By GWEN OREL
They wore tails. They wore large hats and fascinators. They attended the Royal Wedding — that is, they cyber-attended. About 400 British expats gathered this past Saturday morning at a party thrown by the British Consul General, the Queen’s Ambassador in New York, to watch Prince Harry marry American Meghan Markle on television screens.
And at times, UK TV cut to the Brits celebrating in New York, said party-goer Luke Parker Bowles, a British transplant and Camilla Parker Bowles nephew. The party, which began at 6 a.m., was held at Harry’s NYC at 1 Hanover Square, which overlooks the Queen Elizabeth II Eleventh Garden created for the British families of victims of 9/11.
Luke Parker Bowles, chairman of BAFTA NewYork and Montclair Film board member, was hoarse on Monday from cheering. His Montclair house had been adorned with flags by Friday.
The wedding included many elements that are a departure from tradition: the Rev. Michael B. Curry’s 16-minute speech referenced Martin Luther King, Jr. A solo cellist performed, as did a gospel choir.
The speech was unusual for that particular crowd.
“I think probably my Aunt Camilla under her big hat was having a bit of a smirk, because it was quite fun,” he said.
Princess Diana was present in the ceremony in many ways. Prince Harry picked his mother’s favorite flower forget me nots for Meghan’s bouquet. Meghan wore one of Diana’s rings to the party.
Luke Parker Bowles loved the whole thing, but said he was particularly moved by seeing Harry looking nervous.
A Royal Wedding is a great excuse for a party, especially if you’re British. But why did so many non-Brits catch Royal Wedding fever?
People can “feel a purity something aside from the incredible physical nature of the event. This is a couple who clearly very much in love. It clearly demonstrate how the royal family develops. You know this is not an 18 year old nanny who is handpicked to be married to Prince Charles because she looks like she should be a royal,” he said. When Lady Diana married Prince Charles in 1981, it was important that she be a virgin, and an aristocrat. The woman marrying Prince Harry in 2018, Meghan Markle, is a bi-racial actress, an American, a divorcee, who is 36 years old. And by all accounts, the couple are sincerely in love, he said.
The Royal Family has moved on and adapted. Luke Parker Bowles said it wasn’t always easy to be a Parker Bowles. When the world first found out about Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla, he was even picked on. But today, everything has changed. It’s down to the power of love again, he said, and the press and the country coming to believe that Charles and Camilla were truly in love.
“I think love will out, as they say,” Luke Parker Bowles said.
The biggest cheers in the Consul General’s party were for Curry, and for Harry and Meghan’s “I do,” said Luke Parker Bowles.
To see that love, in a cynical world, along with the pomp and circumstance, is the “real deal,” he said. “I think Disney would back me up in saying that people love some escapism.”
The celebration of their love, and the heraldry that goes along with it, is especially important now, he said.
“We have a pretty awful state of the world at the moment. We have several mildly psychotic leaders. We have a very unstable situation in Europe, with Brexit. We have all sorts of shenanigans going on. To have this opportunity for one day for four hours to see some pageantry, some love, some elegance, some spirituality maybe, and just to enjoy the moment… I don’t know why one wouldn’t. We need some hope. We need something to cheer on.”
Luke Parker Bowles added that the Prince and the new Duchess of Sussex will work hard in various charities. “This is not waving from a horse drawn carriage. This is getting down and dirty, much like his mother did with her work on AIDS and mine removal. He is his mother’s son.”