Nothing second best about THAT kiss!
Five months after Meghan’s showstopper...
ALL good things come to those who wait. We would have seen Princess Eugenie become Mrs Jack Brooksbank many months ago had it not been for another royal wedding back in May.
Yesterday, however, it was the turn of the ninth in line to the throne finally to have her big day as she married the amiable 32-year-old tequila executive she likens to F Scott Fitzgerald’s hero, The Great Gatsby. And she did so proudly bearing the scar which has changed – and, in many ways, defined – the life of this independent- minded 28-year-old princess. Without the two titanium rods inserted in her spine in 2002, Eugenie would never have been able to walk so proudly and confidently up the 20 steps of St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Her exquisite Peter Pilotto V-neck ivory dress was cut to show the surgeon’s handiwork; no veil or lace was deployed to obscure the view to the rear. This was, emphatically, Eugenie’s day. Neither a full royal turnout, including the 97year- old Duke of Edinburgh, nor two limousines full of hyperactive bridesmaids and pages – among them Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Theodora Williams (daughter of Robbie) – nor busloads of supermodels, pop stars, comedians and actors were going to take the spotlight off the Queen’s sixth grandchild.
Here was a quintessentially English wedding: hats galore, Elgar, Parry, the Royal Philharmonic and traditional hymns in the very church where St George was made the patron saint of England plus plenty of Bach and two sublime recitals by the Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli.
And unlike last time, the main players were keeping an eye on the clock. The memory of the charismatic Bishop Michael Curry from Chicago cheerfully meandering off-script at the previous royal wedding was not lost on the man in charge yesterday.
The Rt Rev David Conner, Dean of Windsor, is a former bishop to
the Armed Forces. He has been the padre here for 20 years and he knows all about the sovereign’s love of punctuality. Yesterday ran like a military parade.
Of course, this was a wedding which was always going to invite comparisons, however unfairly, with ‘last time’.
There might be the same number of fanfares (two) by the same state trumpeters and similarly exuberant floral arrangements (autumnal hues, for obvious reasons). But that was about it.
In some regards, this was a bigger bash than the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Here were 800 guests to Harry and Meghan’s 600. There were more members of the Royal Family (30 in total), more in-laws (24 members of the Brooksbank clan versus the single-handed Doria Ragland) and a higher celebrity headcount, too.
However, it was the other way round beyond the ramparts. Windsor yesterday was a world away from the boisterous invasion back in May. Back then, more than 100,000 people came to see the Sussexes process through town and grounds on a sunny Saturday.
Yesterday’s crowds, on a working day with clouds and gales, were respectable but just a few deep along a much shorter route down the high street and round the back of the Royal Mews. The global television audience was, inevitably, a tiny fraction of the billion or so who sat up from New Jersey to New South Wales to watch our first American princess take her place in the Royal Family. Yet it was never a numbers game, let alone a competition between two very dear cousins.
Princess Eugenie and Prince Harry have been confidantes since infancy, co-conspirators in the nursery and fellow mischief-makers on the party circuit. Both have grown up as Number Two in the immediate pecking order within a dynasty where being first-born counts for a very great deal.
It explains why Harry and Meghan arrived at St George’s Chapel yesterday like hermits.
They could have walked down Chapel Hill past the crowds and cameras like all the other guests but they did not. Instead, they turned up in a blacked-out Land Rover and were out of the car and inside the church faster than a pair of crooks dodging the cameras at a magistrate’s court.
Ditto the Cambridges. It might have disappointed a few onlookers but it was a very commendable act of cousinly solidarity.
They were not going to upstage dear, long- suffering ‘Eug’. The centre stage was to be left clear for three women in ascending order yesterday. The first two – the Duchess of York
and Princess Beatrice – arrived together in their royal Rolls-Royce.
At the foot of the steps, the duchess was thrilled to be greeted by a few whooping members of the public in horseshoe Cloister.
After all those years exiled to the outer orbit of so many royal occasions, this was in many ways her day, too.
Though Princess Beatrice was formally styled the maid of honour, she was not expected to chaperone the bridesmaids and pages, as Pippa Middleton had done at the wedding of her sister, Kate, to Prince William. That task was left to the heroic lady louise Mountbatten-Windsor, 14, daughter of the earl and Countess of Wessex.
it might have been a role befitting a younger sister like Pippa but Beatrice, 30, is two years senior to the bride.
Pippa – now Mrs James Matthews and heavily pregnant – had been given an excellent view yesterday.
She, her husband and her brother, James, were in the very first seats just inside the west door, next to the couple who surely gave the palace caligraphers their greatest headache when writing out the wedding invitations: Their Serene highnesses The Prince and Princess zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Oettingen-Spielberg.
Chapel organist luke Bond relinquished his seat to a musical cousin of the Duchess of York, Peter Roper-Curzon, who played Bach’s Fantasia in G major as Princess eugenie entered on the arm of the Duke of York.
Following Bocelli’s Ave Maria, it was the turn of Princess Beatrice to take the microphone. Crystal- clear, she read F Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the magnetic allure of his central character: ‘it was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance … with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.’
Princess eugenie had been reading The Great Gatsby shortly after meeting
Sealed with a tender kiss: Eugenie and Jack share a loving moment after the ceremony
Something borrowed: Princess Eugenie arrives for the wedding in the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara lent to her by the Queen and a fairytale dress by British designer Peter Pilotto
Oh my! Bridesmaid Theodora Williams and pageboy Louis de Givenchy emerge from the chapel behind the newly married couple