IT is said they are the most down-to-earth royals, the most accessible, the least stiff-upper-lippy. That’s Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Wherever the Second Grandson inherits, writes Colm O’Regan.
I don’t know if they’re that down-to-earth. For example, at this year’s Royal Wedding, as Meghan Markle entered the chapel, there should have been one guest, mad late, a pure character, finishing a fag and heading in after her, inadvertently scenting the dress with the last digested lungful of a Rothmans. The priest should have been an oul’ lad they didn’t know, who went off on one, during his sermon, about “liberal attitudes”. The wedding should have had an afters with rasher sandwiches, a request for ‘Rock the Boat’ made to the DJ Idris Elba and, finally, a group of up to 40 parched guests, all trying to get into the residents’ bar on one room key.
But now they have another opportunity, with that most human and relatable of adventures: having a baby.
If they want to be truly down-to-earth, there need to be a few rites of passage.
Getting the buggy: I don’t know how it will be done, but I imagine the Lord Chancellor Privy Order of the Garter Montague FitzHubert, official Thane of the Buggy, will bring in a few swanky ones with titanium-blend chassis. Ideally, the royal couple should go out to Mothercare or Tony Kealy or Eurobaby, with Harry trying to be as useful as possible, testing the suspension and the handling, while Meghan rolls her eyes and talks practicalities with the sales assistant.
Hand-me-downs: Both the environmentally-friendly and practical solution to kitting out a child. They’ll get the new clothes as gifts, anyway, but there should be plenty left over from the brother, in the castle down the road. In fact, if they really want to get the authentic experience, Meghan should be going on DoneDeal or Adverts now and sending Harry off to collect a second-hand Jumperoo from a man in a carpark in Naas. Harry should be standing there, having no idea what he’s collecting, being told by the man that “it’s grand, like. There’s a scratch there and it only plays the one tune” and then Harry arrives back and Meghan ATES him out of it for not checking if the attachment was with it.
Queuing at the maternity hospital: I imagine, they’ll “go private”, fierce private. But, again, they will miss out. Queuing in hospitals, silently judging/envying/learning from other couples is useful on your first child. They can observe other couples’ arguments and see if they can avoid them themselves. Harry will learn the special feeling of inadequacy that all birth partners should when surrounded by a room full of pregnant women at various stages of discomfort, trying to find the least painful position and pausing, every so often, to glare at the hapless drone who got them into this mess. And you learn by trial and error how to be in the right queue and not spend four hours waiting for the secretary to give you an appointment because you’re accidentally waiting outside the phlebotomist.
Parking at the maternity hospital: It should be hard. This is a preparation for stressful parking for the rest of their lives.
The maternity hospitals in Ireland are staffed by heroes but were designed to serve a much smaller population.
Mastering the art of avoiding a parking ticket is a bonding experience for all new parents.
A racket: They should label at least one thing a racket. There is a realisation that hits all first-time parents eventually. Your free-and-easy life is over. You had choices about what you could buy. But the baby industry knows, like the person who sells sandwiches from the trolley on the train, that they “have you”. And it is at that moment you turn to your partner and proclaim under your breath that this is a pure racket.
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