Eugenie’s Big Royal Wedding
The carriages are out in Windsor again
Following in Harry and Meghan’s footsteps, Princess Eugenie
will marry this October in Windsor Castle’s famous chapel
When it was announced that Princess Eugenie was to follow in the recent footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, right down the aisle of St George’s Chapel in Windsor, and then on a quick-trot carriage ride round the Castle’s nearest streets, we were at first a little surprised.
Not because she is actually marrying fiancé Jack Brooksbank on 12 October. They have been together for years, but we had become used to thinking of them as ‘a London couple’. After all, they live next door to Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle in the royals’ Kensington enclave, just four miles or so from his parents’ home in Wandsworth.
She is a director at the capital’s Hauser & Wirth art gallery; he has been in ‘hospitality’ since leaving Stowe School, has worked in a Chelsea pub, managed a Mayfair club and is a brand ambassador of Casamigos Tequila, co-founded by George Clooney.
You might, therefore, have expected a stylish London wedding, plenty of A-list celebrities and young Royals in attendance, and then partying until they made it to a lengthy honeymoon somewhere glitzy but out of the price range of most of us, rather than re-run pomp and ceremony.
But no, we are getting ‘the works’ at Windsor and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, because Eugenie is ‘a local gel’. As children, she and sister Beatrice lived with her then married parents, Prince Andrew and ‘Fergie’, Sarah, Duchess of York, at Sunninghill Park. Now Fergie may have Hampshire roots, but she herself had been a pupil at Hurst Lodge School in Ascot – it closed at the start of this year, merging with a school in Hampshire.
Alongside all that, Eugenie attended the Montessori nursery at Winkfield, and then it was off to Upton House School in Windsor with Beatrice. Actually, this is perhaps where the paparazzi began their stalking of Fergie – catching ‘school run mum’ photos where she often arrived looking a bit frazzled behind the wheel before jumping out in leggings, tee shirt and hair in a regularly escaping knot.
Then Eugenie headed for Coworth Park School (some of the royals seem to be very fond of ‘Catholic ethos’ schools), another educational establishment which was merged, this time with a Surrey one.
Two years at St George’s School in Windsor followed before she finally escaped Berkshire for a while, gaining a degree in English Literature and History of Art at Newcastle University before spending a year in New York, working at an online auction business.
Meanwhile, the Duke of York and his girls (with room forr now
divorced Sarah as required) moved to historic Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park, where the sisters were very much involved in its renovation. So there you have it: you can take the girl out of Berkshire, but…
And so we come to the second reason for this Windsor ceremony, and that’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York, father of proper princesses, not Lady ‘This or That’. HRH not only lives closest to his parents at Windsor in what was once the treasured home of the late Queen Mother, his grandmother, but takes a ‘hands-on’ interest in the Windsor estate and the Royal Archives in the Castle.
His connections to the Windsor family home have been enduring and include holding his own 21st birthday party there in 1981, complete with a performance by Elton John. But the depth of this abiding interest perhaps became most apparent when Windsor Castle caught fire in 1992. One of the first people on the spot, he was seen directing staff and soldiers as they raced to rescue Castle treasures, from carpets to priceless artworks.
He’s been a stickler for keeping a beady eye on goings-on at Windsor ever since.
So there you have it, a local bride, and a father who likes to do things properly. Preferably at the ‘family church’ with all due ceremony, thank you.
They’re close: Sarah, Duchess of York, with her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie
ABOVE: Princess Eugenie with her fiancé Jack Brooksbank
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex head through the streets of Windsor after their wedding