RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
All right. Some royal wedding news to share this morning - Prince Harry is getting married. He is set to wed his fiance Meghan Markle next spring. You might recognize Markle. She's an American actress. Here she is playing an attorney in the long-running TV show "Suits."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SUITS")
MEGHAN MARKLE: (As Rachel Zane) I know that this must be incredibly difficult. And it may not seem that way to you, but I am seeking justice for your daughter.
MARTIN: All right. So who is Meghan Markle, and how is the British public receiving the next member of the royal family? NPR's Frank Langfitt is on the story from London. Hey, Frank.
FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. How are you doing?
MARTIN: I'm well. So the engagement was announced by Buckingham Palace. Was this a surprise? I mean, they have been together for a little bit, right?
LANGFITT: No, they have. They've actually been dating for about a year and a half. And this does not come as a surprise at all. They've been seen in public. And so far, the reaction has been very positive. Prince Charles, Harry's dad, said he's very excited about this. The Archbishop of Canterbury - his name's Justin Welby - he said he's absolutely delighted. And the wedding is going to be this spring.
MARTIN: So she - Meghan Markle - is being talked about as this, quote, "unconventional choice..."
MARTIN: ...Because she's divorced. She's an American. She happens to be biracial. I mean, are those things a big deal in the U.K.? Is this really a thing?
LANGFITT: It's really not. I think decades and decades ago, it would have been, certainly, but not so much now. You don't - mostly, the coverage so far has been very positive. Of course, they're apparently going to live in central London, which is an incredibly diverse and cosmopolitan city. Early on, though, it was interesting. When they first started dating, the British tabloids here - the newspapers - started playing up the racial angle. And Markle's from LA. One of the British newspapers referred to her as straight outta Compton.
And about a year ago, Harry, who's very popular, by the way - I mean, probably one of those popular royals out there - he took a really unusual step, and he started criticizing the papers for what he called abusing and harassing his girlfriend and citing the racial and sexist tones of stories and also social media posts. In the statement that he put out, he said he was deeply disappointed that he had not been able to protect her. And coverage has pretty much calmed down since then.
MARTIN: Good for him. So sounds like - I don't know - are people's attitudes about the royals and what it's supposed to be to be a royal - is that changing?
LANGFITT: Oh, I think it is changing a lot. And you have a new generation with Prince William and Prince Harry. And I think a big question here is, what will the royal family look like now in the 21st century? And one thing that's really interesting is when you talk about a divorcee, if you remember historically - you go back. This is not the first time that a royal, a high-ranking royal has married an American divorcee. This happened in the '30s. This was then-Prince Edward. And he became king. And he was going to marry Wallis Simpson.
LANGFITT: He had to actually choose. She's a divorcee from Baltimore. And he had to choose between the crown and his wife. And he chose his wife. And that led to abdication to his younger brother.
MARTIN: The word divorcee even, like, evokes a certain time.
LANGFITT: I know. It's not...
MARTIN: It's not a thing you say anymore.
LANGFITT: It really isn't. But back then, absolutely. American divorcee.
MARTIN: Part of your identity. So what about Meghan Markle? Is she going to abandon LA, move full time to London?
LANGFITT: Well, apparently, she's already told the showrunners that she was actually going to leave after the seventh season. And so maybe she'll be setting up here in Kensington Palace in central London.
MARTIN: New member of the royal family. NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting on this for us this morning. Prince Harry's getting married. Thanks, Frank.
LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.