Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wed; Will it give a birth to a new era?

All know of the young Royal Prince’s wedding with the Afro-American movie star, Meghan Markle. This big day of tying the knots dawned on 19 May 2018, with the bells chiming at the Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom. The New York Times noted this as ‘nudging the British royal family into a new era’. Continuing, the NYT highlighted the beginning of an era by reporting ‘that Ms. Markle, who has long identified herself as a feminist, entered St. George’s Chapel alone rather than being given away by her father or any other man, a departure from tradition that in itself sent a message to the world’.  Prior to and during the wedding most of the discussions were either on the skin colour of Meghan and her family history, her divorce from the previous marriage, her acting career, or the expenses of the wedding.  Some news talked about the skin colour of guests who would be attending the wedding ceremony – friends and family of Markle.

The Sun reported that WEDDINGS can be seriously expensive among the royals, and it would be £32 million, and possibly one of the top ten most expensive weddings of all time. Bride-books, came up with a breakdown of some of the key costs of the Royal Wedding which included £50,000 on the lemon elder flower cake from Violet Bakery in East London, £110,000 on flowers to adorn the aisles of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and St George’s Great Hall, £300,000 to £400,000 on Meghan’s dress. Meanwhile, it was also stated that the Royal Wedding will provide £500m boost to Britain’s economy with tourism and merchandise.

Marriage and money are the two sides of the same coin. Money becomes a deciding factor for success and failures in marriage. While some remain single due to the lack of money to do so, some other married couples due to monetary interests, or monetary difficulties end their marriages in divorces.

According to the United Nations World Population Data 2017, the singulate mean age at marriage (SMAM) of women in the world is 27.15 %. The highest ratio of SMAM of women was reported in Slovenia as 34.1 while the same of men was reported as 35.8. In the United Kingdom, SMAM in 2011 of women was 27 and men were 28.7 %. In India while in the year 2011 men’s SMAM was reported as 24.9, women’s SMAM was 20.7. This indicates that reasonable numbers of both men and women do not get married at the appropriate age, with lack of money for dowry, wedding, and family life noted as significant causes.

According to the available records, among 34 countries, the average crude marriage rate in the year 2015 in the world was 5.35 where Slovenia reported 3.1, and the highest were from China as 9.3. The United Kingdom showed 4.5 in the same year.

In most of the marriages, money becomes the vital factor in sustaining marriages; happiness too is mostly based on the wealth the married life holds. In many countries – especially those of South Asia, Middle East and Oceania, dowry creates delays for marrying, and it becomes a cause for violence from the marriage partner, mostly being the male person, or his family members. Research indicates that dowry deaths are found in Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. The Hindu reveals that there is a high increase in the number of dowry-related cases in India showing a 30% increase that accounts for nearly half of the increase in crimes against women between 2003 and 2013. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development of India, in the average death during the years 2012 to 2014, 8,257 per year were due to dowry, and according to the National Crime Bureau data, 3.48 lakh cases of cruelty by husbands or his relatives recorded in India are connected to dowry and marriage.

According to the businessinsider.com, divorce rates are still high in the United States, with a rate of 53%. But Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are worse off with divorce rates being higher than 60%. Belgium has the highest rate of divorce set at a staggering 70%. The lowest official rate is in Chile with 3%. According to the available data, from 34 country samples in the world from the year 2015, the average crude divorce rate has been 1.94, noting the Republic of Macedonia (1%) as the lowest and the Lithuania as the highest (3.2%). The time.com revealed that the main cause of divorce was the stress in the marriage relationship which was predominantly due to finances (35%). These statistics shows how money plays a role for / in marriages.

Beginning a new era in their lives, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made an advanced announcement to all guests and well-wishers, who wished to gift the young couple with presents, to instead donate for the seven charities which had been personally chosen by the couple themselves. Chiva Projects (an organization helping kids dealing with AIDS), Crisis U.K (the national charity for homelessness), Corporal Scotty (a group for children of the armed forces), Youth Sports Charity Street Games, Surfers Against Sewage (the ocean conservation group), Wilderness U.K (which gives urban youth access to the great outdoors) and the Myna Mahila Foundation in India (the only foreign organization selected by the royal couple, which engages in empowering women in Mumbai slums with access to growth education and menstrual products).

The Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has set an example for many – especially for those with wealth, in showing a new path of ‘giving’ and ‘sharing’. There are ways to give and share. The weddings of the rich bring is not a burden on them. Their wealth increases with the publicity, and with the presents they received from the parallel wealthy people. But is it the same with those who are less in wealth; who are poor. Today we see the increasing gap in economic inequality where the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, as Karl Marx terms it as the ‘law of increasing poverty’.

The increasing poverty is impacting greatly on the lives of people, especially in marriages. Weddings have become business ventures today. The media and advertisements that promotes this business, forgets its effects on the less financed and the poor, and the consequences therein.

Another crucial issue faced by many young girls around the world is ‘child marriage’. Every region around the world today is seeing girl children forced into marriage by parents and elders. According to the data shown by www.girlsnotbrides.org every 1 in 5 girls are married before they enter the age of 18. Even though Niger rates the highest of 76% for child marriage, the country with the highest absolute number of children married before the age of 18 is India 15,509,000. And the United Nations considers India to be the second highest in child marriage, even being a nation that is glorified to be the next developing superpower nation of the world.

The predominant cause for child marriage in India is poverty and the burden families with girl children have on them in relation to dowry, wedding, etc. Early marriage is a way to reduce these costs. In some cases the girl’s family receives financial support from the bridegroom or his family when marrying her off at a very young age.

Child marriage does not limit itself to the developing or underdeveloped countries. Even the developed countries like the UK experience the marriages of young girls before the age of 18. Between 5000 and 8000 girl children face the risk of being forced into marriage every year in the UK, with data from 2016 showing 1428 cases involving 15% aged 16 and under, and 11% between 16 and 17.

Whilst many thousands of girls are deprived of the right to have a young life of freedom and security, many others of the same age and above, have the privilege of spending lavishly on weddings. Both in India and in the UK weddings are held at high costs.

In reality weddings are to unite two people together; weddings also bring families together and connect them forever. But today weddings have become un-affordable, costs of weddings and marriage has begun to impact negatively and differently in the lives of many.

The Royal wedding was high priced; yet Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan tried to do it differently when they requested their guests to donate to charities, and invited members of charity organization among their wealthy guests.

If this is a lesson they have taught to the world, then they have indeed opened a new way to connect the people of the world through sharing and giving – to make a difference in the lives of those who are in need of it.

Sedi  | UK