Man and woman engaged… man in York shrugs

WHAT’S a half-arsed republican to make of the latest royal distraction? Hard to raise much enthusiasm when you don’t really believe in what’s being rolled out by the lickspittle yard on the BBC News. Then again, complaining makes you sound churlish.

Such are the niceties of writing about the royals while moving your shoulders in a shrug-wards direction.

Let us first consider the positives. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle came across pleasantly in their interview on the BBC News last night, although it is true that by the 15-minute mark I was beginning to feel the twitch of despair. My God – can there possibly be more of this guff? Oh, yes; months and months of it, for sure; endless yards of sticky-backed velvet to be measured out by the BBC and the more dutiful newspapers.

Over on Channel 4 News, the engagement was further down the running order and introduced with a throwaway man-meets-woman line from Cathy Newman. The C4 Twitter account ran the views of passers-by, ending with a young woman saying: “I guess it’s a piece of nice news in a world that’s got a lot of horrible news.”

So, a nice-versus-horrible story. A non-political story to divert us from all that politics; a side-show to pull our eyes from the main stage.

Another side to this royal relationship is that Meghan Markle is a mixed-race divorcee, and an actress, too. Those who know or care about these things will tell you that such a union would not have been countenanced in the past.

In the Spectator, the engagement was greeted by the crusty cruel observation: “Obviously, 70 years ago, Meghan Markle would have been the kind of woman the Prince would have had for a mistress, not a wife.”

I am guessing the “kind of woman” hinted at here is someone not fully white, whatever that condition might be. Harry has complained about a racist undertow in the press coverage of his girlfriend. On this evidence, he has a point. But it’s all a concertinaed crush too. Some of the same newspapers Harry now complains about conferred a sort of sainthood on his mother. Although that was only after first dishing the dirt and then morbidly obsessing over her death for years.

As for Markle, she has proudly proclaimed her personal heritage, having a black mother and a white father. Perhaps one day we won’t even have to remark on such things. I didn’t notice that Markle was mixed-race. That either says something about my lack of attention, or something about why this shouldn’t matter to anyone.

Anyway, that’s what this ageing white guy thought. Then I read comments online from mixed-race Britons who felt that at last the royal family would contain someone they could identify with. A fair point and one which hadn’t occurred to this half-arsed republican.

On the simple level of two people who seem to be very fond of each other, good luck to them. Other than that, I may be wearing this shrug for a while yet.

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