(I wrote most of the article this weekend, before the announcement)
Each time a royal engagement is probably nearing the intensitivity of the pre-news surprises me. Now we have Twitter the hype is even bigger than ever. Meghan Markle, the girlfriend of Prince Harry of Wales returned to London halfway November, after the last filming for the TV-series “Suits”, in which she plays the role of lawyer Rachel Zane. It looks like it that she has said the job farewell and she might actually move or have moved to London now. The media had kept relatively silent for a few weeks, but Meghan getting back to London caused a new series of news reports.
When on Thursday the London Evening Standard started reporting that the BBC is preparing a primed report, not only some media, but even more the royalty fans online got crazy. It rained Twitter messages all day long. Remarkably the more serious British royalty journalist I follow on Twitter kept pretty quiet. On Friday the world got on fire. Amusing to read sometimes, but also pretty tiring when you keep an eye on the news in case something happens anyway. And most of the time it wasn’t even clear where the information actually came from.
I read all kind of news I didn’t find in any news reports: the engagements in Great Britain would usually be announced at 11am. When nothing happened the time turned to 5pm, as there were rumours something was going to get announced. In the meantime the daily tabloid newspaper “Daily Star” came up with the news that the staff at Buckingham Palace had come together for a meeting in which they were informed about the engagement. When nothing was announced at the end of the morning, they came up with another meeting in the afternoon. I don’t think there was any real evidence that any meeting had taken place at all.
The news only led to questions from my part. Why would there be a staff meeting for something like an engagement. And if so, why at Buckingham Palace? Clearly they are not the ones to announce the engagement, that is up to Clarence House – as when Prince William got engaged to Kate Middleton in November 2010 – or possibly Kensington Palace. Some people even thought that most media kept silent, because they knew already and had been given an embargo. Well I have heard a lot, but giving a whole pack of media an embargo is just not the way such a thing usually works, as someone will always decide to speak up and write about it anyway. You get a mail announcing the event, in case of a press conference or photo call you are given a time and place to show up, and if you can’t be there in time, it’s just not your lucky day. The palace won’t really care.
Since I have been a royalty watcher since 1980 I have seen many engagements happening, or not, even engagements of couples that broke up afterwards, before they could get married. Of course I do understand that lots of people hope for couples to get married, but in the end it is all up to them to decide when they’re ready to make the move, or not. Even before Internet times it happened that an engagement was announced before the intended date, because some media found out about it. It for example happened to Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Claus von Amsberg in 1965. With the arrival of the Internet it has become more and more difficult for couples to keep silent and not be discovered. Still some couples, like King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain, managed to.
But I must say because of all these vague rumours I was surprised to hear on Monday 27 November at 10am that Harry and Meghan indeed had become engaged. It wouldn’t have been strange if they had prefered to live together for a few months before making the move. Since they started their relationship in July 2016 they have seen each other regularly, but they have never spent more than a few weeks together. And of course Meghan has been married before, rather shortly, so I thought she might be more careful saying yes again. But clearly they are certain about each other and don’t need a longer wait. I wish them all the luck in the world.
And who knows I might travel to London next Spring for their wedding, although I think the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was somewhat of a disappointment. I did see much less of it than at many other royal weddings I have seen.