Eugenie & Jack
The build-up had been all about the Royal family and its guest list: who was in, who was out, and how could they pull off a second wedding in the spectacular style the British public has become accustomed to? The day itself brought a dramatic gown, a wind wild enough to knock small bridesmaids off their feet and an assortment of celebrities.
But from the moment Princess Eugenie stepped out of her car, bursting with the anticipation, it all seemed rather simple: a family wedding, on their terms, in which love won the day. From the Princess’s dress, designed to show the faint silvery scar of a life-changing childhood operation, to the fond family speeches, the steadfast young couple were the picture of unshowy devotion.
The groom told the bride she looked “perfect” and the Princess steadied his hand as he struggled to fit the ring on her finger, their easy exchanges suggesting a relationship with firm foundations.
As the damp October day dawned, visitors lined the streets and ticketholders picked up Jack and Eugenie-themed goody bags in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Guests arrived in stages, as friends were more than matched by celebrities in a line-up that left onlookers wondering at how the couple came to know such a diverse range of actors, supermodels and singers. The Queen
It seems time has gone so quickly since we were here THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX TO THE PRINCESS ROYAL
was joined in the chapel by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, Liv Tyler and Demi Moore, Tracey Emin, Stephen Fry, Ricky Martin and countless more besides. As they took their seats, the Duchess of York, absent from the Royal family’s official events since her divorce, made a return to the fold, arriving at the chapel with Princess Beatrice to watch on proudly.
The Duke of Edinburgh, at 97, was in his rightful place next to the Queen to celebrate the wedding of their granddaughter, pleasing royal admirers who have relished each of his rare appearances since his retirement.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex returned to the chapel for the first time since their own wedding in May, with the Duchess telling the Princess Royal: “It seems time has gone so quickly since we were here.” The Cambridges, who left Prince Louis at
home and watched from afar as Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined the bridal party, seemed taken with the romantic atmosphere, holding hands as they waited for the bride and groom to arrive.
At 10.35am, Jack Brooksbank arrived. Nervously wiping his palms on his trousers as he stepped out of his car, he was offered emotional support by his brother and best man, Thomas.
Appearing to have visibly shaking hands, the genial groom at one point told his wingman, “oh stop it, I am fine,” as they waited at the organ screen.
As ever at these occasions, there was time for the smallest members of the family to steal the show.
In high winds, the six young bridesmaids and two page boys navigated the steps of St George’s Chapel with Princess Charlotte and six-year-old Louis de Givenchy taking a tumble. They recovered quickly with a helping hand from Lady Louise Mountbatten-windsor, 14, who shepherded the children in her role as special attendant.
As the trumpets sounded, the children, including Prince George, Maud Windsor, Mia Tindall, Savannah and Isla Phillips, and Teddy Williams, the daughter of singer Robbie Williams, covered their ears and pretended to play along, before falling into line to get down to the serious business.
At 11am, Princess Eugenie, who arrived with her father, beamed as she stepped from the 1977 Rolls-royce Phantom VI, the same wedding car used by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Her Peter Pilotto dress was designed in particular to display her faint scar, a line down the centre of her spine from an operation aged 12 for her scoliosis. She said she had wanted to “stand up for” other young people who may feel self-conscious about their own scars, and “change the way beauty is”.
Her groom certainly agreed. “You look perfect,” he told her, taking off his glasses as she reached him.
The Dean of Windsor, leading the service, began the ceremony at the chapel’s organ screen, allowing the guests in the nave to see the bride and groom before moving through into the quire where 30 members of the Royal family, and 24 Brooksbanks, waited.
At the altar, as they listened to prayers, sung hymns and said their vows, Princess Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank clutched hands so tightly their fingers turned white.
A calm Eugenie seemed to reassure her groom, who gave her a small fist pump of relief when the formalities were over. Princess Beatrice, who has spoken of her dyslexia, carried off a confident reading of a passage from
The Great Gatsby, chosen by the bride, which reminded her of Jack shortly after they met, despite the flaws of its protagonist.
On the steps outside there was the kiss. And with that, the York family swung into action: the Duke lifting his daughter’s long train into the Scottish State Coach, while the Duchess fielded questions from curious bridesmaid Teddy Williams.
Told that no, she was not the Queen, the six-year-old persisted. “Are you a Princess?” In a rush, the Duchess agreed that yes, perhaps she was.
After a short carriage ride through Windsor, the couple retired to their afternoon reception at the castle for Pol Roger, risotto and hors d’oeuvres.
In his speech, which he said he had not prepared, the Duke of York joked that he would break protocol to publicly hug his new son-in-law, regaling guests with the tale of how the groom mistook himself for the family dog. He had once, he said, shouted at the dog – also named Jack – to get off a chair, only to be startled to find Mr Brooksbank leap to his feet.
In an emotional speech, Mr Brooksbank told how his new wife “lights up my life” and “makes me whole”. As the first round of festivities came to a close, the newlyweds made a dramatic departure in a waiting Aston Martin DB10 – made for the James Bond film Spectre – as they were whisked off to begin their new lives.
And with the sun setting, the couple left for a two-day party at Royal Lodge. Additional reporting by Francesca Marshall, Izzy Lyons, Coran Elliott and Patrick Sawer
‘She lights up my life and makes me whole’ JACK BROOKSBANK
Yesterday, Princess Eugenie was married in a wedding dress with a V-shaped dip at the back that showed the scars left by childhood surgery. Her groom, Mr Jack Brooksbank, whispered: “You look perfect.” And she did.
This was a royal wedding on display to the world, but it felt like an inspired family affair, too – from a pretty tiara that belonged to the Queen Mother to the arrival of Sarah, Duchess of York, in bright green, who ran over to well-wishers to say hello. The wind blew mightily; Andrea Bocelli sang. And, intriguingly, Princess Beatrice, the bride’s sister, read a passage from The Great Gatsby about a smile of “eternal reassurance”. Perhaps this was the smile Mr Brooksbank gave at the altar, common among newlyweds, that seems to say: “Don’t worry, I’m as nervous as you.”
Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank take their first steps as a married couple at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, watched by the Royal family, right The bridegroom, above right, appears to wipe away a tear; above far right, Mr Brooksbank’s parents, Nicola and George; the Princess decided to wear a dress that showed her scar from back surgery, above; and, right, the couple leave for their carriage ride through Windsor