Katie Byrne: Meghan Markle will shake up the Royal Family, but not in the way we may think
The engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been billed as a game-changing, ground-breaking shift for the Royal Family.
The pundits are right, of course - this very modern new member of the British monarchy is a royal revolution... just not necessarily for the reasons that have been cited with tedious regularity.
As we have been reminded time and time again, Markle is a mixed-race American, a Catholic and - shock horror - a divorcee.
This is clearly an issue for dog-whistle racists, identity politics rabble-rousers and creeping Jesuses. The rest of us, quite frankly, are more interested in where she got her new coat (it's by Line the Label, seeing as you're asking).
Yes, Markle represents a seismic shift, but those who are no longer living in the 1950s recognise her uniqueness in very different ways. Here are just a few of the singularities that set her apart from the rest.
She's a yogi
Much has been made of Markle's Catholic upbringing, but you only have to take one look at her long and lean arms to recognise that yoga is her real religion. Her mother - who once sported dreadlocks and a nose ring - is a yoga instructor, and the actress is regularly photographed with a yoga mat rolled up under her arm. Markle went to an all-girls Roman Catholic school in Los Angeles but it is unclear whether she's a practising Catholic. She is, however, a devout yogi who will no doubt be practising her sun salutations on the lawns of Kensington Palace come summer. And who knows, maybe she'll be joined by a few converts...
Royal pundits have drawn all sorts of comparisons between Markle and socialite Wallis Simpson, the last American to marry into the Royal Family in 1937. Simpson hailed from Pennsylvania; Markle was born in the 'Granola State' of California, so called because it's full of fruits, nuts and flakes. In other words: same country, worlds apart. California isn't just a state - it's a blue sky, blissed out, beach-side lifestyle. And Markle, a self-proclaimed 'California Girl', wholeheartedly embodies it. She's a green juice-drinking, motivational mantra-posting hippie-capitalist who probably owns a Himalayan salt lamp and a deck of angel cards. And Prince Harry, for his own part, seems to dig it - he spoke yesterday of the "stars aligning". How long before the word 'karma' appears on an official palace statement?
She wears ripped jeans
While there is no official Royal protocol around fashion, prospective brides tend to choose dresses over trousers and mid-height heels (nude, preferably) over towering stilettos. So when Markle wore ripped skinny jeans to her first official public appearance with Prince Harry at the Invictus Games in Toronto, it was clear she was making more than a style statement. Markle has chalked up a lot of firsts for the British establishment, but she will go down in fashion history as the first Royal bride to successfully avoid wearing tweed. And for that alone, we are grateful.
We've been led to believe Meghan is a modern-day Cinderella who went from an LA tenement to Kensington Palace, but the rags-to-riches tale is just that - a tale. There is, however, a very different happy ending that we can take heart from. Markle is 36, three years older than her fiancé and as far away from the 'young virgin bride' trope as one can get. As for the idea that Royal brides are designed to breed? The couple were refreshingly blasé when the question was posed to them during their first TV interview yesterday. This is a true Cinderella moment for single, childless women who are over the age of 34. When friends start to gently suggest that you freeze your eggs, just think of Meghan who patiently waited for her Prince Charming to come.
She's Netflix and Chill
Royal girlfriends are often unveiled to the public during the 'season' of Royal Ascot and the Henley Royal Regatta. Prince Harry and Meghan, on the other hand, realised it would be much more fun to go into lockdown in their Nottingham Cottage love nest, where they watched TV, cooked dinner and probably fed each other Malteasers. Prince William and Kate Middleton holidayed in the exclusive Desroches Island Resort in the Seychelles when they were dating; Prince Harry and Meghan shared a tent in Botswana. Who cares that they are the first interracial Royal couple? What's far more interesting is the fact they are the first Royal couple who are completely and utterly relatable.
We wish you a scary Christmas
Christmas creep can be confusing. Pumpkins are still on windowsills when festive baubles go on sale. Skeletons are still hanging from door frames when fairy lights are strewn around department stores.
We can only assume that it was especially confusing for Melania Trump, whose Christmas décor looks like a scene from Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. The theme was "time-honoured traditions" and, sure enough, the Trumps are continuing their tradition of scaring the living bejaysus out of us.