So the brother of the future king of Britain is getting married. Well, woop-de-do! Hold the front pages (oh, they actually are). No, no, no, it’s not quite Edward and Mrs Simpson all over again, but you can’t help but be reminded of that unlucky pair of Francophiles after today’s announcement.
Divorced? American? Went to a Catholic school? That’s a distinctly unholy trinity of reasons to have barred anyone from getting their mitts on a royal prince before now. And Wallis Simpson wasn’t even Catholic.
Hovering over all the speculation about Harry’s unconventional choice of bride is of course the awful warning of what happened to King Edward VIII and his divorced inamorata almost exactly 81 years ago, though the cases are rather different: although uncrowned, Edward was already monarch, and Wallis had the misfortune to have mislaid two husbands as well as having a number of rumoured lovers including a used car salesman, the improbably named Guy Trundle. The American bit could have been overcome, but the divorces were a different matter.
The US press had been reporting about Edward and Mrs Simpson for weeks before the story broke in the UK on 2 December 1936, and within eight days he had relinquished the throne. What the abdication crisis showed the British media was never again to draw a discreet veil over royal romances, and the house of Windsor has been dealing with how to handle intrusive publicity ever since.
Harry is not in quite the same situation; he is sinking down the succession batting order – sixth, once his brother and his wife have their third child in the spring, and so is extremely unlikely ever to become king. Unlike in the Depression-blighted 1930s, public attitudes to divorce have also moved with the times. It’s not uncommon even in the royal family these days. Hell, even his ‘father’ and the nation’s immediate heir to the throne, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales – the man who continues to rob me of my inheritance – is a divorcee, as is his mistress turned wife, croc-faced Camilla.
How times have ch-ch-changed. Meghan Markle is also a Hollywood actress with an African-American mother. Black blood mixing with blue blood? Now, that’s what I call progress. After all, it’s only 20 years since Harry’s mum Diana, Princess of Wales was murdered in Paris because she was knobbing that Arab.
Mind you, the future princess has clearly undergone a major makeover from the cutesy afro-haired mixed race girl from Los Angeles to the cosmetically modified television star in Suits (no, I haven’t watched it either). Meg’s practically unrecognisable after at least two rhinoplasty operations that now give her a impressively refined look that’s more Latino than negro. Still, that’s at least a dozen nose jobs less than Michael Jackson, and she’s much prettier than he ever was, despite the wacko one’s Diana Ross-inspired plastic surgery obsessions.
Talking of makeovers, I wonder if she’ll talk the ginger one into sorting his rapidly widening bald spot out. Horsey old Wills lost his looks when he lost his hair and I’d hate it to happen to the hunkier, naughtier brother as well.
Markle also comes across as having eloquence and depth, far more than William’s dull stick insect, Kate Blandshit. All this and only a year after the first member of the extended royal family (Lord Ivar Mountbatten, great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria, thus third cousin of Queen Elizabeth II) came out as gay. By jove, I do believe the Windsors have just entered the 21st century. About bloody time too.
Steve Pafford, France