Jayne Dowle: Why Meghan's quiet revolution will make Royal history

THE least said about the official wedding photograph the better. After all the verve and joyousness of the ceremony which marked the joining in matrimony of Harry Windsor and Meghan Markle, we might have expected something rather less conventional to put in the scrapbook.

The new Duchess of Sussex at a Buckingham Palace garden party, her first public appearance since her wedding to Prince Harry.

Still, long after that awkward staged salon shot has faded, and the details of that very unconventional service have blurred around the edges, we’ll be thinking and talking about this particular Royal Wedding. It has made an impact, for the right reasons.

Until Ms Markle emerged alone from the vintage Rolls Royce in a simple – albeit haute couture – white gown, it had been rather fashionable to affect an air of nonchalant disinterest about the whole proceedings.

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I wasn’t terribly bothered myself. When William and Kate got wed in 2011, we held a garden party and invited half the street. In contrast, last Saturday morning I had planned to check out the dress, see them exchange their vows and then get on with building my new pond. However, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t just another fancy event with hats; it was history in the making.

Every wedding is all about the bride. And this bride, her hair slightly askew, her maquillage understated, but her composure unassailable, showed us that she meant to do things very differently. As a result, this most public of occasions will go down in history as a moment when the world shifted on its axis.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it did more for feminism than any number of #metoo campaigners staging vigils and outing unsavoury men.

I’ve struggled of late to describe what feminism actually is to my 12-year-old daughter. It’s a difficult concept to contextualise in a world which seems to swerve from one extreme to the other. Adopt the hijab or plaster your face with make-up that could be seen from the moon? Embrace science at school or be labelled a geek? Assert your opinions or keep quiet because boys are always right? Or just be the best version of yourself and be quietly proud?

This wedding showed that the latter is entirely achievable. A child of a broken home cannot only make a successful career in a competitive industry, but also marry a prince of England. And, in this, Meghan’s mother showed herself as a guiding light.

Single mothers always end up the scapegoats for every social ill; here was one who stood alone in a pew in front of the titled families of England and looked strong, not vulnerable. If you want further clarification on what feminism really means, think of the dignity of Doria Ragland.

Much was said about the powerful hand of palace staff and courtiers rooting out the rest of Ms Markle’s ramshackle family and leaving them off the guest list. We’ll never know the complete truth, but I’d say that she had more than a hand in this herself. Without any hint of stridency, she made it clear that she was an independent woman and was going to enter into matrimony in her own way.

That she allowed the Prince of Wales to meet her at the chapel door and escort her down the aisle was not a sign of acquiescence, but gracious acknowledgement. Rather like saying thank you to a chap who holds open a door for you instead of storming past and throwing him a murderous look.

There have been catty comments about the Duchess of Sussex’s reputation as an actress. We should remember, however, that some of our most memorable public figures understand both the importance of adopting a suitable character and interpreting any sense of occasion correctly. I’ll just mention the late Ronald Reagan here, the Hollywood heart-throb who became leader of the Free World.

Esteemed author and commentator Simon Jenkins has even gone so far as to say that the whole thing is so revolutionary that the California-born new Duchess of Sussex could run for office herself as a Democrat candidate for the US Presidency. I’m not too sure about that.

In her previous life, the Duchess was a passionate UN advocate and by all accounts, had been speaking up for women, girls and the poor since the age of 11. She has already made it clear that, as the newest member of the Royal Family, she will make the Commonwealth her cause. This mirrors the interests she shares with her husband.

This responsibility is both timely and potentially a time bomb. The Duchess must learn, and quickly, that the British monarchy has survived and prospers against adversity because that invisible and constitutional line between privilege and power is never crossed.

So I’m not sure about the wisdom of putting too much political pressure on her proud shoulders. I am however, assured that this wedding showed us that the best revolutions take place quietly. And with nobility.