Prince William is Like the “Good Muslim” Son and Prince Harry is the Rebel
As the world watches Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I can’t help but think that Prince Harry is like the rebellious Muslim son and Prince William is the good one. Despite the fact that their late mother, Princess Diana would have feared for her son Harry but supported him. She definitely wouldn’t have been the type of mother who dictates to her sons about their choice of partner.
Before you say that the Royal family are not Muslims, I know! Prince William is second in line to the British throne, after his father Prince Charles who will take over as King of England after his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
The recent Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle highlighted Harry’s rebellious nature. It reminded me of the Muslim community and how the children of strict Muslim parents often enforce their rules and beliefs about who their children should marry.
I converted to Islam just over a year ago, and fully immersing myself in the Muslim community made me realize that there are some similarities between the Muslim community and the Royal family. Strict protocol and public perception is everything in the royal family and in Muslim families.
I lived in a predominantly Muslim community when I lived in the UK and most of my Muslim male friends were in conflict with their parents when it came to marriage. Often one son or daughter would completely rebel against her parents and marry someone their parents didn’t approve of. They separated themselves from their family and the Muslim community and when they explained, they admitted that they were scared, they felt like they were being victimized and they also felt trapped.
Often Muslim parents want their children to marry Muslims from “good Muslim” homes. There are a number of reasons for this. First being for religious reasons, secondly for cultural reasons. The community I lived in was predominantly Bengali and Somali, and mostly Bengali parents prefer their children to marry other Bengalis and likewise with Somalian parents. The idea that you bring shame to your family if you choose a partner that does not fit into the box of an ideal partner is archaic and downright ignorant.
Islamic scholar Mufti Menk states that despite what the Quran says about Muslims marrying Muslims, parents should allow their children to choose the man or woman they want to marry as long as they are Muslims or “people of the book.” This means, Muslim, Christian or Jewish.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no laws or rules that state that a prince must marry someone with royal or aristocratic blood. However, Queen Elizabeth II must still give the marriage her blessing. In 2013, a new law was passed that stated that members of the royal family no longer need to seek permission from the queen before they propose marriage however when it comes to religion there are still some rules in place.
Under the Act of Settlement of 1701, no one that is in direct line of succession could marry a Catholic and retain their right to the throne. This is because the queen or king is also the Head of the Protestant Anglican Church of England. In 2015 however, modifications were made to the law that permitted royal family members to marry a Roman Catholic and become king or queen. That being said, a Roman Catholic royal still cannot become king or queen.
For example, if Prince George weds a Catholic and decides to raise his children as Roman Catholics, the children cannot become king or queen.
The Queen actually gave her consent for Prince Harry to marry Meghan Markle. However, their decision to relinquish their royal duties and move to the United States, coupled with their recent interview with Oprah Winfrey suggests that the royal family are certainly not impressed with Prince Harry’s choice to marry a biracial, divorcee.
Prince Harry reminds me of the rebellious Muslim son who decides to shock his family and marry someone outside the Muslim faith or someone belonging to a different cultural background. Yes, I know of some Muslim families who gladly welcome non-Muslims or potential spouses from other cultural backgrounds however, generally, it is frowned upon in the Muslim community. Just like arranged marriages are no longer the done thing within the royal family, arranged marriages are less frequent in the modern, western Muslim communities.
I recently interviewed a Somalian young woman who married a Pakistani Muslim man. They are both Muslim but the man’s family were totally against the marriage. They got married much to his parent's dismay and the young Somalian woman lived through two years of hell before they finally moved to Dubai together and left his family behind. Here is a quote from Zainab:
“My life was hell, I suffered postpartum depression after giving birth to my son, I often asked for help and needed someone to talk to and my husbands mother would ignore me. They would take my son from me and I would only see him when it was time to feed him. They ignored my needs and insulted me in their language, they had no idea that I could understand what they were saying. They instructed my husband to force me to leave my job as a beauty journalist and online content producer. It got to a point where I had simply had enough of pretending to be something that I am not. We left, and we don’t plan on going back.”
During the Oprah Winfrey Special, Meghan stated that she was denied mental health support from the royal staff after she began having suicidal thoughts during her pregnancy in 2019. There were also claims that a member of the royal family expressed concerns about the darkness of their son’s skin before he was born. I have heard these same concerns expressed in many African and Asian households when someone with lighter skin marries a darker-skinned person. It’s despicable but what can we do about it? Colorism and racism are never going to disappear, we have learned to live with it and we need to continue to live with it.
Prince Harry and Meghan made a conscious decision to separate themselves from what they say was lack of support and racism, although they still experience constant ridicule from the press, they are living their lives, so should we leave them alone now that they have spilled the beans in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey? Probably, but in reality, it will only lead to more questions and more criticism, they can’t win.
After watching the interview with Meghan and Harry, it sounds all too familiar. The royal family, gave their consent for Harry to marry Megan but eventually she would grow weary of being treated like an outsider, and she might just decide to leave to Harry. Instead, Harry stood firm in his love for his wife and he packed up and left. This is the mark of a real man, a strong man who knows exactly what he wants.
I look at some Muslim men who bow down to their mothers and ignore the love of their life to marry the woman of their mothers choosing and it sickens me.
It is too simplistic to say that we should all just live our lives on our own terms because some people live in very difficult situations under strict control from patriarchal figures within large powerful families. Some even fear for their lives if they don’t do exactly as their parents wish. However, in the 21st century, things should have changed, but have they really?
Racism still exists, colorism still exists, controlling parents who still live according to some archaic rules still continue to control their children. Extreme bigotry still exists, what can we do? We can continue to write about it, talk about it and find solutions, we can continue to educate our children in an open-minded and progressive way, we can let people live their lives and make their own choices without constant judgement. We can learn to live with each other, not just tolerate each other.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are just drops in the ocean, there are many couples that face ridicule, racial abuse and opposition based on the choices that they have made. It’s a sad reality but the truth is, we have to learn to live with it. Fight for change, but learn to live with, and tolerate it because it’ won't be changing any time soon.
Contact me here for collabs and content creation>>email@example.com or connect with me here>>>Abena D