As you well know, the global populace is currently enamored with the British monarchy, and it isn’t because England’s ex-rulers have reclaimed their political power and set out on a mission to re-establish the nation as a global empire. No, that would be much too exciting. Instead, we’ve all been the subjects of one of the most high-profile royal weddings to date, which is exciting in it’s own right.
We’ve certainly had some exciting ceremonies over the past couple of years, and, while few could really claim to be quite as grand as the famous 1981 union of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is still stuck in the minds of many. That ceremony was notable because, as far as I can remember, it marked one of the first weddings between a member of the British Royal family and a common citizen. At the time, that was some pretty groundbreaking stuff, and it seemed like the sort of Earth-shattering event the likes of which may never be repeated.
Then, a short seven years later, the marriage of yet another of Lady Diana’s offspring would garner even more attention. While it is true that Prince William did the unthinkable and walked down the aisle with a commoner, Prince Harry took it a step further and proposed to a woman who wasn’t even a native of the United Kingdom. What’s more, ex-Hollywood starlet Meghan Markle has been in compared to Lady Diana herself, though not everything she does is entirely reminiscent of the late princess.
20 Similar: Neither Diana nor Markle Grew Up Royal
Much has been made of the fact that the new Dutchess of Sussex doesn’t come from a royal background. Far from it: a Los Angeles native, she is about as far removed from the British nobility as one could possibly be. That is, of course, until her high-profile relationship with Prince Harry thrust her onto the global stage. What’s lesser known, however, is that, while still a member of a noble family, Princess Diana wasn’t exactly British royalty before she married Charles, either.
Though certainly well off, Diana’s father wouldn’t inherit a truly noble title until he gained the title of Earl Spencer in 1975, which granted the then-14-year-old Diana the title of Lady Diana, or Lady Di, as she would famously come to be known. Though hailing from a semi-royal lineage, she was nowhere near the stature of her soon-to-be Prince Charles, the apparent heir to the British throne.
Though there is a pretty stark contrast between the upbringing of these two famous royal spouses, they do share remarkable similarities. They themselves were not particularly well known in their early lives, and they would remain relatively anonymous until they caught the eye of a member of the British Royal family.
19 Different: Divorce
It’s pretty uncommon for members of the British Royal Family to file for divorce, so, when it happens, as was the case for the pairing of Diana and Charles in 1996, it becomes major news. While it was an unfortunate circumstance for the couple, the monarchy, and just about everyone interested in British nobility, it wasn’t hard to see that the couple didn’t really take to each other all that well. Royal experts has suggested that the couple simply wasn’t meant to be from the beginning, and it’s sort of a wonder that the two managed to keep it together for 15 years before finally deciding to separate.
While Lady Di’s divorce would not come until years after her engagement to Prince Charles, Meghan Markle would come to understand that sort of hardship way before her encounter with British nobility: she is actually once divorced, which is something of an odd situation for a new member of the Royal Family to be in.
She was initially married to Hollywood film producer Trevor Engelson, though the relationship only lasted from 2011 to 2013. While Diana was expected to be this pure, untouched thing of beauty, Markle doesn’t seem to share that quality, though many are admittedly happy that expectations of that sort are fading from popularity.
18 Similar: They Both Work Closely with the Press
The press, which is often known to resort to rumor and slander to generate intrigue and sell papers, haven’t always been to the Royal Family. In an effort to curtail such actions, Diana was well known for having co-operated with the press. She had an interest in working with the media and ensuring that each story printed by a publication was as factual as it could be. Lady Di was known to have felt a responsibility to the British people and sought to ensure that they were subject to an accurate representation of her life. In a way, her rejection or attempt to hide from the press was her ultimate undoing, though we may someday believe otherwise if those ever-popular conspiracy theories are to be believed.
Meghan Markle has already generated a reputation for her acceptance of the media and interest in the public spotlight. She was a movie star to begin with, so it isn’t all that surprising to find out that she has taken what she’s learned in the Hollywood limelight and applied it to her new royal status.
Meghan has allowed for a good deal of candid shots and moments to be covered by the press, and a good deal of important events for the couple were revealed through Meghan.
17 Different: From Humble Beginnings
I’ve already spoken about the upbringing of both of these women, but it isn’t exactly fair to claim that both of these royal spouses came from entirely similar backgrounds. While it is true that Lady Diana was a relative unknown to the Royal Family, her father was an Earl, and her family did hang around in many noble circles. She was far from the actual bloodline of the Royal Family, but it isn’t true to say that her upbringing was entirely outside of the British oligarchy.
In contrast, Meghan Markle’s upbringing was about as distant from the British Royal Family as it could possibly have been. She was born in Los Angeles to a fairly typical set of parents, and her chances of even interacting at any point with a member of the Royal Family seemed to be absolutely nil.
The couple actually met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend in 2016, and Meghan claims to not have held any preconceived notions regarding Harry’s behavior given his royal background. She’s stated that, as an American, it’s hard to know just how influential or important members of the British ex-monarchy are to their nation. In a way, it’s almost like some relatively unknown actress venturing out on a blind date only to find Barack Obama sat across from her.
16 Similar: They Are Both Humanitarians
It almost comes with the job title: a princess is supposed to set an example for her subjects, and what better way to do that than to volunteer for charitable causes? Princess Diana was famous for such acts of kindness, and she is well known for having contributed greatly to efforts to fight the HIV epidemic which was a hot topic of her time, and she has also made strides in the effort to reduce homelessness. People of such stature aren’t typically known to get their hands dirty, but plenty of pictures of Lady Di working out in the field can be found online, and they speak volumes about her character.
Meghan Markle seems to be much in the same vein as Lady Di in that she too spends a good deal of her time contributing to charitable efforts.
With much of her work centered around women’s health and empowerment, she was known to have contributed to work of this nature long before she met Prince Harry, which is telling of her personality. She clearly isn’t doing it for fame, notoriety, or in an attempt to be compared to her late mother-in-law — she really seems to have a vested interest in making the world a better place, which is an example many of us would do well to follow.
15 Different: Nationality
This one may be a bit obvious to anyone who knows their royal history, but Meghan Markle is one of the first American women to be wed into British Royalty. Lady Diana, of course, already called the United Kingdom her home, but you’ll notice that I have listed Markle as one of the first Americans to join the Royal Family. This is true, but she actually isn’t quite the first to hold that title, though some will argue that she is the first to hold it publicly and legitimately.
Way back in 1936, King Edward VII fell in love with a woman named Wallis Simpson. As you may have already guessed, she was of American heritage, and, though the two were actually married that year, the British Royal Family disapproved of the union. As a result, Edward VII was forced to either break it off with Simpson or renounce his throne. Electing to do the latter, he was granted that admittedly much-less prestigious title of the Duke of Windsor, and he only managed to reign as King for just short of a year. Here’s another fun fact regarding their relationship: Simpson had actually been divorced twice before her marriage to Edward VII, which means that Markle isn’t even the first royal to have already been divorced.
14 Similar: Breaking the Rules
It should come as no surprise to learn that, in the short time since she was first linked to the Royal Family, Meghan Markle has earned herself a reputation as something of a rule breaker. Following the traditional ruleset of the British aristocracy, women are often intended to be seen and not heard — arm candy for their noble husbands. When it comes to Meghan Markle, that is not the case. As previously mentioned, she has done lots of work in an effort to empower and elevate women’s societal positions, so it follows that she wouldn’t exactly fit in well with the stuffy and often outdated royal rule. She’s vibrant, vocal, and defiant. Most importantly, she is known to have involved herself in royal family affairs before officially joining their ranks through marriage, which is a first for the family, and a total breach of typical conduct.
Lady Diana, of course, was something of a rule breaker herself. Stemming from a time when the British Royal Family came off as a much more rigid and proper, Diana served as a spark of life in an otherwise relatively drab family.
She was outspoken and open minded, which is conduct previously considered to have been unbecoming of a person of such stature. Without her, we may never have seen someone like Meghan Markle ascend to such a position.
13 Different: Family Background
Though the Royal Family has famously abstained from the political sphere seemingly since they were stripped of any legitimate power, an action the origins of which can be traced back nearly a thousand years. However, all of that changed when it was discovered that Prince Henry’s fiancé Meghan Markle actually comes from a multi-ethnic background. The daughter of a white father and African American mother, Meghan’s status as a biracial woman has sent the media into a frenzy and allowed for much speculation concerning the slow degradation of the strict rule set once adhered to by Royal Family members of the past.
A hallmark occasion during the already world-renown union between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was a 13 minute speech delivered by Reverend Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church in the United States. He lauded the event as an extension of civil rights and ethnic diversity the world over, and he called for a global discovery of “the redemptive power of love,” which he claimed would lead us to global peace. Perhaps a bit of a lofty ambition to the ears of the hard-hearted, but it was a nice moment, nonetheless. Plus, stealing the spotlight, even temporarily, from the prince and his bride on their wedding day was no small feat.
12 Similar: They Allow Their Personalities to Shine
Years ago, female members of the British Royal Family were hardly as visible as their husbands. They were expected to smile, wave, and put on a nice display for their subjects, though their roles in the monarchy were really so small as to be almost completely inconsequential. Until Princess Diana, hardly anyone was interested in what the a royal women might have thought about a current event or a political position. Much of the attention was on her spouse, the woman in question relegated to the royal sidelines.
Princess Diana played a major role in shifting the royal dynamic, and today, it seems that just as much, perhaps even more, emphasis is placed on the royal bride. Prince Harry has been around for years, but his spotlight had largely been stolen by his older brother who married a common citizen back in 2011. He’s upstaged him now, however, though the real story seems to be about Meghan herself. Both Meghan and Diana have made an indelible mark on the British aristocracy, and they have set examples for women the world over to follow. Though her rule persists, we seem to be a long way from the stuffy, strict rules of Queen Elizabeth and her bygone royal dogma.
11 Different: Bridal Gown
Prince Charles and Lady Diana set the world ablaze when they were married in 1981: a ceremony almost impossibly large and a record-breaking television audience watching across the globe, the pair set the bar so high that, at the time, it seemed that nobody could possibly top what they had done. Nearly forty years later, that event still stands as one of the most notable in modern British royal history, and, while the two royal weddings we’ve seen so far this decade may have appeared to take the cake, in reality, Charles and Diana still remain the literal and metaphorical king and queen.
Perhaps in keeping with the semi-egregious fashion trends of the early 1980s, Diana’s gown was larger than life itself: frilly and complex, it seemed at the time to be a wonderfully ornate garb befitting of such an occasion. Meghan Markle, however, opted to contrast sharply with her mother-in-law’s wedding dress, as hers appeared to have been much more plain, though it was emphasized slightly be an incredibly long train. It feels like an odd juxtaposition between two women who are otherwise would have shared much in common, and it would be interesting to speculate on what Diana herself might have thought of the dress had she been around to attend her son’s wedding.
10 Similar: Children of Divorce
Divorce is never an easy thing, and any child forced to endure the separation of their parents at a young age knows the difficulties which inevitably follow. It’s not all bad, however, as these women have proven that the children of such circumstance can definitely go on to achieve great things.
While she’s probably more notable for her own divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, Lady Diana herself is a child of divorce. Her parents separated in 1969 when she was seven, and I can only imagine that that must have been quite the surprise: it’s no secret that divorce was frowned upon at that time, particularly among English nobles. Regardless, her father was bequeathed the title of Earl when she was 14 years old, and the rest is history.
Things were very different for Meghan Markle, however. An American born to a couple of mixed ethnic backgrounds, the two broke up two years after Meghan was born. This must have put the extremely young girl in a very difficult position, though struggles of that nature sometimes harbor the best in young boys and girls. Of course, Markle went on to enjoy a semi-successful career as an actress, though she did actually endure a divorce of her own before landing a date with British royalty back in 2016.
9 Different: Wedding Venues
As previously mentioned, the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana was a spectacle the likes of which may never be topped. It’s nearly become a thing of legend, and to put on a ceremony of that complexity in this day and age would send the world into a frenzy. The couple was said to have wanted to include as many people as possible in their big day, and, as a result, opted to recite their vows in London’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral. A massive, opulent structure, it seemed to reflect perfectly the almost impossibly large event which it housed. Had Charles and Diana elected to wed in a smaller venue, perhaps we wouldn’t still be talking about it to this day.
By contrast, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were wed in the comparatively smaller Saint George’s Chapel, which is dwarfed by the massive venue in which his father was wed. This may be due to the fact that, since Charles was next in line for the throne, his marriage was one of major circumstance. Prince Harry likely won’t take a seat on the throne for decades to come, if that day ever comes. With that in mind, perhaps it makes sense for the two to have a comparatively scaled-down wedding.
8 Similar: Both Were Engaged After A Year of Dating
Hundreds of years ago, dating amongst the royal family hardly occurred. As with most marriages of the era, theirs were carried out for the express purpose of continuing the family line and ensuring a never-ending lineage of rulers for the land upon which, at the time, the sun never seemed to set. As a result, couples were wed quickly, and there was rarely ever much time for the two to get acquainted before they were rushed down the aisle, and the political circumstance surrounding these ceremonies often made a bridal rejection an impossibility, anyway. Thankfully, times have changed, and couples can spend years in each others company before deciding to tie the knot.
With that in mind, it is a bit strange to see both Lady Di and Meghan Markle married so suddenly. Both became engaged after a mere year of dating, and, though that may seem like an adequate amount of time to some, it likely seems a bit hasty to a younger generation of onlookers.
Prince Charles had his reasons for rushing to the altar: he was 32 years old at the time and had earned himself something of a reputation for his apparent inability to settle down — 32 is sort of old to be an unwed royal, and it’s likely that his son felt a similar sort of pressure. I wouldn’t want to accuse either of them of marrying just for the sake of it, but, given the travesty that would become the relationship between Diana and Charles, perhaps it is a bit of warranted speculation.
7 Different: Markle in the Movies
It’s no secret that Meghan Markle had managed to make a name for herself before she even met Prince Harry. Though a relative unknown to the movie-going populace at large, she had made her way into a series of notable films, perhaps most famously 2011’s Horrible Bosses. While perhaps not in the upper echelons of the Hollywood elite, she isn’t exactly an unrecognized talent, and, though her career has been a bit stagnant as of late, we might be able to chalk that up to her involvement with Prince Harry.
On the other end of the visibility spectrum, Lady Diana was something of an unknown to the world stage before she burst on the scene when she began dating Queen Elizabeth’s son Charles in 1980. Though I doubt anyone saw Meghan Markle on the silver screen and ordained that she was destined to become a royal bride, similarly low expectations may have been set for Lady Di back in the day. Perhaps this wasn’t the experience of those native to the United Kingdom at the time, but, to many Americans, Diana just wasn’t a name we were very familiar with. The spotlight tends to shift very quickly from person to person when it comes to the British royalty, so it can at times be difficult to keep track of everyone unless you are particularly invested. In fact, I would wager that many Americans were uninterested in this most recent wedding until it was announced that the bride was actually from Los Angeles.
6 Similar: Beneficiaries of Private Education
Though sometimes there are exceptions to the rule, royalty and intelligence often seem to go hand in hand when it comes to the British ex-ruling family. They may not always seem perfect, but most U.K. natives hold high opinions of many of the members of the distinguished family, and we almost never see any of them speak out of turn or run their mouths. A refreshing change when compared to some celebrities based in the United States, though the absence of political subterfuge among the royals often plays to their advantage.
Though intelligence may be thought of as a natural asset, students must be cultivated, and both Lady Di and Meghan Markle were the beneficiaries of prestigious private educations.
From the age of nine Diana attended the Riddlesworth Hall School in Norfolk before completing her education at the West Heath Girls School. Suffice to say that not everyone who applies will be accepted at institutions as lofty as those. Markle also attended similarly reputable schools, having attended Immaculate Heart High School, an all-girls school in Los Angeles, since she was five years old. While a good education isn’t necessarily a royal prerequisite, you don’t often see princes running around with the notoriously dim-witted.
5 Different: Love, Love, Love
Though the Beatles would have everyone singing that word starting with the release of their record Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, it wouldn’t be a sentiment echoed by Princess Diana for, well, perhaps forever. Though the couple seemed happy enough on the surface, Royal experts have long discussed the apparent discomfort subconsciously expressed by the couple in each other’s presence.
A famous interview of the pair shortly after their wedding revealed that they probably weren’t really in love with each other, since, when asked if they really though they were in love, Prince Charles remarked “whatever love means.”
It was a devastating moment for fans of the royal monarchy, and, over the years, it became more and more apparent that the two just simply weren’t meant to be together. Their 1996 separation left a stain on both of their records, and it was a rough moment for everyone involved. The relationship between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, however, is the total opposite. They really do appear to be totally in love with each other, and their wedding photos show a pair so unbelievably giddy that they almost resemble children. This is perhaps one of the greatest differences between Charles and his son: one married for love, the other seems to have married because he felt that he had to.
4 Similar: Casual Every Day
The Royal Family is known for their lavish standards of dress, but that reputation was lessened somewhat by Princess Diana’s frequent outings in relatively casual wear. It wasn’t totally uncommon to see the British aristocrat sporting jeans and a white collared shirt, for instance, and it was a far cry from the frumpy, posh attire of her mother-in-law. Not to say that the Queen doesn’t have a sense of fashion, but Diana’s pseudo-dress down policy helped to reveal her has human, something other royals were simply unable to do.
Though she held no political power, she was an icon for women everywhere, and her casual style made many feel more comfortable about the way they looked.
This is a sentiment echoed by her daughter-in-law Meghan Markle, who can often be spotted in similar attire. Of course, the wealthy and influential have a set of beauty standards of a degree so high as to be unattainable by most, but Markle doesn’t seem to be all that interested in perpetuating that standard. She too wears jeans and white collared shirts, and in doing so comes off as a much more human character. The Queen may seem beyond all compare, but that doesn’t seem to be a trend Markle cares about chasing.
3 Different: A Love for the Spotlight
Though Diana famously worked with the media and allowed for plenty of candid photos of herself and her husband to be taken, she was notable for being something of an introvert. Well, that isn’t exactly the best way to describe her, but those who knew her best thought of her as a bit inward, lacking in a true love for playing a constant part on the world stage. She used her spot to convey a message concerning her mental health and the toll such an incredibly public life can take.
By contrast, Meghan Markle seems to be loving the attention. That is not to say that she is by any means arrogant, but it wouldn’t exactly be difficult for an ex-movie star to languish in the public’s eye.
At the moment she seems to be every man’s dream and living every woman’s fantasy: she has become a literal princess. Previously, the closest thing Americans had to royalty was the Kardashian clan, sad as that is to say. Now, however, that has all changed, and it’s nice to know that Markle won’t be retreating from the scene any time soon.
2 Similar: Warm and Approachable
While Queen Elizabeth has garnered a reputation for being sort of distant — especially in the eyes of an American populace who doesn’t particularly care about her to begin with — Diana was seen as one of the most warm and open royals to ever marry into the position. She was kind hearted and pleasant, and, though she never needed to act as she did, she almost always made sure to remain calm. An almost soothing presence to some, you could almost tell through photographs that she had quite an approachable demeanor — a way of life which should perhaps be adopted by more members of the Royal Family.
Meghan Markle is said to be much of the same. Of course, you can’t exactly make it in Hollywood by being cold and standoffish, Markle is often pictured as totally open and charismatic. It’s nice to see yet another newcomer to the crown embrace the role in such a positive way, as, were she to shy away from the spotlight, it could perhaps put her relationship with Prince Harry in jeopardy. Suffice to say, Markle is something of a friend to all, and it’s nice to see someone of such a disposition assume such a dubious stature, particularly for Americans.
1 Different: Years to Decades
One of the most objectively awkward things about the union between Lady Diana and Prince Charles was the uncomfortable age gap between the two. As previously mentioned, Charles was 32 years old when they were married, which, in the eyes of some, may have put him past his romantic prime. Lady Di, on the other hand, was an extraordinarily youthful 20, which is an extremely young age to be marrying someone of such circumstance under the eyes of millions of people. To be quite honest, in this day and age, 20 is remarkably young to even think of getting married, though that standard is admittedly different among certain cultures.
Meghan and Harry, however, are a mere three years apart, which is a much more traditional age range between romantic partners. I don’t wish to imply that an age gap of 12 years should stop anyone from marrying, but, particularly among royals, it does come off as a bit strange. Plus, to add credence to the theory, we all know that the relationship between Diana and Charles didn’t work out, and, though only time will tell what is to come of these new love birds, Meghan and Harry seem to be much, much happier together.
References: popsugar.com, ibtimes.com, fox.com, cheatsheet.com