Don’t get me wrong, I love tradition. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the turkey, trimmings, family rows and cold weather. Christmas abroad you say? Oh dear God no!
But there is something about tradition that can lead to shame. It can push us into doing things that don’t sit right with us. We’re strong armed into uncomfortable situations because ‘hey, it’s tradition!’ And you better believe there is nowhere else steeped in as much tradition as the Royal Family.
The original plan was for Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle Snr to give her away, but for reasons still unknown he backed out. Allegations he had posed for staged paparazzi shots circulated. Then finally ill health was cited, as he was due to undergo major heart surgery.
Whatever the reason for his absence, it must have come as a huge blow to Meghan. It was well documented that they were close. Coming to terms with the fact that her Father wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle could have created some intense feelings of shame for Meghan.
So when she walked herself down the aisle that beautiful spring day, Meghan Markle made history. And I loved her for it.
She entered St George’s chapel on her own, trailed only by her flower girls and pageboys. She walked the length of the church before meeting Prince Charles at the Quire. In a further twist, Prince Charles didn’t ‘give her away’, but stood back and sat down as she approached Harry.
Never before had a woman marrying into the Royal Family been so bold. It was a real break with tradition and the press had a field day. It was a ‘feminist statement!’ She ‘wasn’t any man’s property and didn’t need a man to give her away.’ She was a ‘modern woman asserting herself.’ She was ‘setting her stall’ and wouldn’t be ‘pushed around by the Royal Family’ as the media made constant reference to Princess Diana.
Her Mum or Prince Charles could have given her away, but she walked, without shame, on her own, to her Prince.
Breaking with tradition, especially in the Royal Family, was an extremely brave thing to do. There could have been a backlash from the British public. ‘Well it just isn’t tradition, is it?’ But there wasn’t. Flying in the face of the fear of being judged, she called out her shame. And there was nothing but admiration for Meghan.
We have all felt the shame of judgement and try to avoid it at all costs. The fear of being judged can stop us from doing the things we really want to do. Or, as is the case with tradition, it can put pressure on us to do things that don’t feel quite right.
But the old saying rings true here that ‘those that matter don’t mind and those that mind, don’t matter.’ Often, we feel ashamed and afraid of the potential judgement of others, but actually people may see things completely differently.
Breaking tradition can for some people feel liberating. For others it can feel uncomfortable and scary. But in that moment, with the whole world watching, Meghan Markle was shame-free and shameless.
And with prosecco in hand and a tear in my eye, I cheered.