(NOTE: Look, I know Meghan Markle and Kate “technically” aren’t princesses, they’re duchesses. But they’re married to princes and a lot of people consider them princesses, and so to fit with the theme of the article they’re being called princesses.)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this past week Meghan Markle and Prince Harry got married, and people were pretty excited about it. I’ve heard stories on the radio and seen articles pop up about it on my social media for months. It wasn’t just Harry and Meghan of course; it was also Kate’s new baby. A lot was happening in the world of the royals, what would the new royal baby be named? (Louis, ugh, what a name) Who would be invited to the royal wedding? What would Meghan’s dress look like? Speculation and gossip of anything royal, just so we could get a glimpse into their lives. And all those anglophiles who needed to get their fill of the royals could always watch the royal wedding from the comfort of their own homes on the big day.
I didn’t watch it because there was no way I was going to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to watch someone get married and because I really don’t care about the royals. The only reason I watched some of Prince William and Kate’s wedding was because I was in high school and we had a weird purple and yellow fundraiser where if we brought in a toonie we got to wear a purple or yellow shirt during the day (I went to a Catholic school, we wore uniforms, we were all desperate for any chance we had to wear civies clothes). Even in high school my classmates and teachers marveled at the wedding, with many of the girls sighing at the dress and dreaming of being a princess, even as teenagers.
And I can’t blame them; growing up with Disney princess movies, The Princess Diaries, and a royal wedding will make being a princess and becoming royalty look like a sweet gig. Growing up with these movies myself, it was hard not to be lulled into the beauty of dresses and love and the finer things life can offer. Even in high school, watching Kate walk down the aisle in that beautiful dress, it was nice to imagine being a princess.
But being older and more aware of the news than I was with Will and Kate’s wedding, I was surprised with how much you have to give up to be a princess. When I learned that Meghan Markle would have to retire from a successful acting career that she’d worked hard for in order for her to be a princess (or at least be able to marry Harry) I couldn’t imagine anything more horrible. I can’t imagine having to give up doing something I love just so I can marry someone. And I know it was her choice and love is full of sacrifices, but what did Harry sacrifice? Or do royals not have to sacrifice anything to be happy?
Kate did it to of course, gave up all her dreams of designing and fashion to marry Prince William. And she made her sacrifices too for love, which can definitely be noble, but what do you do with your life when you’re so heavily policed?
Before her marriage, Meghan Markle had to delete her social media accounts; instead all news about her is shared from the Royal Family twitter. She cannot sign autographs for fans or take selfies with them, she can no longer vote or talk about politics, she can no longer play Monopoly (I really want to know the full story for this one) she must dress and act (and sit) a certain way. The rest of her (and Kate’s) life is about acting and appearing a certain way, maintaining the image of the royals even looking prim and proper hours after giving birth and choosing your children’s name from a list of royal names.
But they’re princesses and that makes it all worth it, right?
I personally don’t think so.
I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes and imagine what it would be like knowing you’re becoming a princess and giving up everything, but it seems like a horror story every time I think of it. No longer being able to talk and see your friends and family the way that you used to, being forced to appear a certain ideal way, no longer being able to speak for yourself but through others, no longer being able to do what you dreamed to do. But who knows, maybe one day I will be able to imagine giving up everything I love because I will love someone enough to give it all up for them. Then again, maybe I will love that person with my whole heart and still not want to give up the things I love doing.
Love is complicated, so much more so than I ever realized. And I’m still learning about its twists and turns and complexities, but there are also things I know about it. Love is definitely about sacrificing certain things, but not everything. Not when it’s taking certain aspects of yourself, hiding them away, turning you into a new person.
But again, what do I know. I’ve never fallen for a prince and I probably never will. Kate and Meghan both made their choices, and by now Kate knows what she’s had to give up and I hope Meghan does too. Being a princess is more than dresses and fun and love and castle slumber parties like all those princess movies made it seem.
All I know is I never want to be one.
(Image of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle from here.)