At the end of Disney’s 2015 live action version of “Cinderella” the titular cinder-dwelling heroine (Lily James) is rescued from endless drudgery by her handsome prince and a well-fitting glass slipper. But before she can glide victoriously into happy ever after, she must walk past her Evil Stepmother (Cate Blanchett), so frozen in shock, disbelief and probably a healthy fear of retribution that she can do nothing but stand on the steps and watch Cindy getting the happy ending she’d been working 24/7 to prevent.
What the Evil Stepmother doesn’t say was “Sorry about stealing your home, making you into a servant, destroying your family heirlooms and now straight up locking you in the attic so your true love can’t find you. But...um...I can come to the wedding, right? I’d like the chicken.”
Because that would be silly, right?
I don’t know Meghan Markle, the American actress set to marry England’s Prince Harry on Saturday (although her sorority sister says she’s awesome). So I can’t personally dispute her step-siblings’ incredibly nasty and public insistence that she’s some sort of phony set to destroy the monarchy, break the poor prince’s heart and, I don’t know, lock him in a tower and make him braid a ladder out of his ginger beard hairs.
Still, I was morbidly amused by the open letter that Markle’s estranged half-brother Thomas Markle Jr. wrote to his sister’s fiance calling their impending marriage “the biggest mistake in royal wedding history,” followed quickly by another begging to be invited to the wedding he was trying to get canceled. The diamond-encrusted tiara-sized gall of this guy, right? He doesn’t seem to understand his self-appointed role in this particular fairy tale.
As the villain.
Whatever Meghan Markle did or didn’t do to or for her family in the past, publicly slagging her now, like Thomas Jr. and his tell-all-threatening sister Samantha have, is not how you request a reconciliation. It’s how you tighten the bolts on your estrangement. Nobody made you write that letter. And now, no matter how repentant and nice you are, you’re that guy. You’re the Evil Stepmother. You’re the reason for the mice footmen and the pumpkin coach and the glass slipper. And now you want some wedding cake? As another queen, Queen Bey, might say, Boy, bye.
Family stuff is hard, and it’s impossible to know who to believe about what. You could have round-the-clock video footage of every single interaction and still have people insisting that it’s all fake news and that you’d dubbed over the real audio and replaced all the relatives with the cast of “Dawson’s Creek.” Weddings have a specific way of bringing the worst of that nastiness to the surface. Which is why couples either have to hold their breath through the vows hoping that their problem relations don’t give the officiant an earful during the “speak now or forever hold you peace” part, or save a lot of headaches and just don’t invite them.
I believe in forgiveness, and in family togetherness. But I don’t believe that anybody owes people who literally last week were working against their happiness a leading role in their perfect day. You can’t be out here trying to get my man to dump me and then show up with your fanciest suit requesting Earth Wind and Fire songs from the DJ. That’s not your place, and given your behavior, who could trust you not to act foolish once you’re there? If you really love your sister, you shut your mouth, privately wish her well and don’t put the responsibility on her of making amends in a public feud you started. It’s not about you, Dude.
If Cinderella had decided to forgive her trifling evil stepfamily, that would have been gracious, and the fact that she didn’t have them locked in a tower and pelted with rocks and garbage was gracious enough. But that’s her choice. She, like Meghan Markle, wasn’t required to accommodate the witches trying to ruin her. It would be lovely if, in the future, the Markles all reconcile and learn to peacefully co-exist without open letters in tabloids. But this not the time. Right now, Thomas Markle Jr. needs to either sit at home and watch the wedding on TV like the rest of us, or take a page from the original Evil Stepmother and never be heard from again.