RICHARD KAY: The Duke of York is so diminished that he doesn’t even dare to be seen giving her own daughter away
There is nothing quite as romantic as the phrase ‘summer bride’ which is why it is hard to believe that Princess Beatrice was married yesterday in a ceremony of such secrecy that no photo has yet been released to mark it.
No royal wedding in living memory is coordinated with such an absence of public joy and celebration.
Even Princess Anne, the least sentimental of the Queen’s children, posed shortly in front of the cameras on a freezing December day in Balmoral when she married for the second time.
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Even without it, Beatrice’s big day will instead be remembered for the two long shadows cast on a royal wedding accidentally tarnished. And the tragedy for the princess is that she didn’t create either.
One was Covid-19, which thwarted so many people’s plans across the country. The other was the demise of her father, Prince Andrew, once a national hero, now a figure so diminished by Jeffrey Epstein’s ongoing scandal that he doesn’t even dare to be seen giving his own daughter away.
Whatever spin the royal family handlers put on yesterday’s modest event, it will inevitably be seen as Andrew’s ultimate shame that Beatrice had to get married this way.
Her wedding plans were haunted by his spectacular fall. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, it was widely expected that it would be kept private and that there would be no television cameras, as a result of Andrew’s disastrous Newsnight interview last November.
In fact, it was unclear whether the Duke of York would walk down the aisle with his daughter – as he did at Princess Eugenie’s Windsor wedding two years ago in October.
Barely a week has passed since that interview, with no more revelations about friendships plunging new depths of insipidity and embarrassing the royals even more.
There is nothing quite as romantic as the phrase ‘summer bride’, which is why it is hard to believe that Princess Beatrice was married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi yesterday in a ceremony of such secrecy that no photo has yet been issued to mark it
His girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest this month, accused of having girls for Epstein, must have been the final blow in banishing the remaining chance that Beatrice and her fiancé Edo Mapelli Mozzi could have a ‘normal’ wedding.
Their plans to marry 1,560 guests at the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, followed by an outdoor reception on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, had long since been wiped out by the corona crisis.
Instead, there was a ceremony tucked away from public opinion and performed without the blessings normally part of a royal wedding – a wedding like no other royal wedding.
In another turn, Beatrice became a stepmother by marrying her husband Christopher’s young son, known as Wolfie, from a previous relationship.
There was certainly nothing grand or extravagant about the simple ceremony at the small All Saints Church on the grounds of Windsor Great Park. It is more often the venue for many sad royal events.
It was where gamekeepers remained vigilant around the Queen Mother’s chest after her death in 2002, and it is often the scene of the funerals of Windsor’s staff and royal friends. Weddings are almost unheard of.
But All Saints is also the Queen’s parish church, where she adores most Sundays when she is in Windsor.
And of course she has stayed in the castle since the closing. Yesterday, she wore the same unshakable smile she’s worn all her adult life – and with the same remarkable determination – when she and Prince Philip came by car for what must have been the most unusual family gatherings.
“Her thoughts would have been for her granddaughter,” says one of the Queen’s friends.
His girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest this month, accused of having girls for Epstein, must have been the final blow in banishing the remaining chance that Beatrice and her fiancé Edo Mapelli Mozzi could have a ‘normal’ wedding
“She knows it’s not Beatrice’s fault that she’s been hurt so much and that she wanted to support her.”
The church is also close to Royal Lodge, where Prince Andrew and his ex-wife the Duchess of York live and where Beatrice is said to have spent her last night as a single woman.
Had it been chosen for mere privacy, it could not have been surpassed. But secrecy was the order of the day. The details of the service – presumably led by Canon Martin Poll, a former Royal Navy chaplain – were so sparse that it was not even clear how many people actually attended.
A report said 20, another suggested the numbers were no more than eight.
Perhaps most bizarre of all was the palace’s announcement that no photos of the event would be released for 24 hours.
This was because it was decided that nothing should exceed the knighthood that the Queen bestowed on the country’s favorite charity fundraiser, the extraordinary Captain Tom Moore.
This was certainly the most egregious reasoning. Because if this was really the case, wouldn’t it have been more sensible to postpone one or the other ceremony? There was certainly pressure on the Queen’s timetable.
Due to travel restrictions due to Covid-19, the wedding had to be held before the Queen leaves for Balmoral at the end of the month.
And it’s only since July 4 that weddings of up to 30 guests are allowed.
Princess Beatrice with sister Princess Eugenie and parents Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew
In a brusque statement that spoke of the service’s grief, the palace said, “The small ceremony was attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and a close family.
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The wedding took place according to all relevant government guidelines. “The bride’s father was not mentioned, let alone the presence – if any – of bridesmaids or pageboys.
Such a lack of information can hardly be prevented from overshadowing Captain Tom. Indeed, the only conclusion may be that it was earlier not to draw attention to Prince Andrew.
Surely no other royal wedding has been as destroyed as Beatrice’s. Even the Duke of Windsor, who had more reason than anyone to hide his marriage after leaving the throne for the divorced Wallis Simpson, celebrated his marriage in France to friends and photographers present.
Of course, nothing, not even the seemingly meager nature of the event, will take away the happiness of Beatrice and Edo.
There are plans for a much larger ‘second’ ceremony in Italy and the fact is that Beatrice was all too aware of the criticism of the lavish size of her sister’s wedding, wanting a less formal service.
But for Andrew, who was so used to being the center of royal attention, the humiliation must now be complete.
Rarely chastised as a child, he grew up, says a courtier, “with a pompous level of self-worth,” based on second place on the throne. He felt it when he was pushed in the line of succession.
The Queen has always tried to help in this regard by ensuring that he has a ‘role’, and not always, as we know, with great success.
Andrew has always been the son who bows emphatically and kisses her hand when he visits her at Buckingham Palace, and he is the son who, in her eyes, saved the treasures of Windsor Castle when flames hit it in 1992.
The Prince was on leave from the Navy, and he organized the staff into a human chain to save his priceless paintings, furniture and artifacts.
Andrew couldn’t do anything wrong for the Queen. Just a few months ago, royals and their advisers looked at Beatrice’s wedding as the moment when Andrew’s public rehabilitation could potentially begin. Yesterday it turned out that it is now as far away as ever.