Two sisters, two royal weddings, two very different sets of circumstances.
When Princess Eugenie walked down the aisle in October 2018 at St George’s Chapel and later processed through the streets of Windsor there was, of course, no global coronavirus pandemic to contend with. However, that wasn’t the only thing that set her lavish wedding apart from the intimate, secret ceremony of her sister Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi last Friday.
Beatrice's wedding, originally scheduled for central London in May, was, in line with the couple’s wishes, always meant to be a lower-key affair. It was scaled right back further to be in keeping with government coronavirus guidelines. But, holding it secretly also had the effect of avoiding reams of build-up coverage which would inevitably have involved much discussion about the controversy surrounding the father of the bride.
There is no getting away from the fact that the narrative surrounding Prince Andrew’s friendship with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein has, sadly for Princess Beatrice, characterized much of the discussion around her nuptials. The fallout from the Prince’s disastrous TV interview last November where he attempted, and failed, to draw a line under mounting controversy over the friendship continues to cause reputational damage the royal family.
Andrew attended his eldest daughter’s wedding against the backdrop of discussions over whether he will be a witness for US prosecutors investigating Epstein as his friend Ghislaine Maxwell remains in custody charged with helping groom girls as young as 14 for the late financier—crimes she denies.
Since the interview’s backlash, the Prince’s removal from public life has been swift and complete but every public appearance now has the potential to cause controversy. The fact that appearing in his own daughter's wedding pictures would be deemed as casting a negative shadow on the event is really quite something. In the end he didn’t feature in either of the official images released by Buckingham Palace—underlining the fact that he no longer belongs as a public face of the British monarchy.
Contrast this with October 2018 when Andrew walked his younger daughter down the aisle and was, naturally, described in all the literature around the event as His Royal Highness the Duke of York. Then, he gave an interview about the wedding to ITV’s This Morning, where he said of the guestlist: "There are a few more than Harry had but that's just the nature of Eugenie and Jack: they've got so many friends and they need a church of that size to fit them all in."
Andrew was front and center in many of the images released of the day. At that time he was a working royal who represented the Queen on the world stage, had offices in Buckingham Palace, and was at the helm of successful initiative Pitch@Palace which invited young entrepreneurs into the palace to network.
In a statement when he stepped back last November, which is still pinned to his now inactive Twitter account, Andrew said he was stepping back from public duties for the “foreseeable future.” At the time, Buckingham Palace indicated that he would still be expected to be seen alongside the family at certain occasions such as, for example, Trooping the Colour and Remembrance Sunday. Eight months on, however, this father of the bride is firmly out of sight.
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