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Were you among the “two billion”?

I was not among the one-third of humanity that allegedly watched The Royal Wedding.

But Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post raises a perfectly reasonable point: Where did the astounding figure of two billion viewers reported endlessly and breathlessly by the media (even before it happened) come from?

Presumably, the other two-thirds will be too busy dodging shrapnel, or searching for potable water, to watch the adorable couple exchange vows at Westminster Abbey. Hopefully, they’ll DVR it and watch later.

It’s hard to tell from where the press is getting this 2 billion figure. They did not get this number from Nielsen. For all its faults, Nielsen draws the line at reporting numbers before viewers actually have something to, um, view.

It appears to have sprung earlier this month from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman, who, in turn, pointed the finger at Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who apparently coughed it up during a briefing at a cabinet meeting, according to a Reuters report.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the actual number of viewers was substantially less than two billion. Substantially less than one billion, in fact.

Update: If you think I’m a bit sour on the whole business, you should read what Nick Cohen has to say.