LONDON: As the dust settles on the weekend’s royal wedding extravaganza, Arab interest has switched from speculation over Meghan Markle’s dress to a more pressing mystery — who was ululating as the couple emerged from the chapel?
The high-pitched celebratory noise traditionally reserved for major celebrations in the Middle East were clearly audible as the newly weds paused at the top of the steps outside St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday. They again rang out as the couple descended the steps into the sunshine and the welcoming embrace of the crowds.
Was there an Arab guest in the crowd expressing their excitement for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their own inimitable fashion?
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office tweeted a video on their Arabic account of the supposed ululations, saying: “Maybe you can hear the ‘Zaghrata’ at the moment Harry and Meghan leave the church after the wedding?”
— BBC Arabic بي بي سي (@BBCArabic) May 19, 2018
Zaghrata is a form of ululation practiced in the region.
Rima Maktabi — London bureau chief at the Al Arabiya News Channel, who was covering the wedding — told Arab News: “I heard it first when Harry went into the church and then when Meghan went inside, I didn’t understand what it was.
“The commentators were saying that they heard ‘international sounds’, and then as they came out, it was clear.”
However, the Arab claim to be the source of ululation is facing a challenge from a grandmother from Lesotho who told British media that Harry had pointed out to her and smiled as she made the noise.
Malineo Motsephe, 70, traveled from the African nation for the wedding, having met Harry through her work with one of his charities.
Ululating, it turns out, is as common a cultural phenomenon in parts of Africa as it is in the Arab world.