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Royal cause for celebration

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Monday, December 4, 2017

The Telegraph of London

A divorced, mixed-race, Hollywood actress who attended a Roman Catholic school is to marry the son of the next King. Such a sentence could simply not have been written a generation ago.

The forthcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and his American fiancée Meghan Markle are emblematic of a nation that has changed utterly, no longer hidebound by stuffy tradition and populated by establishment courtiers seeking to prove Shakespeare’s observation that the course of true love never did run smooth.

Perhaps it might have been different had the would-be groom been Prince William and at just one remove from the throne. But arguably we have changed enough to recognize that what matters nowadays is whether the couple want to spend their lives together, not whether the background of an individual is considered to be insufficiently aristocratic or religiously problematic.

If anything, it is the Church of England that has caused difficulties in the past over Royals marrying divorced people, which is something of an historical irony since it was founded upon a monarch’s desire to end his marriage.

However, since 2002 the marriage of a divorced person whose spouse is still living has been possible in the church, at the discretion of the member of clergy conducting the ceremony. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, indicated that special dispensation will be given for a Church of England wedding for Prince Harry. 

Above all, this is a story about the happiness of a young couple who deserve our congratulations and best wishes. For Prince Harry in particular, the country will be delighted to see him settling down to the responsibilities and obligations of married life. 

After a long period of political uncertainty and the seemingly interminable controversy over Brexit, the country now has a Royal wedding to look forward to; and if there is ever an event that can draw our fractured nation together then this is it. As we were reminded by the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, the style and pageantry are hard to beat.

It is not yet clear where the couple intend to marry and they may prefer a low-key affair. That would be a shame. The monarchy has shown its ability to adapt to the realities of the modern world but there remains an important place for tradition, spectacle and color. The wedding is set for next spring. Let it be a great national occasion in a great national church.

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