TV networks announce documentary specials about Meghan Markle’s life as the royal wedding approaches.
The spotlight shining on Meghan Markle has never been brighter.
The “Suits” actress-turned-future royal is set to marry the U.K.’s Prince Harry at Windsor Castle on May 19, and American viewers are already getting whipped up in the royal wedding frenzy.
Leading up to the ceremony, multiple networks will televise specials about Markle’s ascension from Hollywood royalty to real-life royalty. FOX will be first with its “Meghan Markle: An American Princess” two-hour documentary on May 11, for which it’s interviewed her half-sister Samantha Grant, journalist Piers Morgan, Princess Diana’s ex-butler and the Queen’s former press secretary.
Lifetime is up next on May 13 with “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” a made-for-TV movie featuring actors portraying the couple’s courtship from its start. And British network ITV has announced its “Invitation to a Royal Wedding,” a special airing sometime in May that will take viewers inside the machinations of pulling off a spectacle on this scale.
Finally, on May 19, news organizations will go into overdrive to cover the ceremony. It’s unclear how many people are expected to tune in, but, at its pinnacle, a stunning three billion people were estimated to have watched Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011. (Experts expect lower viewership this time around, since the bride and groom aren’t directly in line for the throne.)
“The respect that I think Harry has managed to build within British society is hugely impressive,” James Max, a broadcaster for the U.K.’s TalkRADIO and columnist for the Financial Times, told Moneyish. “I think he’s learned from the scandals,” like wearing Nazi insignia to a private party in 2005, or getting caught naked in Las Vegas surrounded by a group of strangers in 2012.
And Markle’s embrace for this former wild-child has made the couple even more endearing in the public’s eyes — to the point where Max calls American intrigue surrounding the wedding an “infatuation.”
Also read: The ‘Meghan Markle Effect’ is now a thing
“If you’re trying to cast an American bride in a royal wedding, [Markle has] an awful lot of interesting elements,” Syracuse University professor of pop culture Robert Thompson told Moneyish. “One of the obsessions with Princess Diana’s wedding was that she wasn’t us,” Thompson said — but Markle represents the face of an increasingly diverse America, and an increasingly diverse royal family.
“Since Harry has been born, there were newspaper articles, mainly in Britain, listing people [the press] thought that Harry would marry… and every time, it was all British aristocrats,” said royal historian Kate Williams. “They’re very posh, Daddy has a castle, they don’t really have a job… and that’s the kind of girl that has been thought that he would marry.”
Although Markle grew up in a relatively upper middle class background and attended private school, Williams said she will be a trailblazer in the royal ranks. Markle is “an American woman with an incredible career,” she said.
But Markle’s years playing Rachel Zane on “Suits” could be the key to explain why this soon-to-be royal has captured so many hearts and minds. “It’s very different than Catherine,” concluded Stephen Dixon, anchor of the U.K.’s “Sunrise” morning show on “Sky News,” who has covered the couple extensively on air.
Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge, Markle is “more accessible,” he said, “partly because of her previous life. People knew her as a celebrity; Harry is more accessible than William, too, and that goes with the role… In that sense, they seem perfectly matched.”
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