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Spectator competition winners: a Pepys’-eye view on the royal wedding

10 June 2018

4:30 PM

10 June 2018

4:30 PM

The latest challenge, to supply an entry by a well-known diarist describing the wedding day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saw you at your waspish best. Here’s Noël Coward’s verdict on the groom: ‘Massively butch but far too hairy, when he wasn’t even in the Navy. Are beards de rigueur these days?…’ And Alan Clark on Meghan Markle (though he spares us a reference to her ‘juggling globes’): ‘Harry initially appeared to have done equally well with the succulent Miss Markle, but a glance at this morning’s Telegraph informed me not only that she is of below-stairs stock but a bloody yank…’ Honourable mentions go to Basil Ransome-Davies and Rob Stuart for those contributions.

Sylvia O. Smith, meanwhile, imagines a somewhat bewildered Samuel Pepys: ‘In honour of the occasion, it would appear that even the lunatics have been granted temporary leave of absence from the asylum, for many of those present are wandering around clutching small metallic objects and speaking animatedly into the air, although they are quite alone…’

In a smallish and rather patchy entry, the enjoyable and accomplished five printed below stood out and are rewarded with £30 each.

D.A. Prince (Alan Bennett)
Mam never cared for weddings (‘Too much flim-flam’) but she would make an exception for Royalty, flim-flam being deemed more appropriate at national level. Back then that meant saving the commemorative supplements from newspapers. Now it’s sitting in front of the TV with a mug of tea and a custard cream, trying to follow the commentary as it jumps from one minor Royal to the next. This time, with the American dimension and more than a whiff of show business, it’s less reverential and closer to the spoof royal sagas on other channels. Rupert slipped out during the Archbishop’s address to make scones, an assertion of British values. That was something the Press had informed us would be absent from the reception with its ‘bowl food’. I suppose it’s better than worrying which knife to use. But the couple looked happy enough. I think Mam would have approved.


Frank McDonald (Samuel Pepys)
I betook myself to Windsor Castle for the royal nuptials. Being of no low standing myself I entered the chapel and joined there a motley company of courtiers and commoners. Near me sat one jackanapes, titled Kickham, methinks, whose neck was much mutilated and beside him was his lugubrious spouse, publicly distraught at being drawn away from her threads and thimbles. None could say why they were there. The bride was a comely wench who stirred my loins mightily, and with her from the Americas was a wild fellow, taken forsooth to entertain the indulgent gathering. He spoke intelligibly, to my surprise, but rambled too long on the topic of Priapus, which brought my attention to the young Prince, handsome and bearded like the pard. The glint in his eye told me he was contemplating the coming revelry, dining, drinking and dancing… and so to bed.

Adrian Fry (Kenneth Williams)
To Windsor, a provincial choice of wedding venue, as I informed the crowd, loudly, in the snide voice. Shameful. The sycophants heard me all right but could they stop me once I’d started? They daren’t. I gave them my opinion of the senior Royals (past it), Meghan (just the sort of low-wattage star American television loves), Prince Harry (an absolute dish in uniform in spite of a chin bristly and red as a Highlander’s bum). Somebody said I was making a frightful exhibition of myself. Nobody said any such thing to Victoria Beckham, who’d obviously stuck on her funeral face by mistake this morning. I shut up during the service, wishing Bishop Curry would do likewise. He dragged on and on, as I think we’re supposed to hope the marriage will. Then, when all depths seemed plumbed, unspeakable pop music. Went home, read Rilke, had the Barclays.

Bill Greenwell (John Evelyn)
I was this day by divers of Her Majesty’s enunciators constrained to witness the most strange and imperfect match that has ever, in its vainglorious exorbitance, disgraced England. Before the Cup final, however, I watched the ceremonials at St. George’s Chapel, where the Duke of Sussex, Earl Dumbarton, was married to Miss Markle (heiress of an ancient Hollywood family, and kinswoman of Wm. Shakespeare). The Duchess, of a most handsome countenance, wore a veil depicting fifty-three blossoms, some unknown to me. They say seamstresses were required to cleanse their fingers every half an hour that the threads might remain untainted. The Duke was resplendent, less boisterous &c. than his reputation. At night, I alighted upon another channel, being desirous of observing the highlights. Myself and wife were reminded of a sermon on 1 Kings x.6: ‘And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices.’

W.J. Webster (Charles Pooter)
Finding a nice spot with a view of the Castle and route, settled down with my picnic hamper. Fellow attendees jolly in the sunshine but given to vulgar ribaldry so I was glad Carrie had not joined me. Whenever royal personages passed, hurrahs went up but with people pushing rudely forward I saw very little. In order to watch the great carriage parade I stood up on the hamper but the lid gave way and my foot landed on one of Carrie’s strawberry puffs. ‘You’re in a bit of a jam, old chap!’ some wag remarked. Why do people laugh at misfortune?

The ’bus journey home was not one I should care to repeat. Even so I felt proud to have borne some witness to the Prince’s nuptials. On seeing my state, Lupin burst out laughing, but Carrie soon restored my spirits with a good glass of whisky.

Your next challenge is to submit double dactyls about famous double acts. Please email entries (up to three each) to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 20 June.


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