MPs tread carefully around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Tory politicians were especially keen to respond to the royal engagement on social media.
For the modern MP looking to underline their credentials as a patriot, news of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement has been the ultimate test of social media skills.
Failure to immediately congratulate the pair on Twitter could be used as hard evidence that the MP in question hates the royal family. But an overly-enthusiastic tweet might look like at best insincere and at worst like sarcasm. And a joke could easily backfire. Meanwhile, a bland or overly-brief tweet might make it look like the MP does not really care and was just going through the motions.
So how did they get on?
The prime minister did not take any risks with a predictably safe statement: “I would like to offer my very warmest congratulations to HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upon their engagement. This is a time of huge celebration for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the Government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future.”
The chancellor’s statement on Twitter was equally dull, but not as long: “Many congratulations to HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upon their engagement. I wish them a very happy future together.”
The foreign secretary managed to respond to the news without employing a joke or a funny word. Instead, he tried to spice up his statement up with capital letters and an exclamation mark: “HUGE congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle - fantastic news! Here's to a happy and long life together.”
As Johnson avoided sounding too much like himself, a former Tory chairman was on hand with a pro-Brexit tweet that could easily have been penned by Johnson. Or Quentin Letts: “At last an interlude to Brexit glumbucketness! Congratulations to Prince Harry and Megan Markle. PS I've always loved watching Suits.”
The communities secretary appeared to have consulted his wife and four children before putting a tweet out: “Whole Javid family absolutely delighted with news of the royal wedding. Congratulations to HRH Prince Harry & Meghan Markle.”
The Tory policy board chief who has previously spoken up for the ‘new generation’ of Tory MPs and called for a ‘New Deal for a New Generation’ did not pass up the opportunity to air one of his favourite phrases: “Congratulations to Prince Harry & Meghan Markle @ClarenceHouse on the great news. Alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton: a New Generation of the Royal Family for our times.
The government’s long-awaited industrial strategy, unveiled today, has been firmly knocked down the new agenda. But try telling the Conservative MP for Chelmsford! In an ambitious bid to put the two news events on an equal footing, she declared: “Wonderful news - not only an #IndustrialStrategy but a #RoyalWedding coming too! Many many congratulations to HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle upon their engagement.”
The Tory MP for Telford used a tweet about the engagement to put her own unique spin on recent polling about the royals, such as the YouGov poll giving Prince Harry a 77 per cent approval rating: “Wonderful news - everyone loves Harry. I wish them both every happiness.”
The Lib Dem leader opted for a traditional intro but couldn’t avoid slipping what looked like a veiled dig about Brexit. “Absolutely delighted for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Good to see some cheery news.”
The Labour leader kept quiet on social media but wished Harry and Meghan when reporters asked him about the engagement. After he gave a speech in Glasgow, Corbyn ignored the booing by activists and said: “I wish them well, I hope they have a great time and great fun together, and having met Harry a couple of times I’m sure they’re going to have great deal of fun.”
Picture by: Eddie Mulholland/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire/PA Images