The stars were aligned says a prince in love

Happy ever after: The pair are likely to be known as the “Duke and Duchess of Sussex”. © Getty

Is romantic love a force for good? Nobody could doubt the sincerity of the love between Prince Harry and his bride-to-be. Yet for nearly half the population, romance still ends in divorce.

It is a tale straight out of a romance novel, or a perhaps a made-for-TV movie. The dashing young prince, a loveable rogue with a troubled past, meets a glamorous American TV star. They have a whirlwind, 16-month romance in which they overcome a “wave of abuse and harassment” from the media. The strong, independent woman must choose between her acting career and becoming a member of the most scrutinised family on Earth.

In the end, of course, she chooses her prince. They are engaged. He designs the ring himself, using two of his beloved mother’s diamonds. As they stand outside their new home in front of the glare of photographers, one reporter asks when he knew she was “the one”. His response? “The very first time we met.”

But this is not a romance novel — it is the story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who announced their engagement yesterday morning. The details of the wedding are being finalised, but it will take place in spring 2018, around the time his brother William and sister-in-law Kate’s third baby is born.

Back in September, Markle told Vanity Fair: “We’re happy. Personally, I love a great love story.”

And so, it seems, does the rest of the world. Congratulations flooded in from presidents and prime ministers across the world. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, (who will probably perform the ceremony) praised the “special and joyous commitment” of marriage.

But in 21st-century Britain, that commitment often ends in divorce. Around 42% of UK marriages fail. In the current royal family, three out ten marriages have ended in divorce. Markle has also been married once before.

Romantic fairy tales, after all, are a surprisingly modern invention. Many of the originals included dark and violent twists. They were passed on through word of mouth as warnings, or as tips for survival. Although Disney famously cleaned them up in the 20th century, now even children’s films have moved away from magical romance.

When Harry met Meghan

Fairy tale love is overrated, argue some. In the real world, few people are whisked away by Prince (or Princess) Charming to live happily ever after. Even Markle now faces a life of immense public pressure, with very little privacy. Sensible people know that other kinds of love — between friends, families or more equal partnerships — make us happier in the end.

Stop being such a Scrooge, say others. Fairy tale love is not so rare, and we should not assume it is doomed to failure. The best romances will turn into something more solid and dependable over time, but nothing can beat the excitement of falling in love. And nothing should stop you from dreaming of finding a person who makes you feel like royalty.

You Decide

  1. Were you happy to hear about Harry and Meghan’s engagement?
  2. Is fairy tale love real?

Activities

  1. The author Lewis Carroll divided love into four broad categories: love for family, love for friends, love for God and romantic love. Rank these four types of love in order of importance, and discuss with the person sitting next to you.
  2. Rewrite a well-known fairy tale for the modern day. Before you start, consider how important romance will be to your story.

Some People Say...

“Awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.”

Alain de Botton

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The wedding will take place in spring 2018. The couple have been dating since July 2016. Yesterday they said that they were set up on a blind date by friends, and got to know each other very quickly. “The stars were aligned,” is how Harry put it. When they marry, Meghan will officially become “Princess Henry of Wales”, but not “Princess Meghan”. This title would only be for those born into royalty, like Princess Charlotte.
What do we not know?
Exactly when the wedding will take place (or whether William and Kate’s third child will be born in time). We also do not know which titles Harry and Meghan will take on, although it is rumoured that they will become Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Word Watch

Troubled
Prince Harry was 12 when his mother Diana died in a car crash. Recently he has given several interviews about his struggles with grief.
The ring
The ring’s central diamond is from Botswana, a place that is “special” to the couple. It is flanked by two of Diana’s diamonds. The band is gold.
42%
According to 2015 data from the Office of National Statistics. Interestingly, the divorce rate in the UK is falling, especially among newer marriages.
Three out ten
The Queen, her children, and grandchildren have ten weddings between them. The marriages between Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, Prince Anne and Mark Phillips, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson all ended in divorce
Originals
Take Cinderella, in which the step-sisters cut off their own toes; The Little Mermaid, in which Ariel turns to sea foam; or Bluebeard, in which a man murders his previous wives.
Moved away
Think of Elsa’s story in Frozen, Moana’s in Moana, or Merida’s in Brave. All three Disney princesses do not end up with a prince. In Frozen, Elsa’s sister Anna falls in love at first sight, only to be betrayed.

Subjects

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