Mr Steerpike is a romantic at heart and a conservative, so I like love and marriage. Yet I was irritated by one detail of the nuptials of Lady Melissa Percy and Thomas van Straubenzee (pictured), dubbed the ‘Royal Wedding of the North’ at Alnwick Castle, which took place this weekend.

It was quite a bash. Prince Harry was caught between two blondes, when his ex and latest squeeze came face to face. Prince William (who was Best Man to his childhood friend van Straubenzee) was flying solo after the heavily pregnant Duchess of Cambridge decided to stay in London lest she be forced to give birth in a northern NHS hospital. The horror, the horror! Pippa Middleton was tottering about with princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. But what caught my eye was the flypast of a Sea King search and rescue chopper; the sort, incidentally, flown by Prince William.

The Ministry of Defence has said that the helicopter was ‘returning to its base four miles away after attending an emergency in the Lake District.’ But if that’s how Sea Kings return to base, then Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, will not need to look far for more “efficiencies” following Wednesday’s comprehensive spending review. Rather than scooting by on its way back to base, the chopper was observed circling the castle for a time. MoD spinners would not comment on this element; so perhaps Mr Hammond ought to cut a few of them too, useless so-and-sos.

Doubtless the Sea King was a jolly addition to the happy day, but why should the taxpayer pick up part of the tab at the society wedding of the year? It brings out my inner Robespierre.

Tags: Defence, Duchess of Cambridge, Monarchy, Philip Hammond, Pippa Middleton, Prince Harry, Prince William