This Side of the Pond – Dec. 7

By Sarah Pridgeon

America is soon to have its first royal – a moment for great celebration, no? There’s nothing like a tiara to bring the world together.

In case you hadn’t heard, our wild child Prince Harry has proposed to his girlfriend, actress Meghan Markle, inviting her into the ranks of the British royal family. But because they’re just like the rest of us, this didn’t happen on vacation in some far-flung land or in the glittering recesses of a palace.

Apparently, he popped the question while they were attempting to prepare a chicken (no word yet on whether she washed her hands thoroughly before handling the ring). For Meghan’s part, she was so excited that she didn’t let him finish the sentence.

The two of them are disgustingly sweet together, so these wedding bells will chime with joy. They are to be married in May at Windsor Castle, the glorious royal abode I used to walk past every day on my way to work, occasionally cursing my ancestors for lacking the foresight to put a path through the center when I was running a few minutes late for the train.

The ring, we are told, features a chunky diamond from Botswana to honor the couple’s shared history in that country. The way Harry tells it, after a blind date with the unusual distinction of having gone well, he invited Meghan to join him on a trip and the pair spent five days camping under the African stars.

Harry himself designed the ring, which also bears two small diamonds from Princess Diana’s own collection so that his mother can join them on their “crazy journey” together. That’s very sweet, but I suspect the main thought going through Meghan’s mind was relief that his design is quite elegant. If I’d let my husband pick out my engagement ring, it would probably have been etched with the Batman logo.

While Meghan will not automatically become a princess unless the Queen decides to bestow her with the title, she will still become Her Royal Highness, Duchess or Princess of… somewhere. It’s not entirely clear yet, but royal experts have suggested Harry will be named the Duke of Sussex, Albany or Clarence.

She can’t be known simply as Princess Meghan because has no royal blood. I promise she hasn’t been singled out for being a foreigner – Kate Middleton isn’t a princess either, and nor was Harry’s mother, even though we’ve been calling her “Princess Diana” all this time.

It’s all very complicated – not even your average Brit can clearly explain why the names turn out the way they do, and we’re long used to all these people wearing crowns. In many cases, and probably in Meghan’s, a royal marriage brings with it a ducal title so that the new member of the family can have a fancy name on their business card without actually becoming a prince or princess.

Sarah Ferguson became the Duchess of York and Sophie Rhys-Jones the Countess of Wessex. Diana was Princess of Wales (but not Princess Diana) and Kate holds the same title (though not Princess Kate). Yes, I am aware of how nonsensical that sentence became.

The only exception to the rule in the current family make-up is Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. He got the duke tag on his wedding day, but he was only dubbed a prince ten years later, when the Queen, “accorded him the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom”.

Could she do the same with Meghan and her sister-in-law-to-be? Sure, but it’s not very likely, as there are too many traditions to trample through first.

Nevertheless, we shall have our first royal from this side of the pond and our first of mixed heritage to boot. Add to that the unprecedented level of public affection the pair are displaying and it seems the royal family has wandered into this brand new century at last.

But what tickles me most about this engagement announcement is that one man seems to have figured out the real plan. He pointed out that Meghan will remain an American citizen once the two of them get hitched.

This means that, if the couple decides to have a child, it will technically have American citizenship. It will be both British and American, all in one well-dressed and no doubt adorable package.

Following on from this logic, what happens when the child grows up? What if it is exceedingly intelligent, charismatic and opinionated and chooses to run for political office?

Theoretically, that child could one day throw its hat in the ring for the highest office of them all. If they prevailed, they could become the President of the United States at the same time as sitting in line for the British throne.

If this theory is correct, I may have been wrong in thinking that we Brits have given up our imperialistic ways. It would mean we’re still hell bent on taking over the world – and we’re willing to play the long game to get it done.