Loyal Royal Watchers Say Meghan Markle Is Making Princess Diana Proud

May 19, 2018
Originally published on May 19, 2018 10:44 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

There has been wall-to-wall coverage today as Meghan and Harry tied the knot, so please indulge us for just a bit more coverage of the royal nuptials. More than 100,000 spectators lined the roads of Windsor for a peek at the newlyweds. And, some 5,300 miles away, Karen Grigsby Bates from NPR's Code Switch team watched the celebration in the wee hours with a group of women who felt especially close to the new duchess of Sussex.

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES, BYLINE: At 3:30 this morning, the streets were black and dead quiet in this Midtown Los Angeles neighborhood. But in a small apartment building, Nicole Roberts gathered a handful of friends to watch a former fellow actress, Meghan Markle, marry Prince Harry. The women wore cocktail dresses and glittering tiaras and fancy bedroom slippers as they watched the arrival of guests - Oprah Winfrey, David and Victoria Beckham, Sir Elton John. The young flower girls and page boys were particular favorites.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Oh, there they are - the little nuggets. I want to dip them in sauce and eat them.

BATES: There was also appreciation for the slightly nervous groom.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Screaming).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Oh, he looks so good (laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: He's ready, he's ready.

BATES: Finally, the car carrying Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, comes into view.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: OK. She's on her way. Oh, she's not in a Range Rover. She's in a...

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: (Screaming).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: She looks incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: She...

BATES: From a vintage Rolls Royce, Markle waved serenely, her face slightly draped in tulle. The Queen Mary bandeau tiara, a loan from Queen Elizabeth, sparkles. The top of Markle's dress looks elegant and regal, a reminder of another American princess.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Did she give you Grace Kelly? She gave me Grace Kelly.

BATES: These 30-somethings know their fairytale princess romances and remember Diana fondly from the last years of her marriage. Both grieved when Diana died in a car crash in 1997, and they both watched when Harry's big brother William married the former Kate Middleton. Roberts and her bestie, Katie Jo Donahue, see these joyful matches as a triumph for Diana - a sort of karma.

NICOLE ROBERTS: I just - I feel like I'm wrapped up in this royal wedding specifically because I feel like she would be beaming right now.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Her son is really happy.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #7: She has the last word. She really does.

BATES: Roberts loves seeing Megan Markle's mother given such respect and prominence.

ROBERTS: Her mother's sitting at the front.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #8: Hey.

ROBERTS: They told us to sit at the back of the bus, but now we're are at the front of the royal wedding.

BATES: It's a moment that makes her tear up a bit.

ROBERTS: We get pegged as, like, welfare mothers or, you know, every stereotype out there, so that was really inspiring to me, and that's why I got all wrapped up it - especially when I saw her mom because I knew what this meant for her and I knew what this meant for the world.

BATES: The integration of African-American culture into the couple's wedding ceremony got high praise, from the Kingdom Choir's rendition of "Stand By Me..."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STAND BY ME")

THE KINGDOM CHOIR: (Singing) So darling, darling, stand by me.

BATES: ...To the rousing address by the Most Reverend Michael Curry, there were reminders that Meghan Markle brings her own heritage to this union.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL CURRY: Everything in the holy prophets, everything in the scriptures, everything that God has been trying to tell the world - love God. Love your neighbors.

BATES: Nicole Roberts says the new duchess of Sussex will probably change the royals as much as the royals might change her.

ROBERTS: I think she's always been somebody, from what I've seen of her, who leads. And I think she's going to be a very vocal person. I think she's going to be very careful about how she speaks, but I don't think she's abandoning who she is.

BATES: These women believe being herself could be the best thing Megan Markle can do for her new family.

Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE KINGDOM CHOIR: (Singing) So darling, darling, stand by me. Oh, stand by me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.