Markle sparkles

Meghan Markle in ripped jeans (with Prince Harry) at the Invictus Games in September in Toronto.
Meghan Markle in ripped jeans (with Prince Harry) at the Invictus Games in September in Toronto.PHOTO: REUTERS

Meghan Markle, to wed Prince Harry, will become Anglican and British. The American actress looks set to be one of the most-watched women and a style-setter

LONDON • Meghan Markle, the American actress whose engagement to Prince Harry was announced on Monday, will be baptised in the Church of England and become a British citizen.

It was also announced on Tuesday that the couple will wed in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in May, although a precise date was not specified.

Queen Elizabeth II granted the couple permission to exchange vows in the chapel, which has been the site of many royal weddings. Prince Harry, 33, was baptised there in 1984. The royal family will pay for the wedding.

The plans by Markle, 36, to take up British citizenship and become an Anglican - it is not yet clear if she will eventually renounce her American citizenship - underscore one of the many ways in which this royal union has shattered precedents.

She will be the first American to marry into the royal family since Wallis Simpson, the divorced socialite whose relationship with King Edward VIII triggered a constitutional crisis and prompted his abdication in 1936. (The couple wed in 1937.)

And it was only in 2013 that the law was amended so that members of the royal family could marry Catholics without losing their place in the line of succession. Markle, a Protestant, was not baptised as a child. She attended a Catholic girls' school in Los Angeles.

For many in the British news media, the engagement reflected how egalitarian Britain had become. "A divorced, mixed-race, Hollywood actress who attended a Roman Catholic school is to marry the son of the next king," began the lead editorial on Tuesday in The Daily Telegraph, a conservative newspaper. "Such a sentence could simply not have been written a generation ago."

A spokesman for Kensington Palace said Markle would begin the application process for a spousal citizenship visa when the pair are married and said the process of naturalisation would likely take a number of years.

Markle will go through the same process as any other non-Briton applying for citizenship through a spouse, the palace said, and will retain her American citizenship throughout that process. The spokesman said the palace would not comment on whether she will renounce her American citizenship.

Though some foreign politicians are required to give up their dual citizenship, there are no similar rules for British royals - and there has already been speculation that the union of Prince Harry and Markle could eventually result in some British royal children wielding American passports.

 Markle's footwear choices are under scrutiny too. Here, she is at Elle's 6th Annual Women In Television Dinner in West Hollywood, Califor
Markle's footwear choices are under scrutiny too. Here, she is at Elle's 6th Annual Women In Television Dinner in West Hollywood, California, last year. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

In the United States, the oath administered to naturalised citizens requires that they "entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty".

Federal law does not state what happens if a native-born American - like Markle, who was born in Los Angeles - marries a foreign prince.

In the meantime, palace officials said that the couple will "undertake their first official engagement" together in Nottingham on Friday where they will mark World Aids Day by meeting organisations supporting people living with HIV/Aids.

"Prince Harry is looking forward to introducing Ms Markle to a community that has become very special to him," Kensington Palace tweeted.

It will be her first outing in her new role. During an interview broadcast on Monday on BBC, she was asked about giving up her acting career. She recently wrapped up filming in the legal drama Suits.

"I don't see it as giving anything up," she said. "I just see it as a change, it's a new chapter."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2017, with the headline 'Markle sparkles'. Print Edition | Subscribe