering tones of Meghan. The delegates from 53 countries of the Commonwealth told reporters that Meghan listened patiently to their LGBT rights campaign. A young Australian LGBT activist by name of Jacob Thomas told People, "Miss Markle said, and these were her exact words, that this is a basic human rights issue, not one about sexuality." Another LGBT activist, Jonah Chinga from Kenya said, "Both Prince Harry and Miss Markle said they would put LGBT issues at the front of their work."
Every one of Meghan's royal duties since her engagement indicates that she doesn't want to slow down or ease into her role as a future Duchess. She wants to be thrust into it just as celebrities are when their work becomes famous. And just like any celebrity who carries out an extensive PR campaign, Harry's fiancée is doing just that by diving head first into a sea of royal events- the extent to which no royal bride has undertaken before the wedding.
In the past few months, Meghan's omnipresence has already made her an integral part of the country's public consciousness. She's taken part in the pageantry that accompanies royal duties but more uniquely, she's found a way to make it her own, even if this includes displaying affection for young girls, looking animated at a royal event for young kids or speaking about mental health issues. To be sure, this is certainly much more than what Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge did before she married Prince William. For the most part, Kate merely appeared as William's date to events like Princess Diana's Memorial Concert in 2007 or sat beside him at Camilla's daughter's wedding.
Meghan's bursts of enthusiasm, which stand in stark contrast to the reticence the royals usually display, have no doubt ruffled the older guard at Buckingham Palace. Insiders must have noted how historic her appearance at one of the most important royal functions of the year, the Commonwealth Service was and later, her appointment as the Commonwealth Youth ambassador alongside Harry. But in some ways, this was to be expected as Meghan spoke about dedicating her life to humanitarian work, in other words, pursuing a royal life after she gave up acting and shut down her lifestyle blog, The Tig.
As an actress, she used her celebrity status to bring attention to rights-based advocacy. She was once a UN Women's Rights advocate and during the US Presidential Election in 2016, she showed her support for Hillary Clinton. Meghan knows that her views on racial discrimination and women's rights will have to be tempered as a member of the Firm. Perhaps that's why she's eager to display it on any platform that's given to her.
So far, the US actress has already deconstructed the image of a princess by stepping out of the confines of mere pageantry and expressing her views on women's freedom and LGBT rights. In many ways, her new role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador is tailor-made for her. It affords her the space to focus on humanitarian work in the 53 countries that make up the Commonwealth, and it will only be a matter of time before she develops a much more robust voice as a Duchess. After all, her sacrificing her power and future in Hollywood cannot be for nothing.
Harry's fiancée has already re-imagined the role of a modern-day princess by being quite outspoken and dressing up in androgynous clothing instead of the preferred feminine style that's chosen by royal stylists. Her pencil lined trousers, a messy bun and casual accessories seem to signal that women, royal or not, can wear whatever they want.
Will Meghan's ambition clash with what's allowed in the royal family is a question that's still too early to ask. However, it is safe to say that she won't suffer the same fate as Princess Diana who refused to stand in her husband's shadow. Harry, unlike his father, is a deep liberal at heart and knows better than anyone else that his beloved has sacrificed a lot to marry him. Perhaps that's why he mentioned Meghan when he said in a speech marking the event, "I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in."