Tuesday 19 March 2019

Kirsty Blake Knox: 'Even if you can't stomach the British Royals, we all have time for Harry'

Prince Harry
Prince Harry
Strike a pose: Yoga selfies are a must for travelling millennials
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

I think this must be it - the campest week of my life.

No sooner had I returned from the joyous glitter-flecked extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest, than I was told to pack my bags and head across the water to cover the social event of the season - the Royal Wedding 2.0.

Meghan and Hazza's Big Day.

It's hard to know which is camp-er. Yes, the Eurovision gave us Abba and Conchita Wurst, but this Holy Matrimony brings together Elton John, the Real Housewives of Kensington Palace, and Her Royal Naffness - Fergie.

So, it's a close call.

Either way, I'm now here, on the ground, in Windsor.

Well, technically speaking, I'm not actually staying in Windsor.

I'm down the road, in a Holiday Inn Express in Slough (best known for being the birth place of the Mars Bar, and the dismal setting of BBC's The Office).

All the hotel rooms in picturesque Windsor were full. And I didn't fancy sleeping on street corners with all those pork-pie-and-Union Jacketed royalists. (I mean, would you?)

I arrived Thursday, and soon discovered covering the Royal Wedding 2.0 comes with a myriad of challenges.

For example; am I accredited to access any of the designated official press areas? Of course not.

Do I have an 'in' with a privileged member of the English gentry who can sneak me in under their morning suit? I wish.

Have I watched any episodes of Suits in preparation? I haven't had the time, dammit!

Do I have a hat? Not yet, but I plan on fashioning one from a limited edition Royal Wedding KFC bargain bucket, en route to Saint George's Chapel.

Am I excited? You betcha!

As always, there will be a surplus of miserable fun sponges, knocking around over the weekend complaining loudly, and claiming they have no interest in the wedding. (Handy solution - don't watch it).

But I'm calling their bluff. It's all lies.

There's a reason every woman shrieked with excitement when I said I was going. And why men raised their eyebrows quizzically.

It's because there's something about Harry.

Even if you can't stomach the British Royals, and didn't get the fuss about The Crown, we all have time for Harry.

This week, an international poll conducted across 28 countries showed Big H has eclipsed more senior members of the royal family, and is now officially the most popular member of "Team Windsor".

So what's his appeal?

Firstly, there's a vulnerability to him, the image of a tiny Harry in a miniature suit, walking slowly behind his beloved mother's funeral cortege has stayed with many.

I remember it even though I was still in primary school at the time.

He also has a level of emotional directness and candour the other royals simply don't possess. Last year he spoke about the impact Princess Diana's death had on him, and chatted about going to counselling.

Perhaps for obvious reasons, his elder brother William is much more guarded in what he says. But Harry is lacking that stiff upper lip.

On top of that, he's also got a decent dash of devilment.

He's gone through a wild-child stint - naked billiards in Vegas, snorting vodka on holiday, falling into pools on holiday - and come out the other side.

He can cook a solid roast chicken dinner (and propose over it), he loves dogs (a big plus in my book), he leaps to the defence of Meghan, and he can wear a three-piece suit well. He's on speaking terms with all his exes, can make Kate Middleton laugh, and dances better than Prince Andrew or Princess Anne for that matter. (But perhaps not as well as Camilla).

Finally, and most important of all, he is ginger.

And as Ed Sheeran has proved over his two-week tour of Ireland - we're partial to a red head.

So stop pretending. You may not have any interest in whether or not Fergie and Charles came to blows in the Chapel, or desire to witness the inevitable Eugenie and Beatrice hat disaster.

But most of us want the future Mr Meghan Markle to have a good day out. Or at the least find out all the gossip from the afters.

And I want to personally thank the pair of them for easing my post-Eurovision depression - no easy feat.

Is the end of Shagaluf nigh?

It was the age of wisdom, and foolishness, and the epoch of belief and incredulity.

But now, the era of Shagaluf is coming to an end.

This week Thomas Cook said their trademark Club 18-30 holiday was on the demise. So it's goodbye to Zante, and Ayia Napa and so long to Benidorm.

These days, no one wants sun, sea and sex.

Strike a pose: Yoga selfies are a must for travelling millennials

According to the travel operator, millennials don't seem to appreciate the allure of a good old-fashioned foam party. Nor do they want to drink buckets of discount vodka and spend days passed out by a pool. Stranger still.

Club Med and its kind have been rejected by a more sophisticated holiday maker, the so called 'ego traveller'. These holiday makers are on the hunt for adventure and 'experiential' trips. Providing, that is, they can share it on social media. More than half of 18- to 24-year-olds say the potential for Insta-friendly posts is a serious consideration when booking a holiday.

On average, this group take 19 selfies a day while abroad, so it makes sense that finding the picture perfect setting is paramount. To be a serious ego traveller, you need to do all the following on holidays: Natarajasana yoga poses, pointing at road signs, and sharing images of acai breakfast bowls while claiming to be on a digital detox. You must also refer to holidays as 'journeys', and come back with 'lived experiences', not sunburn.

This trend is not unique to Thomas Cook - all around the world the raucous 'It's My First Holiday Without my Parents and I Am Going To Go Nuts' is fading. Some are lamenting the loss (presumably the producers of Ibiza Uncovered and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents).

Others have claimed that spending weeks downing jelly shots is a rite of passage. I don't know about that. But I also don't agree with travel agents that ego travellers are looking for something 'unique and original'.

Is Instagramming daiquiri glasses any less predictable than watching a drunken holiday rep yell 'lads, lads, lads' while chugging down jelly shots?

More picturesque - definitely. More narcissistic? Sure. But more original? I doubt it.

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