By Dare BABARINSA
Not many Nigerian parents would like to have a daughter-in-law like Meghan Markle. Yet in the few years since she had married to the royal family of England, she has proved her worth as a steadfast partner to her besotted husband. She is worldly-wise, determined, focused, shrewd and outspoken. She would not keep a stiff-upper lip as befits a British royal. Now she had dragged her husband, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, to the Oprah Winfrey Show. Their interview is causing a wildfire in England and other places and the British tabloids are burning with incendiary comments every day. No woman has captured the British attention like Meghan since the violent exit of her mother-in-law, Dianna, the Queen of Hearts.
Meghan is a sophisticated modern woman who understands the power of merchandising and the magic of her acquired surname. She said at the Oprah interview that she felt discriminated against in the palace. When she became pregnant, some of the members of the royal family were voicing concern about the likely colour of the baby. Meghan is an African American, who because of her mixed background, looks more white than black. In the streets of Lagos, children would serenade her as oyinbo pepper! It would therefore had been interesting if she had a son as dark as my brother next door. Her son, of course, carries the pigmentation of the ordinary members of the royal family.
Meghan is now 39 and her husband is 36. Ordinarily this age difference would cause a stir in many Nigerian families.
“She is older than your elder sister,” they would have harassed the besotted lover-boy. “Can’t you find someone your age or even of the same age with your junior sister?”
The lovers would need to do a lot of convince on both sides of the family to have their way. She would have to convince her parents why she is going for someone much younger. Not many parents would feel comfortable with a younger husband to their daughters. She may end up on the shelf quickly, they would argue, while he is still vibrant and confronting temptations with careless ardour. There are many families in Nigeria however who despite the age difference between husband and wife, have succeeded in building a lasting marriage. Nigerians however prefer and expect the man to be older.
A Nigerian parent would also have objected to the trajectories of her marital experience. Meghan was a woman with quite an experience on the marital lane. She was married to Trevor Engelson for three years until they divorced in 2013. She knew the way of men and could teach Harry some great lessons. While some parents may look the other way if they noticed the lessons, few would welcome their tear-rubber son bringing home a divorcee as a bride-to-be. In Africa here, the mother and father would wake up their son in the middle of the night to remind him that the union might be problematic. They may even suggest that their son must have been bewitched.
The truth is that Meghan is a modern-day witch. Her self-confidence and capacity to get things done must be a marvel to her husband who had lived all his life in the gilded cage of a prince. This is a beautiful woman who can do things for herself and who does not succumb to the dictate of the establishment. She is the establishment in her own right. Meghan is a product of a troubled marriage that ended in divorce. She was an actress who suddenly by joining the Windsor, found herself in a great life drama.
Though she was allowed to marry the prince, she believes she was not fully accepted into the family circle. She is black. She is an American. She is a divorcee. She is older than her husband. The whole situation weighed heavily on her. Once she even thought of suicide. In the end, she persuaded her husband to leave the gilded cage and move to the world. He agreed. Alarmed by the development, the Queen threatened to withdraw privileges from the young son. He was adamant. The couple moved to the United States. The Oprah interview shows that they are bitter about their circumstances.
The British royal family has not always been lucky with their American brides. Harry’s great granduncle, Prince Edward, was a bachelor when he became the King of the United Kingdom and Emperor of India and head of the British Empire. In the old tradition, the King of England and Head of the Church of England was expected to marry a virgin who must be a believer in the faith. But Edward’s lover, Mrs. Wallis Simpson, was a divorcee. In the custom of the old times, many people believed the liaison would soon pass and His Majesty would come to his senses. After all, there was no law about the king having an American mistress.
When it became clear that the king wanted his mistress to become the queen, the British establishment told the king that his choice was not acceptable. You cannot be the head of the Church of England and marry an American divorcee who was also a Catholic. He was in love; deeply in love. In Africa here, we would say he was bewitched. He accepted his lot, abdicated the throne in December 1936 and went into exile. He and his American wife never had any child. However, it was because of his love affair that we now have Queen Elizabeth II of England.
When Edward abdicated the throne, it paved way for his junior brother who became King George VI. His reign was short and at a turbulent period in world history. He died suddenly in 1952. His first daughter, the young Princess Elizabeth became the British monarch. Now she is an old woman who came to the full majesty and responsibilities of her high office at the young age of 26. She would not but wonder about the lack of maturity of her descendants and their capacity to inflict on the family friendly fire.
At the Oprah interview, Prince Harry had complained about his father, the long reigning Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, claiming he did not get enough support from him. “I feel really let down because he has been through something similar,” said Harry. “He knows what pain feels like.” Then he added about his young son, referring to the attitude of his father, “And Archie is his grandson.”
The Meghan affairs has estranged Harry from his family. He is no longer close to his brother, Prince William, and his father and his grandparents. In the long run, he would have to decide whether it is all worth it to lose a family in order to build another family. Soon, his children would be old enough to ask him that question whether indeed they are true English royals living the fabulous life of the American rich. His children too may want to follow his footsteps and move to Australia. He would soon learn that nothing is free, not even in Freetown.
Whatever else she may do, it is clear Meghan has captured a true British prince. She would not be willing to free him so that he can become again a normal member of the British royal family. She would use his name to make money and sustain her fame and following on the new world of the Internet. Her business with the Windsor’s is not ended. We may be witnessing the beginning of another Windsor dynasty based in the United States. At last Princess Diana has found a successor.
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