Editor’s note, November 2017: Meghan Markle is not, in fact, Jewish. But she is the princess we all need right now.
Here in the colonies, the country seems to be on fire, and nobody can stay off Twitter for more than 30 seconds at a time, lest we miss something important. But over in Merrie Olde England—which, Brexit and all, I increasingly find myself wishing we were still safely a part of—it seems the Windsor clan may be gearing up for some happy news: A surprise announcement from Westminster Abbey decrees that Prince Harry, should he be so inclined, would be permitted to marry his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, in the 800-year-old cathedral, despite her status as a divorcee.
Apparently, divorced people have formally been allowed to marry under the Church of England all the way back since the Great Synod Ruling of 2002. What, you didn’t know? To paraphrase the immortal words of the great Mama Rose from Gypsy, poor Wallis Simpson was born too soon and started too late. A failed starter marriage is no longer a barrier to entry to the British royal family, who are now allowed to marry for love. “It’s a new world…a new world, Golde. Love…”
I’m mixing my musicals here, but for good reason, because I’m about to tell you something that might blow your mind. Much has been made of Meghan Markle’s mixed-race heritage, and how should she marry her prince, her children would be the first people with (acknowledged) African heritage to be in line for the British throne—and maybe there would finally be a black Disney princess who didn’t have to be, like, a cook first (not that there’s anything wrong with The Princess and the Frog, but, you know.) But wait, there’s more!
While Markle’s mother is African-American, her father is actually, drum roll please, Jewish! I know! The UK would be getting the first black princess and the first Jewish princess (and the first American princess) in one fell swoop. And interestingly, while Harry would remain a part of the church his grandmother is the head and living symbol of, Meghan wouldn’t even have to officially convert: The Act of Settlement of 1701 prohibited marriage to Catholics for heirs to the throne under pain of losing one’s place in the Line of Succession (this was overturned by special amendment in 2015, one assumes, under the grounds that it was 2015), but has never said anything about marriage to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, or members of any other religion – probably because such a thing never seemed like even a remote possibility.
But like Tevye the Dairyman said, it’s a new world. And Meghan Markle, should an engagement prove imminent (and that seems to be the general consensus), a plucky Jewish-African-American actress, will be the face of it. We may live in interesting times, but not everything interesting has to be bad.
Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.