Let the mindless royal wedding blathering begin

by Diana Wichtel / 11 December, 2017
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo/Getty Images

Amid the orgy of royal-engagement coverage, we at least learn Markle has the corgis’ lick of approval.

Day one of the royal engagement. “Is this what it’s gonna be like for the next god knows how long?” complained a viewer of ITV’s This Morning. Yes. Let the mindless blathering begin.

The royal random-headline generator kicked in. “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle want wedding cake made from banana, source claims,” reported the Telegraph. “Meghan and Harry’s baby could be US President and in line for the throne,” raved the Mirror.

No one has yet revealed whether Nostradamus had anything to say about the coupling but People magazine offered this perky portent: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Engagement Might Have Been Predicted in Love Actually.” Points to Newshub for a fresh angle: “Meghan Markle had her undies stolen in New Zealand.”

“Can Harry and Meghan make Britain whole again?” mused the Guardian. It was being ironic. The BBC wasn’t, doggedly tugging its forelock across desperate hours of media interviewing each other against a backdrop of nothing happening at Kensington Palace.

Royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell banged narcotically on: “Here we have an American divorcee, which, of course, does resonate to some extent in terms of royal family history. It’s 80 years since King Edward VIII gave up the throne in order to marry a divorcee.” No mention here of Charles and Camilla. “The other significant fact, of course, is that she is a woman of mixed race. As she says, she is a ‘proud woman of mixed race’ herself … I think it will be seen as a very positive signal …”

An American who married someone posh was wheeled on. “Nutritionist and author” Julie Montagu, Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, outlined the challenges Markle will face setting the tables of the aristocracy. All that cutlery. “A lot of times,” warned the viscountess, “Americans are known to be a little bit embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah has offered what sounds like the sitcom elevator pitch: “Her mum is black, his family’s super white. She’s an actress, he’s on welfare …” And Prince William was happy. “I hope it means he stays out of my fridge, stops him scrounging my food.”

Back at BBC’s Newsroom Live presenter Annita McVeigh, forced to sum up for the 90th time – “Prince Harry’s engagement to the actress American Markle … er, to American actress Meghan Markle …” – was clearly losing the will to live.

Harry and American Markle eventually appeared for a fairy-tale photo shoot. “Wave!” ordered the press. “Kiss!” In the official interview, set to plinky-plonky day-spa music, Harry managed to avoid the “Whatever ‘in love’ means” nadir of his father’s dismal 1981 performance. But, in news that will have pleased neither romantics nor vegans, he revealed he popped the question on a “standard, typical night for us” while roasting a chicken. “Cosy,” corrected American Markle, who better understands PR. The couple are unlikely to win the game of thrones, but Markle comprehensively won the game of the Queen’s antisocial corgis. “I’ve spent 33 years being barked at,” sighed Harry, “and this one walks in …” They lay happily on her feet during tea, apparently.

Sweet. Not everyone buys it. “Get away, Meghan!” advised writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Good Morning Britain. The royals were a “cold and dysfunctional” family. Look what happened to Princess Di.

Harry was asked what Di would have thought. Meghan and his mum would have been, he said, hazarding an interesting choice of metaphor, “as thick as thieves”. He missed being able to share the happy news with her. “She’s with us,” pronounced Markle soothingly.

True, Diana remains the ghost at every Windsor feast. She would have enjoyed her son’s disruptive choice of partner, forcing commentators still to consider the ways in which her refusal of her assigned role as docile royal breeding stock continues to drag an ossified institution into the modern world. “She’s with us,” Harry agreed, “jumping up and down somewhere else.”

This article was first published in the December 16, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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