The royal wedding was an extraordinary event, it showed the face of a better Britain – open, forward-thinking, positive.
The royal wedding proved an extraordinary event, with the magisterial backdrop of St George’s Chapel the perfect setting. There were several highlights – two stand-out moments being Bishop Michael Curry’s astonishing address and the Kingdom Choir’s spine-tingling performance of Stand By Me. Curry’s address was reminiscent of Martin Luther King. It gave the wedding an exciting, black American aesthetic, changing the familiar format for such occasions and making the event unlike anything before it.
Curry talked about the redemptive power of love, that love shows us ways to live and that through love, we’ll make of this world a new world. Not only in its romantic form can love heal, any kind of love has that power.
These sentiments resonated beyond the wedding. His address gave proceedings an urgency, a potent vibrancy. Another moment which struck a chord was Curry’s reminder of the resilience of faith during slavery. A black American Bishop talking to British royalty about slavery isn’t something you’d expect to hear at a wedding. It was a reminder of the road Harry and Meghan have taken to get here. It’s still an unexpected sight for many – a mixed race woman marrying into the royal family. Meghan Markle’s inclusion in the family gives it a modern, inclusive feel. She’s the antithesis of the kind of person Britons would normally envision as a royal bride; a gorgeous, divorced, plucky, former actress with a socially conscious edge. She’s an excellent match for Harry’s open, easygoing charm.
A dynamic duo, they’ve weathered caustic critics, and done wonders for the profile of the royals, making them appear current and more relevant. They’ve garnered huge interest among the young. Markle’s ascent is the stuff of Hollywood but it’s been a difficult journey, from the press’s dismissive treatment of her at the outset to the stench of underlying racism that dogged some coverage, to her family’s dysfunctions coming to light in spectacularly ironic fashion as the big day loomed.
Markle joining the royal family may have some effect on who we see as entitled to join the upper social echelons, and thereby gain those privileges, but we still have a long way to go in terms of attitudes to race, class and equality in this country.
This wedding isn’t a bandage to bind the country’s divisions. The ugliness of Brexit, the Grenfell Tower debacle and the horrific treatment of the Windrush generation very much at the forefront of current conversation within the UK’s ethnic minority communities. Yet the wedding, though couched in pomp and tradition, still seems to me like a radical act. The ceremony itself felt radical, with its celebration of difference, its nods to inclusion – particularly in the gospel choir and its glamorous guests such as Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and Ozwald Boateng.
Markle is already having some effect – that’s something to feel positive about, a ripple in the fabric of our society, a change in notion of what the face of the royal family should look like. The world is watching. There’ll be some sense, some admiration for a Britain that can be forward-thinking. The country has come together to celebrate Prince Harry’s wedding to a woman of colour – and while we’re in a celebratory mood let’s think on Curry’s notion of imagining a world where love is the way. And if we are to build on that from a ceremony that was radical in its feel, how about another radical act? How about making concrete efforts to improve the attitudes around race and class, true structural changes to level the disproportionate inequalities that minority communities experience at all levels – people who have made huge contributions to the country, yet are still made to feel like second-class citizens.
Source: The Guardian