By Else Welde
The December air is cold and dry, but although the temperature on Falmouth’s streets show no more than 4 degrees, the Cornish seem to have relatively warm hearts towards the thought of a new royal wedding.
Breaking thousands, maybe even millions, of hearts with his engagement to Meghan Markle, it looks like Prince Harry finally is settling down and the public get another royal wedding to drool over. For the celebration of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it was estimated that more than ten million people around the globe watched the event and more than 600.000 people visited the capital on the day. There is obviously a keen interest in this news, but does everyone agree?
Venturing out onto the streets today, I found that there were a few voices that weren’t quite as warm as I initially thought; in a retro Patagonia jacket, probably too thin to keep the winter air out, film student Roman Lawrie-Dowd tells me that his belief is that the royal family hasn’t contributed anything of worth into the society:
“If you are born into wealth and all you know is wealth, you don’t have the right to sit on the throne and command people.”
Is that what the royals do? No.
Although the ruling monarch is sovereign, the powers tied to the position is limited to law and most are made by the elected Prime Minister. What is so unusual about this upcoming wedding however, is that Markle will be no ordinary royal bride. She is best known for her role as Rachel Zane in the TV show Suits but is also a model, feminist and a humanitarian with a degree in theatre and international studies. As an American mixed race woman with no previous ties to the royal family and a divorcee, she breaks quite a few traditions of what has previously been considered suitable for a British royal.
Being a Norwegian born and bred, I am not unfamiliar with the concept of a royal family, although the Norwegian monarchy is on a much smaller scale than the British. Norway has had a complicated past with being in an unwanted union with Denmark and later Sweden, leading to the country lacking its own royal family for a significant period of time – in fact – when King Harald V became king in 1991, he was the first Norwegian born within the country’s border to take the throne for 600 years. What this has effectively done is create a very strong attachment between the royal family and the rest of Norway, embedding them into the Norwegian nationalism, right next to brown cheese and skiing.
To me, Markle seems like an excellent addition to the royal family, as maybe, it needs an element that can make the royals ‘more approachable’. In Norwegian, the word for it is folkelig. Being folkelig is a quality a person has, usually a politician or celebrity, who has the means to be upper-class but doesn’t act that way – down to earth and easily relatable. The English example of a folkelig person would most likely be Phillip Schofield, Jeremy Corbyn – or maybe more prominent – the late Princess Diana.
To put this in perspective, the Norwegian press had a hefty debate when it became clear that second in line to the throne, Crown Princess Ingrid Alexandra, were to attend a private school. Did this mean that the public school system wasn’t good enough for the ordinary people? The reasoning behind this decision was that it was crucial that she became comfortable with English from an early stage to prepare her for her responsibilities, and the private school provided just that – all classes taught in English.
“You can’t be stuck in the same [tradition] as you have for 50 years,” Kathleen Barricloft says with a smile as I asked for her opinion just outside Seasalt in Falmouth Town. She is excited about the next wedding and the new addition to the royal family. There is a new generation who is about to take charge and it is time for progress. It seems that both Prince William and Harry have both very much taken the same approach, going for love rather than tradition as none of their wives has “noble blood”.
Already in 1959, King Harald V of Norway had to fight for the right to marry his future queen, Sonja. She was the daughter of a merchant, a commoner, how was this going to be received? Well, if he could not marry her, then he would not marry at all. Now, almost 70 years later, it seems the British royals are following suit.
The December air might be cold and dry but the sun is shining. The British people haven’t lost faith in their royal family just yet and most people are excited for another extravagant celebration. However, whether Markle will help bring a positive change to the royal traditions or stir up the debate surrounding monarchy – only time will tell.