Remember back in the eighties when the newly-married Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was briefly praised for her informality, and described as a ‘breath of fresh air’ who would transform the stodgy, musty old monarchy?
How quickly her ‘refreshing’ antics became rebranded as vulgarity, and even disrespect for the gravity of her new position. Whether or not she deserved the contempt lumped upon her by some members of the royal establishment – and the notoriously unforgiving British newspapers - commoner Fergie’s demolition is a warning from history that the much-loved Prince Harry and his bride-to-be Meghan Markle should pay some attention to.
Caught out this week sharing a cheeky moment while attending a somber Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, the pair have since faced some awkward scrutiny. While One Direction singer Liam Payne performed John Mayer’s Waiting on The World to Change, Harry was captured by TV cameras raising his eyebrows in apparent disapproval of the performance, with Meghan reduced to giggles by his tiny act of public rebellion.
It’s probably not a scene that would have endeared the pair to snobby traditionalists, who wish senior members of the royal family would retain an air of dignity and stiff upper lips at all times.
To the rest of us, it was just a bit of fun. Harry is deservedly one of the most popular members of the royal family – channeling some of his late mother Diana’s best qualities, including a down-to-earth charm.
He should never be pressured to lose that.
Meghan Markle comes from a very different milieu from the one she’s marrying into – the flashy world of Hollywood. But she seems to be taking to her new life like a duck to water.
While we all hope that Meghan and Harry have an easy time, both Fergie and Diana complained that they at times felt under attack by ‘The Firm’ - the name given to the royal establishment; not only the royals themselves, but power hungry, scheming courtiers, sundry hangers-on and even servants.
The Queen’s former private secretary memorably publicly said of Prince Andrew’s ill-fated bride, 'She is simply a vulgarian. She is vulgar, vulgar, vulgar, and that is that.'
There has apparently been a changing of the guard since then, with more relaxed attitudes starting to prevail. There has been notably little backlash emerging from within the palace walls about Harry marrying an actress from across the pond.
This new climate appears to mark an acknowledgement that the personal happiness of the younger members of the royal family is more important than strict and unwavering adherence to tradition. Meghan is clearly the right woman for Harry, and they deserve their happiness.
Let’s hope that Harry and Meghan can be themselves after they marry – comfortably living out their royal duties in their own style. And if that means having the occasional laugh at the expense of boyband members in between endless ribbon cuttings, then so be it.