Belfast Telegraph

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

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.

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.

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.

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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