On the 19th of May 1536, King Henry VIII beheaded his wife and Queen of England, Anne Boleyn. Anne had been crowned Queen of England on the 1st of June 1533, and on the 7th of September, she gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I.
Henry was disappointed to have sired a daughter rather than a son and hoped a son would follow, but professed to still love Elizabeth. Anne subsequently had three miscarriages, and by March 1536 Henry was courting Jane Seymour. In order to marry Jane, Henry had to find reasons to end his marriage to Anne. He therefore had her investigated for treason, where she was tried before a jury of peers and subsequently found guilty of on the 15th of May. She was beheaded four days later.
Fast track to 2018, and just this week on that very same day would Prince Harry marry Meghan Markle, a mixed-race, divorced American. How times have changed! Even in the recent societal changes of the #MeToo movement and the celebration of diversity, their marriage is a reflection of the changes that have occurred within our society and continue to do so. And you could not get a wedding that had more of a personal brand statement on it than the wedding that they had on the weekend at Windsor Castle. So much so, that the preacher at their wedding was an animated and passionate African American gospel preacher who shocked, delighted, and captivated the audience, depending on who you asked. Camera cutaways to the audience showed the Queen looking completely confused, Prince Phillip in shock and disbelief, whilst Prince William and the rest of the family were just trying to hide their giggles.
But if it was any other way it wouldn’t have seemed like it was their wedding. When you’re building a brand, a brand is based on values and it was very clear that Harry and Meghan had very clear, similar values: their commitment to diversity, their commitment to creating change, and their commitment to the communities they serve. In the lead up to the wedding, they consistently talked about change and to quote the late great Nelson Mandela, “you’ve got to be the change you wish to see in the world.” And their wedding was an absolute statement to that change.
You can’t just say that you want change, and then hope for the best. There’s no way they could have said they wanted change and then had a very traditional conservative royal ceremony. It would have been inconsistent, it would have been incongruent, and it would have lacked integrity. And so you have to show that you are committed to that change and the only way to do that is to show that through your brand. It is through your brand that the values that you’re trying to communicate that need to come to life through the messaging and by showing the change that you’re trying to make.
Their wedding was the most disruptive wedding for the Royal Family since Edward III married Philippa of Hainault in 1328 in York Minster, which was probably not the best venue in hindsight given it was still being built and lacked a roof to protect them from a subsequent snowstorm during their January ceremony! It was Stephen Covey who said, “you need to start with the end in mind.” So their wedding was a very clear statement as this is the change that Harry and Meghan are looking to create in the world and their wedding was very much based on the values they both share.
Forbes magazine identified that not only do 70% of organisational change and transformations fail, but the failure rate may even be increasing. According to 2008 research from IBM, the need to lead change is growing but our ability to do so is shrinking, hence why people often get discouraged and eventually give up. Even when companies make great strides to building a change culture and preparing for change battle, fatigue can derail even the most valiant efforts for change.
Meghan and Harry have a big agenda and they’re obviously very committed to that agenda and will draw those people and attract people to them when their brand is very much about that change. It’s so core to their belief that they, in fact, created their wedding around it and were so disruptive in creating a wedding that despite no snowstorm, will be talked about for centuries to come.
Love to hear how you put your personal brand stamp on your events or experiences.
Jane Anderson is a communications expert, speaker and the author of 4 books including “EXPERT to INFLUENCER: 12 Key Skills to Attract New Clients, Increase Sales and Leverage your Personal Brand to Become an Industry Leader.” With over 20 years experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.