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Best Man for your Brother? Never an Easy Gig!

Best man articles — By on June 1, 2018 10:18 pm

Few of the estimated 5,000 best men in the UK on May 19 will have as many comedy open goals as Prince William is presented with when he gives a speech about his brother Prince Harry.


To give them their full titles, groom Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor will, at some point on Saturday afternoon, hand the floor to sibling William Arthur Philip Louis and hope he says nothing too toe-curling.


Wills then has a goldmine of laughs to exploit – be it Harry’s Vegas skinny-dipping, his love for dressing up as a henchman for history’s most evil dictator or past experiments with drink and marajuana that led to a one day stint in rehab (possibly the least rock and roll drug dabbling ever).


But just because he could, does that mean he should?


And there is the dilemma every best man faces, but magnified to the extreme.


As a best man we all want the groom’s mates to slap us on the back and tell us what a hilarious and risqué raconteur we are. Given Harry spent a number of years in the army – and will no doubt have some of his squadie pals as guests – the bar of laugh-out-loud bawdiness to vault over will be pretty high.


And that’s before you even consider he went to Eton, where to be thought of as normal you have to raid the college allotment to find a vegetable anal probe every Friday night.


But at the same time any best man (or woman in this day and age) has to remember there’s family present. And some of them will be old enough to remember a time when the lyrics to Elvis songs were considered x-rated


The balance is tricky enough when the groom’s Nanny Doreen is the moral benchmark. But Wills has to bear in mind the nanna in question, who has to be left unoffended post speech, is Her Majesty the Queen.


So the first problem for Big Willie (I believe that’s Kate’s nickname for him) is nothing your average best man won’t face, just a more extreme version.


The next is a little more specific but again, not something out of the ordinary. Namely it’s kept in the family.


What is meant by this is the issue of choosing a family member as best man and the potential problems that come with this should things go wrong.


Having your brother as a best man can be a good way to not offend your mates, several of whom may be vying for the position. The trouble is, should things go wrong the offense is merely transferred to a different set of people.


A good friend of mine once gave a terrible best man’s speech, full of awful jokes that were either in bad taste, highly clichéd or both. It went down like Donald Trump at a meeting of the Democrats immigrant women branch.


But in some ways it didn’t matter too much as the groom was a pal from university. Said pal (and his parents) lived 150 miles away in Leighton Buzzard so any recriminations mainly took place well out of his earshot.


If the offending party is your brother he’s likely to be very accessible to the rest of the affronted family for quite some time. It casts a longer, larger shadow over future occasions.


All of the above is applicable, if not so incendiary, to any groom and best man. Harry had to think through the answers to some very common questions for husbands-to-be. Is my brother the best choice for best man?


Even if he isn’t should I chose him anyway?


The sad fact is there is no hard and fast answer. A search of internet chat forums on the subject tells you as much.


For every ‘yes it’s got to be your bro’, there are as many ‘no that’s a kop out’. And then there’s an equal number of replies along the lines of ‘it depends how close you two are’.


For what it’s worth my view is grooms – including the prince – should opt for the two best men option. This is for two reasons.


Firstly it divvies up the responsibilities, let your mate be the one who risks looking like the bad guy, either having sole accountability for the speech or at least the potentially controversial half of it (note this is not necessarily the same thing as the funny half).


Second, it avoids you looking like the kind of loser that doesn’t have any close mates to ask.


Not that Harry would look to the likes of me for advice on such a momentous decision, or on trivial matters either one would assume.


Just some facts for him to be aware of though. According to the Office for National Statistics he and Meghan have a 42 per cent chance of getting divorced. But more optimistically a 16 per cent chance of reaching their 60th anniversary. And presumably getting a telegram from the Queen.


William however may be a different kettle of fish in looking for guidance. I doubt any best man since the turn of the millennium hasn’t at least googled ‘how to be funny’ or ‘what’s the secret of a great speech’.


On the off chance he’s stumbled across this website here’s two bits of advice for His Royal Highness.


One, I’m sure there’s a decent joke in the fact that while Wills gets to be heir, Harry was the one who actually managed to get (or keep) the hair.


And two, of all the cliched wedding jokes to avoid certainly refrain from the one that compares being asked to give a best man’s speech to being asked to make love to the Queen Mum (it’s an honour but no one really wants to do it). Of the estimated 5,000 weddings that day, there are none where that would be less suitable.


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