THERE are contrasting ways to look at the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
From a purely human point of view, this is indeed a joyous occasion – to see two young people in love and there is no reason to doubt that is a wonderful thing.
It gives us a glimpse of what life should be like – happy, spontaneous, full of fun and innocence.
The fact that we have followed Prince Harry – at second hand through the media, of course – through his trials and tribulations, notably the cynical murder of his mother Princess Diana, makes it even more a reason for celebration that he appears to have found his match.
I think many of us enjoyed the image of the care-free Prince with an eye for young women – but there is a time for most people to settle down and create something more lasting.
It is, however, when we begin to look at the forthcoming wedding from a wider context that the problems start.
From a national and international perspective, the romance of these two young people is highly political.
The Royals love a wedding, both to divert public attention from their own shambles and that of the nation from what we appreciate is currently a very difficult situation.
I find it an interesting quirk of human nature that ordinary people felt so moved by the wedding of The Queen and Prince Philip 70 years ago that they donated presents as well as their time and attention.
Here were often hard up, ordinary folk spending their money for the benefit of one of the richest families in the world. It’s rather like buying a gift voucher for one of the Rothschilds.
I think it reveals both the immense generosity of people – and how strongly they are under the spell of what, at best, is a fantasy.
As I’ve already said, I don’t see any of the same cruel hoax in the relationship of Harry and Meghan as was inflicted on the unsuspecting public when Charles married Diana.
Then millions went through similar second-hand emotions, believing that the couple were truly in love. As we now know, the feelings were solely on Diana’s side and much of those were surely about the thought of marrying into the Royal Family rather than her connection with Charles.
From the Royal Family’s point of view, the romance was a publicly acceptable way of gaining heirs to the throne. It mattered not a jot whether the couple liked, let alone loved, each other.
It’s interesting to further reflect here that Charles could not have married Camilla partly because of her previous relationship(s). The Royal bloodline had to kept pure.
The relationship produced what is generally accepted as an heir – Prince William – and a spare. Well, that’s if you believe the official version.
Harry’s role in the Royal Family has always been ambiguous. Although he is close to the throne, it is abundantly clear that he is not regarded seriously as a future King.
The powers behind the throne would not be allowing him to marry a divorcee if that was the case.
My hope for Harry and his future wife are that they remain on the edge of the Royal Family and, hopefully, one day break free from it.
In the meantime, it will not be an easy transition for Meghan.
Converting to the Church of England is one thing, becoming part of ‘the firm’, essentially the criminal gang hidden behind wealth and the unsuspecting support of the public is quite another.
She will escape some of the ludicrous attention Diana suffered, but she will be expected to conform to a way of life that is as divorced from happy, spontaneous and fun-loving as it is possible to be.
It will not in any way be an easy journey for her.
She will be subjected to the same emotional vacuum that consumed Harry’s mother and, as an intelligent young woman, it will cause her immense distress.
Harry, whatever he believes about his own birth and his mother, must have reflected long and hard about where he ultimately fits into this dysfunctional family.
Should practical as well as romantic love win the day, he needs to protect his bride-to-be and find the independence so cruelly denied to his mother.