Britain's Prince Harry (right) and his US fiancee Meghan Markle arrive to attend a service of commemoration and thanksgiving to mark Anzac Day in Westminster Abbey in London.(AFP File Photo)
Britain's Prince Harry (right) and his US fiancee Meghan Markle arrive to attend a service of commemoration and thanksgiving to mark Anzac Day in Westminster Abbey in London.(AFP File Photo)

Meghan Markle needs more than a prince to become a British citizen

To get the UK visa, Meghan Markle will have to provide evidence that her relationship with Prince Harry is genuine and she really is divorced from her first husband, Trevor Engelson. Markle will take UK citizenship after she marries Harry on May 19 at Windsor Castle.
By HT Correspondent | AP, London
UPDATED ON APR 27, 2018 06:11 PM IST

How tall is the London Eye? Who opened Britain’s first Indian restaurant? Who was the fifth wife of Henry VIII?

If Meghan Markle doesn’t already know the answers, she needs to start studying.

All three are potential questions on a test given to those who — like Prince Harry’s fiancee — want to become British citizens.

Kensington Palace says the California-born Markle intends to take UK citizenship after she marries Harry on May 19 at Windsor Castle.

But Markle will soon discover that it takes more than marrying a prince to become British. It also requires time, money, a good memory for obscure British trivia and the ability to untangle red tape.

Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo says the road to British citizenship is “insanely complex”.

“It’s very easy to make mistakes because the requirements are so very precise,” he said.

Britain’s royal family has become a lot more welcoming to American divorcees since the last time one tried to join the clan. When King Edward VIII wanted to marry twice-divorced Wallis Simpson, it sparked a constitutional crisis. The king abdicated in 1936, saying he could not reign “without the help and support of the woman I love”.

But while Britain is rolling out the welcome mat for Markle, it has placed ever-bigger hurdles in the way of less well-connected or well-funded immigrants.

Britain’s Conservative government tightened immigration rules in 2012 to help it meet a self-imposed target of reducing net immigration to less than 100,000 people a year. (It’s currently over 200,000). The target was set at a time when public attitudes to immigration were hardening. A desire to cut immigration was a major factor for many in the UK who voted in 2016 for Britain to leave the European Union.

Britains Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at a Service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration on ANZAC Day at Westminster Abbey in London. (Reuters Photo)
Britains Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle arrive at a Service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration on ANZAC Day at Westminster Abbey in London. (Reuters Photo)

But critics say the immigration rules are rigid and unfair, giving the affluent an advantage over the less well-off.

Non-EU citizens who marry Britons typically must obtain a spousal visa, then live in the UK for five years before they can apply for permanent-resident status or citizenship.

To get her visa, the 36-year-old Markle will have to provide evidence that her relationship with Harry is genuine and she really is divorced from her first husband, Trevor Engelson.

She also must show that Harry earns at least 18,600 pounds ($26,000) a year or has 62,500 pounds ($87,100) in savings, and can provide accommodation “without recourse to public funds”.

That shouldn’t be a problem for this particular couple — who can also afford the fees, which can amount to almost 7,000 pounds ($9,760) during the process.

But many less-affluent couples struggle to meet the cost. Between 2012 and 2014, 30,000 applications to bring a non-British spouse to the UK were refused. Yeo says the minimum-income rule has created thousands of “Skype families” in which parents are forced to live in different countries.

“(The rule) discriminates against women, young people and ethnic minorities, who are less likely to be earning more — and people outside London,” who on average learn lower wages, Yeo said.

Other prospective immigrants have been rejected because of increasingly stringent demands for documentation. The British government is currently facing intense criticism and charges of racism over its treatment of thousands of people who came to Britain from the Caribbean as children in the decades after World War II. They had the right to live in Britain, but many have recently been denied jobs or medical treatment, or even threatened with deportation, because they cannot produce paperwork to prove their right to live here. The government has also admitted that in a clear-out a few years ago, it destroyed the landing records of many people from the Caribbean.

Caitlin Milazzo, a US-born academic who got British citizenship in January after living in the country for 6 1/2 years, advises Markle to pay attention to the details when she is preparing her application.

“The rules are quite complicated, but generally if you are up on the process it makes it a little bit easier to prepare,” Milazzo said.

Markle will doubtless have the best legal and administrative advice available and may also get special treatment. In exceptional circumstances, immigration officials are allowed to bend some of the rules.

But Milazzo hopes Markle won’t get an easy ride just because she is marrying a royal.

“They should just say there is one rule for everyone, rich or poor — these are the requirements that apply to everyone, no matter if you’re royalty or someone coming in as a nurse,” she said. “But I know that’s not how the world works.”

One thing Markle will find it hard to avoid is the “Life in the UK” test, a notoriously quirky set of questions covering everything from history and literature to customs and politics.

The test has been criticised for containing questions that few Britons can answer. The House of Lords Citizenship Committee said last week that the quiz appeared to be “a barrier to acquiring citizenship rather than a means of creating better citizens”.

But as a native English speaker, Markle will likely find the multiple-choice quiz easier than many applicants for whom English is a second language.

Law professor Thom Brooks, author of “Becoming British: U.K. Citizenship Examined,” advises Markle to learn the height of the London Eye Ferris wheel (443 feet or 135 metres), the name of the pioneering Indian restaurateur (Sake Dean Mahomed) and the identity of Henry VIII’s six wives to prepare for the test.

Brooks, the US-born dean of law at England’s Durham University, says the test is fairly easy to pass with the help of the official practice book, but brings the taker little practical benefits.

He likens it to “a bad pub quiz”.

“Pub quizzes are fun,” Brooks said. “This quiz wasn’t fun. And the trivia wasn’t even worth knowing.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
This photo taken on January 20, 2021 shows members of a rescue team working at the site of a gold mine explosion where 22 miners are trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / China OUT(AFP)
This photo taken on January 20, 2021 shows members of a rescue team working at the site of a gold mine explosion where 22 miners are trapped underground in Qixia, in eastern China's Shandong province. (Photo by STR / various sources / AFP) / China OUT(AFP)

China rescues four miners after 14 days trapped underground

Reuters, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:43 AM IST
One miner has died and 11 have not been in contact with rescue teams, according to a Xinhua report from last week.
Close
People wait in line at a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing clinic at Mona Vale Hospital in the wake of a new outbreak in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia. (Reuters)
People wait in line at a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing clinic at Mona Vale Hospital in the wake of a new outbreak in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia. (Reuters)

Australia awaits vaccination drive even though coronavirus under control

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:20 AM IST
Recent government figures showed an overall 95.09% rate for regular vaccinations for five-year-olds in the December quarter, suggesting a positive attitude towards vaccinations among the public.
Close
As the pandemic extends into a second year and more contagious variants of the virus emerge, governments worldwide -- though mainly wealthy ones -- are rolling out vaccines to protect their populations.(Reuters Photo )
As the pandemic extends into a second year and more contagious variants of the virus emerge, governments worldwide -- though mainly wealthy ones -- are rolling out vaccines to protect their populations.(Reuters Photo )

Covid shot scarcity weighs on hopes for Biden’s global push

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 11:19 AM IST
Vaccine advocates have urged wealthy nations to share some of the supplies they’ve snapped up in recent months and to follow the lead of Norway, which pledged to donate extra doses through Covax.
Close
Wuhan resident Zhu Tao speaks during an interview near boxes of instant noodles stacked in his bedroom at home in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (AP)
Wuhan resident Zhu Tao speaks during an interview near boxes of instant noodles stacked in his bedroom at home in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. (AP)

Year after lockdown, Wuhan dissident more isolated than ever

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:58 AM IST
Zhu, a 44-year-old smelter at the city’s state-run iron and steel works, is well outside the mainstream in China. He is a hardboiled government critic, an on-and-off demonstrator, a supporter of the Hong Kong democracy movement.
Close
Former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US. (Reuters/ File photo)
Former US President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, US. (Reuters/ File photo)

Citizenship data is latest rollback of Trump census efforts

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:31 AM IST
Among his first acts as president, Biden's order revoked two Trump directives related to the 2020 census.
Close
An employee wearing a protective mask cleans a table at a restaurant in Kedonganan, Bali, Indonesia,. (Bloomberg)
An employee wearing a protective mask cleans a table at a restaurant in Kedonganan, Bali, Indonesia,. (Bloomberg)

Indonesia sees risks to growth on virus curbs, natural disasters

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:29 AM IST
President Joko Widodo expected the economy to rebound as soon as the start of this year, calling 2021 as the year when the country can see a turnaround after last year plunging into its first recession in two decades.
Close
Britain has recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 infections - the fifth-highest in the world - and nearly 96,000 deaths.(REUTERS)
Britain has recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 infections - the fifth-highest in the world - and nearly 96,000 deaths.(REUTERS)

UK extends councils' lockdown powers until July 17: Report

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 10:09 AM IST
Britain has recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 infections - the fifth-highest in the world - and nearly 96,000 deaths.
Close
Malaysia and Vietnam are two of the countries that have over-lapping claims to parts of the South China Sea. China claims most of the waterway.(Reuters/ Representative)
Malaysia and Vietnam are two of the countries that have over-lapping claims to parts of the South China Sea. China claims most of the waterway.(Reuters/ Representative)

Malaysia detains 16 Vietnamese fishermen, two boats for trespassing

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 09:27 AM IST
"Checks conducted on the two boats found that 16 crew members including the skippers, aged 18 to 62, did not have any valid identification documents nor possessed any licence to fish in the country's waters," Terengganu MMEA director Captain Muhammad Suffi Mohd Ramli was reported as saying.
Close
Members of a Chinese military honour guard stand at attention during a rehearsal before the parade in Beijing. In his speech, Xi said China “must adhere” to the one country, two systems policy governing Hong Kong and “maintain the long-term prosperity and stability” of the city. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP)
Members of a Chinese military honour guard stand at attention during a rehearsal before the parade in Beijing. In his speech, Xi said China “must adhere” to the one country, two systems policy governing Hong Kong and “maintain the long-term prosperity and stability” of the city. (Mark Schiefelbein / AP)

Chinese military pressure on Taiwan threatens regional peace, stability: US

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 09:10 AM IST
The US will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.
Close
Trump was impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” by the House last week in a bipartisan vote.(HT_PRINT)
Trump was impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection” by the House last week in a bipartisan vote.(HT_PRINT)

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start on February 9

By Yashwant Raj
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:44 AM IST
The House will convey the article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday at 7pm, as announced earlier on Friday. The delay will allow the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees.
Close
Sullivan “underscored that the US will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort”, said a readout from the US national security council.(AP)
Sullivan “underscored that the US will support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort”, said a readout from the US national security council.(AP)

Biden administration to review Taliban deal

By Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:42 AM IST
The commitment, made by new US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during a phone call to his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib, comes against the backdrop of concern in the region over a surge in violence and assassinations blamed on the Taliban.
Close
In Hong Kong, authorities said an area comprising 16 buildings in the city’s Yau Tsim Mong district would be locked down until all residents were tested.(Twitter/stellarpbtech)
In Hong Kong, authorities said an area comprising 16 buildings in the city’s Yau Tsim Mong district would be locked down until all residents were tested.(Twitter/stellarpbtech)

Global Covid-19 infections near 100 million mark

By HT Correspondent, Hong Kong/washington
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:39 AM IST
The US, India, Brazil, Russia and the UK are the five worst-hit countries, with the widely followed Johns Hopkins University tracker’s worldwide tally showing 98.27 million infections as of Saturday evening. The disease has claimed over 2.1 million lives around the world.
Close
Police detained more than 2,131 people, including 795 in Moscow, the OVD-Info monitoring group reported. Among those detained were Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya, who was later released, and his prominent aide Lyubov Sobol.(AP)
Police detained more than 2,131 people, including 795 in Moscow, the OVD-Info monitoring group reported. Among those detained were Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya, who was later released, and his prominent aide Lyubov Sobol.(AP)

Over 2,000 held at anti-Putin rallies

PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:36 AM IST
Thousands of people, including teenagers, packed Moscow’s central Pushkin Square and nearby streets as riot police hauled off demonstrators and beat others with batons.
Close
Israeli protesters chant slogans during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In Jerusalem, (AP)
Israeli protesters chant slogans during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu In Jerusalem, (AP)

Protests against Israeli PM Netanyahu continue nationwide

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:24 AM IST
Benjamin Netanyahu faces charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases involving billionaire associates and media moguls.
Close
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(AP)
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(AP)

Texan man charged in Capitol riot tweeted 'Assassinate AOC': FBI

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:21 AM IST
Garret Miller, who is from the Dallas suburb of Richardson, was arrested Friday after being named in a five-count federal complaint.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP