Remember the last royal wedding? Glorious, wasn’t it? A moment of perfect choreography, offering us sunshine, tradition, celebrity and a demonstration of the purity of love. For just a moment, it managed to heal a troubled nation. “We should do this again soon!” people cooed at the time, awed by an overwhelming spirit of unbridled optimism.
Well, guess what? We just did it again. In a note-for-note recreation of Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, Princess Thingy just got married to some bloke in Windsor Castle and … it probably isn’t a great idea to draw too many comparisons.
Especially when it comes to media coverage. Harry and Meghan’s wedding was unavoidable, splayed out live across multiple channels simultaneously for hours on end. This one, though? Confined to ITV only. Worse, it didn’t even warrant its own slot, instead being folded into an episode of This Morning. Even worse than that, it was an episode of This Morning presented by substitute hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford. That’s how second-rate this wedding was; they couldn’t even rouse Philip Schofield for it.
Why ITV? Perhaps it was because the other channels had their own pressing issues to deal with. As Princess Eugenie walked up the aisle, BBC One – which reportedly rejected Prince Andrew’s specific request to broadcast the ceremony – were showing Homes Under the Hammer followed by A1: Britain’s Longest Road. Why give that double bill up for something as trivial as a royal wedding?
Still, this was ITV’s chance to show that it could equal the reverent displays of experts and Dimblebys that the BBC usually flings at occasions like this. And it’s fair to say that it had a good crack. Reporters were flung around Windsor to describe the atmosphere. This Morning’s theme tune was played by a string quartet and timpani. And the hosts? Well, again, maybe let’s not dwell on that either.
“It is blowy,” Holmes sighed by way of introduction, as a camera listlessly scanned around a crowd of about six well-wishers. “It’s not the same as Meghan and Harry,” he added a moment later, more in resignation than sadness. Then Ruth mispronounced Eugenie’s name and they went to a Matalan commercial.
But let’s not get too downhearted. The last wedding seamlessly managed to blur the line between royalty and celebrity, so surely at the very least we would have some famous faces to spot in the chapel. However, what we got was a relatively upscale Celebrity Come Dine With Me lineup. There was Demi Moore, dressed as the mistress who turns up 10 minutes late to a married man’s funeral. There was Liv Tyler (“From Armageddon,” said Holmes, helpfully). And there was …
“The top of Kate Moss’s head, there,” shrugged Holmes as the cameras flailed around looking for someone – anyone – to get excited about. It lingered on a young woman for a moment. “I don’t know who that is,” sniffed Ruth. A nation – or at least the fraction of the percentage of the nation who didn’t have anything better to do – nodded in agreement.
This Morning quite sensibly chose not to summon too many royal experts, possibly because they would have all said: “This makes absolutely no difference to anything.” Instead, a huge chunk of the show was dedicated to slightly desperate justifications of the wedding itself. At one point, a panel of guests took turns to rationalise the decision to televise a wedding of a woman whose name nobody – not even the self-styled “world’s most biggest monarchist”, previously interviewed – can pronounce.
“Remember that she is a blood princess,” one said. “She’s ninth in line to the throne, and Harry is only sixth, so there’s not a lot of difference,” panted another. “It’s taking place at St George’s chapel, and St George is our patron saint,” offered a third, instantly transforming into the human equivalent of the ¯_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon.
As the royal family spattered in – driving straight up to the chapel’s entrance rather than strolling in like proles – the hosts were forced to share scraps of thin gruel. Lots of time was dedicated to the sight of Prince William briefly holding his wife’s hand. A child was blown over by the wind, and everyone lost their minds with excitement. The groom, Jack Brooksbank, arrived in a car, shooting past the temporary studio on the way in. “He promised us a wave,” growled Holmes, craning his neck. “He lied. he lied.”
And then Eugenie turned up, and Brooksbank grinned in delight, and everyone looked so happy and nervous and, fine, it worked, OK? Weddings are great. It’s hard to be cynical at a wedding. As Jack awkwardly played with his hands and Beatrice threw everything into her slightly odd Great Gatsby reading, it was hard not to think the same thing that everyone thought all the way back in May. Maybe we really should do this again soon.
The wedding ended. As Mr and Mrs Brooksbank entered their carriage to leave, Ruth murmured: “They promised us a wave” to the viewers. But there was no wave. Maybe next time, guys. Maybe next time.