6 Things Global Citizens Should Know About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
She’s an American actress, he's a British prince. It’s the perfect rom com plot and it’s actually happening IRL.
Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle have announced their engagement and are set to be married in the spring.
The 36-year-old soon-to-be-royal became the most Googled actress last year, after she started publicly dating the prince, 33. The engagement looked imminent when she appeared on the cover of US magazine Vanity Fair in 2017.
“We’re two people who are really happy and in love,” said Markle, a Los Angeles native, at the time. And, on Monday, it all became official.
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“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is delighted to announce the engagement of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle,” announced Clarence House on Monday — although the couple actually became engaged in London earlier this month.
The announcement was brief, but it sparked a huge outpouring of excitement from the British public. And we’re so on board. Here are six things every Global Citizen should know about the happy couple.
1. She’s a Gender Equality Activist Who Gets Stuff Done
She’s perhaps most famous for her role in the US show “Suits,” in which she plays determined lawyer Rachel Zane. But there’s a lot more to Markle.
She is an outspoken supporter of women’s rights and, like Emma Watson, is a UN Women’s Advocate — publicly supporting Watson’s He For She campaign. She also once gave a speech in front of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
When she was younger, Markle was so irritated by the sexist tagline of a washing-up liquid advert that she wrote to women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, and then First Lady Hillary Clinton, to protest it, according to an AP report.
After the two women pledged their support for Markle, the tagline was changed from “Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans,” to “People all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans.”
2. She Loves to Travel for a Good Cause
In Markle’s own words, some of her favourite pastimes are cooking, writing, and travel.
And she puts her time abroad to good use.
She travelled to Rwanda with World Vision, of which she’s an ambassador, to promote the importance of clean water.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said, “taking water from one of the water sources in the community and using it with the children to paint pictures of what they dream to be when they grow up,” she said.
And just last month she was spotted talking to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the One Young World Summit in Ottawa — which celebrates young leaders from around the world.
Markle has always been interested in foreign affairs, having studied international relations with drama at the Northwestern University School of Communication, Illinois.
3. She’s All About Supporting Young Women and Girls
Markle is also something of the entrepreneur, launching the lifestyle blog “The Tig.” And it’s not all “fashion tips” and “stellar blow dries,” she says.
“In reframing the beauty content to include think pieces about self-empowerment, or feature dynamic women such as [Pakistani writer]Fatima Bhutto, I was hoping to integrate social consciousness and subjects of higher value than, let’s say, selfies…” she said.
4. She’s a Racial Equality Campaigner
Markle is the daughter of an African-American mother and a caucasian father of Dutch-Irish descent, and her welcome into royal family is a really exciting step in British history.
“Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement represents something genuinely different from everything that has gone before,” writes barrister and human rights development worker Afua Hirsch in the Guardian.
“Their marriage will bring into reality what the British establishment lacked the imagination to even conceive of as possible 17 years ago — that a senior royal can love, and marry, someone whose ethnic heritage is not just different to his own, but the heritage that has always been most othered in Britain — black and African.”
Markle has spoken out on a number of occasions about the “grey area surrounding my self-identification.”
In a column written for the magazine “Elle” in 2015, she described witnessing the 2014 Ferguson and Baltimore protests “in horror.”
“Both sides of a culture I define as my own became victims of spin in the media,” she wrote, “perpetuating stereotypes and reminding us that the States has perhaps only placed bandages over the problems that have never healed at the root.”
5. Prince Harry Wasn’t Afraid to Tackle Harassment
Prince Harry has had to deal with a lot of public attention on his private life for as long as he can remember. He’s always been a pretty good sport about it.
But it wasn’t until a “wave of abuse and harassment” was launched against Markle that the prince said a line had been crossed.
“Some of this has been very public — the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments,” said a statement released by the prince’s communications secretary.
“Some of it has been hidden from the public,” he continued, “the nightly legal battles to keep defamatory stories out of papers; her mother having to struggle past photographers in order to get to her front door; the attempts of reporters and photographers to gain illegal entry to her home and the calls to police that followed; the substantial bribes offered by papers to her ex-boyfriend.”
“This is not a game,” it finished, “it is her life and his.”
6. While We’re on Harry, He’s Pretty Great, Too
Prince Harry is well known for his charitable work. As with most royals, Harry’s humanitarian focus reflects his personal and professional interests — working extensively with veterans and the military.
But he has also used his charitable work to honour the legacy of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
In 1987, Diana shook hands with an HIV-positive man, without gloves, to fight back against dangerous stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS.
Prince Harry is continuing his mother’s work to end the stigma surrounding AIDS and HIV, with the Terrence Higgins Trust. In 2016, he took an HIV test live on Facebook to show how easy it is, and show that there is zero shame in getting tested. The charity praised him for “normalising HIV testing to a global audience” and inspiring “a generation to take control of their sexual health.” The stunt led to a “huge surge” in HIV testing in the UK.
At the end of last year, the prince also teamed up with Rihanna to take a public HIV test in acknowledgement of World AIDS Day, in Barbados.
Markle’s parents could not have been more right when they expressed their reaction to the news.
“Our daughter has always been a kind and loving person,” they said. “To see her union with Harry, who shares the same qualities, is a source of great joy for us as parents.”
They hit the nail on the head.
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