A Right Royal Knees Up

OK, so clearly the Lord Chancellor never received my change of address card, because somehow, my invitation to the royal wedding got lost in the mail.

Only one thing for it, I figured—just fly to London and sort things out. As it happens, though, the security at Westminster Abbey was a bit tight, and I forgot to pack one of those cutaway coats, so I was destined to view the whole thing from afar.

Well, actually, from less than a mile away, at a charming mews house in Belgravia where my old friend, Rhodri Philipps, lives with his lovely (and pregnant) wife, Sarah. A one-man Mardi Gras, Philipps is the 4th Viscount St. Davids, and his string of titles also includes Baron Strange of Knockin, Lord Hungerford and Lord de Moleyns. In addition, he’s a high-goal polo player (who incidentally gave Prince William his first match when the future king was but a whelp) and a descendant of Richard the Lionheart (which means he’d be well within his rights to consider the royal family a bunch of Germans who live in Buckingham Palace).

Not bad at all

We arrived bearing a case of bubbly purchased at Tesco and bottled, for the occasion, under the label “Prince William Champagne.” It was, surprisingly, not half bad, and as the BBC began its endless drone of wedding coverage, we proceeded to tie one on. Rhodri’s other guests, a more lively and better-looking crew than the cadavers who had to suffer the tedium at Westminster Abbey, included Jasper Duncombe, a.k.a. Lord Feversham, one of England’s largest producers of pornographic films, who was disinherited by his father due to his noble profession, along with his adorable son, Orlando. Then there was a mother-daughter duo from New York, assorted old friends and acquaintances, a few toffs with double-barrelled last names, a Jack Russell named Tipple, a King Charles Spaniel named Toffee, and a pair of Pekinese named Tosca and Freddy.

Lord Feversham and the Viscount St. Davids holding up a royal memento

The frenzy over the royal wedding that’s made opening a magazine or newspaper in the U.S. positively unbearable for the past month was palpably calmer in London, where most of the upper class simply welcomed it as a bank holiday and a bonus four-day weekend following directly after Easter. In fact, I kept joking that I’d come to England to get away from all the fuss. Despite the hordes who gathered along the royal parade route to catch a fleeting glimpse of Queen Elizabeth & Co., Eaton Square was positively empty on our walk from Sloane Square, and a fellow guest (a stunning blonde who recently divorced the scion of the Baring’s Bank dynasty) reported that the drive from St. John’s Wood was a breeze. Nevertheless, the drone of helicopters overhead was incessant, and at times throughout the day, we could distinctly hear the crowds cheering a few blocks away.

Like any television spectacle where not very much happens for long periods of time, the commentators broadcasting live coverage were forced to fill the airtime with inanities like “The car is now turning left” and endlessly repeating mundane, glaringly obvious things, like the fact that the Queen’s dress made her look like a canary.

Being an amusing lot, our own commentary was far more entertaining. We all cringed when eminences like the Prince and Princess of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra were transported in minibuses about as royal-looking as rental car courtesy vans. We watched in disbelief as reporters interviewed spectators wearing wedding dresses and carrying signs saying things like, “It should have been me” and “Any second thoughts?” And like any worthwhile TV spectacle, the fashions came under close scrutiny, the princesses Eugenie and Beatrice being singled out for looking like the most cloying confections in a patisserie display case.

The future queen’s maiden name elicited the observation, “It’s a bit like marrying someone named Bethany Bourgeois,” while the appearance of the bride’s father prompted one peer to exclaim, “Can you believe this is a man who’s made a fortune off of selling fart cushions?!?” Regarding one of the myriad clergymen in the cathedral, someone wondered, “Who’s the chap in the Harry Potter cloak?” And when the Archbishop of Canterbury took off his mitre and said, “Let us pray,” someone else observed, “90% of pedophiles are bearded.”

When someone mentioned that Prince Harry was planning the after party, someone else noted that in that case, they probably should have invited Italian scoundrel Silvio Berlusconi. Then one of the ladies shared the fun fact that there’s an ancient law in England requiring a special license to get married after dusk, because in olden days fathers would try to palm their ugly daughters off on unsuspecting grooms by arranging the wedding for nighttime.

Sarah served delicious little nibbly things like quail’s eggs, mushroom canapes, and salmon pate. We managed to polish off a case-plus of champagne, with some scotch thrown in for good measure, and after the newlyweds appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for their eagerly awaited kiss, we all went outside to watch the Royal Air Force flyover. Then it was time for lunch, which, after a good deal of debate, it was determined we should do in Primrose Hill. Lord Monson (the 12th Baron) stopped by just as the Viscount and I were trying to make everyone fit in one car by climbing into the boot of a Jaguar station wagon. Unimpressed by this display, Lord Monson declined the invitation to join us for lunch, but a well-dressed and perplexed-looking blonde who was with him did wedge herself into the back seat and announced repeatedly that she had to be back in the West End by 5:30.

Rhodri and me in the boot of the Jaguar

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, although I do recall that at the restaurant, Cat Deeley (the host of So You Think You Can Dance), was seated at the next table and occasionally glared at us when we got particularly raucous. Somehow, we ended up at a bar reminiscent of a German prison before stumbling  home at two a.m.

So I never did get to Westminster Abbey for the royal wedding.

But I did get three lords a-leaping, one TV star, and a right royal hangover.

Cat Deeley at the next table (She's much prettier than this photo)

Prince Charles and the Queen waving from the window

Prince William, beaming

Then Angelina Jolie showed up!

AND Kylie Minogue!

Even Posh and Becks crashed our party.

And the after-party raged into the wee hours.




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