I did but see her

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - LIFE - By Phillip Adams

Ah, the sparkle of Markle. And to quote Shake­speare’s Henry V, “a lit­tle touch of Harry in the night”. Now all the fuss is over and they’ve vac­u­umed up all the con­fetti with Wind­sor Cas­tle’s by-royal-ap­point­ment Dyson, it’s time to quill a few quiet, con­sid­ered words on the wed­ding – not merely the mar­riage of the year but of the mil­len­nium. Big­ger than all Henry VIII’s put to­gether. (They walked all over Henry’s, and in­deed Henry, who’s buried in the base­ment.)

Not that I saw much of the cer­e­mony from be­hind Camilla’s hat. She wasn’t so much wear­ing it as hid­ing in it. OMG, didn’t the milliners go mad? The event was like the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady but with slower horses. (“Every duke and earl and peer is here / Ev­ery­one who should be here is here.”)

Per­haps I shouldn’t be con­fess­ing this but the Queen and I have been, shall I say, “close”. Since her first royal tour of Aus­tralia. “I did but see her pass­ing by”… and one thing led to an­other. Oh, the palace kept it hushed up, mis­di­rect­ing at­ten­tion to the flir­ta­tions of her hus­band and to the ex­tra­mar­i­tal en­tan­gle­ments of Mar­garet. This forced Lili­bet and me to con­tinue our furtive dal­liance via the Royal Mail. Oh, how I loved to lick those stamps. (“Pulses rush­ing, faces flush­ing / Heartbeats speed up / I have never been so keyed up.”)

At least I got into the wed­ding, un­like the Don­ald. But like Don­ald, I was to be cru­elly dis­ap­pointed. I was ex­pect­ing an aisle seat up front but I blame my name­sake Duke for my rot­ten spot be­hind a face­ful of feath­ers, or what­ever Camilla’s mad hat­ter had stuck on her head. With Mus­lims oth­er­wise ab­sent from the multi-faith pro­ceed­ings, I think it might have been a flo­ral burka.

I tried to catch the Queen’s eye by peek­ing around Camilla and an ob­struc­tive gothic col­umn. Only to be met by the bale­ful glare of the Duke. I was go­ing to mouth HM a mes­sage but the BBC and ABC had hired lip-read­ers. (Talk about the Mon­tagues and the Ca­pulets. Over the years HM and I have been forced to hide our star-crossed love, fool­ing Fleet Street with my pre­tence to be a repub­li­can – hav­ing truck with such traitors as Peter FitzSi­mons. All the more sur­pris­ing to see Peter at the wed­ding, his red ban­dana bob­bing about the chapel. He’d pre­tended he was only there to ac­com­pany his on-ac­tive­duty mis­sus, but in one of the cut­aways you could see him snif­fling and un­wrap­ping the ban­dana to dab at his eyes.)

But I’m be­ing dis­tracted from the main event. I found the lit­tle touches of moder­nity added to the an­cient rit­ual quite mag­i­cal. Much has been made of the cou­ple head­ing off in an elec­tric-pow­ered E-type but no one men­tioned the way Ms Markle ar­rived on a skate­board and rode it down the aisle – un­til or­dered to dis­mount by her clearly an­noyed soon-to-be-father-in-law. Or the way the cou­ple took self­ies and tweeted at the al­tar.

Fi­nally, af­ter too few too-short speeches – and an end­lessly repet­i­tive script that des­per­ately needed an edit – it seemed the Angli­can rev had mar­ried them at least three times – it was all over. And we all could rush out to the Por­taloos. (“What a fren­zied mo­ment that was / didn’t they main­tain an ex­haust­ing pace?”) As I hur­ried from the chapel arm-in-arm with an ag­o­nised Oprah, the Queen’s eyes met fleet­ingly with mine. I could see she wanted to ex­change a few whis­pers but the Duke, walk­ing a step be­hind, gave HM quite a nasty nudge.

Pee S: In Vic­to­ria’s time, aris­to­cratic ladies hid lit­tle cham­ber pots be­neath their crino­lines to fa­cil­i­tate se­cret pees dur­ing long ser­mons.

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