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Couple played part to perfection

Opinion Piece

A triumph for the Brits’ ability to stage major spectacles, and a significant and historic day for the Royal Family. That would be the main reaction to Saturday’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The way the complicated and challenging event was handled was impressive, even down to details like ear muffs for the horses taking the couple’s carriage through the crowded streets of Windsor.

Bigger-than-expected crowds lined the long walk and the worldwide exposure Britain gained was stunning, with an estimated television audience of 1.9 billion.

Not only that, the whole mood was enthusiastic, joyous and positive, things which seem increasingly rare in a troubled world.

The American influence added to the event, with even the slightly over-the-top Bishop Michael Curry generally well received, while the British gospel choir was magnificent.

The wedding was something of an antidote to two tragedies just before it — yet another shooting at a US school, and an air crash in Cuba.

The royal couple played their part to perfection, all the way down to the traditional first kiss.

There was a small tribute to New Zealand in the kowhai flower in Meghan’s veil as she acknowledged the 53 members of the Commonwealth.

One of the most interesting aspects is the part that the couple, so completely different from the traditional royal family, will play in the life of the “firm”.

Harry, according to the polls, is now the most popular royal and, according to the tittle-tattle, the Queen’s favourite.

In many ways he has inherited the mantle of his late mother Princess Diana as a champion of the disadvantaged and helpless.

That is where he will be a great asset to a family facing rising tides of republicanism throughout the Commonwealth nations, some of which are already republics.

Along with his brother William and their wives, the younger royals are the best hope that the family, which heavily divides New Zealanders, will maintain a future Commonwealth role in the long term.