Princess Eugenie marries, and Britons gripe about the tax bill
Cost of event sours citizens, who tweet foul
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.
Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank kiss after their wedding in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Friday.