Whether you were a guest in your Sunday best or watched from the comfort of your couch, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding was a pretty momentous occasion, and its significance was not lost on one famous attendee. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Elton John said Markle and Harry's wedding "felt like progress," and his comments underscore just how far the monarchy has come.
The musician, who played a few songs at the reception at the groom's request, said that the pair's nuptials represented a major moment in British history. "It was very, very wonderful to be there," John told CNN of the ceremony, which took place at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in May. "To have a black gospel choir, a multiracial bride, a black cellist, who was wonderful, a preacher — it felt like a party, and it felt like progress had been made. Thank god, thank god." He added, "To be at the first multiracial royal wedding in Britain — amazing."
John spoke to the network at the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, where he and Prince Harry announced the MenStar Coalition project, which will launch an HIV self-testing campaign targeting young men in Kenya.
The singer, who was close friends with Prince Harry's mother, the late Princess Diana, said he felt the wedding was especially notable given the Royal Family's traditionally strict stance regarding marriage, which forced Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, to part ways with her lover, Peter Townsend, in 1955 after the Crown would not consent to their union.
According to the Daily Mail, given that Townsend, who had been an equerry to Princess Margaret's father, King George IV following his retirement from the Royal Air Force, was divorced, he was deemed unsuitable. Under the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, Princess Margaret needed the Queen's consent to marry until she turned 25, or must give up her title and all that came with it, and she ultimately declined his proposal, a story documented on Netflix's royal drama, The Crown.
As Vogue reported, in 2011 the law was limited to only the first six people in line to the throne, meaning that Prince Harry was required to get the Queen's go-ahead. When asked if the wedding was historic, John responded in the affirmative, noting that the Crown's approval of Harry's marriage to Markel, who was previously married herself, marked a notable change, allowing love to take precedent. "Oh absolutely. Are you kidding me? Yes, of course. You go back and watch The Crown and things like that, and in the 1950s Princess Margaret wasn't allowed to get married (to Group Captain Peter Townsend) because he was divorced. Look how far we have come in that respect."
"I think the Queen had a lot to do with it," John added. "I think she's been magnificent. It was a wonderful thing to be at." John's husband, David Furnish, echoed that sentiment, recalling that the couple's devotion to one another was what stuck with him most. "What was so inspiring, and it sounds corny, but, true love is what really shone through and that's what everybody felt, the sincerity and the integrity of that true love on the day," he told CNN. "And it shows that institutions like the monarchy can evolve with the times."
Aside from inciting major FOMO, John and Furnish's comments are a powerful reminder that Harry and Markle's wedding was as much a fairytale romance as it was a marker of change that signified the progress the monarchy has made over the past 70 years.