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Harry and Meghan – we pulled it off again

May 20, 2018

I didn’t want to watch it, but in the end it was unavoidable. When I got back from a round of golf my wife and a friend were sitting in front of the TV oohing and aahing at the dress, the flower girls and all the other accoutrements of Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

I didn’t want to watch it because I hate having my emotions manipulated by the music, the ceremony and the choreography. It happens every time. Diana’s funeral, William’s wedding, even the Queen Mum’s funeral for goodness sake.

But then I reminded myself that every fictional drama I watch on TV or at the cinema tries to wind me round its little finger, so why resist the real thing?

So I allowed myself to be drawn in. And who could resist Bishop Curry’s magnificent upstaging of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Poor Justin Welby had to stick to the liturgical script, whereas Curry was free to emote as he pleased. The contrast between the flat lines of the marriage ceremony and the soaring rhetoric of the Bishop’s address was as between drizzle and thunder. No still small voice could possibly make itself heard, except perhaps in the inner ears of the Queen and Prince Philip as they sat through the sermon displaying their extraordinary talent for watchful catatonia.

In between involuntary alleluias, I kept an eye on Twitter comments, one of which suggested that Kate, William’s wife, looked as though she had swallowed a wasp. Or could it have been Camilla, Charles’s beloved? Surely not, because she was wearing a huge hat that must have been designed by aliens who had just visited the Chelsea Flower Show, and her face was thereby completely hidden from the cameras.

The Bishop’s performance was the best drama we’ve seen in an English church since Earl Spencer ranted on about blood relatives at Diana’s funeral.

Then there was the gospel choir, singing Stand By Me. The Church of England is well used to happy-clappy these days, but this was a cut above, as you would expect at a royal wedding.

The whole thing, from the flower-decked St George’s Chapel to the misty look in Harry’s eyes as he gazed upon his bride, was lovely. A breath of fresh air blowing through the dusty corridors of British royalty.

And yet my traditional mini-me, born of generations of stuffy Englishness, kept shrieking that this was all wrong. She’s a divorcee! She’s wearing virgin white when she self-evidently doesn’t qualify on grounds of non-virginity. The Church of England isn’t supposed to allow people who have ex-husbands to marry in church.  After all, wasn’t it Wallis Simpson’s “previous experience” that did for Edward VIII?

I quickly gave mini-me a sharp smack on the head, and he retreated grumpily into his box.

Harry and Meghan’s wedding was proof once more that we British do weddings and funerals exceedingly well. Any kind of ceremony that involves men in uniform, church music and stiff upper lips, in fact. The Bishop has now added an extra dimension: the battle between sang froid and sang tres chaud.

So here’s a thought. Since big set-piece weddings and funerals are about all we do really well these days, perhaps we should aim to become the venue of choice for all the oligarchs, tech zillionaires, presidents and princes of the world who wish to get married in style and exit with a bang. We could rent out our cathedrals, privatise the Household Cavalry, hawk the services of the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign up Bishop Curry as a celebrity sermoniser.

A million dollars each would buy you Oprah, George Clooney or David Beckham as guests, and for another ten million we could close all the streets around the venue for a horse-drawn procession to accompany the happy couple or the deceased dictator.

Who knows, perhaps even Donald Trump might fall for our charms when he next gets married.

The income generated from such occasions would more than make up for the economic shortfall arising out of Brexit, and our politicians would have the opportunity to schmooze with the rich and powerful of other nations on a regular basis. We might even be able to persuade some of them to launder their money in Britain or do trade deals with us.

Such happy thoughts quickly subsided when later in the day I sat down, unaccompanied this time by my wife and her friend – sensible people – to watch the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Chelsea. It was a grim and joyless occasion in comparison with the royal wedding, so much so that I switched off before the trophy presentation.

Not before watching Jose Mourinho, the losing coach, gracefully congratulating his opposite number, whom he heartily loathes. Now there was a man who really did look as though he’d swallowed a wasp. A whole nest of them actually.

Unless we take up my suggestion, we shall have to wait some time for the next wedding on the scale of Harry’s and Meghan’s. But our craving for immaculate ceremony will no doubt be satisfied by some funerals in the not too distant future. And I, no doubt, will be watching.

Unfortunately the FA Cup Final will continue to come round every year. I think I’ll pass on the next one, or at least switch off after the massed military bands have done their thing.

From → Media, Social, Sport, UK

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