You remember the breathtaking wedding veil Meghan Markle wore when she married Prince Harry in May – the one that stretched 16 feet behind her down the aisle and appeared to be lined with a profusion of flowers embroidered?
In the rush of images from that day and the world gasping for her gorgeous Givenchy wedding dress, you might have missed some of the amazing details of this veil – a secret surprise Meghan had carefully planned for her future husband and family.
But there was a piercing-eyed 92-year-old great-grandmother in St. George’s Chapel who probably didn’t miss a thing of Markle’s wedding badges – because it was a flowery gesture of homage to her, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Come now a new book by British journalist and royal historian Robert Hardman, and a companion British hour-long documentary, both titled “Queen of the WorldThe film, which airs Monday on HBO (8 EDT / PDT), and co-written and produced by Hardman, aims to explain why the Queen is so widely admired around the world.
The film features a segment on Meghan’s veil, documenting how a California-born actress prepared to be married into the royal family by paying homage to something near and dear to the Queen: the Commonwealth of countries she has built and strengthened during his 66 years on the throne.
Meghan’s silk-tulle veil was adorned with hand-embroidered silk and organza flowers from each of the 53 Commonwealth countries “united in one spectacular flower arrangement,” as Kensington Palace said at the time. (A California poppy and a palace Wintersweet flower were also included in the design.)
“It was important to me, especially now that I’m part of the royal family, that the 53 Commonwealth countries are incorporated,” Meghan, 37, now Duchess of Sussex, says in the film as she examines her wedding attire for the first time since the wedding.
She says Harry was surprised and delighted to the veil, created by her dress designer, Clare Waight Keller de Givenchy.
“I think the other family members had a similar reaction and appreciation for us understanding how important this is to us and the role we play, and the work we will continue to do in them. Commonwealth country, ”Meghan adds in her conversation with a royal curator prepping the dress and veil for an upcoming exhibition.
“So, yeah, that was good news, I think, so I hope people liked it as much as I liked helping to create it.”
One person who did is Nick Kent, executive producer of “Queen of the World” and other recent documentaries on the Queen. Kent says the filmmakers were thrilled when Meghan agreed to be in the final film, in her first interview after the wedding.
“Meghan hadn’t seen her wedding dress since the wedding day, and even the day she didn’t have a chance to look at it very carefully – most of us think back to our wedding day, and it’s a little fuzzy, ”Kent told USA TODAY.
“She had never studied him with the care and attention she had the opportunity to give (while filming) at Buckingham Palace, and what’s amazing is how great she is. excited when she walks in, ”Kent said. “The first thing she does is try to find the small fragment of blue fabric (of what she wore on her first date with Harry) that she had sewn into the dress like its “something blue”.
“It was a really intimate and spontaneous moment; we never expected to get something so private,” Kent said.
Many Americans might wonder what the Commonwealth really is, but Meghan has shown that she has done her homework on her new in-laws and her future role as the wife of Harry, 34, the personal choice of the Queen as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex will have the opportunity to show off their royal chops as a couple on October 16 when they embark on their first Commonwealth tour, a two-week tour of Australia and New Zealand, two before – major posts of the former British Empire. , and two smaller nations in the South Pacific, Tonga and Fiji.
All eyes will be on them, but especially those of his grandmother, the Queen, who considers the Commonwealth to be her “proudest achievement,” Kent said. When first created by his father, King George VI, the Commonwealth was just eight countries in a declining empire, wiped out by two world wars.
Decades later, it is a thriving “family of nations”, thanks in no small part to Her Majesty, says Kent. The palace’s desire to show this is one of the reasons, Kent says, “why we have had access to her and (interviews with) other members of the royal family,” such as her heir, Prince Charles, her daughter, Princess Anne the Princess Royal, and her grandchildren, including Harry.
Yet why Is Commonwealth business, especially for Americans? Kent argues that unlike today’s politicians, the Queen and the Royal Family, who are above politics, have done a tremendous job of bringing people together under a unifying set of common core democratic values.
“Empires come and go, and usually their ends are pretty bloody and leave a legacy of deep scars,” Kent says. But “the Commonwealth is a pretty unique institution that grew up with the legacy of the British Empire, and now they are trying to find something positive about that experience, to be inspired by it and to bring people together for it. common good”.
Americans shouldn’t confuse the royal family with an “ornamental” tourist attraction, Kent says.
“The monarchy is in fact a modern institution serving a real purpose, and if it weren’t, it wouldn’t continue to exist,” he says. “The reason it has survived for a thousand years and is now up to the task is that all of its members are working really, really hard to justify its existence.”
The same goes for the Commonwealth, he says.
“It’s a process that involves all members of the Royal Family, so Harry and Meghan leaving on their first Commonwealth tour, 65 years after the Queen and (her husband) Prince Philip made their first tour, means something special.”