National Column: Politics of the guest list is a royal pain

by Emma Teitel

Prince Harry’s proposal to his fiancée, Meghan Markle, may have been unprecedentedly low key (he popped the question at home, over a roast chicken) but the couple’s short time together has been marred by high drama.

First, there was the business about Markle’s harsh and occasionally racist treatment in the tabloids, provoking the prince to issue a statement insisting media back off the 36-year-old American actress, whose mother couldn’t even walk out her front door without being accosted by foreign reporters.

Then came the incident of the arguably racist brooch worn by a member of the British Royal Family – a woman who may have the worst title in the history of nobility: Princess Michael of Kent.

Earlier this month, Princess Michael, the wife of (who else?) Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s first cousin, gave new meaning to the term “statement piece” when she wore a “blackamoor” brooch depicting a caricature of an African person to a lunch with Harry and Meghan, a fashion choice many interpreted as a not-so-subtle dig at Markle’s mixed-race heritage. (The princess later apologized for wearing the brooch.)

But we’re not done yet.

Markle’s estranged half-sister, Samantha Grant, has emerged slinging insults at the actress in the press – allegedly calling her a social climber and announcing a forthcoming tell-all book about growing up with Markle, entitled The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister.

And yet, despite the insanity listed above, the betrothed couple’s biggest trial is only just beginning. Enter the politics of the wedding guest list. Who will Harry and Meghan invite to their spring wedding at Windsor Castle? And more importantly, who won’t they? Compiling a wedding guest list is an anxiety-inducing, feud-inciting exercise for any couple, in any context, and on any budget. There are the people you want to invite but don’t have room for, and the people you absolutely do not want to invite but are compelled to include because it would be socially unacceptable to exclude them.

Most couples faced with this dilemma are weighing whether to send an invitation to an old friend, or a lecherous great uncle. But Harry and Meghan must weigh whether they want to invite the lecherous leader of the free world – a.k.a. U.S. President Donald Trump. The time is soon at hand for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to reveal which presidents – if any – they are going to invite to their wedding on May 19. According to a recent story in the U.K. tabloid, the Sun, British government officials are deeply worried that Harry and Meghan will invite the Obamas to their wedding, a couple they know and admire, but decline to invite Trump and first lady Melania – a couple they do not know and admire.

Apparently British officials fear that such a snub would anger Trump and further damage the already rocky relationship between the U.K. and the U.S.

In the interest of diplomatic relations then, and with full knowledge that the president has the emotional maturity of a cast member on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Harry and Meghan should spare us yet another Trumpian tweet storm, or worse, and either invite both the Trumps and the Obamas to their wedding (and, of course, seat them separately), or invite neither couple. These are the responsible options: the options that would serve the best interests of Queen and country.

But in the interest of throwing the best possible wedding – an event that should be, when done right, the happiest day of a person’s life, Harry and Meghan should snub Trump if they feel so inclined. He may be the president, but he isn’t family. Unlike Princess Michael of Kent, he’s an alleged racist they have no familial obligation to. Remove his political stature and he is nothing more than a crude stranger.

Thus, while their decision to leave him off the guest list might be read as a political blunder, it wouldn’t be read as a social one. No fair person would judge them negatively for it, because Trump’s presence would surely make a sideshow of their special day (volatile people don’t usually make good wedding guests).

In the end, like any engaged celebrity couple, Harry and Meghan have a unique opportunity to set wedding trends and upend traditional etiquette. If they select dead daisies for their centrepieces, half the world will select dead daisies. If they book a Kiss cover band to play at their reception, half the world will book a Kiss cover band. If they decide to cut their wedding cake before dinner, half the world will cut their wedding cake before dinner. And if they choose to exclude Donald Trump from their guest list, and invite Barack Obama instead, betrothed couples will get the message far and wide, a message that would benefit us all: if you can’t stand somebody, don’t invite them to your party.

If you like them, do.

Copyright 2018-Torstar Syndication Services

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