The average daily temperature in October in the UK is a rather chilly 54 degrees. The likelihood of rain is high, and the chances of there being sunshine for more than three consecutive hours are low, according to historical data.
It’s not impossible to imagine, therefore, that had Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to hold their wedding in October, significantly fewer people might have turned out to line the streets around Windsor Castle and cheer than they did on that gorgeous and joyous day back in May, even though both were hugely popular celebrities in their own right.
Which begs the question: who on earth thought it was a good idea for minor royal Princess Eugenie—the Queen’s granddaughter and daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson—to copy the carriage ride of Meghan and Harry’s nuptials when she weds her boyfriend, former barman Jack Brooksbank, on October 12 this year?
There was a general perception that regal pettiness was to blame when it was announced that Eugenie had chosen to wed in the same venue with the same number of invited guests as Harry and Meghan, and had also proposed to invite a lucky 1200 members of the public inside the castle walls for the wedding.
But that turned to astonishment when it was announced she was also planning to have an open-top carriage ride round Windsor—in the same carriage (although along a shorter route) as Harry and Meghan.
The palace are saying the wedding will cost £2m, but anti-monarchy campaign group Republic are arguing that it is hard to see how the final price tag, including policing and security, could come in much lower than Harry and Meghan’s £35m blow-out as the vast majority of costs are related to securing the town.
Due to the open-top carriage ride, similar security precautions will obviously need to be undertaken throughout Windsor for Eugenie and Jack as were taken for Harry and Meghan.
Public opinion is recoiling from the lavish wedding not because Eugenie is unpopular—indeed, by all accounts she seems to be a decent and loyal person—but more because lots of people only vaguely know who she is, and she has no official or formally defined role in the royal family.
So why do the big public wedding? Many normally loyal monarchists see this as yet another self-inflicted wound from the York family, who have a history of not exactly heaping glory on the Windsor name.
Two sources, both with excellent connections to the family and institutions of monarchy, independently described Eugenie’s wedding as a “folie de grandeur,” to the Daily Beast, pointing out that she carries out no royal duties on behalf of the Queen.
“Everything to do with the Yorks is a miscalculation,” sighed one. “Why would she want a public dimension to her wedding anyway?”
This is the big question, and many detect in Eugenie’s decision to parade her beau around the streets of Windsor to the cheering masses, the influence of her father, Prince Andrew.
“There is no doubt that Andrew is quite conscious of his status,” another source says, “and one can’t help feeling this a folie de grandeur coming from her father.”
Andrew’s pomposity, self-importance and desire for recognition—which seem to enlarge in direct proportion to the extent he is excluded by his brother from the inner circle of the royal family—are a frequent object of derision in British society.
The Daily Beast exclusively reported last year the delightful tidbit that Prince Andrew was a guest at a weekend-long shooting party, and on the morning of the second day he made his way down to the kitchen where the other guests were eating their breakfast.
Displeased at their failure to stand up when he entered the room, Andrew apparently said, “Let’s try that again shall we?,” left the room and walked back in again (he still did not receive his standing ovation).
The Daily Beast asked the palace if they thought there would be much public demand for a royal wedding carriage ride in October.
We received what appeared to be stock reply, in which the palace said, “After the wedding service, the newly married couple will then undertake a short carriage procession through part of Windsor High Street. The carriage will process through the grounds of Windsor Castle, departing via Castle Hill to proceed along part of the High Street before returning to the Castle via Cambridge Gate. This route is well established, and is the same route that the Earl and Countess of Wessex took after their marriage in 1999.”
Well, yes. But that was nearly 20 years ago, in June, and it was the marriage of the son of the monarch, whose destiny has always been to serve as a full time representative of Her Majesty (Edward now runs his father’s sprawling and much-praised Duke of Edinburgh award scheme).
Eugenie’s role, by contrast, is so vague that she appears to be unable to define it herself: “We want to show people who we are as working, young, royal women, but also not to be afraid of putting ourselves out there,” said Eugenie in a recent Vogue interview.
“I think it’s a terrible idea,” says another source of the lavish, public wedding. “She is a party animal who doesn’t really feature in the firm. I would be hugely embarrassed if I were her. She is not a significant figure. It’s just a nonsense, really.”
The inevitable contrast with Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips—who married her rugby-playing husband in a low key ceremony in Scotland—will be regularly invoked by critics of the Yorks in the run-up to the wedding.
This week, Zara won praise for a powerful interview she gave about her own miscarriage, part of a mission to raise awareness of the issue in society.
In a statement, anti-royal pressure group Republic said: “There simply isn’t the public appetite for another costly royal wedding. The royals should pay for the wedding themselves, just like the rest of us.
“Polls showed two-thirds of Brits weren’t interested in Harry and Meghan’s big day, and 56 percent believed the royals should have paid the full cost of the wedding, including the cost of policing and security. Seventy-six percent said they wouldn’t want to contribute their own taxes to the wedding if they had a choice. Why are we to believe the public are more enthusiastic about Eugenie’s wedding? They simply aren’t.”
Eugenie is well known to be a very nice person. She is not responsible for the sins of her parents, but, there is a terrible danger for Eugenie that, perhaps influenced by her father’s pretensions, she could end up being perceived in the same way as him, as little more than a drain on the state.
Cancelling the carriage ride, even at this late stage, would be a magnificent retort to those who seek to attack royalty on the grounds of their extravagance.
In Eugenie’s Vogue interview, she said, "It’s important that it’s real. We’re real."
Scaling back the wedding plans would be the best way to telegraph this message far and wide.