Today, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Among the highlights of the event: the reveal of Markle’s wedding dress, a speech by Bishop Michael Curry that brought the black American church into the ceremony, and the performance of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir.
For many, “Stand By Me” is a love song. For many others, its lyrics are deeply political. Megan McCluskey at Time explains, “Considering the history behind ‘Stand By Me,’ the predominantly black Kingdom Choir performing the song at Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry seems to be symbolic of this transition” into a more modern, inclusive royal family. It was a significant musical choice as Markle, a mixed race woman, took her place in a historically white, powerful monarchy.
“Stand By Me” was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2015 for its impact on modern society, something that King called “one of the greatest moments of my life” shortly before his passing. The performance of the song by a gospel choir inside St. George’s Chapel — for the wedding of a biracial princess — only further solidifies its place in history.