Harry vs. Meghan: Who's the better catch?

OPINION: Ever since they announced their engagement in November, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship has been under public scrutiny.

Most of the spotlight has been on Meghan, who's a controversial addition to the royal family for several reasons: she's American (and of African descent), a divorcée and, until recently, was a working actor who sometimes filmed sex scenes.

She's also - gasp - an older woman, 36 years old to Harry's 33.

Meghan has been painted as a social-climbing gold-digger, a misogynistic assumption that doesn't hold much weight seeing as she's successful and wealthy in her own right - her estimated net worth is a cool US$5m (NZ$7.2m).

She's such a catch, in fact, perhaps Prince Harry is the one punching above his weight.

So ahead of the royal wedding this Saturday, let's weigh up each half of the couple to figure out who is really 'marrying up'.

Ancestry

Let's get this awkward fact out of the way: Meghan Markle is descended from slaves, and Prince Harry's ancestors profited from slavery.

Meghan's great-great-great grandmother was Mattie Turnipseed, a slave in Georgia. For the family to go from slaves to royalty in just six generations is a stunning turn of events, and indicates that the world really is better than it used to be.

While the royal family didn't own slaves themselves, they were major shareholders in corporations like the South Sea Company, which delivered slaves from Africa to Europe.

But the problems with Harry's lineage go beyond some awkward historical facts.

Edward VII seems like a sympathetic figure - he also scandalised the family by marrying an American divorcée - except that he was a likely Nazi sympathiser. He toured Germany in 1937 and was hosted by Hitler.

Then there's Harry's father, Prince Charles, who proposed to a 19-year-old Diana when he was in his 30s, and then cheated on her.

All in all, the men in Harry's family don't have a great history of being respectable leaders or even decent husbands.

In-laws

History aside, what sort of family atmosphere will each half of the couple be joining?

Harry is close with his brother William and sister-in-law Kate, as well as their three cherubic children. Meghan and Kate have a "wonderful friendship", according to Us Weekly at least.

Prince Charles and wife Camilla are also enthusiastic about the wedding.

But while the Queen has given Meghan her stamp of approval (possibly helped by the fact that her Corgis liked her), Harry's grandfather's history of casual racism could make for some awkward family get-togethers.

Prince Phillip probably saying something racist to Queen Elizabeth.
Prince Phillip probably saying something racist to Queen Elizabeth. Photo credit: Getty

Meghan's family situation is a touch complicated, with much being made of the frosty relationships between her and her relatives. Her uncle is mad he didn't get an invitation, her half-sister is writing a tell-all book about her, and her half-brother wrote Harry a letter telling him not to go through with the wedding.

But when it comes to Meghan's immediate family, it's clear that Harry is inheriting loving in-laws who want the best for the couple.

Doria Ragland and Thomas Markle divorced when Meghan was six, but got on so well they still took family holidays together.

Meghan is very close with her mother, a social worker and yoga instructor who she says is her "best friend". Harry gets on well with her too, calling Ms Ragland "amazing".

Mr Markle is a reclusive figure who lives in Mexico, but remains in regular contact with his daughter. He will be the one to walk Meghan down the aisle and is eager to learn more about the country she'll be living in, as seen in this extremely wholesome photo:

Work ethic

Like Meghan or not, you have to respect her hustle. Hollywood's a tough business, and she endured years of unsuccessful auditions before her big break.

Writing for Elle in 2015, Meghan said as someone with parents of different races, she struggled to fit into a label-driven industry.

"I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones, leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job."

In 2011 she landed the role of Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits, which kept her in regular work until she left the show after its seventh season.

Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on Suits.
Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane on Suits. Photo credit: USA Network

The woman has ambition, determination and nerves of steel.

Her fiancé, on the other hand, comes from a long line of state-funded work-dodgers.

Nonetheless, Harry's 10 years of military service, in which he piloted helicopters and was is said to have been given no special treatment, indicate that Harry can commit when it counts.

Style

This one's a no-brainer. Meghan has demonstrated impeccable taste, inspiring countless fashion blogs devoted to dissecting her outfits. Good grief, can that woman wear a coat.

She might never be Queen of England, but Meghan is indisputably the queen of coats.
She might never be Queen of England, but Meghan is indisputably the queen of coats. Photo credit: Getty

Harry, on the other hand, isn't much remembered for his style - with one memorable exception.

All things considered, who's the better catch in this royal romance?

On balance, I'd say they deserve each other.

Click here for Newshub's full royal wedding coverage.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz