Harry and Meghan
So, the Royal Wedding last Saturday. How was it for you?
Did you stick to your principles and eschew the wall-to-wall television coverage and social media commentary on the joyous union of an American activist and actress with the spare heir to the British monarchy?
Or, like many of us, did you tune in sneakily, in the hope that at least one of the lesser princesses would again turn up with a toilet seat-inspired hat on her head, á la Beatrice of York at William and Kate’s 2011 nuptials?
(Spoiler alert, nobody did. The congregation’s fashion picks were generally deemed to be ‘fab-a-liss’ — particularly Amal Clooney’s mustardy yellow rig-out).
You were brave if you announced, in certain quarters, including here at Leinster Leader HQ last week, that you intended to be glued to the telly for the bride’s arrival at the church. “800 years of oppression” may have been muttered in my direction on more than one occasion.
And it’s true that the Irish seem to have an enduring fondness for the British monarchy, which is strange considering our history with our closest neighbours.
The Queen’s arrival on these shores in 2011 — including her pitstop in Kildare to visit the Irish National Stud and Gilltown — started as a heavily-policed and controversial visit from the British head of state, but ended as a celebration of Ireland’s new favourite granny as she charmed, and was charmed by, the public.
We’ve a fondness for the glitz and sparkle of the auld enemy. And as anyone who watched the pomp of the horse-drawn carriage ride around Windsor after last Saturday’s wedding ceremony will have seen, nobody, with the possible exception of Ru Paul, does over-the-top pageantry like the Brits.
Some Irish watchers may have taken it too far, though. There were reports of women in good frocks and fascinators crammed into Dublin hotels to eat fancy cake and watch Meghan and Harry tie the knot.
No such news from Kildare’s fine hostelries, though — even the Royal Curragh Golf Club didn’t roll out the red carpet for their big day.
The saving grace, though, of Irish royal-watchers, is that it’s not our taxpayers cash that footed the shindig.
Therefore, we can have a clear conscience about gleefully watching the entire proceedings, from early arrivals at the church (Oprah in a feathered hat), to the happy couple’s James Bond-style departure for the evening reception, safe in the knowledge that it’s not our hard-earned money that’s being shelled out for any of it.
(And before the naysayers start to moan about our national broadcaster covering the wedding, the canny Brits, no doubt with an eye on a massive tourism promotion opportunity, seemingly provided those pictures free to anyone who wanted them across the world).
After all, as we Irish have said enough times about ourselves, if a nation wants to celebrate itself with that type of spectacle, more power to them.
It’s none of our business, really, but if it’s entertaining, we’ll be watching from the sidelines with the popcorn.
Sort of like we do the Oscars, but with posher accents.
We’re living through hard enough times. We’ve enough scandals and division and political and social strife to occupy us. And sure what harm in a little entertainment — or fairytale escapism — particularly if it’s provided free.