Belfast Telegraph

Behind all the pomp of royal wedding, let's not lose sight of a couple in love

Meghan Markle arrives for her wedding ceremony to marry Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Meghan Markle arrives for her wedding ceremony to marry Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Meghan Markle arrives for her wedding to Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle (R) and her mother, Doria Ragland, arrive for her wedding ceremony to marry Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFFOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Meghan Markle (R) with her mother Doria Ragland drive down the Long Walk as they arrive at Windsor Castle ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Meghan Markle and her mother Doria Ragland make their way to St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Phil Harris - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Meghan Markle arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for her wedding to Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Meghan Markle arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for her wedding to Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for their wedding. (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Alf McCreary

By the time you read this, you will be looking forward to watching the royal wedding on television, or you will have already seen it, and you will be able to analyse with hindsight my comments which are being written days before the event.

For weeks, I have been taking the classic male default attitude by saying that I don't really care in the slightest about the wedding, and that I am much more concerned that Manchester United beat Chelsea in today's FA Cup Final.

Charles and Diana
Charles and Diana

However, I am aware that, at the centre of all of this, the main focus is that two young people are getting married, and you can only wish them all the very best.

It is important also that this is a church wedding in the splendour of the Royal Chapel in Windsor, which unfortunately was closed when I last visited the castle.

It is also worth noting that one of the main participants taking part is the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who will carry out his duties splendidly.

When I talked to him in Belfast a few weeks ago he was still a little nervous about the ceremony, given the fact that at two previous weddings he dropped the rings at one, and forgot to bring copies of the vows to the other.

However, he promised to get it right this time. One of the things I like about this Archbishop of Canterbury is that he does not take himself too seriously - a point which some other senior clerics in all denominations should take to heart.

The magnitude of the coverage was brought home to me when a reporter on the BBC said that there were no fewer that 5,000 accredited journalists covering the wedding.

That means that no stone will go unturned or piece of confetti unrecorded, and that the story is likely to grow with the telling.

There is no doubt that it will be a major worldwide event. Only last Saturday, when I was in Malta, our charming young guide, originally from a town near Moscow, told me that she would watch the wedding live on television.

Prince Harry (left) and The Duke of Cambridge (right) arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Ian West/PA Wire
Prince Harry (left) and The Duke of Cambridge (right) arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Ian West/PA Wire
Prince Harry (left) and the Duke of Cambridge arrive for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (L) arrives with his best man Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (R) at the West Door of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018 for his wedding ceremony to marry US actress Meghan Markle. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Doria Ragland watches the arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinurgh at St George's Chapel ahead of the wedding of her daughter Meghan Markle to Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
(L-R) The Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank sit ahead of the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Jonathan BradyJONATHAN BRADY/AFP/Getty Images
Meghan Markle's mother Doria Ragland (L) arrives for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Gareth FullerGARETH FULLER/AFP/Getty Images
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
The Earl of Wessex (right) and James, Viscount Severn arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn take their seats inside the Chapel ahead of the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Jonathan BradyJONATHAN BRADY/AFP/Getty Images
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: MIke Tindall and Zara Tindall arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Gareth Fuller - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Princess Eugenie arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Prince Edward arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, (C) arrives with Britain's Princess Beatrice of York (R) and Britain's Princess Eugenie of York (L) arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Sarah, Duchess of York arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Gareth Fuller - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

On the same afternoon there was a splendid wedding in the cathedral in Rabat, which stands on the site of the house of the former Roman Governor Publius, who was converted by St Paul after his shipwreck on Malta.

My wife told me that the bride was lovely (they all are) and that the bridesmaids were wearing beautiful green dresses. During the ceremony I sneaked in to the back of the gorgeous church and heard a female soloist sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

It was a stunning moment or two on a hot and sunny afternoon, and proved that even the most nonchalant males like me cannot resist a spectacle.

It will be exactly the same with the royal wedding. Those people, females as well as males, who say that they have no interest in the event, may fall to the temptation to take a peek, and then get hooked.

One thing which the royal family, and the British Establishment, do well is a royal wedding, even if few of the brides and grooms live together happily ever after - just think of Charles and Diana, and two others of his siblings.

The Charles and Diana wedding in St Paul's Cathedral in 1981 was a magnificent event which I was privileged to cover for this newspaper.

Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Oprah Winfrey arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Ian West/PA Wire
Meghan Markle's friend, US actor Patrick J. Adams and wife Troian Bellisario arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Ian WESTIAN WEST/AFP/Getty Images
Meghan Markle's friend, US tennis player Serena Williams (CL) and her husband US entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian (CR) arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Odd ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
David Beckham and Victoria Beckham arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
David Beckham arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
James Blunt (right) and Sofia Wellesley arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Marcus Mumford and Carey Mulligan arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Pippa Middleton (left) and James Matthews (second left) arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire
Parasport athlete Dave Henson, arrives at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Toby Melville/PA Wire
David and Victoria Beckham (both right) talk with Sir Elton John (left) and David Furnish as they arrive in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Nacho Figueras and his wife Delfina Blaquier arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Serena Williams arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Amal Clooney and George Clooney arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Odd Andersen/PA Wire
Joss Stone (right) arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Cressida Bonas arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle before the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Ian West - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews arrive for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Chris JacksonCHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images
Cressida Bonas arrives for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Chris JacksonCHRIS JACKSON/AFP/Getty Images
Eliza Spencer, Louis Spencer, Victoria Aitken and Kitty Spencer arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Unidentifiable guests arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Michael and Carole Middleton arrive in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
James Haskell and Chloe Madeley arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Delfina Blaquier arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Chris Jackson/PA Wire
Lady Edwina Louise Grosvenor (left) and Dan Snow arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Prince's Harry's friend, British singer James Blunt (C) arrives for the wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and US actress Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, on May 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer and Karen Spencer arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Sabrina Dhowre (L) and Idris Elba attend the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales marries Ms. Meghan Markle in a service at St George's Chapel inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. Among the guests were 2200 members of the public, the royal family and Ms. Markle's Mother Doria Ragland. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Rebecca Deacon and Adam Priestley arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Prince William's private secretary, Miguel Head arrives at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Tom Inskip arrives at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 19, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Wedding. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Guests begin to arrive at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Nacho Figueras and his wife Delfina Blaquier, arrive ahead of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Chris Jackson/PA Wire
Sir Keith Mills and his wife Maureen Mills arrive at the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

It is one thing to watch such a spectacle on television, but it is something very different to actually be there, as a number of lucky people from Northern Ireland (and many others) will discover this time.

My memories of the Charles and Diana wedding were not just about the religious ceremony itself, but the fact that the motley media, including Maeve Binchy and myself, were seated several rows ahead of the First Lady, Nancy Reagan, that Princess Grace of Monaco was serenely behind the altar, and that Peregrine Worsthorne, the then editor of the Sunday Telegraph was adorned in a strikingly pale pink suit.

Memories are made of such things, and by tomorrow this royal wedding will be history. Harry and Meghan will have to get used to married life under total scrutiny, and the world will look for another spectacle to watch, and then move on.

Meantime, good luck to them.

Belfast Telegraph

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