'An actress wife for Prince Harry might just be a winner for the Windsors'
It's hardly traditional, writes Sarah Caden, but an actress wife for Prince Harry might just be a winner for the Windsors
In order to enjoy a relationship with Prince Harry, you'd either need to be convinced that he was the best boyfriend ever, or a huge fan of non-stop public and paparazzi attention. We don't know yet if Californian actress Meghan Markle is convinced of either.
In fact, we don't even know yet if Meghan Markle is really and truly Prince Harry's girlfriend. But that hasn't stopped a week of speculation, online scrutiny and some abuse, the posting of police security at her home and, of course, the obligatory public unveiling of her as a bitch by a disgruntled family member.
At the time of writing, neither Meghan Markle nor Prince Harry have confirmed or denied that they are an item. The "clues" have been picked up on by social media sleuths, however, since the story of a love affair broke last Monday.
They have both been photographed wearing the same blue bracelet; her Instagram is full of photos of visits to London in recent months; he's out of the UK at the moment at an unconfirmed location assumed to be her home.
Oh, and the spooning bananas. What can we say about the spooning bananas?
After the first stories about Harry and Meghan Markle broke, she posted online a cutesy photo of two bananas cuddled up together "spooning" with happy little faces drawn on them with marker. This, in the modern age of emojis and adult appropriation of childish things, was taken to be proof positive that the prince and the actress were in love. It led to huge trawling of her Instagram account - now gone beyond one million followers - for "cryptic clues" as to the state of her relationship with the young(ish) prince.
Obviously, within hours of any talk of a romance, there was talk about marriage. Not between the potential paramours, so far as we know, but among everyone else. She's met Kate and William - though you'd hardly be sure that they're every young woman's dream of a fun life commitment - and has, apparently, also had a brief meeting with Prince Charles and been to Balmoral.
Yes, Balmoral, and this one an actress and a divorcee, three years older than Harry at 35, and a Yank. Being a royal isn't what it used to be.
Then again, being a royal girlfriend isn't what it used to be either. Sure, if it's a fling that shoots your international profile sky high, then what harm?
And yet, it has always been said that Harry's previous girlfriends, primarily Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonass, simply couldn't take the scrutiny. Which is as to nothing compared to that which Harry's mother endured and enjoyed and that which Sarah Ferguson never quite learned how to work in her favour.
Meghan Markle could be different, though.
As an actress best known for her role in the TV series Suits, she's used to being in the public eye and knows how to handle herself to convey a positive image. Also, Markle is no slouch outside of acting.
She is a global ambassador for World Vision and she does humanitarian work with the UN. Her website, The Tig, is about combining and reconciling the frivilous, indulged and self-indulgent world of acting with her humanitarian work and being a social-conscious role model to young women. She name checks Mary Robinson in her website mission statement.
Meghan and Harry are said to have met in Canada last summer when he was promoting the Invictus Games. A shared interest in charity work is said to have been a huge factor in their attraction to one another, but he can't help but have noticed that Meghan is also OK with being in the public eye.
Without that, no relationship with Harry will ever work. He saw how it played out with his mother. He has seen the toll it has taken on his previous relationships; but what might make Meghan the one is the fact that she could cope with it.
It is 36 years since a 19-year-old Diana Spencer became the rumoured girlfriend of Prince Charles, then a little on the shelf, even for an heir to the throne, at the age of 31. Lady Diana, as she was then, was a low-level Sloane working at a nice creche when press photographers began staking her out for snaps of the prince's new love.
The classic shot was of the teenage Diana posing in a garden with two children in her care, apparently unaware of the sun shining through her summery skirt and rendering it transparent.
You have to wonder what effect the sensation caused by that photo had on Diana. As a girl who hungered for love and attention, the sensation that followed may have made her feel good.
Certainly it gave Diana a tiny taste of what was to come and, it could be argued, she lived and died by that particular kind of attention. Indeed, after her death, her sons were protected from it for some time.
To some extent, though, the gloves have come off in relation to William and Harry in recent years. In William's case, his leap from eligible and handsome young prince straight to middle-aged insurance salesman has meant the attention paid to him is as dull as the man himself.
In Harry's case, however, the dashing young royal thing is still going strong. Not so much in that he is cast and constantly captured as second-in-line behaving badly; but more that the women who may or may not be in his life get scrutinised to within an inch of their own lives.
Harry is allowed to be more naughty than first-in-line William, but that has always been the way with the younger royals, all through the centuries. William could never have entertained settling down with an actress or a foreigner, but it's fine for Harry.
So long as the woman in question can cope with the fact that getting wed will mean a lifetime of being watched.
Thus far, however, Meghan Markle is coping admirably. She knows enough about creating a good impression to look cheerful as she leaves her home with a newly acquired retinue of police and private security in tow.
She knows to keep quiet when asked for confirmation of a romance and, tellingly, she has resisted any urge to comment on an interview given by her half-sister early this week.
According to Samantha Grant, the actress has been unsupportive of their shared father's financial problems, and is poor at maintaining family relationships. "I am not sure how the Queen would feel about someone who shuns their own family," Grant said. "Meghan is narcissistic and selfish, I think the royal family would be appalled."
Well, perhaps. Or maybe Meghan Markle is the perfect royal match.