Spare a thought, rabble, for Queen Elizabeth II next Saturday. No sooner had she got Clarke Gayford and the one from New Zealand who's not Helen Clark off her hands than she has to turn around and be at her gracious 92-year-old best at the wedding of someone whose hobbies include nude pool playing and is a C-list actress. For everyone from the Queen to the most devoted republican, there's no way out. As far as the world is concerned, the Harry/Meghan nuptials will be the wedding of the ... well, of the month, at least.
It's not just that she has to sit through the ceremony and after-match. There's the matter of finding the right present. In the old days it was easy for monarchs. One just gave the young couple something that was practical and useful but also had sentimental value. Like Canada, for instance.
But as usual — after all, the Windsors are big event people from way back — it will probably all come together on the day. In the meantime, as you settle down to watch one of the many television shows celebrating the occasion, here are a few details to consider
THE ROYAL PRESENTS
Royal events bring out the best in souvenir-makers, who go to ever more ingenious lengths to provide something new and different to mark occasions that are usually anything but new or different. Marketing geniuses have been working overtime to make the most of this one. People such as Derek Prime, who owns the King & Queen Gift Shop in Windsor. He paused from using his licence to print money long enough to explain to the media how he had stumbled upon the fact that crockery has multiple uses and used it as the basis for a souvenir: "Mugs are the most favourite item, because you can use it for tea, coffee — it's got a use."
Such souvenirs are as old as royalty but you can be pretty sure that when the Queen married Prince Philip, no one was flogging miniature vibrators. Online store Lovehoney, which has been the recipient of a Queen's Award for Enterprise, has produced the Royal Wedding Vibrating Love Ring — "Just slip the ring on to his Prince Charming" (in gold) and the Markle Sparkle Vibrating Finger Ring (in silver).
In other class act news, it turns out Harry isn't the only one with a whole bunch of dodgy rels. Meghan's brother and sister have been flat out providing fuel for those who maintain that a divorced American TV actor isn't exactly what we had in mind for the sixth in line to the throne. Her half-sister is writing a tell-all, whose lip-smacking original title, The Diary of Princess Pushy's Sister, has been blanded down to A Tale of Two Sisters. Meanwhile, brother Thomas Markle jnr, gave an interview claiming Meghan had turned her back on her family and was a "phony" who was "giving the greatest performance of her life". Something for which, it has to be said, the bar is pretty low.
TEARS BEFORE WEDTIME
Of all the sad, slightly creepy attention-seeking stunts that the wedding has prompted, the oddest was probably the fake stag party in which every royal lookalike within cooee had a part to play. It featured "William" and "Harry" wearing Union Jack togs and singing God Save the Queen while floating down Regent's canal in a hot tub, accompanied by "Prince Charles" and watched by "The Queen". It was "hosted by HotTug and GoDaddy after a crowdfunding campaign to celebrate the royal wedding fever among entrepreneurs" according to EBL News. It probably seemed like a good idea someone came up with at the PR planning meeting.
Among those not invited — such as the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain — or not likely to be invited, a few names stick out: Natalie Pinkham, Cassie Sumner, Chelsy Davy, Astrid Harbord, Caroline Flack, Camila Romestrand, Florence Brudenell, Cressida Bonas, Mollie King and Ellie Goulding, all of whom have previously been "linked" to Harry.
TOAST A HEALTH UNTO HER MAJESTY
It's totally in the spirit of Harry to organise a drinking game for the wedding. We have come up with the following to accompany your viewing of the shindig. To stay within the royal spirit, blackberry nip or a very dry sherry would be appropriate, but feel free to improvise. The rules of the game are that you do a shot every time:
•Fergie photobombs an official shot.
•Beatrice and Eugenie bump into each other and fall over.
•Prince Philip has to be nudged awake.
•Prince Charles has to be nudged awake.
•Camilla takes out the Sun and starts reading it.
•You lip-read William saying to Harry, "I'm going to be King and you're not".
•You see Andrew palming a fiver from someone for letting them take a selfie.
•You see Elton John complaining about his seat.
Harry's pretty casual, so will probably only wear a few of his medals and sashes. Fascinators have been banned, as Meghan will be the only one doing all the fascinating on the day, thank you very much. Don't be surprised to see scene-stealing and pregnant Pippa Middleton turn up in a T-shirt with "bun in the oven" and a downward pointing arrow printed on it.
THE PART SHE WAS BORN TO PLAY
There's no suggestion that she's engineered this deliberately but it seems obvious, given her age and the speed at which the series is getting through events, that Meghan will be able to play herself when The Crown gets up to 2018.
THE LAST DETAILS
You'll already know this if you've looked closely at your invitation but they were made by Barnard & Westwood, which is, according to CNN, "a London printer and bookbinder that has been making invitations for the royal family since the 1980s". Yes — for more than 30 years. You can't beat the Brits for their sense of tradition.
The wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, May 19,
TVNZ 1, 9.05pm; BBC World News (Sky Channel 89). Three has a five-hour wedding special from 7pm.