The core Royals - the Queen, Prince Charles, William, and Harry - are no strangers to the world's diversity. They all reportedly have strong, positive attachments to the so-called "imperial family" in its modern guise, the Commonwealth. They have all traveled widely. Prince Charles's foundation, The Prince's Trust, has done much good in communities of color throughout Britain. However paternalistic, their appreciation of African cultures, societies, and environmental issues appears genuine. I have no doubt they consider themselves worldly, compassionate people. In contrast, the minor Royals act like updated versions of Bertie Wooster's country house set. They embody a form of entitlement and snobbery that undermines the efforts of the productive members of the family. As far as I could tell, all of them had trouble containing not their giggles, as the press account put it, but their sniggers at Curry's rhetorical style, which most Americans of any ancestry, would recognize.
The reactions of the Royals to the African American elements of the event suggest that, having tossed her ancestry into the big British imperial melting pot of ethnicities they take for granted, they now were taken aback to learn that African Americans are different. Meghan Markle delivered African American history and culture to the royal table. Her heritage turns out to be fundamentally different from that of the members of the Commonwealth nations.
Both African Americans and the peoples of former British colonies share a history of exploitation and oppression. The experience of any one population is not worse or better than another. African Americans nevertheless occupy a special place in US and Atlantic history, because the descendants of the enslaved people still live as a minority within the same national boundaries as do the descendants of the people who enslaved them. When the US Civil War brought a legal end to slavery, the former slaveowners not only stayed, they regained ground. It's that persistent co-habitation that sets African Americans, their culture, and their impact on American culture apart from the experiences of former colonial subjects. The accumulating layers of ever intensifying tension infuse our culture as a result of Americans of African and European descent living together in a state of structural inequity and institutional violence directed at the descendants of slaves. That particular tension has given rise to a powerful and eloquent tradition of social activism grounded in biblical rhetoric that is particular to African Americans. Secondarily, it informs American art, music, and language and distinguishes all Americans as a people. That is what the Royal family got a surprise taste of when Harry married Meghan. I like to think that Prince Harry knew what he was doing when he and Meghan planned their wedding together.
I enjoyed the wedding in its entirety. In general, I enjoy the pageantry of the British monarchy. It's a welcome relief for those Americans who want to end this catastrophic spin-off of the Sopranos as soon as possible. We are suffering from a light case of PTSD, so a distraction helps. But more than that, right now, this constitutional monarchy doesn't seem to me to be especially antithetical to our democratic values. The Netherlands , Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Spain all have constitutional monarchs within social-democratic systems. I could live with that. Queen Elizabeth II understands her constitutional role. Prince Charles and his sons show signs of wanting to test the limits of their inherited roles, but the chances of the British monarch usurping power seem no greater than the peril the United States finds itself in since Russia helped put Trump in the White House. Everything looks different after November, 2016. Our republic looks pretty fragile right now. Eliminating the monarchy in Britain will not save them so much money that it would solve Britain's economic problems, even if the current government were inclined to pass on the savings to the NHS.
Saturday, I felt good and hopeful for the first time in a long time. Maybe it's an illusion, but I believe it's harmless one. So, I'm all for letting the forward thinking members of the family -- Charles, William, Harry, and Meghan -- figure out the direction in which to orient the Crown. We have much more important matters to think about.