Beatrice’s heavy wedding blow for Queen

 

The Strathmore Rose. The Teck Crescent. Queen Mary's Diamond Lozenge.

Sadly, these are not London pubs but are a few of the whopping, rarely-worn tiaras owned by the Queen. This week we should have seen Her Majesty loan at least one of these beauties (or any of the dozens she owns) to her granddaughter Princess Beatrice for what should have been her wedding day today.

Pre-coronavirus, 2020 looked to be a bumper year for society weddings. Prince Harry's former girlfriend Cressida Bonas was intriguingly set to marry another man named Harry; James Middleton was going to wed Frenchwoman Alizee Thevenet and Princess Alexandra of Kent's granddaughter was set to get hitched to a Swedish art collector.

However, the most coveted of all the embossed cream invitations winging their way around Chelsea and Kensington was to Princess Beatrice's wedding to dashing British/Italian property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Today, May 29, should have seen the couple wed at the Chapel Royal at St James' palace followed by a swanky do in the garden of Buckingham Palace.

The couple announced their engagement last October. Picture: Princess Eugenie/Buckingham Palace via Getty Images
The couple announced their engagement last October. Picture: Princess Eugenie/Buckingham Palace via Getty Images

Then, the terrible march of COVID-19 meant the cancellation of their nuptials with no new official date currently set.

Obviously this would have been a personal blow to Beatrice who has ended up with the unfortunate notoriety for being unlucky in the love department.

However, the postponement of Bea's big day is perhaps an even bigger blow for The Firm.

The last year or so has been the most tumultuous in decades for the Queen and her family, managing to lose three working members of the royal family in the span of only two, short months.

First came Prince Andrew's mortifying BBC interview (who knew a Pizza Express in suburban Woking would ever achieve such global infamy) and his pompous, incredulous defence of his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The immediate public reaction to the situation saw the Duke of York forced to quit his HRH duties within days.

Prince Andrew gave a disastrous interview on Newsnight. Source: BBC
Prince Andrew gave a disastrous interview on Newsnight. Source: BBC

This week, a new documentary about Epstein landed on Netflix , guaranteeing renewed coverages of the claims that Prince Andrew had sex on three occasions with Epstein "sex slave" Virginia Giuffre, then Roberts, the first when she was only 17-years-old. (Andrew has strenuously and repeatedly denied the allegations.)

Then came January and the Sussexes, who with one Instagram post, managed to torpedo the royal status quo and shatter any lingering notions of family unity. Despite having decamped to Los Angeles, Harry and Meghan, the unspoken implications about their hasty departure continues to cast a pall over the palace.

 

 

All of which is why Bea and Edo's wedding, despite only starring second string players in the royal cast, mattered so much as a speedy means of changing the prevailing royal narrative.

Friday should have been a red letter day in the royal calendar, a chance for every HRH worth their garter sash to dust the dog hairs off their morning coats or to get on the blower to ask Philip Treacy to whip them up a new flower-strewn fascinator.

Weddings are the bread and butter of royalty, an occasion when even the most purse-lipped republican can get temporarily swept up in the pomp and ceremony. This is what the Queen and her courtiers do best: give the British public (and the world) a delicious jolt of grandeur with a love story thrown in to boot.

Essentially, Beatrice's "I Dos" would have been the perfect palate cleanser after month upon month of ceaseless, damaging PR for the palace. A lovely day of lovely hats would have served to induce a certain temporary, majestic amnesia and help restore public pride in the monarchy. It would have, for a few days at least, served as a distraction from those other problematic family members.

While the Windsors have done a bang up job during the coronavirus crisis, proving their Zoom mettle and blithely keeping national spirits up, royalty doesn't work, in the long term, remotely. There is only so long they can spend earnestly taking part in charity roundtables and thrilling seniors by popping up during their online Merengue lessons before things start to get a bit stale.

The Windsor "show", and on some level it is just that, needs a live audience. They need to be out there shaking hands and opening things to gin up public support, not cooped up in ten-bedroom manor houses balefully remembering how much fun it was to Knight someone.

As distasteful as it may be, they need to be out there entertaining us and a wedding would have gone a long way to achieving that.

People love a big royal wedding. Picture: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images
People love a big royal wedding. Picture: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images

 

The question no one knows the answer to is when this particular regal show will be back on the road. (Or at least in the back seat of a motorcade of black Range Rovers barrelling down British motorways.)

Even though the UK is slowly reopening, it is highly unlikely that anyone would even consider rescheduling the wedding until the Queen could attend and at this stage, that could be months away.

For the foreseeable future, Her Majesty will be cooped up in Windsor Castle (rooms: 1000 plus) with Prince Philip, a small handful of chosen, devoted staff and her budgie menagerie (seriously).

Courtiers, however, will surely want to get the Princess' wedding back on track as soon as possible both safety-wise and practically. The Queen is said to be exceptional at taking the public temperature and she would know that the sight of Princes George and Louis and Princess Charlotte in adorable flower boy and girl get-ups is the balm the UK desperately needs after a terrible year.

Assuming that there is no pernicious second wave and that Britain will, like the rest of the world, slowly, tentatively return to some sort of normality, then September would be the first month that could even be a vague possibility. If that is the case, it will be after six bruising months for the Queen and her family and will be not a minute too soon.

However, there is only one thing that trumps a royal wedding for this sort of hit of feel good publicity - a baby. No pressure Kate, but Queen and country might need you right now to do your bit. Again.

Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia's leading media titles.

Originally published as Beatrice's heavy wedding blow for Queen