Saturday, Jan 19, 2019 | Last Update : 08:14 AM IST
The bookies are accepting bets on who will walk Meghan down the aisle to give her away as tradition dictates.
Our nature’s trill
Will willfully flutter by.
Will drink its fill
And leave the flagon dry
In dynastic will
Turns Pater killer
While every weeping willow
Watching the passing show
Sheds tears on its pillow…
— From Manto no Ghanto by Bachchoo
Hours after this edition of this newspaper hits your doorsteps or your newspaperwalla’s mat, wedding bells will ring out in the palace of Windsor. Meghan Markle, sometime, a small-time, American actress will be sacrificed on the cushy but cruel altar of British royalty. Some say “monarchy” but that designation lost its meaning when Charles I lost his head to Cromwell’s republican axeman.
The British and the international media will feature this ritual, of an American commoner of mixed race being transformed by the wave of an archbishop’s wand into a princess. She may even be granted a title by her grandmother like Duchess of Donegal, Doongerwadi or Democratic Dependency.
The wedding, as reported, seems rather odd. For all their show of being patrons of charity and all Harry’s (the bridegroom’s) recent campaigns to help the mentally ill, the Windsor Council has decreed that the streets of the town will be cleared of homeless people sleeping rough on the pavements. Very many of these are people with some degree of mental disturbance and all of them are not willfully destitute. But then this is a royal wedding, and if they have no bread or even a McDonald’s, let them eat cake.
Neither, we learn, is there wine and wassail at the celebrations. The royals have, apart from friends and family, invited a number of common folk. It now transpires that the invitations to these guests instructed them to bring their own packed lunches as a wedding feast was not part of the deal. Feasting eyes on Meghan’s is food enough without digesting royal roast swan — or whatever friends and family are served.
For the last few weeks there has been front-page speculation on the guest list, and recently on the fact that Meghan has not invited her relatives. It’s quite possible that the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Harry’s grandad, had something to do with vetoing those he considered beneath their status. Or it may be that Meghan has seen marrying a Briton as a release, an escape from what seems her very dysfunctional family. Her half-sister, for instance, has written a book about her. Titled Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister it reportedly says that Meghan is narcissistic and selfish and that Prince Harry shouldn’t marry her.
The same message was sent by Meghan’s half-brother, in what is now a public letter, to Harry. This half-sister Samantha and the epistolary brother very possibly have Prince Harry’s future happiness at heart. Or perhaps they are making a lot of money from taking a stance over the last two years against Meghan.
There’s a rather pathetic tale of Meghan’s father who first hired a publicity stunt man who paid him $100,000 for exclusive photographs and interviews and has now announced that a heart condition and imminent surgery prevents him from attending his daughter’s wedding.
The bookies are accepting bets on who will walk Meghan down the aisle to give her away as tradition dictates. It is being said either Meghan’s mother will turn up and do the honours or Meghan will walk unaccompanied bravely to the sacrificial altar.
Then there are the people who claim a distant relationship to Meghan, a woman having been married once to her half-brother and her sons, one of whom is the proprietor of a cannabis farm. They were photographed arriving at London’s Heathrow airport. They are not invited to the wedding but are here to milk the occasion by giving interviews, for promised wads of wonga, about Meghan and the chaotic family from which she comes.
Meghan’s former Hollywood husband is said to be making a fictionalised film about her, which is unlikely to portray her as Cinderella who won the love of the prince, but more like one of the ugly sisters. And so the water keeps being poured off the soon-to-be royal sitting-duck’s back.
I said earlier that the world’s media will be focused on the wedding this Saturday. I told a lie. An opinion poll found that 70 per cent of Brits were not interested in seeing coverage of the wedding or anything about it. The figure is not a surprise as even though the royals are idols in Britain, football is the real religion and on Saturday two finalist teams play for the all-prestigious FA Cup. The media knows which side the bread is buttered and, Time being single-sided, the TV stations will go for the football coverage while inserting clips of the proceedings at Windsor.
I shall watch neither on the box and will not be at Wembley for the football or at Windsor for the wedding as my invitation most probably got lost in the post.
I have an important occasion to attend that day. My dear friend Darcus Howe, political activist, journalist and TV innovator and broadcaster, died last year and his family, friends and “comrades” are celebrating his memory with clips of his broadcasts, speeches from his friends and associates, among them the writer and his partner in a TV venture Tariq Ali, and (I hope) some glasses to be raised in his memory.
I have helped select the clips from his TV broadcasts for the two memorial occasions and on one of them, shot in the 1990s, Darcus questions the royalist national newspaper editor Peregrine Worsthorne about Diana, Princess of Wales. In a very perceptive introduction to this interview, Darcus says that an outdated institution has, through its rigidities and requirements, sacrificed a lively and beautiful young 19-year-old to a life of meaningless duties, ceremonies, illness owing to stress, isolation and loveless misery.
I believe Meghan is 36 and street-wise though she won’t be allowed to walk it ever, without a police escort.