If you could poll the dead British royals lying in Westminster Abbey, they would presumably be scandalized that one of their descendants is marrying a divorced American actress with African heritage ?? and at a wedding ceremony described as ??low key.??
But if the royal family have excelled at anything, it??s their willingness to (very gradually) get with the times. Below, a brief look at the events that have mellowed out the House of Windsor so thoroughly that Prince Harry will actually get to marry someone he loves.
King Edward VIII abdicates the throne (1936)
The only reason Elizabeth II is Queen, of course, is because her uncle??s intention to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson caused such a fuss that it prompted him to abdicate.? (Although there were other reasons the royals were glad to see him go.)
File?Of course, there were other reasons why it was a good idea for King Edward VIII to abdicate.
Of course, there were other reasons why it was a good idea for King Edward VIII to abdicate.
Princess Margaret gets a divorce (1978)
The British monarchy got a divorcee of its own ?? the first in 400 years ?? when Princess Margaret split from Antony Armstrong-Jones. Margaret had turned to the celebrity photographer when her plan to marry divorcee Peter Townsend, a decorated Battle of Britain veteran known for his sedate kindness, was rejected. But Armstrong-Jones was not much of a solace. He turned out to be cruel and sexually profligate, and after their marriage went down in flames, the heartbroken princess proceeded to slowly kill herself with alcohol and cigarettes over the next two decades ?? leading the British public to wonder whether they should have been a bit more lenient about that whole divorcee thing.
Princess Margaret holding her son Linley, along with husband Antony Armstrong-Jones and the Queen Mother.
(Basically) everyone else gets a divorce (1992-1996)
Although British divorce rates?rose dramatically?throughout the 1980s, until 1992 it was still possible to believe that royal divorce was an anomaly. That all changed when, in the space of only four years, three of the Queen??s four children got divorces. Princess Anne was first, divorcing her husband Mark Phillips after a string of marital difficulties including a New Zealand love child. Next was the explosive divorce of Prince Charles and Diana, which saw both parties sitting for tell-all televised interviews. Finally, Prince Andrew divorced Sarah Ferguson. The Queen didn??t approve of any of this (she publicly called 1992 her ??annus horribilis??) but the mid-1990s shattered any expectation that the royals were somehow ??above?? any association with divorce.
This didn??t turn out so well.
Church of England backs off its blanket opposition to divorce (2002)
The Church of England was calved from the Roman Catholic Church for a singular purpose: to allow Henry VIII to get a divorce.? Nonetheless, sovereigns who came after? him have been expected to stick to some basic religious guidelines ?? marriage for life among them. It wasn??t until 2002 that the church started to recognize divorce in ??exceptional circumstances.??
Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles (2005)
Charles was put through a wringer very similar to his aunt Margaret. He wanted to marry girlfriend Camilla Shand. But royal pressure instead forced him into a disastrous marriage with Diana Spencer. In the past, that might have meant Charles simply kept his true love as a secret mistress. But he has campaigned hard to gain public acceptance for his one-and-only, culminating in the couple??s 2005 marriage.
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are blessed at St. Georges Chapel in Windsor Castle after their civil wedding in 2005.
Will and Kate live in ??sin?? (2011)
There are no explicit rules that a royal spouse needs to be a virgin, but when Charles was ready to wed both the palace and the press favoured a bride with no ??history.?? Thus, the appeal of then 19-year-old Diana: As the Daily Star?wrote in 1981, she was ??untarnished, unblemished ? a virgin, and seen to be one.?? In sharp contrast, Prince William and Kate Middleton lived together for several years before their marriage. Not only did nobody seem to care, but the Archbishop of York?gave the cohabitation his direct blessing.
In a credit to British social progress, Will and Kate lived together before they decided to put themselves in this position.
Royals are finally allowed to marry Catholics (2013)
Until recently, had Harry had opted to marry a Catholic girl he would have automatically become ineligible for the throne under a British law dating back to 1772. But that was overturned with the passage of the Succession to the Crown Act, which explicitly states that ??a person is not disqualified from succeeding to the Crown or from possessing it as a result of marrying a person of the Roman Catholic faith.?? Of course, Harry still abandons any claim to the throne if he becomes a Catholic himself ?? and although Meghan went to a Catholic school, she says she never practiced and has been baptized into the Church of England. Just to be safe?