Royal watchers are rejoicing this morning, as the much anticipated engagement of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was announced. Harry's father, the Prince of Wales, tweeted that the couple "became engaged in London earlier this month." The wedding will take place in Spring next year and "further details about the wedding day will be announced in due course," the statement continued.
As the couple's romance has progressed towards engagement, many have wondered if an American can actually marry into the royal family. The answer is yes, it happened before, but it cost a king his crown.
Prince Harry's great-great-uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne – thus becoming the Duke of Windsor – to marry divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson in 1937. At the time, marrying a divorced American was simply not possible.
Simpson was married to her second husband when she met the then Prince of Wales, and the two began an affair. In 1936 George V died and Edward became king. Simpson filed for divorce from her husband shortly thereafter, and the couple hoped to wed with Simpson not claiming a royal title or rights.
Born in Pennsylvania, Simpson went to private schools and was known as a good student and a stylish dresser, according to Biography.com. Her first husband was in the Navy and the couple were often apart, splitting after nine years of marriage. She then traveled the world and met her second husband, with whom she lived in London. She met Edward at a party and the two traveled Europe together in a scandalous whirlwind romance.
While two living ex-husbands wouldn't be an issue for most people, especially in 2017, at the time it sparked a constitutional crisis. Edward stepped aside, and his younger brother George took the crown. Edward made a BBC broadcast, saying he could not do his job as king without the support of "the woman I love."
The couple lived out their days in exile.
Fortunately, the royal family and our culture has changed since then. Harry, who has dropped steadily down the line of succession with each new Cambridge baby, has a very slim chance of being crowned king.
Like Simpson, Markle has been married before, to the actor and producer Trevor Engelson, between 2011 and 2013. While still considered a bit controversial, Harry will not be the first royal to marry someone who is divorced. Camilla Parker Bowles was also a divorcee when she married Prince Charles. Because of her status as queen, Prince Harry must ask his grandmother’s permission to marry Markle (which he did, as well as Markle's parents).
Times have changed...kinda.
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