SARAH VINE: Forget the warring royals, Kirsty Young stole the show

SARAH VINE: Forget the warring royals, brave Kirsty Young stole the show surrounded by flowers in St James’s Park

As the great and the good flowed into St Paul’s Cathedral by the coachload – quite literally in the case of minor royals – the Queen sat watching her service unfold from home in Windsor, one hopes with a small glass of something congratulatory at her elbow.

In that respect she was, as ever, in sync with her people, most of whom — myself included — experienced it that way.

It’s at moments like these that the BBC, for all its flaws, comes into its own as the broadcaster of record. 

Other channels are of course available, but why would you bother when Auntie has it all: The avuncular tones of David Dimbleby, the best vantage points, years and years of experience – and, on this occasion, Kirsty Young.

There is a certain gravitas that only comes with wisdom and experience, and Kirsty Young has both, having suffered badly for the past few years with the debilitating condition fibromyalgia

Ah, Kirsty Young. All eyes were on the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St Paul’s, but for me it was Young who really stole the show, surrounded by flowers and wildfowl, apparently adrift on a jubilee-themed pergola in the middle of St James’s Park.

I had forgotten quite how good she is, how she brings a sense of quiet intimacy to the most public of moments. There aren’t many women broadcasters of her calibre around, not least because at the BBC there has been a tendency to pension them off much earlier than their male counterparts, who, like Dimbleby, seem to go on forever.

But there is a certain gravitas that only comes with wisdom and experience, and Young has both, having suffered badly for the past few years with the debilitating condition fibromyalgia.

There’s a warmth and sincerity to her presenting style, but she’s also sharp as a box of tacks. Her guests, the former Archbishop of York John Sentamu and historian Robert Lacey, added to that class act, offering some genuinely erudite commentary. Over at the cathedral, things were not quite so highbrow: During one lull Dimbleby decided to fill air time by commenting on the progress of a pigeon up the steps.

Inevitably, though, all eyes were on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they made their much anticipated entrance. The Duchess of Sussex’s Dior dress was, I am told, lilac — but on screen it looked virginal white

There were some fairly excruciating pre-recorded messages from assorted random people of note, including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood (is the Queen a Strictly fan?) and that dreadful woman who runs New Zealand.

But the main act were the royals. First, the minor members of the Firm in all their finery. Eugenie as a juicy tangerine, Zara Phillips impersonating a Post-it note. The Wessexes pristine in matching shades of cream. The Princess Royal, as ever, was effortlessly chic; the Duchess of Cornwall impeccably dressed in one of her trademark coat and dress combos, so flattering and yet always elegant.

Inevitably, though, all eyes were on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they made their much anticipated entrance. The Duchess of Sussex’s Dior dress was, I am told, lilac — but on screen it looked virginal white. There were reports of booing as the couple arrived but I could hear only cheers as they ascended the steps.

It must have been hard for Meghan to resist the urge to turn around and wave at well-wishers, as the Duchess of Cambridge did moments later, but – to her credit – she kept to the script. Harry did allow himself a wave but otherwise looked deadly serious, his wife close by his side as he worked his way up the receiving line. As they took their seats a few rows from the front, they must have felt every eyeball boring into their backs.

If it bothered them, it didn’t show. If anything they looked to be rather enjoying themselves, or certainly Harry did, laughing and joking away in the naughty corner with his cousins. By contrast the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, sat stiffly at the front, looked a little anxious. But then of course they hold the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, made all the heavier since Harry decided to offload his share and opt for a celebrity-style life in America.

A fact perhaps worth remembering as we honour a woman whose entire life has been spent in service to her country.

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