meghan markle

Photo via Genevieve/Wikimedia (CC-BY)

All hail the British monarchy’s first Black ‘princess’

This has been a long time coming.


Ana Valens


Posted on Nov 27, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 9:53 am CDT

Prince Harry’s relationship with American actress Meghan Markle has been his most public to date, so it’s no real surprise that the two are getting married next spring. But Markle is making history for being more than just the first American to enter the British royal family. She’s also the first Black woman to be engaged to a British royal.

That’s right. Markle, who was born in Los Angeles, has a white father and a Black mother and hence identifies as a mixed-race woman. That she is Black is something Markle has spoken about with pride.

The monarchy has never had a woman of color marry into the family—a designation that hasn’t been without speed bumps. Since the two started dating, Markle has been the target of racist comments in British tabloids, even causing Prince Harry to respond.

Regardless, that won’t stop Black Twitter from being excited about the engagement news. Markle represents visibility for women of color everywhere, including Black women living in the U.S.

Some see Markle as a dream come true. She represents a fantasy many young Black girls have—becoming royalty—that’s often missing in mainstream media. That’s because Hollywood largely depicts princesses as white girls.

And while Markle would most likely have the title of Duchess of Sussex, and her rank would really be through marriage… who cares about the specifics? Black princess!

Seriously, it’s about damn time a woman of color held some power in the Western world.

But amid all the hype, some Black people are pointing out that she’s extremely light-skinned. While it’s true that mixed-race people often face racism and colorism throughout their lives, Markle is white-passing to many onlookers, making some Black women question how big of a deal this really is. After all, where’s the representation for princesses with darker skin?

On the other hand, mixed-race women face their own everyday struggles. And Markle does, in fact, identify as Black.

So while some of the criticism is warranted, her story shouldn’t be downplayed. Markle sees herself as a Black woman and a mixed race woman of color, too. For her to enter the royal family is still amazing for women of color everywhere.


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*First Published: Nov 27, 2017, 12:19 pm CST