Times have changed for the British Royal Family, but, according to a UBC royal expert, the recent engagement of Prince Harry to American actress Megan Markle would still have to be approved by the Queen.
Prince Charles released a statement Monday morning saying the couple were engaged in London earlier this month, and a Royal wedding is planned for next spring.
Following the announcement, Sarika Bose, a UBC lecturer in Victorian literature and royal expert, weighed in on the impending nuptials and what it means for the Royal Family.
“This is a ground-breaking alliance for many reasons,” she said in a press release. “Markle is a commoner, she is divorced, an actress, not English and ethnically different.
“In addition to her African-American mother, there are rumours that her father has Jewish heritage,” she added. “In the eyes of conservatives, both of these could have been barriers to a marriage.”
Bose said that despite the “perceived barriers” Markle is “well suited to the role of marrying the fifth person in line for the British throne” noting that her work as a World Vision global ambassador and as an advocate for political participation and leadership for women through the United Nations provides some preparation for her impending royal duties.
“Having supported some causes on her own indicates her experience in charity work, and give her credibility as a knowledgeable, committed and serious patron,” she said. “One of the chief duties of both seniors and junior members of the Royal Family is to support charitable foundations and social causes.”
Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle are "thrilled and happy" to be engaged. pic.twitter.com/5j0nBvZKZy— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 27, 2017
Until 2015, there were regulations around who a member of the Royal Family could marry.
“King George III proposed the Royal Marriages Act in 1772, which gave the sovereign the power to veto a proposed marriage between a member of the Royal Family and a non-aristocratic or other ‘low-status’ individual, and any marriage had to have the official consent of the monarch and the Privy Council,” Bose said.
However, she said, from the 18th to 20th century many Royal Family members married in contravention of the act, which affected the legitimacy of any children and their succession rights.
The act stated that potential spouses had to be aristocratic, Anglican and never-married. The act was repealed in 2015 however, the sovereign’s possible veto still applies to the first six people in the line of succession, which is currently Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew.
The marriage of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle will take place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018. pic.twitter.com/lJdtWnbdpB— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 28, 2017