All the world loves a lover? Hardly, if you ask Harry and Meghan. Like millions of couples before them they have found out that family sucks.
Prince Harry, of course, had a famous mother, who died the way she did, having said the things she said on TV and posing by the Taj Mahal oh so alone.
His father went on to marry his mistress and is forever to blame for Diana’s death in the British mind. Not to mention a grandma, who happens to be queen and an aunt, whose toes were sucked by a lover in the royal pool.
When Harry met his Sally, pretty little commoner Meghan Markle who played sidekick in an American soap, she brought him a family more dysfunctional than his in dowry.
So unlike elder bro William, who took his time marrying Kate Middleton – so much so that the media dubbed her Waity Katy – and carefully found a family that contrasted with his. The public, secure in the belief that Willie gets his home-baked pies in mama Middleton’s warm kitchen, sleeps well at nights.
Harry, on the other hand, riddled with questions about his paternity from the moment he was born, made up his mind about his bride in two seconds.
She defies conventions pleasantly enough; her colour, the fact that she is older to him and is a divorcee. She is also from a broken home and said to have played the Cinderella card heavily with her Prince Charming.
Very early on he was writing letters to media pleading with them to lay off her, and even said they – the royals – were the family she never had. What on earth, her side bristled, has she been saying to him!
Now the wedding is upon them and MegHar or HarMeg (as the paparazzi will soon christen them) have a whole lot of hostile kin on their hands – His and Hers.
There are uninvited uncles, heart-attacking dads, ranting half-sisters, half-brothers who claim she is acting ‘the part of a princess like a below C average Hollywood actress’ and an ex dying to make a serial on their failed marriage. There are also childhood friends and upper-crust cousins left out of the guest-list. The Beckhams, of course, will be there.
We all have family members, we wish we weren’t related to. It’s okay they attend our funerals, when we don’t have to see them or make small talk with them, but to watch them guzzle free booze at our wedding is a little painful.
But then, we aren’t all marrying into the British royal family so we get by. Meghan, who thought ignoring her non-royal family was the best option, is now unnerved by the ruckus they are up to.
No married person, whatever the vintage of the marriage, will say, ‘I loved his/her family at sight and now I am devoted to them!’ If marriages are somehow going on then we hear less of this but for relationships that sour, the other party’s family is a sore point.
If only her father had not pampered her so, if only his mother worshiped him less... Sibling rivalry, marital discord between parents, alcoholism, serious illness, money woes, parents’ relationship with their in-laws – all of this impact the groom and the bride.
Harry and Meghan are now privy to a fact that Asian couples always knew: marriages are between two families, not just a girl and a boy. The Windsors and the Markles must mwah soon.
Alok Nath, where are you when we need you?
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bengaluru. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn’t Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.