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How reality show I Wanna Marry Harry predicted the royal wedding

Matt Hicks poses for a portrait while promoting I Wanna Marry Harry in Beverly Hills. Large cat posturing as corgi out of shot.
Matt Hicks poses for a portrait while promoting I Wanna Marry Harry in Beverly Hills. Large cat posturing as corgi out of shot. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS

“It’s every girl’s dream,” boomed the voiceover. “Rich. Handsome. And for those who dream big enough, royal.” Hooked on that ludicrously outdated premise, 12 women launched their bid to court someone they suspected was Prince Harry as the cameras rolled. And lo, I Wanna Marry Harry was roundly lambasted for its cruelty, gaslighting and general rubbishness. This 2014 regal version of Joe Millionaire saw a random ginger posho pretending to be an undercover Prince Harry while a dozen glossy-haired Americans of varying sass screeched and competed for his attention.

Faux Harry (environmentalist Matthew Hicks) looked more like the lovechild of Ed Sheeran and James Blunt than any kind of heir to the throne, but once he was gifted with a castle, a chopper and a smirking security detail, he gave the illusion of being the world’s most eligible bachelor. It was catnip to the contestants, who stared in wide-eyed wonder every time they picked up on a “clue” to his royal identity. Few rumbled him for not actually being Prince Harry and even if they did they were still game.

The doe-eyed dozen thought they were in with a shot of getting their hands on the crown jewels, when instead they were being conned into humiliating themselves on telly as they elbowed for the attention of a baffled-looking man more accustomed to cleaning oil off ducks than being royalty. How the casting director managed to find 12 girls so untouched by feminism they oozed things like “I’m here to get my Prince Charming” is nothing short of a miracle. But what’s even more uncanny is the fact that I Wanna Marry Harry predicted the actual future in all its fairytale glory …

Harry suddenly found himself surrounded by attractive American women

A teacher twerking, a dose of gratuitous hula-hooping and the finest cheerleading known to woman (“You’re sexy, you’re cute, you’re ginger to boot”) were just some of the ways these girls tried to woo their prince. Quite why they had to parade in bikinis and a “Miss Sassy” sash like something from Miss World 1972 remains unexplained, but there’s no doubt each stereotype was represented, from Fast-Talking New Yorker to Southern Belle. With all these bases covered, Harry’s destiny was foretold: his romantic future was certain to involve a swishy-haired all-American girl.

There was a Meghan in the running

No, not Ms Markle, but another sparky American who bore more than a passing resemblance to Harry’s future wife. “I’m smart, hot, I cook, I clean, I look banging in a bikini and I like the finer things in life,” sassed Meghan. Well, that’s the job description for “Princess of England” ticked off right there. But there’s more to dating a prince than having the right name, as both she and Chelsea proved. With soundbites such as “I’m a little off my rocker”, it became clear she was no Chelsy Davy. Anyway, both were binned off pretty sharpish.

The prospective princesses learned the royal ropes

Just as Meghan was taught how to curtsy by Kate Middleton (possibly), the potential Mrs Hazzas were tutored in the fine art of how to sit around eating macarons all day, hide from the paparazzi and muck out horses. “What the hell is macking out?” cried one. “American girls don’t seem to have inside voices,” winced Faux Harry.

An actress stole his heart

Was it the Middleton-esque mane, the coy smile or the touch of class that convinced Harry that show winner Kimberly Birch was the one? Not exactly. “She had naughty, come-to-bed eyes,” he observed. Forget the potential #MeToo connotations, for these were far less enlightened times. Like the real Harry and Meghan, Matt and Kimberly were willing to embark on a long-distance relationship to keep what some of the earthier contestants described as the “eye-humping” lust alive.

They both got $250,000 for doing nothing

Bang! What a right royal payday.

This article titled "‘Sexy! Cute! Ginger to boot!’: How reality show I Wanna Marry Harry predicted the royal wedding" was written by Hannah Verdier, for The Guardian on Tuesday 13 February 2018 09.00am

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