Daniela Elser: Embarrassing reality behind the marriage photographs of Meghan and Prince Harry

Daniela Elser: Embarrassing truth behind the wedding photos of Meghan and Prince Harry


The greatest and most significant gift Queen Prince William made for his 2011 wedding had nothing to do with a fancy new duchy or her willingness to pay the bill for the hundreds of bottles of Pol Roger champagne presented at the “disco” reception were drunk at Buckingham Palace. (You are a lot, aren’t you?)

Rather, Her Majesty sat down in the run-up to the big day William and gave him permission to tear up the guest list of the great and good of 777 people whom he or Kate actually knew nothing about. Instead, she said to him, “Get rid of it. Start with your friends and then we’ll add those we need in due course. It’s your day.”

This is the inherent tension when it comes to royal weddings: they’re both loving pigeon unions of photogenic people and diplomatic events at the same time. The Queen might have chartered William and Kate, but they still ended up with 20 governors-general, dozen of military bigwigs, and representatives of all major religions attending their wedding.

When it was Prince Harry’s turn to solve a problem in 2018, it was a bit easier: As a “replacement” and thus probably never as head of state, there was less geopolitical necessity and no head of state in sight.

Even so, like the Cambridge, they had guests who reportedly didn’t really know the happy couple. The only difference was that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are a group of celebrities.

The sun was shining over Windsor on May 19, 2018 when 100,000 Royal Philes arrived in Windsor to see Harry marry the woman he fell head over heels for. As the guests walked in there was the expected break-up of the enlarged Windsor clan, all morning suits and a friendly smile, and then … Oprah came. And George and Amal Clooney. And James Corden, Idris Elba, David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Hardy, Carey Mulligan, and each of the Mumford & Sons Carey Mulligan is married to.

The strange thing about all of this is that while the bride came from the world of entertainment, the caliber of stars that came to St. George’s Chapel was a galaxy separate from the one she had inhabited.

Now, a new, somewhat embarrassing story has surfaced about how certain A-listers got there. Rachel Johnson (sister of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson) posted an unflattering story about the big Sussexes day on Air Mail, former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s insider website.

Amal Clooney and George Clooney meet for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding ceremony #royalwedding pic.twitter.com/iS8ObIM7RO

– Elliot Wagland (@elliotwagland) May 19, 2018

Johnson writes: “There is a story in which Carolyn Bartholomew, Diana’s former roommate, was waiting for the wedding service to start. She turned to the couple next to her and asked how they knew Harry or Meghan.” “The Clooneys answered brightly.”

The possible unspoken meaning here is that it wasn’t years of devoted friendship that earned them a coveted invitation, but rather their very, very famous family name.

(LR) Victoria Beckham, David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson come to the wedding.  Photo / Getty Images(LR) Victoria Beckham, David Beckham and Jonny Wilkinson come to the wedding. Photo / Getty ImagesDavid and Victoria Beckham (right) speak to Sir Elton John and David Furnish (left) and Sofia Wellesley and James Blunt (foreground).  Photo / Getty ImagesDavid and Victoria Beckham (right) speak to Sir Elton John and David Furnish (left) and Sofia Wellesley and James Blunt (foreground). Photo / Getty Images

Then there is Idris Elba, who explained in 2019 how he got on Thursdays and later hung up at reception.

“So Harry and I hung out a couple of times through his father’s (Prince Charles) charity – The Prince’s Trust,” Elba told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. “And Harry came to a couple of parties that I put on and he said, ‘Hey man, what are you doing on the date?’ And I said, “Nothing.” He says, ‘Hmm, would you hang up at my wedding?’ “

All of this is very charming, but would you invite someone to your “I dos” if you only “hung out” with them “a few times”?

Oprah Winfrey has just revealed how Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding made their feel to #PeopleNow https://t.co/kK2z0Jppp1 pic.twitter.com/FI1ZYNMSaJ

– People (@people) July 3, 2018

And what about Oprah, a real TV king? Before the wedding, her only connection with the couple was after she invited Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, to her home in Santa Barbara. The arrival of the talk show queen at the chapel stunned many on social media that day. A report titled “Oprah Winfrey arrived at the royal wedding – but people aren’t sure why”.

While it was revealed in 2019 that Winfrey and Harry teamed up on a television series about mental health, it is not known if either couple met the entertainment mogul before their big day. Let’s just call this a little puzzle.

At the wedding of the Duke and Duchess, not only was it marked who was there, but who landed on the guest list chopping block.

One person who would have no idea how good Elba’s set could have been (though we just pause for a moment and imagine Camilla shimmering on the dance floor as he started playing Deadset Banger) is Tom Inskip.

Inskip (or Skippy to Mates) has known Harry since childhood and was with Harry on his Las Vegas trip in 2012, which was about a strip pool game that is said to live on in tabloid infamy for a long time. (He was also dating the prince during his 2011 trip to Croatia when the king danced exuberantly in a nightclub pool.)

However, decades of friendship did not mean that Inskip and his wife Lara received an invitation to Harry and Meghan’s glamorous reception. According to the most recent Sussex biography Finding Freedom, the king’s longtime companion was “particularly absent” and struck off the list after expressing concern about the speed at which the duo’s romance had progressed.

Per Freedom, the Inskips “didn’t make the cut for the evening event. At a brunch the day after the wedding, Skippy said to friends:” Meghan had changed Harry too much. “His Eton buddy said the prince was impressed with the likes of Clooneys and Oprah.” We lost him, “Skippy concluded. Many of Harry’s old friends said that the evening guest list was the kind of prince and bride. That are the people we want in our lives to move forward. ‘”

A story published earlier this year in the British society Bible Tatler reported: “Skippy was invited to the couple’s wedding and, along with many of Harry’s old friends, was banned from the reception at Frogmore House in favor of great celebrities.”

Look, to be honest, who wouldn’t prefer to have Idris Elba and George “Casamigos Tequila” Clooney at their wedding as a bunch of blue blood relatives who know how to get around port properly after dinner and how to get there addresses a marquise correctly? But the optics of voting celebrities over old friends isn’t great.

Last year, I spoke to Andrew Morton, who wrote Diana: Her True Story in 1992, the most significant royal biography in history, and his view was that the selection of the invited lights was a strategic power play for the Duchess.

“(She) populated the wedding with A-list Hollywood celebrities who … proved themselves for them by speaking publicly about their criticism,” Morton said. “I don’t think she met Oprah Winfrey (before the wedding). I don’t know if Harry did. But she invited these people and now she has her own yard.

“She’s a new player and left the starting box quickly. Unlike Prince Harry’s friends who are silent, Megan’s celebrity friends on the A-list, the court of Meghan, are a very fleeting court and they are very powerful.”

Regardless of how a bevy of Academy Awards regulars ended up in the same chapel as the Queen, there have been numerous other reports claiming that Harry’s friendship group has shifted since meeting Meghan. He hunted and fished blue blood and grew up with a private jet flying power clique.

The same Tatler story reported, “Harry is now less busy with his old Gloucestershire set than he used to be.”

It was also suggested that Harry and Meghan had decided to attend the opening of the Amsterdam outpost of the private members’ club Soho House instead of going to the wedding of Sophie Carter, one of their wedding guests, in Norfolk. (William and Kate were there, though.)

“Soho House was definitely a ‘new Harry’ star and aromatherapy fan,” said Tatler.

According to the royal biographer Ingrid Seward, this “new Harry” is said to have “abandoned” his old friends over one weekend. In her recently published book, Prince Philip Revealed, she writes about an alleged incident that occurred while filming in the country house and was told by a source close to the Prince.

“Exactly at 9 a.m., all the guns were waiting at the door to leave, but no sign of Harry,” writes Seward. “They weren’t sure what to do, so they waited and waited until Harry finally appeared at the door in his bathrobe and looked very embarrassed. His embarrassed explanation was that Meghan didn’t want him to go out with the guns, which was extremely embarrassing as he was a guest of honor. ‘”

“This is exactly the kind of behavior that made Harry more estranged from his oldest friends,” Seward told Vanity Fair. “This wasn’t the Harry you knew; he would never have let you down. Harry knows how expensive it is and how much time is spent organizing a shoot. It was very rude and the general feeling was incredulous because it was so out of character. “

It’s hardly anything to worry about these days, as he and Meghan live in Santa Barbara, the same area Oprah lives in. (What would be the consequence of the West Coast? Forego a silent meditation retreat to go wakeboarding with Elon Musk?)

However, it is undeniable that the man who stood up in the aisle on this May Saturday and waited for Meghan seems to be a very different person than before. It’s hard to know exactly where the line lies between healthy adult evolution and growth and a blunt rejection of one’s old life.

We hope that the Harry of 2020 has found the happiness he has longed for and given his big smile in recent video interviews. I think maybe he did. After all, these days he can get Idris to stop by and shoot a few tracks whenever he feels like it.

• • Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working on a number of leading Australian media titles.