The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have come and gone, but what an event it was. It all seemed to happen very fast. The engagement of the couple was in November 2017, just over a year after the couple started making headlines. The main event took place on May 19 at Windsor Castle, when Meghan officially became a member of the Royal Family.

There were many reasons that this was a special, unique occasion, not the least of which is the nationality of the bride. That’s right, Meghan Markle is, in fact, an American. She is the first American to marry into the British Royal Family since Wallis Simpson over 80 years ago. And I believe that this comes at a crucial time for Anglo-American relations.

Fortunately, Meghan’s wedding was with far more fanfare and far less tumult than Simpson’s. Considering that Meghan Markle is, like Simpson, an American divorcée, it goes to show how the times have changed. And as much as the monarchy has progressed, American and British politics have, well, changed in equal measure. Could Meghan Markle help bolster the “Special Relationship”?

An Anglo-American Royal Spectacle

Royal Wedding
The Stars and Stripes joined the Union Jack outside Windsor Castle (Image courtesy of NBC News)

With an American involved, the Royal Wedding generated quite a buzz on this side of the pond, as well. Many media outlets celebrated the engagement. Meghan Markle herself was (erroneously) labeled by some as the “first black American princess” (her mother is African-American). And it was not just the media who were celebrating, either. The American public, as a whole, showed far more interest in this spectacle than is normal for a British royal event. Some very dedicated Americans even came thousands of miles to witness the event firsthand.

The media had plenty of reason for their aforementioned celebration, as their ratings were through the roof on the morning of May 19. Nielsen ratings estimate around 29.2 million Americans watched the wedding of Meghan and Harry. By comparison, the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton drew “only” about 23 million US viewers. That is quite a jump. There is no doubt that Ms. Markle’s nationality played a part in that.

Potential Implications

Most Americans these days are probably aware that the British monarchy is purely ceremonial, and that the Queen does not rule with an iron fist. However, there are nonetheless some implications of Meghan Markle becoming the newest member of the Royal Family.

For, you see, this wedding comes at an… interesting time for Anglo-American relations. Most know that the relationship between the US and the UK is often known as the “Special Relationship” due to the closeness between the two countries. With a common language and common heritage, it is often described as the closest of alliances.

And yet, despite that, and despite purportedly being on good terms with British Prime Minister Theresa May, the President of the United States still has not paid a visit to America’s closest ally.

Trump and May
The closeness of the leaders has not translated into good relations (Image courtesy of The Independent)

Why is this? Well, supposedly, it is because Trump is even less popular in the UK than he is in his own country. According to the BBC, Trump refused to visit the UK last year because he did not want to deal with protests against him. The fact that he has gotten into well-publicized spats with high-profile figures in the UK (such as Sadiq Khan, the popular mayor of London), as well as retweeting hard-right extremist group Britain First, among other things, has not ingratiated him to the UK public. In fact, almost half the UK population wants Theresa May to rescind her invitation to him.

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A Better Ambassador?

Royal Couple in Ireland
The Royal Couple in Ireland, March 2018 (Image courtesy of Popsugar UK)

So, in case, it was not obvious, the traditional representative of the American brand in the UK, the president, is not exactly the best person to bridge the gap between the two countries right now. And considering that both countries are in the middle of very turbulent times (don’t even get me started on Brexit), this is quite possibly the worst time for cracks to appear in the “Special Relationship.” And yet, apparently, they have.

But maybe the best representative of the US in Britain is someone other than the president. Maybe the best way to ingratiate the US to its closest ally is to rely on someone else.

Maybe that someone… is Meghan Markle?

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Remaining Neutral

Now, do not misunderstand. Meghan Markle is not going to be able to fix the “Special Relationship” through any sort of political activism or anything. Not only is the Royal Family entirely ceremonial, but they cannot interfere with the affairs of government in any way. They must maintain absolute neutrality and stay the hell out of politics.

This may be a bit of an adjustment for Ms. Markle. Prior to her engagement, she was relatively outspoken on a variety of sensitive issues. She supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and she attacked then-candidate Donald Trump as “misogynist” and “divisive.” Particularly sensitive for the Brits, she has also expressed opposition to Brexit on Instagram.

When one becomes a member of the Royal Family, one must learn to keep their opinions strictly to themselves. Monarchs have lost the throne (as in the case of Edward VIII) and even their heads (as in the case of Charles I) for not being 100% neutral. For such a previously outspoken woman, this may be a bit of a learning curve. And it might make it hard for her to be seen as a politically neutral figure in the future.

A More Positive Image

Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding
Rev. Michael Curry preaches at the Royal Wedding (Image credit: Mediaite)

But perhaps Meghan Markle can be more of a “brand ambassador” for the US in Britain. What I mean is, she can promote and exemplify a more positive image of America. For example, she promotes an image of an America that values diversity and inclusiveness, rather than divisiveness and othering. An America that is dignified without being uptight, rather than boorish and childish. An America that attempts to build bridges rather than walls.

We saw these values on display in the energized sermon of African-American preacher Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding. He spoke on the power of love with great passion in his fiery sermon, which can be viewed in full in the previous link. The sermon received rave reviews from Brits and Americans alike. Former Labour Party leader Ed Milliband, a Jewish atheist, said that Curry “could almost make me a believer.”

Curry exemplified the positive values of America: diversity, kindness, and inclusiveness. The fact that he is the first black presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who often made reference to songs sung by slaves in the United States, added a twinge of irony as he preached in the heart of what was historically the colonial empire. It is a testament to how the times have changed.

Cheers to the Future

None of this would have been brought to the forefront of both American and British minds if the bride that day hadn’t been Meghan Markle. And I believe that she will continue to promote the values espoused by Curry in her new life across the pond.

From my own experience as an Anglo-American mutt, I can say that I, personally, feel a lot more likely to be proud of the America embodied by Ms. Markle than the America embodied by Mr. Trump. And I reckon that many in my birth country are far more likely to look favorably on the America presented by Meghan Markle than Donald Trump.

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