Sunday 4 December 2016

Corrigan the life and sole of the party

Published 01/05/2011 | 05:00

Richard Corrigan's an emotional fish. He threw a pre-wedding royal breakfast party -- with caviar, Irish salmon and champagne -- at his Bentley's restaurant in Piccadilly on Friday morning. Naturally, I was there.

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The controversial Irish chef cooked for British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband the previous night in his Mayfair restaurant -- I was also there and I swear Corrigan didn't serve up Ed his brother David's kidneys for him to eat. The following morning in Bentley's, Corrigan was the life and, er ... sole of the party.

"Nobody does pageantry like the English," the famous cook told me. "They are masters at it. I love a bit of pomp and ceremony. The royal family are cheaper than a presidency and much more fun. Still, I'm not sure if the wedding of Kate and Will has captured the imagination in quite the same way as the Diana wedding did."

Irish TV legend Henry Kelly, who watched the wedding at home in Hampstead Heath with partner Karolyn and son Alexandra, and afterwards went among the neighbours' houses with cucumber sandwiches, told me about an encounter he had with Prince Philip.

"I met him at a cricket match in Windsor and he aimed a mock blow at my shins and said, 'You're Irish'."

"That makes two of us from maritime countries," replied Henry, who was covering the event for Lord Pat Kenny of Montrose.

The incomparable Chris de Burgh -- who had quite a fan in none other than the late Princess Diana -- told me the previous day: "British pomp and pageantry can always be relied upon to be thrilling, beautiful, moving and redolent with history, and like, dislike, or indifferent to royalty, there will be hundreds of thousands of people all over Ireland, along with an estimated two billion around the globe, who will be glued to their TV screens to watch an amazing spectacle.

"And they will be sending their good wishes to this young couple, who will have to bear the onerous weight of massive interest in their lives, and everything they do, for years to come."

Well said, Chris. Doubtless a certain lady in red in heaven will be looking down approvingly on you -- and on the esteemed bride and groom.

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