Saturday's wedding of Britain's Prince Harry to former American actress Megan Markle had particular meaning for Duke psychologist Sarah Gaither and recent Duke graduate Suhani Jalota, Trinity '16.
The royal couple designated the Myna Mahila Foundation, which Jalota established in 2015 while a Duke undergraduate, as one of seven charities that wedding guests were encouraged to support in lieu of buying wedding gifts. The foundation seeks to empower women in Mumbai, India, and to improve menstrual hygiene, decrease stigma surrounding women's health and expanding job opportunities in the city's slum areas.
"For my extended family and for my grandparents specifically, this is unbelievable," Jalota says in a post-wedding piece in Glamour. "It’s the biggest deal in the world because they lived under British rule. I've had to take my invitation with me wherever I go so I can show it to them; both sets of my grandparents cried.
"This was my first-ever Christian wedding, and first-ever wedding in a church—I didn’t know what the norm was. During the hour and a half or so of just being seated before everything started, I read through the whole [wedding program] and the vows. It was so much around love and friendship and being together. The whole conversation around the wedding was just around the couple’s love and how they’re perfect for each other, and complement each other. The whole theme of love was very, very special."
For Gaither, the wedding offered an opportunity for people on both continents to reflect on changing views on biracial identity.
Gaither is biracial and studies biracial identity. She writes about Meghan Markle's new role and its implications for biracial people in Vox. Gaither also commented on the topic for a variety of news outlets, including the BBC, the CBC, People Magazine and Reuters.
“Growing up in the late ’80s as a biracial girl, I never had a mixed-race princess whose image I could sport on my backpack or my lunchbox," Gaither wrote in her Vox essay.
“For today’s biracial youth, Meghan Markle, the actress who is marrying into the British royal family — and who has defined herself publicly as “a strong, confident mixed-race woman” — represents the biracial role model I didn’t have growing up.”