Listen: Katrina Roe chats to Nine News reporter Michael Best in London about the royal engagement.
It was November 24 in 1992, when Queen Elizabeth II famously described the year just gone, as an ‘annus horribillus’ – a Latin term meaning horrible year. A seperation, a divorce, a scandalous affair and a fire at Windsor Castle, had all rocked the royal family over the 11 months before the Queen’s speech, and only weeks after the speech, Prince Charles and Princess Diana seperated.
How beautiful, then, that 25 years later – almost to the day – Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle have announced their engagement; a happy union that most of the world seems to be celebrating and embracing, and that stands in contrast to the sad royal events of a quarter-century ago.
The happy couple, set to tie the knot early next year, shared their much-anticipated news with the international media overnight, telling reporters about how they met, and posing for photos in the sunken garden at Kensington Palace.
Harry had Never Watched Markle’s Hit Show, ‘Suits’
Michael Best from Channel Nine News spoke to Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe from London after spending the day reporting on the story. He was one of the first on the scene ready to hear the announcement, having been at Kensington Palace coincidentally for another shoot when he noticed something was going on.
“I was at the Palace this morning by chance filming something at 9:30am British time, and noticed them putting up their barricades, for what we assumed was the press,” he said. “So we thought something may have been on at that stage. And the announcement came out at 10 o’clock. So we were there quite early. But everyone found out at the same time. A lot of people had an idea was coming but no-one knew when until Harry and Meghan decided it was time.”
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He said the couple’s devotion to one another was obvious in the 20-minute interview they gave. They shared how they met, how Harry knew nothing of the actress and had never watched Suits before he met her, and showed off the three-diamonds engagement ring, with two diamonds from Princess Diana’s jewellery collection, and the central diamond being from Botswana.
Fun facts shared in the interview include the fact that the Queen’s Corgis love Meghan more than Harry, and that the proposal was done on bended knee, at home, over a roast chicken dinner.
Best added that, unlike in the days of Princess Diana, the press and paparazzi have learnt to be very respectful towards their beloved royals.
“Harry’s warning [to the press about privacy] last year was clear,” he said. “It’s a statement we’ve never really seen from the British royals before to the press, basically saying, butt out, don’t cross the line, to some of the more intrusive tabloids here and in the United States. They seem to have largely heeded that. There’s been plenty of speculation and the paparazzi are always out looking for a shot of them together, but they’ve largely been able to keep things as private as they can.”
Markle a Divorcee, Shows Royal Family is Changing
With Meghan Markle being a divorcee, the engagement is a sign that the royal family is becoming more progressive in their attitudes towards modern marriages.
“She’s not only a divorcee but a divorced American, which back in the 1930s was quite the issue for King Edward the 8th who abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson the love of his life,” he said.
“The royal family is moving with the times. It seems that staid old British tradition and attitude from last century is well and truly gone.”
“Meghan comes from a normal family in America. Her mother’s African American, her father’s a white American. That created some interest when their relationship was first exposed, and Harry hit out at saying it’s none of anyone’s business her ethnicity or what it brings to the [picture].
“This is another sign the royal family is moving with the times. It seems that staid old British tradition and attitude from last century is well and truly gone.”
Meghan Markle was a social justice advocate long before Prince Harry came along, something that no doubt attracted him, given the very public role his mother Diana played in championing the marginalised.
At age 11 she wrote a letter to several leaders including the First Lady of the day, Hillary Clinton, complaining about a sexist TV ad, that was altered as a result of her activism. She has also long worked in philanthropy supporting the UN, and charities like World Vision, and also has a degree in International Relations.