They said it was a powerful moment of modern feminist independence as Meghan Markle walked alone down the aisle. But all I could think of was how profoundly it reminded me of Cinderella. The bride presenting herself with dignity, beauty, and a pure heart, to her prince. For that matter, it made me think of the earth after night, rising to her sun, becoming luminous and warm with his light - the goddess coming before the god, the soul before the divine. That bride entering alone into the church was sacred; she was all of us approaching Love. The sight of her touched something deep in my soul.
For days there has been social media commentary about how not every girl wants to be a princess. Clearly, people have lost the old understanding of what being a princess meant in stories. In most of the classic tales, the heroine was a strong character who worked against adversity and risked all to bring change to her life, while all along staying true to herself and keeping a good heart, until at last she won for herself Love as represented by the prince. I can not, off the top of my head, think of any passive fairytale princesses - even Sleeping Beauty had some agency in the original version of the tale (especially if you view it as an allegory of the divine marriage, as the goddess bestowed power and wisdom on the king through their union.)
When I first heard that Meghan was going to walk the aisle alone, I felt a little disappointed - for I love tradition, and this seemed one step too far towards modernity. But when I saw her enter beneath the roses, my heart swooned at the romance and feminine magic of it. For that moment, she was an image of the fairytale heroine, having gone through her own dark woods, hurt by her step-siblings, abandoned by her father, and yet so strong, brave, luminous with love.
The wedding was of course also a happy-ever-after story for the fairytale sad prince, and there were moments that made me cry with joy for him, just as I did for William at his wedding. So many people have negative things to say about the royal family but I am grateful for the way they give us, through their sacrifice to tradition, history, and duty, a living loom of story. A reason to share happiness as a community, and tears, and love.
But most of all I was transfixed by the heroine of the tale, the bride. If women want examples of female agency and power, they could do no better than to look to the old-fashioned fairytale princess.
(There was also all that heart-melting love between the couple ... the elegance, grace, and emotion of the bride's mother ... the fact Harry picked the bouquet flowers that morning from his mother's garden ... the kiss ... the beautiful veil ... I do love a wedding!)