NEVER having been a monarchist, I was nevertheless sent to cover a matched set of royal nuptials by various editors who probably thought it a bit of a wheeze.

It was certainly a bit of an eye-opener. The one lingering longest in the memory is Charles and Diana, since I was dispatched down to London for the 24 hours before the actual ceremony.

That first evening, I wandered around central London, which looked like some kind of upmarket refugee camp. Everywhere you looked were folks prepared to camp out overnight with a variety of flasks and blankets to ensure they might get right behind the crush barriers, the better to view their ten seconds’ worth of coach and horses.

Everywhere you looked, there were entrepreneurial retailers flogging everything from Union flags and bunting to tea towels, mugs and keyrings featuring the betrothed couple.

As we know, it did not end well. Neither did Anne’s first marriage, or Andrew’s.

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To have three of your four children divorce within an institution thirled to convention doubtless caused much pain in the principal palace.

Having watched the entire Oprah interview with Harry and Meghan this week, I think we can see a pattern within royal relationships which stick and those which crumble.

The Queen was raised to go into the top job.

Diana was young enough to be “moulded” but savvy enough finally to realise her youth and virginity were what had been required of a future Queen, and that her spouse was in love with another woman. And she was, or became, a very troubled soul.

Kate Middleton, too, was very young when she began dating William. Sufficiently “non royal” to be sold as a “modern” choice.

And she has bought into the institution in all the expected ways, doing good works, raising a family, saying and doing nothing which might trouble a tabloid newsdesk.

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Then again, the tabloids loved their “English rose”. She could do no wrong. Meghan, the older, bi-racial, American interloper could apparently do little right.

Every comparison with her sister-in-law was an odious one in those “newspapers” which specialise in demonising their targets.

All these women were essentially birds thrust into gilded cages; expected to conform, and dared to question the accepted royal norms.

One of the most jaw-dropping moments in Meghan’s interview, for me, was her saying that her passport, car keys and driving licence were taken from her.

It sounded like a very particular kind of house arrest from which, she alleged, she was unable to leave to meet friends.

Well, she has flown free now, and liberated her Prince from the clutches of courtiers sounding rather more regal than their employers.

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