Published: 18:38 EDT, 16 May 2018 | Updated: 19:51 EDT, 16 May 2018
The story reads like the script of some overblown daytime TV soap. Our beautiful young heroine is on the verge of fulfilling her life’s ambition of marrying her dashing Prince, having sacrificed career and country to follow her heart.
But the fates seem determined to conspire against them.
Her father, whom she adores but who is a deeply troubled man, is admitted for heart surgery days before the wedding. Distraught, she turns to her mother, a solitary yet comforting presence, who flies to her rescue.
Meanwhile, her half-sister, unhinged with jealousy, drips poison into every passing press microphone, while the rest of her estranged family circle like vultures. Will love triumph? What will become of them all?
Find out, in the next instalment of . . . the royal wedding.
With every new lurch and jolt in the roller coaster that has become the marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, yet more nagging questions, as I wrote yesterday, arise. These are the most baffling . . .
The story reads like the script of some overblown daytime TV soap. Our beautiful young heroine is on the verge of fulfilling her life’s ambition of marrying her dashing Prince, having sacrificed career and country to follow her heart
1. How did the Palace get it so horribly wrong?
There is arguably no organisation on this planet with more experience of staging public weddings, pageants and general pompery than the Royal Household. This sort of thing is like falling off a log to them.
In particular, managing the expectations of tricky guests and pushy minor players is their stock in trade. So why did they completely fail to see the problems inherent in the complex Markle family dynamics?
Did no one stop to think of the implications of Prince Harry marrying a woman from a very different culture and class and take steps to minimise the impact on vulnerable individuals? Which brings me on to the next question . . .
2. Why did no on google her family?
Even the most cursory internet search would have thrown up a few red flags. Could they not have taken at least a few steps to get them on-side so that we wouldn’t today be listening to Meghan’s half-sister Samantha’s deranged TV ramblings and her drug-addled half-brother Thomas Markle Jr’s crazed letters to Harry painting her as a scarlet woman?
What was it that stopped them? Incompetence? Oversensitivity? Or did the couple themselves, away in their little love bubble, simply not think it mattered?
Either way, it does rather make you wonder whether there is a single grown-up in charge at Kensington Palace.
3. Why has mum only just flown to her side?
Like any mother-of-the-bride, Doria is a key figure — not least since, apart from Meghan’s father, she seems to be the only other relative invited.
So isn’t it just a little bit odd that she only touched down on British soil yesterday — just three days before the big day? Why hasn’t she been holed up for the past month in some swanky suite in Kensington Palace, trying on hats, choosing sugared almonds and generally guiding her daughter through the final preparations?
After all, it’s not every day your daughter gets to marry a prince. Worse, if she does, as is now predicted, stand in for her ex-husband Thomas and walk Meghan down the aisle, she’ll be doing so with terrible jet lag after her ten-and-a-half hour flight from Los Angeles, which has a time difference of eight hours behind London. Why put her through this?
4. Why invite only two family members?
I know her parents are separated, and not on the best of terms. But it’s not as though the Royal Family is unfamiliar with that scenario, or dysfunctional relationships in general.
Indeed, the royals are remarkably skilled and cheerful about smoothing over old feuds and burying hatchets (look at Andrew and Fergie, seemingly never happier or closer than since their divorce). I don’t imagine the prospect of relatives glaring at each other across the canapes worries them in the slightest.
I know her parents are separated, and not on the best of terms. But it’s not as though the Royal Family is unfamiliar with that scenario, or dysfunctional relationships in general (Thomas Dooley, Tracy Anne Dooley)
5. Why snub her uncles?
Meghan’s two uncles, her father’s brothers, seem like respectable fellows. One, Frederick Markle, 75, is a bishop — admittedly of his own church, the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America (which has around 40 members); but in some respects that could be to his advantage, since Her Majesty is also, of course, the leader of her own church — what an ice-breaker!
Meanwhile Meghan’s other uncle, retired U.S. diplomat Michael Markle, 78, seems positively normal, not to mention actively quite peeved by the snub especially considering he got Meghan her first job at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires.
‘This whole invitation thing has not been played out very well,’ he said when it transpired that he had been left off the list in favour of celebrities such as David Beckham. ‘I never did anything to embarrass Meghan. It seems to me they handled the arrangements poorly.’ I couldn’t have put it better myself.
6. Why hasn't Harry met her dad?
Harry seems to spend his life flying all over the place shaking hands with all manner of boring and questionable individuals. Surely he could have taken a few hours out of his schedule to have a beer with the father of his wife-to-be.
I know it’s never an easy dynamic, the relationship between husband and father-in-law, but you’ve got to start somewhere. And some awkward encounter at the altar is probably not the best place to first clap eyes on each other.
7. ...And when did Meghan last see him?
Couldn’t Thomas have been persuaded to come to the UK for a pre-wedding visit in the six months since the couple got engaged? It might have gone a long way to calm the nerves — and make him less inclined to pull a silly stunt posing for fake paparazzi shots in the hope of a quick buck.
8. Why are Harry's childhood pals left out?
Why have Harry and Meghan invited a raft of celebrities at the expense of their own generation of young royals? This really is baffling. You invite people you must surely barely know — for instance the Spice Girls — at the expense of childhood friends.
In Harry’s case, old muckers such as Freddy Windsor, 39 — with whom he used to play as a child — and his sister, Lady Gabriella Windsor, 37, as well as Lady Davina Lewis, 40 (the Duke of Gloucester’s daughter) and Lady Helen Taylor.
Even the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister, Pippa, has been frozen out of the evening do.
Don’t the couple want any real friends? Or do they just intend to spend their married life posing for selfies with Sir Elton John (who is invited)?
9. Why aren't the right-on couple helping dad?
Why did Meghan not ‘reach out’ (as Californians say) to her father? If the pair of them — are so committed (as they never tire of telling us) to helping people with mental health issues, why have they not done anything to help her father, who has patently been struggling with this for some time.
They say charity begins at home, and never was this more true than in the case of Thomas Markle. Even if he is one of those proud, stubborn fathers who struggles to accept help, couldn’t she at least have helped him out a little financially to ease the pressure?
If the pair of them — are so committed (as they never tire of telling us) to helping people with mental health issues, why have they not done anything to help her father, who has patently been struggling with this for some time
10. Why have a big wedding if they hate 'intrusion'?
This for me is the most obvious question of all. Harry has always said he hates all the scrutiny that comes with being a royal, and just wishes he could be in peace. He has been very vocal about media intrusion, and the negative impact on his future wife’s wellbeing.
And I have huge sympathy for him, especially given what happened with his mother. But why stage such an Instagram-tastic occasion complete with a Vogue-style engagement shoot, a £100,000 wedding dress, 600 guests, hot-and-cold running celebrities and more expansive hype than Kim Kardashian’s bottom?
If they had wanted to get hitched quietly at Kensington Palace it would have been perfectly possible. Instead, they’ve opted for the full Hollywood treatment. I’m sure it’s all going to go splendidly.
They only have themselves to blame if the whole world is watching now.