OPINION - Prince Harry and Prince William can't attend the same wedding? How ridiculous


It’s a conundrum for the social experts, the likes of Debrett’s or the late arbiter of etiquette, Emily Post: you are close friends with two royal princes and godfather to their sons. Which of the two do you have to your wedding, given that if you have both, their visible mutual loathing will be the only topic?

Naturally, Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster — for it is he — has gone for the obvious option. He’s invited the Prince of Wales to be usher at his wedding to Olivia Henson at Chester cathedral on Friday, and it says much about the classiness of the event that William will be handing out the orders of service and directing people to the appropriate side of the aisle. Harry was understanding about it. He was invited too, on the basis that he would decline because he lives a long way away in California.

The situation is, obviously, endlessly fascinating for the rest of us, but it’s hardly setting people a good example

Problem solved. The lucky, lucky bride — for it will be difficult for the most gallant to avoid noticing that she has got the catch of the century — will not now be outshone on the big day. Princess Kate, another Marlborough girl, will, alas, be absent for reasons of health, and Meghan Markle, who, whatever else you can say about her, can outshine every other woman on any scene, will not be there either. Win, win!

It is obviously fortunate that the two brothers live on different continents, with Harry on the far side of the US, but this is getting tiresome. It is plain from this wedding that the brothers share lots of friends as well as a parent. They are united in the loss of a mother and a certain reserve towards the stepmother who displaced her. Is it not time for some sort of rapprochement, some diplomatic settlement to enable them to occupy the same cathedral, to be able to mix with 400 guests at a stately home with a large garden without acrimony?

The situation is, obviously, endlessly fascinating for the rest of us, but it’s hardly setting people a good example. Lots of Britons don’t care for their siblings and they manage to stay civil for the sake of the parents, family and mutual friends. With conflict resolution so much in vogue, can they not work out a deal? It might involve Harry never discussing his family in public, William not hitting him and their wives never meeting, but it must be possible.

This situation benefits neither. Think of the fun they could have had, with so many friends at this wedding. As for the happy event, it’s a reminder of the realities of primogeniture and of our obsession with class. Because, no matter how we cut it, this is why we care about William and Harry in the first place.

Melanie McDonagh is an Evening Standard columnist