“… and from the people of Stockport, we hand you back to Naga in Windsor.”
It is eight o’clock on Saturday morning and I am curled up on the sofa with our ancient Labrador, NL, watching the BBC string out Royal Wedding build-up. Naga Munchetty – dressed like a choirboy – waxes lyrical about the cloud of foliage outside Windsor Castle. The excitement for Harry and Meghan’s day is tangible: nothing remotely interesting will happen for another three hours but we are being told about the elderflower cordial used in the cake and I have time to glimpse a couple of policemen doing hamstring stretches before NG appears, wearing her Cinderella dress.
“Have you got your swimming costume on underneath that?” NW shouts from the kitchen sink, over the background of NC’s ukelele. “And don’t forget your hat.”
At two years and eight months, NC is usually unmoved by anything not train-related but this morning he is wearing his swimming goggles on his head and wooing us with a rendition of a home-made song called, ‘The moon is in the sky and it’s not nighty time.’
“The moon is in the sky. The moon is in the sky. It’s not nighty time… Oh. Mama?!” NC stares with cross confusion at the screen. “It IS NIGHTY TIME.”
The cameras have moved to a pitch black LA. A tired-looking Richard Bacon weaves his way through snoggers and bunting to interview Meghan Markle’s primary school headteacher. Reluctantly, I leave him to it and go and help NW in the kitchen.
This is the deal: my husband takes the children to their swimming lessons. I walk the arthritic NL and then sit on the sofa again until noon, when NG needs taxi-ing to her five-year-old classmate, Henry’s, birthday party. It is, sadly, NOT A DROP-OFF but I have graciously agreed to do it, assuming that surely there will be a telly on in the house somewhere so I can catch the Suits team, the Royal Family and Meghan and Harry walk through their American flowers and British social climbers and into St. George’s Chapel.
Two thoughts crowd my brain regarding the wedding. One: it is the most brilliant thing for united nations and multi-culturalism. Two: why would the Duchess of Cambridge, with Prince Louis less than a month old, not want to duck out?
I’ve seen pictures of the dress. And it’s not Meghan’s I’m talking about; the Duchess of Cambridge’s Michael Kors Carnation Shirt Dress, spied briefly through the SUV window is, of course, the epitome of appropriateness for a new mother on a drive: spring-like, wafty and long-sleeved.
She and the other Cambridges – with Lupo! – have been staying at Windsor Castle and I’m sure as hell she would have liked to take the dog for a quick spree around the grounds, before sitting down to watch her brother-in-law marry someone who has to keep a straight face in front of the cameras and not trip over two miles of train. Instead, she must prepare for a few hours of having two billion people watch how she copes with leaky boobs, raging hormones and two children under five on bridal duty, both wearing silk and walking up a LOT of steps.
I do wish for her sake she could stay in the carnation dress, but doubtless she’ll need to ‘suit up’. I hope she recycles something she has already worn – and that it’s cream (the best colour to hide milk stains, I always found).
“Bye then,” I yell, and the door slams. “Come on,” I say affectionately to NL. I snap off the TV, grab a poo bag and lead and head out for a stomp around the village.
The family crashes back into the house, smelling of chlorine. I am reeling from a WhatsApp group message just received from my friend Kate (no relation): Henry’s house has no TV.
“Has the Princess arrived yet, Mama?” says NG, with vague interest.
I start to correct her but she continues with, “… it’s the party soon, Mama, when is it Henry’s party?”
It is actually quite soon but I am getting right into the guests’ arrivals now. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie have gone low-key; Oprah looks pastel-ly perfect; Pippa looks like a can of iced tea. I am starting to realise I will miss it all if I leave just before noon… but a commitment is a commitment and I had said, “I will,” to NW when he asked me that all-important question (‘will you take our daughter to Henry’s magic party’).
The bridesmaids and page boys are arriving. The Duchess of Cambridge gets out of a car, wearing recycled cream. I silently congratulate us both – and wonder vaguely whether the Alexander McQueen is the Duchess’ message to the world that, yes, she may be exhausted and at someone else’s wedding, but she is still, you know, the one getting the prime spot on the throne eventually.
“Look! There’s Prince George! He’s exactly your age, you know,” I say, encouragingly. George is sweetly holding the hand of another little boy dressed in black with shiny bits and looks very much as if he is trying to remember instructions.
“Because he came out of his Mummy’s tummy at the same time as you. Shh,” I can’t tell which is Charlotte because they’ve all got the same hair.
“Are we twins?”
“Shh! Meghan’s arriving!!”
And she is. And the dress is… ok. But she looks beautiful. She makes it up the steps, on her own, and despite the undercurrent of anxiety about missing the start of five-year-old Henry’s party, I feel tears start to well.
“Look at that BOY Mama! What is he SMILING at? He looks FUNNY, Mama…”
Rather disappointingly for me, NG hasn’t taken a fancy to Prince George but is staring, entranced, at a gap-toothed pageboy holding the train (who, turns out, is actually a twin). John or Brian Mulroney is so happy to be at the wedding, his smile sums up pretty much how everyone is feeling.
“Shouldn’t you get going?” NW leans in to the sitting room and drops a wrapped present and card in my lap. It is noon. The wedding is Kicking. Off.
Oh god, oh, god. Henry’s parents have no TV. They have no TV!? I remember a conversation in the playground now: they are, in fact, also not in the slightest bit interested in football or princes or American lawyer-drama stars. But who in their right mind schedules a child’s birthday party for the same time as a Royal wedding?
My phone buzzes. It is my friend, Kate (no relation). The text reads, Not going to Henry’s party until they say ‘I do.’
Agreed, I reply. Is it just us?
No – Julie and Kirsty also boycotting. Have said we need to watch this. Will be there with Pimms at 1pm.
Seems fair, I type. See you then.
And I settle back to the telly to watch the magic unfold.
*This post’s story and characters are fictitious. Certain points are true, and character names are in some cases that of real people, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary.
Key to characters
NW – husband (not William)
NG – daughter, 4yrs 10mo (not George)
NC – son, 2yrs 8mo (not Charlotte)
NL – dog (not Lupo)