Enjoy it while you can, people.
When Harry and Meghan make it official beneath the royal coat of arms — a crest featuring both a lion and a unicorn — that will be it for 20, heck possibly 30 years. The last royal wedding of a generation, until Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, Kate and Will’s kids, reach marriageable ages.
Side-royals will swap “I dos,” of course (Princess Eugenie, daughter of Andrew and Fergie, has a date set for later this year), but in terms of the direct line that’s a wrap. Given the aging of the upper wing of the Windsor lot, we’re basically moving into two decades of royal funerals henceforth.
Births and marriages and deaths: that’s the ribbon of time, from which all dynastic soap operas flow and so, too, the British monarchy. What else is there?
Well, for the newlyweds there is, presumably, Soho House. To paraphrase Casablanca: We’ll always have Soho House.
Mulling over the run of their romance over the last year and a half — having been on this story from the beginning — it’s striking how much the world-spanning collection of creative class membership boîtes have figured in the courtship.
The couple’s first “blind date,” as has been chronicled everywhere by now? At Dean Street Townhouse, a Soho House at 69 Dean St. in London, which in a previous time housed the Gargoyle Club and attracted the likes of Fred Astaire, Lucian Freud and Noel Coward.
Their first spotting in Toronto, as I reported back in November 2016? A Halloween weekend appearance at the Soho House nestled behind the brick facade long known as Bishop’s Block, on Adelaide St. W.
To Soho House again it was, more recently, for Meghan Markle’s “hen party,” this time at the English countryside outpost known as Soho Farmhouse.
And, yet again, just the other day, it was leaked by the Sunday Times that the couple had a secret wedding registry with Soho House; “martini shakers” and “energy-efficient light bulbs” among the items on the list.
“I think the fact that they met at Soho House, they obviously love and buy into the lifestyle,” is how the Sunday Times royal correspondent Roya Nikkhah put it in an interview with ET. “We know Meghan was a brand ambassador for Soho House group before she started dating Harry. Her best friend, Markus Anderson, works with the group, so I think that’s the ethos (and) style we’re going to see from them going forward.”
And though Soho House has a strict no-kiss-and-tell ethos about their goings-on, and have been entirely mum on everything Harry/Meghan, it all squares with what founder Nick Jones said in an interview last month: “A lot of connection has happened in Soho House over the years, a lot of businesses have been created and personal partnerships made. The things you can get through LinkedIn, Tinder, Bumble, we have been doing in a physical sense for a very long time.”
The royal wedding, as it happens, coincided with the opening last month of Jones’ 19th club — another in London — adding to an empire that had its beginnings at 40 Greek St. in London’s Soho district in 1995, veered internationally to cities ranging from Miami to Berlin to Istanbul, and is eyeing openings next in Mumbai, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. (American billionaire Ron Burkle scooped up 60 per cent of the business a while back, while Richard Caring owns 30 per cent and Jones 10 per cent.)
In a primer written in the New York Times, when the club was preparing to cross the pond for the first time in the early aughts, this was their explainer: “In London, Soho House is part of a generation of clubs that have opened since the 1980s, like the Groucho Club and Home House, which have become popular with fast young film and media crowds. Unlike the old-line men’s clubs, which discourage talking business, the newer ones promote networking, book parties and cliquishness. Women are encouraged to join. They have a reputation for smoky, drinky evenings that sometimes make the tabloids.”
Aspirational for a crowd fairly upfront with their hustle. Plus hide-and-seek celebrities!
It’s all pretty far from the poncey polo clubs and the pheasants-hunting rigamarole of Old Britannia.
Long before Meghan became the ultimate poster gal of Soho House, though, there was Kim Cattrall, a.k.a. Samantha Jones. It’s been life imitating Sex and the City (or is it the other way around?) for a while now, if you consider a famous episode, in which the Soho House brand got its biggest early boost when Samantha runs into a Brit, played by former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. The latter, gleefully announcing that she had just come from swimming at Manhattan’s new Soho House, in the then-fledgling Meatpacking District, makes a point of saying, “I mean what else can you possibly do in this heat except sit by the pool and drink cocktails while they mist you with Evian?”
Fixated then on getting her own membership, the ever-inventive Samantha takes desperate measures. Using the restroom at the House, she finds that someone left their membership card by the sink. Bingo. She uses the card, not only to relax by the pool, but to get Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte in as well.
Since that moment, it’s been impossible to separate the crosscurrents of the real-life celebrity-verse from Soho House. In Toronto, where the club arrived five-plus years ago, this becomes most evident during the Toronto International Film Festival every September, when all the people you basically see at the Golden Globes pass through it for a plethora of parties — where, one year, we caught the Hunger Games–Twilight–Harry Potter mirage that was Jennifer Lawrence talking to Kristen Stewart and Emma Watson.
Or the now infamous intergenerational explosion that I witnessed of Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift going into the photo booth on the third floor of the Toronto club. (A photo booth that Meghan has visited too.)
On the West Coast, at the so-called Little Beach House in Malibu, Leonardo DiCaprio is a regular. At the opening of the Soho House in Istanbul, the likes of Eddie Redmayne and Jamie Dornan flew in for the launch party. At the one in Berlin, Angelina Jolie was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by Brad Pitt and their six kids, on the occasion of her 38th birthday.
At a time when royalty is becoming more celebrified, and “The Firm,” as the British monarchy is called, now has its first actual actress in its fold — a clean-eating enthusiast and one-time motivational Instagram poster not unlike many of Soho House’s denizens — is it any surprise that’s the ecosystem through which they found each other?
In the 21st-century folklore of Soho House, it will all ultimately come down to one sentence courtesy of Harry, in the interview they did together immediately following the engagement: “And I was beautifully surprised when I … walked into that room and saw her.”
The rest: history.