What would it be like to marry a prince?
Every little girl imagines it. If you’re good enough, sweet enough, and—er—pretty enough, your prince will come and find you, no matter where you are.
There are plenty of princes to go around these days, even though Britain’s hottest royal bachelor is off the market.
For starters, there’s Prince Joachim of Belgium, Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, Crown Prince Hamdan of Dubai, Prince Mateen of Brunei…
You may have to travel to bump into one (New York City is a good place to prince-hunt), but they’re out there, bachelors hoping to find their one true love.
So I don’t laugh at anyone wanting to marry a prince. Someone has to marry these guys!
As a parent, I find princes and princesses are never far from my mind. My daughter has loved princess play from the moment she got her first princess costume.
It takes more than dressing like a princess to be a princess, of course. And my daughter knows it.
One morning, when we were getting ready to go, I suggested she wear her tiara. “You can be a princess,” I told her.
“Mom…” She rolled her eyes. “I can’t be a princess.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I don’t have blond hair!”
I like to think it was just a subtle hint for me to put a blond dress-up wig on her Christmas wish list. But her comment took me aback. I began to wonder just how much Disney was shaping her view of royalty, rather than the many real royals out there.
Disney princesses must look and act a certain way. The dress isn’t enough. You must be innocent, virtuous, good with animals, and sing like an angel. You must be slim with a tiny nose, rosebud lips, and long shiny hair.
Meghan Markle doesn’t fit that picture … well, not exactly.
She’s beautiful. She’s slim. She’s got long and shiny hair. But she’s also a divorcée and older than her prince, with a well-established career and strong views of her own.
What does Harry see in Meghan?
What would a real-life prince see in you?
Here are 3 things you could offer a prince—whether you realize it or not.
1. Your American sensibility
For the sake of ease, I’ll focus my discussion on bagging a British royal—although Europe is brimming with eligible royal bachelors, too.
If there’s one thing I know about Brits, it’s that they love Americans. They find us amusing.
Whether it’s our unbridled optimism, our unfortunate choice of slang words (avoid the phrase fanny pack at all costs), or our special relationship as political allies, we’re welcome guests among the British.
It helps, of course, that Americans go gaga for British accents of all flavors.
You know how sexy a foreign accent sounds to you? Well, when you’re overseas, you’re the one with an accent.
You sound normal to you, but to everyone else you speak with an audible American twang.
Even if you pick up the local lingo (trousers instead of pants, biscuits instead of cookies), you’ll never lose your foreign accent or American ways—and that makes you stand out.
2. Your admiration and awe
When I lived in England, I did exactly what Meghan Markle is expected to do. I studied the British royal family.
It was a matter of survival. I couldn’t take part in conversations unless I knew the cast of characters that populated the pages of British tabloids and newspapers. And the royal family is always news.
I’d bumped into members of the royal family before. I’d stood just yards away from Prince Phillip while he was examining a tractor at the Welsh Royal Show, but I had no idea who he was.
Years later, I was sitting in the front row at Westminster Cathedral, wide-eyed as a procession of British VIPs passed right in front of me. Then, I saw him. It was Prince Charles! He shuffled down the aisle, looking exactly how I’d imagined him.
When I turned to the people I was with—“Did you see him?!”—they just shrugged. So what? You’re bound to bump into a royal if you live here long enough, they explained.
And it was then that I began to see what I’d been blind to.
The British see their royal family as just people.
The royals aren’t immune to attacks in the press. Many Brits believe the royal family has no place in a modern republic and should be abolished.
So the modernization of the monarchy matters. Unless the monarchy evolves, its fate is at risk.
Meghan Markle, for all her ignorance of the Windsor family tree, brings something to the family that an English lady could not.
She brings enthusiasm, appreciation, and awe for that unique flavor of royal Britishness that Americans so admire.
She’s not a royal skeptic. She doesn’t shrug at the thought of bumping shoulders with lords and ladies and viscounts and earls. She loves the idea of this new life she’s been invited into.
And that makes her an asset to the royal family.
3. Your blindness to class
When we think of Britain, it can be separate the reality from visions of “Downton Abbey” or “Pride and Prejudice.”
But Britain is a country that’s struggled with its class heritage. Slang words like toffs, chavs and pikeys divide the aristocracy and working class.
Before living in England, I’d never felt held back by social class. I’d been taught that, with hard work and initiative, you could be whatever you wanted to be.
But that “American dream” is uniquely American. It’s not a feature of British education.
The divide between privately-funded schools and state schools is wide. Where a child goes to school in Britain can determine the course of their life. Not just because of the quality of education, but also because of the networking opportunities it gives them later in life.
Accent matters, too. How someone speak tells other Brits where they stand in the social spectrum. Learning to “talk posh” can get a person better jobs—but it can also alienate them from working class friends and family members.
If you’re American, those class intricacies can give you a headache.
When you add on top the often-contentious relationship among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the potential minefields are endless.
No wonder the British find our sunny optimism a breath of fresh air.
They don’t have the same faith in class mobility. They don’t necessarily believe that everyone can just learn to get along. But they enjoy seeing our idealism.
Meghan Markle never thought twice about whether she’d be an appropriate partner for Harry. As an American, she was confident that her background didn’t matter.
Would she had been so confident if she were British?
Harry dated a British TV presenter, Caroline Flack, back in 2009. But the class divide put an end to their budding romance. Caroline explained:
Once the story got out, that was it. We had to stop seeing each other. I was no longer Caroline Flack, TV presenter, I was Caroline Flack, Prince Harry’s bit of rough.’”
No wonder so many Brits have married Americans. Winston Churchill’s mother was an American. Harry’s great-great grandmother on his mother’s side was American. His great-great uncle on his father’s side famously abdicated the throne to marry an American divorcée.
So you could easily be the perfect partner for a British earl or viscount.
And it’s your Americanness he’ll find so attractive.
Much easier than finding the perfect pair of glass slippers!