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Royal Wedding Roundup

Princesses, tiaras, bunting, ex-girlfriends, and ludicrous hats

At Public Seminar we are feminists, so we don’t raise our daughters to be princesses. We are open-minded leftists, so we don’t fawn over the ruling classes, but we don’t long to guillotine them either. And we are anti-racists, so we haven’t declared an end to racism worldwide just because a multi-racial American TV star has married into the British royal family — but we do acknowledge that this change in the House of Windsor may be a very significant moment for English culture.

In other words, our general distaste for royalism does not prevent us from admitting that Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle not only seem like nice people. Their union is a landmark of sorts in the history of race and empire, prompting the first and (probably) last post you will ever see here about a royal wedding.

So, without further ado, here’s some coverage to help you recover from this much-anticipated event.

  • Harry and Meghan will be the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a title conveyed to them by the 92 year-old Queen Elizabeth II as  a wedding present, and one that has been vacant since 1834, when the twice-married Prince Augustus Frederick, the sixth son of George III (yes, that George III — making sense now?) died without “legitimate issue.” His children were bastards because George III had never given poor Augustus Frederick permission to marry in the first place, but perhaps they were at odds over his politics: he was an anti-slavery activist and supported full rights for Catholics and Jews.
  • Is Meghan a princess? Well no: she holds the title as a courtesy, but a person cannot actually use the title unless they are born into the royal family. Should you run into Harry and Meghan, if you want to be proper, you will greet each of them as “your Royal Highness.” #BePrepared.
  • So how did Prince Philip, the groom’s grandfather, get to be a prince? Well, he was born a Greek Prince, and had to renounce all his titles when he married then-Princess Elizabeth. On February 22, 1957, now a queen and their third child on the way, she re-conferred the title on him. (Popsugar, December 19, 2017.) If you are interested in the gossipy history behind this decision, watch Season 2 of The Crown on Netflix.
  • Want to know more about American women who married into the English peerage and various royal families? Go to the Backstory podcast where, in “Upward Nobility: American-Made Royalty” (May 18 2018), historians Edward Ayers, Brian Balogh, and Joanne Freeman tell you about Wallis Warfield Simpson, a Bonaparte in Baltimore, Jenny Jerome Churchill and the “dollar princesses,” and the importance of political wives in England and the United States.
  • Recall the royal engagement with Public Seminar‘s very own Nikki Hemmer, Neil Young and Natalia Mehlman Petrzela in “Etiquette Books, a Royal Engagement, and National Monuments,” Past Present podcast (December 30, 2017).
  • A Twitter thread from historian Ann Little, aka Historiann, contributes her thoughts on the “breath of fresh air” that commoner wives are supposed to bring to the English royal family.
  • Who says conservatives are no fun?  See a spectacular slideshow of the LEGO Royal Wedding at The National Review, May 14, 2018.
  • Because Harry refused to invite Donald Trump, no politicians at all — British or American — scored one of the 600 invites. But @bbcthree roasted Trump with this image, comparing the crowds at his inauguration to the crowd that waved the Royal Couple into Windsor Castle yesterday. (H/T Elle.com.)
  • Harper’s Bazaar reports that both of Harry’s ex-girlfriends, neither of whom could “stand the scrutiny of dating a royal,” were invited to and attended the wedding. “For many, the idea of having a former partner at their wedding might induce minor heart palpitations,” the report notes. But their presence “not only proves that Harry is mature enough to be friends with his exes (this in itself shows that all parties are adult and like each other enough to want happiness for one another) but also that Meghan is secure enough in their relationship to have two former flames present.” (May 19, 2018.)
  • For the “something borrowed” part of the bridal outfit, Meghan cadged a diamond tiara from Queen Elizabeth II, originally made for her grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1932. (H/T Kensington Palace Twitter.)
  • Princess Beatrice, Harry’s first cousin, whose weird hat worn to Prince William’s wedding quickly became a meme, acquired its own Facebook page, and even appeared (fictively) in the Obama situation room as the president’s national security team awaited news of the Osama bin-Laden mission in 2011, opted for “something more subtle” this time around, according to People magazine (May 19, 2018.) I’ll say. She looks like a Mennonite in sequins, and they made her take her father, Prince Andrew, as her date.
  • Sixteen ways that Meghan Markle’s life will change now that she is Duchess of Sussex (Insider.com, May 15 2018.)
  • Ways that Prince Harry’s life will change: 0.
  • My favorite comment from the PBS coverage: as the royal carriage wended its way through the throng of commoners waving and cheering in front of stolid English row houses: “Everyone has been working very hard on their gardens. Very hard on their bunting.”
  • Best #twitterstorian commentary on the wedding, and the ways that African-American music, people, and religious life were woven into the ceremony? Princeton’s Tera Hunter.
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