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Love in the time of Brexit: Which is the real Britain?

Is Britain the racially inclusive modern country reflected by the royal wedding or the one steeped in rows over Brexit and intolerance over immigration?

world Updated: May 21, 2018 23:38 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Meghan Markle,Britain,Prince Harry
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leave after their wedding ceremony at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, England on May 19, 2018. (AP)

As Meghan Markle began her new life as the Duchess of Sussex, many were left wondering which is the real Britain - the racially inclusive modern country reflected by the royal wedding or the one steeped in rows over Brexit and intolerance over immigration.

Markle’s absorption in the royal family was marked by her profile that appeared on its website on Monday, highlighting her work for Mumbai-based charity Myna Mahila Foundation, and her quote: “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.”

The contradictory overtones of contemporary Britain were noted by The Guardian: “It cannot be overlooked that Saturday’s uplifting events took place in a country disfigured by Brexit. The disjunction is real and painful.

“The same nation that proved it is now more at ease than ever with the different heritages of its modern self is also the nation that is split down the middle over whether to shut its doors on the world or remain confidently part of it,” it said, reflecting the views of many.

Columnist Matthew d’Ancona added: “(The) rest of the world is baffled by Britain – and understandably so...Which is the authentic Britain? Open or closed? Warm or frostily parochial? Both, I suppose.”

Markle’s royal profile lists her various activities in Los Angeles and elsewhere, and highlights her views after her visit to Mumbai in 2017, in an article for Time magazine, on the stigmatisation of menstrual health management and its hindrance to girls’ education.

The profile says: “From a young age, The Duchess had a keen awareness of social issues and actively participated in charitable work. Aged 11 she successfully campaigned for a company to alter their television advert that had used sexist language to sell washing-up liquid.

“Her Royal Highness also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Skid Row, Los Angeles from the age of 13-17. She continued to volunteer at the soup kitchen when she would return home to Los Angeles until the age of 22. These early experiences helped to shape her lifelong commitment to causes such as social justice and women's empowerment.”

Meanwhile, Clare Waight Keller, who designed Markle’s wedding dress but whose identity was kept secret until the bride stepped out of her car at the chapel, said she had not even told her husband or children about the royal assignment.

She revealed that Prince Harry came over to her after the wedding ceremony on Saturday, and said: “Oh my God, thank you. She looks absolutely stunning.”

Keller said: “Well, I think everybody saw on television – he was absolutely in awe I think. She looked just incredible and it showed.” She added the duchess was “just glowing” after the ceremony.

First Published: May 21, 2018 23:38 IST