Belfast Telegraph

Lindy McDowell: Harry and Meghan can't enjoy all the perks of being royals without giving a bit back to the public too

Harry and Meghan have attracted criticism for refusing to publicly name baby Archie’s godparents
Harry and Meghan have attracted criticism for refusing to publicly name baby Archie’s godparents

By Lindy McDowell

Are Harry and Meghan right to try to keep secret the names of their small son Archie's prospective godparents?

It didn't actually occur to me that this might be such a big issue until an article in the Daily Express informed me earlier in the week that the Sussexes' decision had "sparked fury".

Fury? Seriously?

It is fair to say, though, that once again the royal pair have sparked considerable controversy over very little.

Those who feel genuinely aggrieved by the couple's decision to keep schtum about who will do the business at the boy's baptism today argue that Harry and Meghan can't have their christening cake and eat it.

On the one hand they have been making free with taxpayers' money to do up the nursery at Frogmore in expensive, non-binary, vegan emulsion.

On the other, they have yet to release a full facial pic of the nursery's little occupant.

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To their critics this appears to be saying that the Duke and Duchess are very happy to enjoy the enormous perks and privileges (and then some) that come with being part of the royal family.

But that they will decide how much (or how little) to give back in return.

Since their child has been born the Sussexes have made it very clear that they want to safeguard his privacy as much as possible. Fair play to them.

But the inescapable fact is that they are royals. And there is extensive and understandable - and it has to be said, benevolent - interest in their little boy from many, many people who would see themselves as ardent royalists.

All that these members of the taxpaying public are looking for is just a little access, a little "give" to balance what thus far comes across as a quite voracious "take".

Meghan has earned herself the reputation for extravagance. She's been labelled Marie Antoinette - although the disclosure of the amount of taxpayers' money being splashed out on the Frogmore revamp might strike some as more redolent of Louis Quatorze.

She and Harry are accused of acting like entitled celebs rather than titled royals.

They "share" on Instagram the carefully curated images of themselves and their good deeds and their inspirational thoughts.

And even, on a couple of occasions, pics of little Archie's feet and the top of his head.

Of course they're protective of the child. Of course you couldn't blame them. But there's something almost teasing about this "have a wee peek but no more" approach.

Especially as they will have seen in the way William and Kate have handled the issue of their children's privacy that allowing the media - and by extension the public - some minor access is not such a big deal.

Attempting to keep secret the identities of their child's godparents seems overly controlling, self-important and frankly a bit silly. Like most people I wasn't remotely interested until they announced they wouldn't be telling.

I'd assumed that it would be the Clooneys, your woman Mulroney, Serena et al. Maybe a few less well-known friends. Maybe they'd even got Elton.

Most of the above are people already in the public eye and would be well used to handling media interest.

In fact, if anyone has cause to feel miffed it would be the friends who weren't asked.

By creating this aura of secrecy all Meghan and Harry have done is ratchet up interest and spark unnecessary controversy and speculation around what should be a happy relaxed family event.

This pair need to get over themselves.

Unless they've actually asked Don Corleone to do godfather I really can't imagine why they feel the need to keep the details to themselves.

New reality TV show a real walk on the wild side

Just when you thought television had run out of permutations on the reality TV theme, on Thursday evening the BBC brought us another.

The “dramatised” wildlife series.

Serengeti (or as I’ve come to think of it Real Housewives of the Serengeti) features its animal stars not as noble beasts of the wild, but as grumpy, jealous, flakey, needy, greedy neurotics. A bit like you and me.

The dramatisation aspect has annoyed some purists who have pointed out that what’s supposed to be the same lioness (Kali) is actually a number of different lionesses playing the same role. So to speak.

According to the show’s director: “By using composite animals united by the same name, it is possible to tell a comprehensive drama showing all the trials, disappointments and triumphs these species face.” Aye, right.

Personally I hadn’t even noticed the join in these “composite” creatures. I was too focused on the baboon love triangle.

The plot here — a nasty bolshie baboon has become kingpin of the local baboon dinner party circuit. A female baboon has become his new trophy wife. But her poor long-faced, lovestruck ex is determined to win her back.

In order to impress her, goes the plot line, he takes on (silly boy) a marauding leopard. The leopard flees. Is your woman impressed? Not a bit. He sits there glowering as she peruses her new love’s fur for fleas. How can she do this to him?

It’s baboon Love Island.

Will Serengeti catch on? It’s so mad it well might.

I’m not sure it does animals any favours, though, bringing them down to our level.

Hugh has rubbish time in Rome

Oops moment of the week: in Rome actor Hugh Grant was narked when a woman with a mobile phone stepped out in front of his wife. Assuming she was paparazzi, Hugh moved to take her phone. Actually, she was the president of Rome’s rubbish collection company filming scenes of illegal waste disposal. What was worse for Hugh? Realising he’d made an error? Or learning later that the lady’s reaction to the incident was: “Hugh, who?”

Anyone for a gin and toffee?

Gin is madly popular everywhere. Here people aren’t just sweet on the drink itself but on what goes into it. I’m not a big gin fan but always loved the look of the mix they served in Muriel’s Bar in Belfast — Jawbox Gin, ginger ale and... honeycomb toffee.

Avril Riley, who invented the combo, made her own honeycomb. Since then it’s caught on in hostelries all over. You can even buy bags of honeycomb now in local off-licences. Gin and toffee?

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