Princess Eu­ge­nie mar­ries, and Bri­tons gripe about the tax bill

Cost of event sours cit­i­zens, who tweet foul

Houston Chronicle - - NEWSMAKERS - By Iliana Ma­gra

LON­DON — What a dif­fer­ence a royal wed­ding makes.

In May, a grand­child of the queen of Eng­land mar­ried a com­moner in St. Ge­orge’s Chapel at Wind­sor Cas­tle as thou­sands of well-wish­ers gath­ered in the town and the global news me­dia pro­vided breath­less, wall-to-wall cov­er­age.

On Fri­day, five months af­ter that wildly pop­u­lar wed­ding — of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — a much windier and less­cel­e­brated royal cer­e­mony took place at St. Ge­orge’s Chapel: the mar­riage of Princess Eu­ge­nie and Jack Brooks­bank.

This time, a ma­jor­ity of Bri­tons de­clared that they would not be tun­ing in, ac­cord­ing to one opin­ion poll, and le­gions took to so­cial me­dia to gripe about the tax bill.

The two wed­dings, though an­chored in the same cas­tle, had marked dif­fer­ences from the higher star power of the guests in May to the scaled-back me­dia cov­er­age of the nup­tials Fri­day.

The union of Harry, sixth in line to the Bri­tish throne, and Markle, an Amer­i­can ac­tress who is bira­cial, di­vorced and a self-de­scribed fem­i­nist, was seen as the dawn of a new era: a more in­clu­sive monar­chy.

Eu­ge­nie, 28, is ninth in line to the Bri­tish throne and an as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of the Hauser and Wirth art gal­leries in Lon­don. She is the daugh­ter of Prince An­drew, the Duke of York; and of Sarah Fer­gu­son. Brooks­bank, 32, is a brand am­bas­sador for Casami­gos tequila, which was co­founded by ac­tor Ge­orge Clooney.

“It was love at first sight,” Eu­ge­nie told the Bri­tish broad­caster ITV about meet­ing Brooks­bank.

But that love ap­par­ently was not shared by the Bri­tish pub­lic Fri­day.

While mil­lions of peo­ple watched the royal wed­ding in May, ac­cord­ing to the BBC, the Bri­tish broad­caster de­cided not to show Eu­ge­nie’s wed­ding in full, though ITV stepped into the void. At least 84 per­cent of Bri­tons said they “prob­a­bly” or “def­i­nitely” would not tune in, a gov­ern­ment poll said this month.

Among the 850 guests Fri­day were mod­els Cara Delev­ingne (in a smart pantsuit and top hat) and Naomi Camp­bell; singer Rob­bie Wil­liams; ac­tor Demi Moore; co­me­dian and au­thor Stephen Fry; and, of course, Queen El­iz­a­beth and Prince Philip; Prince Wil­liam and Cather­ine, the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge; and Harry and Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sus­sex.

Eu­ge­nie, who had surgery to cor­rect sco­l­io­sis when she was 12, wore a dress de­signed by Pe­ter Pilotto and Christo­pher de Vos that al­lowed her scar to show. “I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show peo­ple your scars, and I think it’s re­ally spe­cial to stand up for that,” she told ITV be­fore the wed­ding.

The dean of Wind­sor, David Con­ner, led the vows. Eu­ge­nie’s sis­ter, Princess Beatrice, read an ex­cerpt from Fitzger­ald’s “Great Gatsby” that in­voked a pas­sage re­mind­ing her of her fi­ancé’s “rare” smile.

Twit­ter was also rife with crit­i­cism about the cost of the af­fair. While the royal fam­ily paid for trap­pings such as the flow­ers, the dress and the party, sig­nif­i­cant se­cu­rity was re­quired for the event be­cause the cou­ple de­cided to have a car­riage pro­ces­sion through Wind­sor.

That se­cu­rity was pro­vided by Thames Val­ley Po­lice — and paid for with tax­pay­ers’ money. The ex­act cost was not im­me­di­ately re­leased, but news re­ports es­ti­mated it at 2 mil­lion pounds, or about $2.6 mil­lion.

“Princess Eu­ge­nie is get­ting mar­ried to­day,” Hasan Pa­tel wrote on Twit­ter. “I hope she has a nice time know­ing that mil­lions of pounds of tax­pay­ers money is be­ing used for her spe­cial day while school­child­ren go hun­gry and rough sleep­ers are dy­ing on the streets.”

Oth­ers said the ex­pense showed a tone-deaf­ness at a time of aus­ter­ity.

“All the whilst there’s been a sharp in­crease in home­less­ness and food bank us­age,” Shahil Par­mar wrote on Twit­ter. “What a joke.”

Al­most 47,000 peo­ple signed a pe­ti­tion by Repub­lic, a cam­paign group in fa­vor of abol­ish­ing the Bri­tish monar­chy, to com­mit no pub­lic money to the wed­ding and to pub­lish all tax­payer costs.

Yui Mok / As­so­ci­ated Press

Princess Eu­ge­nie of York and Jack Brooks­bank kiss af­ter their wed­ding in St. Ge­orge’s Chapel at Wind­sor Cas­tle on Fri­day.

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