A week ago, Kensington Palace unveiled the official invitations (opens in new tab) for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding on May 19. The fancy cards noticeably feature elegant calligraphy and the Prince of Wales' three-feathered badge in gold ink, but at a closer look, they also include a small allusion to Markle's previous marriage. (As Meghan's fans are well aware, the former actress was previously married to film producer Trevor Engelson (opens in new tab) from 2011 to 2013.)
In the text, the Suits star is referenced as "Ms. Meghan Markle." But for Kate Middleton and Prince William's invites (opens in new tab) in 2011, the bride-to-be was referred to as "Miss. Catherine Middleton." That's because brides are only titled "Miss" for their first marriage, and receive the title "Mrs." or "Ms." if it's their second marriage," Ruth Baxter, bespoke stationery manager for royal stationery brand Smythson, told Town & Country (opens in new tab).
Though it's uncommon for a divorcée to marry into the royal family, the fact that Markle's previous marriage was publicly (albeit subtly) recognized in the formal invitations is sign that the monarchy is modernizing.
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"The wording referring to Meghan on the wedding invitations is a first but this is a unique wedding," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The Independent (opens in new tab). "Ms. is the correct way to refer to a divorced woman before either her birth name or married name."
In addition to being a previously married, Markle is biracial, an American actress, and a vocal activist—she's changing what it means to be a royal in more ways than one.
"The use of Ms. is a contemporary way of avoiding using Mrs. or Miss. and I think it's certain that this is also something Meghan would have approved of," Fitzwilliams added. "This is another sign of the royal family moving with the times."
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she's listening to Lorde right now.
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