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Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie: The two most intriguing guests at the Royal Wedding
Not wanting to wake up for the 3AM broadcast of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, I taped the BBC program on the local public broadcasting station and watched it late Friday morning. I purposely avoided Yahoo and didn't turn on TV because I wanted to take full advantage of current technology and see the bridal gown in context as the morning unfolded.
Like the other 1,999,999 people watching that day, I couldn't resist seeing Prince Charming marry his Princess and I waited patiently for the much anticipated wedding gown to be revealed. I, of course, had the advantage of being able to fast forward through the less interesting bits. Other than the wedding dress, I did not hold out much hope for great fashion. Although the late Princess Diana was a style icon, she was a shiny ruby red leaf on the otherwise colorless, fashion-challenged, Windsor family tree. Although in all fairness, the Queen was styling that day in her bright yellow ensemble.
Even though the fashion bar is set pretty low in those circles, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie still fell short. The BBC cameras did not linger on them. As a matter of fact, I was annoyed when the cameras panned over to something else when Beatrice and Eugenie stepped out of their limo. I rarely see them in the news and was curious. Once I did catch their outfits, however, I understood the BBC's reluctance to linger. They looked like two neglected kids that did not have a mom to tell them to go back to their closets and change into something else.
They have been on my mind since then.
Beatrice and Eugenie are the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Prince Andrew is the son of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip. He is fourth in line to the British throne. Sarah Ferguson, known as Fergie, is the daughter of Major Ronald Ferguson and his first wife, Susan Mary Wright. Since the Ferguson family are not noble, Sarah is considered a commoner by birth.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were married in Westminster Abbey on July 23, 1986. Sarah received the title of Duchess of York and became a Princess of the United Kingdom. In August 1988 their first child, Beatrice, was born. Their second child, Eugenie, was born in March 1990.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson announced their separation in 1992 and were divorced in 1996. Fergie gave her mother half of the money she received in her divorce settlement to help her family keep and maintain their property. She continued her charitable work, wrote and published children's books and became a public speaker and spokeswoman for Weight Watchers. While Fergie retained the title Duchess of York, she lost the title of Princess when she divorced.
Initially there was a strained relationship between Fergie and the Queen but in 2008 the Queen invited Fergie to Balmoral Castle in recognition of a growing closeness between Prince Andrew and Fergie. However, in 2010, Fergie was filmed offering access to Prince Andrew for $500,000 to an undercover reporter posing as a businessman. On the video she is seen taking away a briefcase containing $40,000. At the time Fergie told Oprah Winfrey that she had been drinking prior to soliciting the cash, and was "in the gutter at that moment". Fergie was not invited to last week's Royal Wedding.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Following is the Order of Succession to the British Throne:
- Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, son of Queen Elizabeth, father of William and Harry, ex-husband of Princess Diana.
- Prince William of Wales, who married Catherine Middleton last week.
- Prince Henry of Wales, Prince William's younger brother, the red-headed "Prince Harry"
- Prince Andrew, Duke of York, second son of Queen Elizabeth, brother of Prince Charles, and father of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
- Princess Beatrice, daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
- Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson
The Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward is number 7, and the Queen's daughter, Princess Ann is number 10 in the Order of Succession.
I was shocked to discover that the young woman wearing the ridiculous, swirling headpiece at last week's Royal Wedding was just five heartbeats away (including the current Queen Elizabeth, of course) from becoming the Queen of England. There had to be more substance to these young women.
Princess Beatrice will turn 23 in August of 2011. She began school at age 3 and was diagnosed with the reading disorder dyslexia during her childhood. Currently she is a student at the University of London studying History and will graduate in 2011. She is a "B" student, but earned an "A" in drama. As a student she has no royal duties.
During interviews she has indicated she wants to use her position to help others and, alongside her mother, has been actively involved in charitable work since she was a young girl. Princess Beatrice has also chalked up some "firsts" for the Royal Family. In 2009 she became the first member of the Royal Family to appear in a non-documentary film. She had a cameo appearance in the movie, "The Young Victoria." The film was based on the accession to the throne of Queen Victoria, Beatrice's fourth great-grandmother.
In 2010 Princess Beatrice became the first member of the Royal Family to complete the London Marathon. She ran to raise money for a charitable organization entitled, Children in Crisis.
Sounds like a strong young woman who just has very bad taste when it comes to hats.
Princess Eugenie is 21 years old. She was 6 years old when her parents divorced. The divorce was amicable enough that her parents shared joint custody of their children and Eugenie has described her parents as "the best divorced couple" she knew. Growing up she and her sister traveled the world with either their dad or mom.
When she was 12 years old, Princess Eugenie had back surgery to correct a condition called scoliosis which effects the curvature of the spine. She fully recovered but still has two titanium rods in her back from that surgery.
From age 13 to 18 Princess Eugenie attended boarding school at Marlborough College and graduated with grades of "A" in Art and English Literature and "B" in History of Art. In 2009 Eugenie began combined studies at Newcastle University,including Art History, English Literature and Politics. As a student she has limited official responsibilities.
Since childhood Princess Eugenie has joined her mother and sister in charitable work.
Of surnames and titles
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie do not have a surname. As male-line grandchildren of the Queen, Mountbatten-Windsor is used when necessary. If and when these young women marry they will take their husband's surname/title although they will retain their Royal status and will be known as "Her Royal Highness" throughout their lives.
Worth the Research
I am glad I took the time to research some of the background of these two young women rather than summarily dismiss them because of one bad fashion day. I am sure they have access to wealth and luxury beyond my imagination, yet it is encouraging to know they value learning and have a strong sense of the importance of using their position to help others less fortunate. Of course, in their case we ALL are less fortunate.
Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing more about these young Princesses as they move through their lives and hope they can find a way to use their positions, education and good fortune that will be meaningful to them and to their country.