Meghan Markle Prince Harry

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Meghan and Harry is the news we needed

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2017 has been a shitshow – but now we have the mother of all mood-boosters. Or, at the very least, a potential bank holiday

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By Rachael Sigee on

The news alert pings on your phone and your heart sinks. For the last year, that sound has generally been a bulletin from the Trumpocalypse. Another Brexit SOS. A bone-chilling terrorist attack. A dry heave of sexual-assault allegations.

Not today, Satan, NOT TODAY.

Today, we get unfathomably excited over wedding dresses, true love, potential guest lists and Prince Harry finally having someone to talk to at official events instead of playing third wheel to Wills and Kate.

He and Meghan Markle have announced their engagement. On Twitter. Even better, the wedding is basically in a fortnight (spring 2018 to be accurate). Everyone swap your *facepalm* and *screaming into the void* gifs for something way more upbeat. We have never been more in need of some good news.

And now we have the mother of all mood-boosters. Or, at the very least, a potential bank holiday.

Pretty much everyone can find a reason to be happy at this announcement. If you’re a true romantic, Harry and Meghan’s love story has appeared authentic and genuinely sweet from the start. If you love a good wedding, this is going to be a seriously good party – let us not forget the most important thing about this news: Markle is mates with Serena Williams. Which means the Queen might not be the only queen at this royal wedding. If you’re a fan of Suits… well, now someone might actually want to talk to you about it.

And if you’re a liberal republican who hates the royal family and everything they stand for, bask in the knowledge that true royalists will be spitting with rage over the unsuitability of Markle for the British monarchy.

(Though perhaps spare a moment for business secretary Greg Clark, who wasn’t having a huge amount of luck with press coverage of his newly announced industrial strategy before the engagement was announced.)

Wherever you stand on the royals (or Suits for that matter – almost as contentious), there is no doubt that this relationship has broken unexpected ground. A decade ago, it would have been unheard of that a member of the royal family was marrying a mixed-race, 36-year-old, divorced American. Remember when people thought it was a big deal that Kate Middleton was “middle class”? One hopes Prince Philip was sitting comfortably when he got the news.

Let us not forget the most important thing about this news: Markle is mates with Serena Williams. Which means the Queen might not be the only queen at this royal wedding

As the UK’s press goes nuts today (give it a few hours for the US onslaught), it’s a marked difference from this time last year when the media was delighting in raking over Markle’s past and ethnicity with all the subtlety of Prince Philip on a foreign state visit (too easy).

The official statement in November 2016 confirming the pair were a couple included an unprecedented and strongly worded response from the prince over the media coverage of his girlfriend, accusing the press of subjecting Markle to “a wave of abuse and harassment” and calling out “the smear on the front page of a national newspaper” and “the racial undertones of comment pieces”. It revealed that legal battles had been waged between publications and palace lawyers, not to mention the harassment of friends and family members, and bribes offered to her ex-boyfriend.

And since that confirmation, the pair have been extremely private, with just one official public appearance at the Invictus Games – picture editors will be rejoicing that an engagement photocall is scheduled after months of pedalling the same photos on every story.

They might be discreet about their relationship but the new royal couple are going off-piste when it comes to conversation topics. When Markle finally spoke to Vanity Fair in September about her then-boyfriend, the story also included her comments about being biracial and experiences of having her freckles airbrushed after photoshoots. Meanwhile, Harry has given taboo-breaking interviews about his struggle with mental health and opened up about the stigma surrounding treatment. It’s a bit more enlightening than the usual niceties. Markle has form on generally giving great and insightful opinions on difficult subject matter: she’s been outspoken about menstruation stigma in India, the refugee crisis, racial identity and social issues.

Although she is leaving her role in Suits at the end of the season, fingers crossed that she isn’t immediately strapped into nude platform heels and a fixed smile because it would be much more interesting to continue to hear what she has to say. In fact, she should probably become the official spokesperson for the royal family on all matters going forward.

After all, a proud feminist in Buckingham Palace, a disgruntled Prince Philip and all the gossip and fun of a posh wedding to gawp over in the spring sounds like just the tonic we need.

Oh, and that possible bank holiday, of course.

@littlewondering

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