Review: Was RTÉ's royal wedding coverage a hit or miss?
Everybody loves a good wedding and a star-studded, royal one holds a particular lure around the world, but eyebrows were raised here at the decision by RTÉ to provide live coverage and analysis of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding.
Mainly because we’d hate them to think we were that interested in anything they do over there, thanks to the historic love-hate relationship between Ireland and England.
Well apart from the soccer of course - the FA Cup Final today also has massive interest this side of the pond, but sure look it, we’ll move swiftly on there.
Our 1916 leaders were probably spinning in their graves at the state broadcaster’s decision to cover Diana’s boy’s wedding to the American actress, but hey, if the Royal Family can forgive family outcast, Sarah Ferguson, over the infamous toe-sucking debacle, surely we can get over a mere few centuries of oppression?
So while our hearts were gladdened at the sight of Fergie trundling awkwardly into the church and waving gaily to the crowd, particularly as she wasn’t invited to Kate and William’s wedding, the reassuring voices of Maura Derrane, Evelyn O’Rourke and Darren Kennedy helped to assuage our traitorous consciences. “Beautiful,” they declared, repeatedly and reverently about everything they saw. “Really beautiful.”
While RTÉ’s coverage was great, I feel that the station missed the boat by not providing coverage of the build-up to the ceremony, because that's where the majority of the fun and madness took place. By the time our coverage kicked in at 11.30am, we were practically frothing at the door of the main event.
As a result, we were deprived of Maura’s crisp analysis of Victoria Beckham walking in with a face like a slapped arse, or Oprah Winfrey, rocking up on her own the minute the doors opened and shooting the breeze with Luther himself, Idris Elba. We got a very brief round-up of the star arrivals when the Irish coverage began, but by then, we were in the throes of the main event and even George Clooney could compete with Prince Harry today.
In fairness to the Irish presenters, they were very well researched. It also helped that all three are chatty and likable and their analysis was just the right mixture of cheerful banter and knowledgeable descriptions. We never saw them at all, which was a bit weird, but their voices kept us on the straight and narrow, unlike the horse that nearly went off-course on the trip back to St. George’s Hall. Mind you, at least it didn’t go completely rogue and run off like the other horse did on Kate and Will’s big day.
It was truly a missed opportunity on RTÉ’s part not to cover the event from early morning, particularly as they had London correspondent, Fiona Mitchell, over in Windsor. TV3 did a great job of whipping up the atmosphere on its Saturday AM programme, but then it couldn’t follow through as it presumably had to default to Phillip Schofield and co. in the UK for the actual ceremony.
As a result of the tight window of coverage allocated by RTÉ, Irish viewers were plunged into the wedding cold, so to speak. We needed a bit of lubrication to get our blood up for main event, and we could have done with an extra hour of pre-wedding celeb-and-fashion spotting before we reached the climax of the day. The coverage also ended fairly smartly afterwards, so they wasn’t even a chance to rip the whole thing to shreds, which, let’s face it, is the best part of any wedding aftermath.
Every family has its own set of dodgy relatives, and the House of Windsor is no exception, to put it mildly. Given Maura’s normal line in take-no-prisoners’ patter, we could have expected her to knock a bit of craic out of the presence of Fergie and also Diana’s brooding brother, Earl Spencer, whose implied criticism of the Royal Family has undoubtedly given the Queen a pain in her royal posterior.
While he lacks the late Joan Rivers’ acerbic tongue, I would have loved to hear fashion expert Darren Kennedy’s opinion on the style at the church, which ranged from the heights of Amal Clooney’s goldenrod Stella McCartney ensemble to the low of Prince Andrew’s girls’ dull-as-ditchwater hats. From Beatrice’s almost Amish headpiece to Eugenie’s dated pillbox number, they weren’t a patch on the much-derided, horrors (soz, Philip Treacy) they wore for William and Kate’s wedding. We were naturally sorely disappointed at losing the chance to slag the pointless princesses off again.
Nonetheless, in the limited window he had, Darren provided a stellar analysis of Royal Family’s style, which ranged from the minimal elegance of Meghan’s Givenchy dress and Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara, to the Queen’s cheery yellow and floral number. Darren felt that Kate Middleton’s pale colour palette was a bit dodgy for a wedding, but happily declared it was perfectly acceptable for Meghan to wear dazzling white, given that the brazen strap was married before.
And he kept us updated with a few snippets of gossip, telling us that Oprah was planning to wear a white dress up to yesterday but wisely changed to the pink Stella McCartney number. Daaa neeeeccck of her, wha?
When it came to the ceremony, rock-of-sense Evelyn agreed that American preacher, Bishop Michael Curry, stole the show with his brilliantly impassioned speech, which seemed to simultaneously astound, confound and amuse the assembled royals. One suspects they’ll be quoting snippets for years at their sherry and canapé evenings, considering the staid and restrained flavour of homily that usually features in their shindigs.
But whatever about the er, colourfulness, of the royals, at least they were there in all their idiosyncratic unity. Like those of us at home, the Irish presenters also expressed sympathy for Meghan’s mum Doria, who apart from her absent father, was the only one of the family invited to the ceremony. Doria looked a little lonely sitting by herself with the entire Royal Family opposite her en masse. Sadly Meghan just couldn’t take the risk that the rest of the mad Markles might make a show of her on the big day, given the stellar job they’ve been doing of that already, but happily her Suits family turned out in force to fill the gap and add a bit of showbiz wattage.
Her dad was invited, of course, but couldn’t come because of illness. Had he been able to make it, his heart problem may not have been helped by the fact that his official statements came through gossip websites like TMZ. One suspects the Queen would not have been amused by that particular mode of communication, and poor Thomas may have felt an icy wind of regal disapproval emanating from across the pews. No, much safer to watch it from home in his vest.
Had she tuned in to RTÉ, Her Maj may also have been unimpressed by the hilariously telling silence when Maura asked her fellow presenters if they thought the marriage was going to last? Not a hope seemed to be the unspoken sentiment, but moving swiftly on to safer ground, like the professionals they are, they went back to their analysis of the big day. “Beautiful,” they declared again, this time with added emphasis. “Really beautiful.”