This is most emphatically not going to delve into the Andrew issue, but I do think it’s long overdue that we take a look at where the York family falls in the current royal landscape and generally catch up. After all, during what was more or less my hiatus from posting on here, Eugenie had a baby, Beatrice got married *and* had a baby, and their father has been formally pushed out of public life.
One of the first posts I ever wrote here was about Beatrice and Eugenie’s role in the Royal Family. Specifically, that Charles (their uncle) and Andrew (their father) were clashing because the latter wanted them to have formal roles within the royal matrix and the former very much wanted to cut the various cousins, nieces, and nephews to focus on the nuclear family around the monarch.
On that front, not much has changed, at least when it comes to speculation. The general consensus remains that Andrew’s preference is – and always has been – that Beatrice and Eugenie become working princesses. Now that his royal career is over, new rumors are cropping up that he wants his daughters to fill his space (not necessarily his exact patronages, but rather take on a share of the general workload). This isn’t altruistic, it’s more medieval – basically he wants a place for the York Family.
Maybe. The other narrative out there is that Andrew is the only person (besides maybe his mother) who thinks there’s a path forward for him. The rest of the family, including Charles, William, Anne, and Edward, are all on the same page – Andrew is out, permanently so.
But the real cheerleaders for his removal have been Charles and William. Which then raises the question, how do they feel about Beatrice and Eugenie? And how do the women feel about them?
Before we jump into that, a little level-setting: Eugenie is currently 32, married to Jack Brooksbank since October 2018, and mother to son, August, age 1. Beatrice will turn 34 in August, has been married to Edo Mapelli Mozzi, a property developer, since July 2020, and is the mother of Sienna, age nine months. The Mapelli Mozzies use apartments in St. James’s Palace as their London base and are currently renovating a private residence in the Cotswolds.
The Brooksbanks, on the other hand, lived in Ivy Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace at the time of their marriage. They leased Frogmore Cottage at Windsor from Harry and Meghan from 2020 until this spring, and apparently moved to Portugal for Jack’s job in May. It’s believed (an update from when I wrote on residences last week) that they will use Ivy Cottage as a base in England when needed. It’s unclear how long their tenure in Portugal will be.
Now, when I wrote that post back in 2017 I was a *little* snarky about the women, especially Beatrice. A lot has changed in five years. Then, both had a reputation for being a little heavy on the holidays and light on the steady jobs – particularly Beatrice. At that time, too, Fergie was more regularly in the media and their association with their father didn’t do them many favors. Now, I think, the Andrew aspect garners them more sympathy than anything else.
Finally, my theory back then was that by now their stars would likely have faded compared to William and Kate and their children, and the assumed launch of Harry and his (then future) family. I would argue that Beatrice and Eugenie not only still generate roughly the same media interest as they did then (if not more so), it’s also positive. I think there’s two factors going on – one I probably should have thought about and another that I couldn’t have seen coming.
The first is that where they are in life right now is very public-friendly – weddings, babies, new houses, etc. No one really cares what they do for work, though to be clear, they both have steady, respectable careers. Beatrice works for a software company and Eugenie is the director of an art gallery – in fact, while Beatrice did jump around a bit in her 20s, Eugenie has been pretty consistent in the art world since graduating university. In other words, it’s hard not to wish newlyweds and new mothers well.
The second factor is that right now there is a heavy emphasis on traditional royals, which is mostly a reaction to the Sussexes. Favorability for William and Kate has never been higher, and Beatrice and Eugenie are in the same mold. Close to the Queen and seemingly snug within the Royal Family.
I will admit that part of why I want to put this post up is that there’s a lot of confusion out there about the role the women currently play. A *lot* of people think that what Harry and Meghan initially proposed was to function like Beatrice and Eugenie do, which speaks to a misunderstanding of not only Sussexit, but the Yorks. Today, neither Beatrice nor Eugenie carry out official royal work. They are in *no* way working royals. When they carry out charity work, they do so as private citizens. And when they attend royal engagements or functions, they do so as members of the family. The difference there is huge – at no point do they ever officially represent the Queen. That is in contrast to royals like Charles, Camilla, William, and Kate, etc.
If Beatrice and Eugenie take on official royal work then they will face the same roadblocks as everyone else – essentially, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have a career and be a working royal. To take on a real position, they would likely need to give up their careers. And their husbands, who no one is speculating will become working royals, would face increased scrutiny re: whether they were leveraging their wives’ proximity to the monarch. (This already happens at low levels for junior royals, including Peter Phillips).
So, will they become “part-time” royals? I doubt it. It’s not in line with Charles’s vision, and William is reportedly on board with that. If they don’t have their backing, then it’s not going to happen.
Should they? That’s a more interesting question. Five years ago I would have said no. Today I’m a little more open to the idea. Logically, with Andrew, Harry, and Meghan having departed in quick succession, there’s a large workload that’s now being mostly shouldered by the same seven people (Charles, Camilla, Anne, Edward, Sophie, William, and Kate). Obviously the Queen is still working, but the day-to-day operations of patronages and engagements has mostly been delegated. I think, too, both women would be good at it.
Nevertheless, there are too many complications to really make this a viable option. First, Eugenie literally lives in another country right now. Second, the period of time when they are having children may not be the most realistic to take on public life. Third, we don’t know that they have any real interest in giving up their careers or private status to pursue full-time royal life. And fourth, it wasn’t that long ago that certain corners of the public were up in the arms about Eugenie having a full-blown royal wedding with publicly funded security.
Simply put, Charles and William are right that public sentiment is leaning towards a trimmed down Royal Family.
Which brings us back to their relationships. Earlier this year there was a bit of a flurry when Eugenie was photographed visiting Harry and Meghan in California with her family. In fact, Harry and Eugenie have always been close. Eugenie was friendly with Harry’s first serious ex-girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, and set him up with his second, Cressida Bonas, who was her close friend. By all accounts, their friendship has continued, as evidenced by the California visit and the Brooksbanks leasing Frogmore Cottage.
So, where does that leave Eugenie with William and Kate? At the start of Kate’s royal career, it looked like Kate and Eugenie were friendly. And there was certainly a period of time when Eugenie was also living on Kensington Palace grounds, which would theoretically lend itself to a relationship. However, the three don’t seem to interact much, at least not when they’re in public. I have no reason to think there’s bad blood between Kate and Eugenie, however when it comes to William and Eugenie, there are definitely complicating factors. Eugenie’s relationship with Harry, for one. And William’s staunch support for Andrew’s exclusion, for another. We don’t know what Beatrice and Eugenie make of Andrew’s situation, but even if they understand why, it’s not hard to imagine William’s position wouldn’t endear him to Andrew’s daughters.
Last but not least, William pointedly didn’t include Fergie in his 2011 wedding to Kate, a fact which Fergie was very public about being offended by. Harry, in contrast, did invite her to his in 2018. By itself, probably not a big deal, but these things do add up, and they don’t garner warm feelings.
Now for Beatrice, the relationship between her and William and Kate has always seemed borderline non-existent. I’ve never heard of it being bad, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate closeness. Earlier in Kate’s royal career, Beatrice was living in New York. Later on, William and Kate were busy having children and splitting their time in Norfolk. And then of course, there are the same factors at play re: Andrew and Fergie.
Beatrice’s relationship with Harry and Meghan is a slightly different matter. I always got the sense that Harry and Beatrice got along well (though he seemed closer to Eugenie), but there *was* rumor of an issue at Eugenie’s wedding in 2018. Apparently, the Sussexes used the occasion to announce Meghan’s pregnancy with Archie directly before they left for the Oceania tour and the Yorks weren’t pleased. Now, that could have just been a rumor…however, Beatrice used the occasion of Harry and Meghan’s wedding anniversary in 2021 to announce her own pregnancy with Sienna. If that was in response, well, I respect the pettiness 😉
At this point, it looks like William is closest with Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall. Harry is close with Eugenie. Beatrice is close to her sister and Zara, and that’s about all we know. And Zara Tindall’s husband, Mike, made his displeasure with Harry known at the Jubilee, so my guess is that while Zara keep things light, her allegiance lies with William.
Family dysfunction, it’s everywhere 🙂