Remember the excitement when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got engaged? Remember how we thought we’d found a real life Jewish princess? And then she turned out to be not Jewish at all (apart from the ex-husband, but let’s leave him out of it).
No matter. Because it turns out that the Markle clan are absolutely top exponents of the art of broiges. That is, the state of seething upset and anger that overflows into full-on emotional warfare especially around happy events. Especially when people who feel they should have been invited are not.
Would Ms Markle’s half-brother have penned his furious open letter to Prince Harry, urging him to call the whole thing off, if he’d received an invitation to the Windsor Chapel simcha? And could that have avoided his father’s very unfortunate heart attack, said to have been brought on by reading the letter? (I am sure, by the way, that such Emotional Heart Attacks are suffered disproportionately by Jews. My mother-in-law once threatened her son with one in the middle of a disagreement - “If I have a heart attack and die now, it’ll all be your fault!” - then we all sat expectantly, until the moment passed and thankfully she remained fully and furiously alive.)
The Markle drama reminded me of my own wedding - where thankfully the broiges simmered rather than exploded. We had a rule (Dad's idea) that no second cousins would be invited, cutting a potential two dozen or so off the invitation list. But then Mum invited , a cousin so distant that she had to phone up to find out who we were. (She came anyway, and I still have the very nice cake slice that she gave us).
In the meantime, my mother-in-law was inviting half of Manchester, well over her allotted portion. “None of them will come,” she assured us. Luckily, none of them did, but then she remembered an uninvited cousin the day before the wedding and got us to call him up to find out why he hadn’t RSVPed to his non-existent invitation in a last-ditch broiges avoidance attempt.
Then there are the broiges that occur when people are invited but don’t come to simchas, the ones that fester when no thank you is given in a speech, and don’t get me started on the broiges caused by poor table-planning. I still have the occasional sleepless night, suffering table-planning regret and wondering if I should apologise to some of our friends (We married in 1994. I need to let it go).
But despite, the very Jewish nature of the Markle broiges, there is one aspect (Christian service apart) that is very non-Jewish about the whole thing. The members of the public invited to be present (at a safe distance) outside Windsor chapel have been told to bring their own food. Unbelievable! Shameful!
At my own wedding, my mother was keen to provide doughnuts alongside wedding cake at the end of the evening (“Not everyone likes fruit cake.”). I felt this was unnecessary (and hardly the elegant image I was striving for) as everyone would be stuffed with canapes and a large meal.
Mum’s reply was one that should have been taken to heart by the Royals. “No one,” she declared, “will go home hungry from your wedding.” And, sure enough, no one did.