Opposites may attract, but all too often, it is the similarities that bind. Something to think about
Every dating and matrimonial niche has been recognised, nurtured and even celebrated online - except perhaps the high net worth one. Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to distance themselves from royal duties has shone a light, not only on their relationship but on the strains a marriage can put on broader family ties.
This is always a challenge, especially so when one spouse comes from money and particularly old money that brings with it a sense of how it should be earned and spent. Family estates don’t come older or more grandiose than the British royal family, and as well as wishing the best for all involved, I’m sure many families - including some who have a high net worth but perhaps not high enough to have their own family office or crest - will now think even more carefully about who their children choose to settle down with.
I’ve worked as a matchmaker for 20 years, leading to over 100,000 marriages. The vast majority of them have happened on SingleMuslim.com without me ever meeting the couple and have involved regular people, often from reassuringly anonymous backgrounds. In short, they are the type of people you would meet on any dating app or matchmaking website.
Some, however, have been different. On occasion, I have been approached by a celebrity, a politically-exposed individual or member of a royal family to help them find “the one.” In those situations, there are so many factors to think about that making romance - let alone long-term relationships or marriages - happen is so much more difficult.
I am sure these are the types of conversations the Queen would have had with her grandchildren as they started to look to settle down. And I am sure these are the types of conversations that she would have continued to have with them when they met recently to discuss what has been dubbed “Megxit”.
Just as Brexit’s grand political and economic debate was distilled down to the metaphor of a divorce, it is the Sussexes “divorce” from the royal family that is being used as an avatar for our questions about “mixed class” marriages in 21st century Britain.
The royals are then facing the challenge many families face: how to preserve their status, dignity and wealth in the face of a new member whose values may be different from their own.
It is easy to forget, in our age of swipe-based romance and individualistic lives, that a marriage (or any serious long-term relationship) is not just a partnership between two people; it is often a collaboration between two extended families.
This is perhaps why Meghan has decided to take a step back; her African and Jewish heritage is far from typical in royal circles, and her American, Hollywood sensibility could not be more different to the Windsors’ sangfroid.
I feel that the failure of Meghan to become a Windsor will be seared into our nation’s collective subconscious, and make many of us more cautious about who we try to settle down with. Intra-class marriages are still more common in the UK than we realise, and I expect them to become even more entrenched - more so than race or even religion - as a divider in our societies and our relationships. By trying to dissolve the class barrier, the Sussexes may have inadvertently solidified it.
Many of the high net worth families I have worked with encourage their children to marry someone from the same “pool” thinking it will be easier for their son and daughter to build a life with someone whose own life is not too dissimilar.
This cuts both ways: marrying up can be just as difficult as marrying down. Opposites may attract, but all too often, it is the similarities that bind.