The ginger royal and American actress’ engagement was officially announced by his father the Prince of Wales in a statement from Clarence House.
Prince Harry had popped the question to Ms Markle earlier this month in London and their engagement has sparked a debate on race – the Suits actress is the first person of mixed race origin to marry into the royal family.
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, who writes for the online magazine “by women of colour” gal-dem, told Newsnight: “I think if she was darker skinned it would be very unlikely that she would be marrying Prince Harry.”
Her comments were backed by columnist Georgina Lawton who added that if Harry had been next in line to the throne: “I definitely think there would have been more racism.”
She added: “The people who are commenting on this issue and saying we don’t need to discuss race and it is just two people who have fallen in love – I think you need to look at the Prince’s statement last year condemning the racial undertones of the press coverage.
“You only need to go through the horrific Twitter comments and comments on the articles about the relationship and the announcement today (Monday) that we don’t live in a post-racial society.
“We do need to have a greater representation of mixed race people and the proximity to Buckingham Palace will help a cultural change.”
Earlier Ms Brinkhurst-Cuff told Newsnight: “When it comes to the representation of mixed race and black people, we have to remember that mixed race are the acceptable face of blackness already – that is why we are already fetishised by the elite.
“So I am not that excited at the prospect of Meghan Markle marrying Prince Harry because I am aware of the nuances around it and the fact that I suppose there is still a long way to go on the representation of black people and mixed race black people as well.”
Meanwhile, presenter Amal Fashanu hit back that she is “over the moon”, adding “for people who are mixed race its that is a really big step forward”.
Ms Lawton added: “I think it is going to make the royal family more relevant and I also think it is really important to have greater representation of mixed race people in the UK.
“Like Charlie was saying there is a very limited representation of mixed race people – we’re kind of held up like a beacon of a post-racial society.
“Meghan Markle’s proximity to the royal palace destroys the notion to be regal or to be accepted in society you have to be white.
“It is a really exciting time for mixed race people.”
Ms Markle has previously spoken out about the heartbreaking racist abuse she has experienced in a candid interview.
The Los Angeles native revealed how when growing up she and her African-American mother had been on the receiving end of racist jokes.
Miss Markle also recalled hearing her mother Doria being called the N-word, and this has spurred to speak about being mixed-race.
She told Pride Magazine: “I don’t care if I’m fair-skinned and I don’t care what it is, that’s who I am and that’s my family.
“My hope is for the world to get to a place where it’s colour blind.”
Ms Markle also wrote about her pride in being mixed race on he blog The Tig, which has since been closed down.
She wrote: “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American.
“I have come to embrace it, and to say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident mixed-race woman.”
Last year she also spoke at the Create & Cultivate conference in Atlanta about racism and Hollywood.
Speaking about how her physicality helped her bag acting roles, she said: “Because I’m biracial I was able to get into so many more rooms because they didn’t exactly know where they could put me.”
But Ms Markle also revealed there were a lot more disappointments.
She added: “With that said, I heard ‘no’ so many more times than you would if you could only go in for the blonde-haired blue-eyed girl.”
Rachel Meghan Markle was born on August 4, 1981. Meghan is an American actress, model, and humanitarian. Since 2011 Markle has portrayed Rachel Zane on the legal drama series Suits and is also known for her role as special agent Amy Jessup in the sci-fi thriller Fringe. She has been in a relationship with Prince Harry since June 2016.
To support herself between early acting jobs, Markle worked as a freelance calligrapher and took on several contract acting and modeling jobs including a stint as a ‘briefcase girl’ on Deal or No Deal. In 2002, Markle appeared in an episode of the daytime soap opera, General Hospital. She appeared in Fox’s series Fringe as Junior Agent Amy Jessup in the first two episodes of its second season. Since July 2011 she has played the paralegal Rachel Zane, on the USA Network show Suits. Markle has appeared in two 2010 films, Get Him to the Greek and Remember Me, and one 2011 film, Horrible Bosses. She appeared in the short film The Candidate (seen on the KQED public television show Image-makers: the Company of Men) as a secretary in 2012. She has also appeared in episodes of Century City, Cuts, Love, Inc., The War at Home, 90210, Knight Rider, Without a Trace, The Apostles, CSI: NY, The League and Castle.
Markle was founder and editor-in-chief of lifestyle website The Tig. which closed in April 2017. In November 2016 Markle and Canadian clothing company Reitman’s released a line of women’s fashion workwear. In 2016, Markle became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada, traveling to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign. She has also worked with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women as an Advocate. Markle was a counsellor for international charity One Young World, speaking at the 2014 annual summit in Dublin on the topics of gender equality and modern-day slavery. She also attended the 2016 summit in Ottawa.
Markle was in a relationship with actor and producer Trevor Engelson between 2004 and 2013, marrying on September 10, 2011 and divorcing in August 2013. Since June 2016, she has been in a relationship with Prince Harry.
On November 8, 2016, an official statement was released from the Royal Family’s communications secretary addressing the “wave of abuse and harassment” directed toward Markle that followed the announcement of her relationship with Prince Harry. The statement spoke to the sexism, racism and defamatory stories directed at Markle and urged the press to “pause and reflect” before driving these storylines.
In September 2017, during an interview with Vanity Fair, Markle spoke in public for the first time about her love for Prince Harry saying, “We’re two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people’s perception.” Later that month, they made their first public appearances together at an official royal engagement – the wheelchair tennis event, and the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto.
On November 27, 2017, it was announced that Markle and Prince Harry were engaged. By then, she had met Harry’s family and had met Queen Elizabeth II several times. The couple will live together at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace, after the wedding in May 2018.The engagement ring given by Harry to Markle consists of three diamonds, two of which were taken from the jewellery collection of the Prince’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
The engagement announcement prompted much comment about the possible social significance (or insignificance) of Markle becoming a proudly mixed-race royal.
Though she attended Catholic school as a child, Markle identified as a Protestant prior to her engagement to Prince Harry. Following her engagement, it was announced that she would be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England before the wedding. She will also become a British citizen. Despite Markle’s status as an American divorcee, neither the Crown nor the Church of England have raised objections to the marriage, unlike in 1936 when Edward VIII was forced to abdicate the throne to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson; thus, Prince Harry will remain in the line of succession.