Saturday, May 26, 2018

THE SOJOURNER: African blood flowing in the House of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex kisses

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex kisses his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex as they leave from the West Door of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. PHOTO | FILE 

By Danford Mpumilwa

Some 175 years ago, one privileged young man from the royal palace of the United Kingdom, Prince Augustus Frederick, found himself in hot waters vis-a-vis his entire royal family.

Apparently he had violated some sacrosanct royal behavioral laws in his conduct of the affairs at the revered House of Windsor under the authoritarian rule of his father King George III.

Prince Frederick, whose royal title was the Duke of Essex, had first gone through two marriages, one of which was to a former mistress. Both marriages were deemed illegal, according to the then existing royal and religious norms.

Secondly this Duke of Essex had created a rift between him and his father for propagating some very progressive views, if not revolutionary ones, during those times.

He had among others, propagated for the emancipation of the subjects of the Kingdom and political reform within the then very powerful, dogmatic and authoritarian Catholic Church. This was indeed an anathema.

But more was to come; this Prince had the audacity to support the abolition of the slave trade, which by then was the core engine of the Kingdom’s economy.

The King and his royal household had enough of this Prince and his liberal ideas. To cut the whole story short he became the last Duke of Sussex, that is, until Saturday last week.

As usual I spend my Saturday mornings lazing around my bed as I peruse the day’s papers to appraise myself with the latest happenings in Bongoland and beyond. I interspace this activity with some glimpses of the day’s international TV news as presented by the BBC and CNN.

It was while doing this, last Saturday that I came face to face with one of the greatest events of the year, the marriage of one of the grandsons of the Queen of England to a beautiful actress from the United States, whose mother is black, an African-American lady.

I had known for some weeks now about this wedding but I had failed to appreciate its significance. Here was Prince Harry, fifth in the line of heredity at the House of Windsor, marrying a lady in whose veins flow the blood of slaves.

Prince Harry and the lady Megan had brought something very new in that blue-blooded royal house. And the church service lived up to this new and refreshing development. For starters there was the sermon by the Most Reverend Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American presiding Bishop and Prelate of the Church of England in the US.

In his moving sermon he among others quoted Rev. Martin Luther King’s sermon on the ‘power of love.’ “We must discover the power of love, redemptive power of love. “ He went on to explain that there was power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. He preached before the royals led by the Queen herself and several global stars including George Clooney, the Beckams, Opra Winfrey, Elba, Elton John and the like.

Then came the all-black Kingdom Choir which serenaded the royals with Ben King’s 60s black pop song ‘Stand by me’. Even the lead cellist, in the very royal of musical presentations, one fine young man from Nottingham, Sheka Kanneh-Mason was black. He was BBC’s Young Musician of the Year 2016.

Indeed if it had not been for the ornate gothic structures of the St. Georges Chapel at the Windsor Castle, and the presence of the very elderly entourage of the members of the British royal family, one could have easily mistaken the venue of the royal wedding for a black church somewhere in Mississippi.

Perhaps, in appreciation of this new development and the inevitable changes that go with it, the Queen bestowed the title of Duke and Duchess of Sussex to Prince Harry and his wife Megan – 175 years after Prince Frederick’s saga.