herald

Saturday 19 January 2019

Sinead Ryan: Don't worry if you can't make the royal wedding, Brian and Amy. My own royal invite was a total letdown

SO it seems BOD and Amy may not be able to attend the Wedding of the Year. Imagine, after getting that coveted, gold-embossed invitation straight from Buckingham Palace it turns out they have a rugby match on instead.

Well, Brian, Amy, I have news for you: Everyone else might be seething with envy at your invite (and how beyond cool it is to tell the queen, "Sorry, not sure we can make it -- something else on, actually"), but I'm not.

Yes, although many will know that I am a fan of the Royals and I can tell you anything from mad King George's mad marriage (he met his wife Charlotte for the first time at the altar on their wedding day; somewhat successfully as it turns out as they went on to have 15 children) to who made Camilla's wedding fascinator (easy one, our own Philip Treacy, of course, who's also obliging for Kate), I'm not a single bit envious.

Brian and Amy aren't losing out at all.

My own brush with royal invitations ended up being the biggest let-down ever. It also started off with the thrill of a stiff, gilt-embossed card in the post: I was invited to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Dinner. Tragically, it was in Dublin, rather than Ken Palace (as we in the know, call it), but I was beyond excited.

Lovely Di had left this world, but it would surely be stuffed with Royal figures, glitterati, ladies in waiting and a veritable who's who of palace flunkies.

Clearly my moment had come.

It was fairly last minute (two days' notice) but I ditched all thoughts of having been an "add on" or, gasp, second strand, invitee; ditched whatever I had planned for the night and booked the hair and nails in straight away.

What to wear? Diana, that most majestic of fashion icons would surely be looking down from above so nothing but the best was demanded. Sadly the invite called for "lounge suit" which is the Royals' lowest form of dress code (uniform & medals, morning suit, white or black tie being the others). Anyhow, there's no rule given for women -- they're expected to know.

Frantic calls to everyone who had anything remotely answering to a designer label in their wardrobe. One came up trumps and the car arrived to collect me. When I say that it sounds like they sent a limo, but it was in fact a taxi from my local firm. That I called myself.

On arrival I was greeted by a liveried doorman. Good start. "Glass of champagne, madam?", is always good too, don't you think? First person I bump into is Neil Jordan; then David Norris, Colm O'Gorman and a host of who's who, but a seriously "ho-hum" one. I swept the room for a Prince or Princess but couldn't spot any. In fact, there didn't look to be anyone royal there at all but there were a handful of journalists (the serious ones, rather than the social pages ones, which seemed odd).

We sat down to a delicious dinner and I waited for the speech, freebie gift, or er, reason we were all there. Can I tell you? CAN I TELL YOU? It was a working meeting of the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Landmines Treaty.

I know. You'd be furious too, wouldn't you?

We saw films of landmines. We saw dreary treaties and bills being readied for government, and then, to total mortification we were each asked to speak about the issue. Hey -- Diana's favourite designer (Catherine Walker), and I'm yours. Her final hours, string of lovers, holiday destinations, and I'll quote you chapter and verse.

Landmines? Sorry.

So Brian, Amy, take heart. It might be the Royal Wedding of the Century, but you know, 1,300 are being invited to the Abbey but a measly 300 to the wedding breakfast. Now -- is it worth flying over for what could well be a right royal letdown?

Oh, for those that are interested, the Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Bill was signed in November 2008, mainly due to the sterling work of many of those at Diana's luncheon that day.

Bah! Humbug!

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