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Royal wedding: Tuning in or doing the gardening? Royal event gets mixed reception in Belfast

By Allan Preston

As royal fever grips the UK ahead of tomorrow's royal wedding, we took to the streets of Belfast to see who would be tuning in for Harry and Meghan's big day.

Taking a well-earned rest by Belfast harbour was Shrewsbury man Stephen Davies (60) who had just completed a 700-mile cycle tour around Ireland.

"To be honest, nobody's mentioned a thing about the wedding during the whole time," he said. "We're more interested in our cycling trip and meeting the real Irish people.

"I'm not really bothered and won't be watching. But with Meghan Markle's dad not able to come after his heart operation... that's life isn't it? People get ill and if he can't make it, he can't make it."

Three members of the Bangor Trefoil guild, part of the Girl Guides organisation, said they can't wait for the wedding but have something of a crisis as it clashes with their annual general meeting.

Evelyn Dunn from Bangor said: "We'll not miss it, we're going to set up a television during the meeting. Royal things are always very interesting. The personalities and the style are what it's all about."

Chairperson Glynis Wilson will be looking after catering for the meeting but hopes to dash in and out of the kitchen to catch the big moments.

"I'd love to see all the outfits, it's going to be beautiful. They're a lovely couple and she looks so well.

"It will be difficult not having her father there as she's very fond of him, so she will be sad he can't make it."

Joan Magee from Donaghadee said: "I like the style and seeing the church service. There's people camped out there already, but that wouldn't be for me. My days of camping have long gone.

"Seeing the children as bridesmaids and page boys, especially Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will be lovely."

Caroline Meharg (66) from Belfast remembers travelling to her mother's house in Millisle just to watch Princess Diana's wedding in 1981.

This time she's more interested in getting a good Saturday in the garden. Her son Ben Dinnen (28), however, claimed he didn't even know there was a royal wedding.

"It's nice to know they've invited ordinary folk as well, not just dignitaries," said Ms Meharg.

"I doubt I'll watch, I'll be working in the garden on Saturday. I will have a look online to see her dress though.

"Her dad's just had a heart operation, but I think there could be a larger family story behind it all."

Her son said: "To be honest I don't know who's getting married. It's the ginger one isn't it? The other one's already married isn't he?

"I don't have a TV and I won't be watching, but I wish them well.

"It's celebrity culture, there's a lot of politics wrapped up in it as well. It's very much fantasy fulfilment, the princess and the prince.

"It ticks a lot of boxes, people get to live vicariously for this ridiculously lavish life just for one day."

Ms Meharg added: "It breaks up peoples' lives of monotony.

"Meghan Markle is definitely a progressive influence. When you think back years ago and Princess Margaret wasn't allowed to marry the man she loved because he was a divorcee. The royal family were so stiff but when Diana and Fergie came along it broke that mould. But why not."

Ben added: "You have to be careful though in reading into what the royal family are up to as some sort of milestone in liberal thinking. We should be paying attention to what really matters on the ground.

Belfast Royal Academy students Robin McKay and Mark Brunka, both aged 16, had mixed views.

"I wasn't aware of it," said Mark. "I don't watch much television, the Royals don't drive me crazy."

Robin disagreed saying: "It's cute, I don't pay loads of attention to it but I probably will watch a bit of it at home. It's sad though that her dad can't make it, a lot of people would be very upset in that situation.

"Meghan Markle is a bit different for the royal family and it is really nice to see that. It was the same when Prince William married Kate Middleton. People questioned it because she wasn't from high society, but it's really nice to have some change."

Belfast Telegraph

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