There were so many lovely and charming things about the royal wedding last weekend. In a world plagued by materialism, narcissism, and disconnection, let us count the ways together and see a new model of what it means to have wealth, power, and influence in this new generation! Let us also count the ways for how this wedding updates the fairy tale to accommodate the real, three-dimensional lives we all crave to live.
As Hoda Kotb of the Today Show noted, one of the most refreshing and surprising aspects of the wedding was its main focus: love itself. Despite the royal dress and choreography, there was such little artifice. It was palpably clear that both Meghan and Harry felt so fortunate to have found each other, and that their love alone could transcend anything material standing before them.
Ritual, in other words, played supporting actor to the leading lady–love herself. In his stirring sermon, preacher Michael Curry also connected this personal love to the collective, showing us that this is the true place of power, strength, and creative capacity. Love, like the waves of the ocean, brings us back to where we all originate: this complex and noble family of humankind.
How sweet it was to see the prince’s vulnerability, the utter tenderness and disbelief at this beautiful three-dimensional woman standing before him. When he leaned over to tell her that she looked amazing, that he felt so lucky, it as if we were watching the boy ask his love to make him the wealthiest man in the world (see Yeats “Had I the Cloths of Heaven” for a poetic version of this declaration of love).
It was like we were watching Julia Roberts character from Notting Hill, the famous actress, ask Hugh Grant, the commoner bookstore-clerk for his hand–just a girl asking a boy to love her. Only in this case, it was totally reversed-the Brit is asking the American to love him, and it is he who is sharing his vulnerability!
How novel, how revolutionary, and how significant! Harry is putting a statement out there for men everywhere–that we can allow our vulnerability to be front and center and also be strong men, using our power in the military and in philanthropy–for protection, for charity, and ultimately, for the betterment of the world. Meghan was also broadcasting that she could be the princess and also the feminist, that she could boast being the object of adoration and the subject of true agency and power. For both Harry and Meghan, there was no need for a dichotomy, but rather a healthy integration of yin and yang!
It was clear that this ceremony was honoring the strength, power, and nobility of the British Crown—from the grandeur and elegance of St. George’s Chapel, the storybook procession by horse-drawn carriage, the military garb wore by Harry and William, and the presence of royalty led by Queen Elizabeth herself. At the same time, there was a tongue-in-cheek nod at how it was turning the tables on the elitist narrative. It wasn’t lost on me that the couple chose to have a song written by another king—Ben E. King– to show that we are all walking this path together, that it is our shared need for support, comfort, and strength that helps us truly transcend. And this was made all the more beautiful in how it echoed the preacher’s sermon that we are all part of the same family!
The royal wedding signaled something deeper than the usual fairy tale storyline. This was a story of second chances. A woman once divorced finding love again and the possibility for a whole new world of possibilities with her prince and a man whose heart was broken at the untimely death of his original princess finding his way back from boyhood trauma. When it was reported that Markle is thirty-six, the age at which Diana’s life was cut short, I couldn’t help but think of the biblical portion of Issac.
Just as the matriarch Sarah dies and is buried, it becomes time for Issac to be set up with the woman who will become his wife and the matriarch of a new generation. Like Markle, Rebecca is a woman imbued with a quiet strength and a profound sense of generosity. It is no wonder that our first introduction to her is drawing an extraordinary amount of water from the well for others before she even thinks of gathering it for herself. It is no surprise that the prince should find a woman like this, and how fitting that both of them truly bonded over their mutual interest and desire to give back to others across the world!
What made this wedding so compelling was that it was so very real–you could feel the sense of gratitude and love in it–and that it held out such a poignant message for all of us. We can have the fairy tale and the real, complex, and three-dimensional stories that bring together our triumphs and our losses, and that together, ultimately they provide us a sense of true wealth, abundance, and power.
Here’s to the newly married couple and all they bring to each other, and all they are bringing to us!
Michael Alcee, PhD. is a clinical psychologist in Tarrytown, NY who loves making creative connections between culture and psychology. To learn more about him and his work, check out his LinkedIn page or his website at drmichaelalcee.com. You call also check out his Ted-X talks online.