The Queen's Sweet, Powerful Message at Princess Beatrice's Wedding

"The message of continuity in that gesture was very powerful indeed," a royal insider said.

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Princess Beatrice's secret wedding to real estate tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on Friday was one of the most romantic royal weddings ever, due in large part to Queen Elizabeth's determination to make her granddaughter happy in the midst of a deeply upsetting time for them both. Not only is the world still battling the deadly COVID-19 pandemic—which afflicted Prince Charles—but one of the Queen's other sons, Prince Andrew, Beatrice's father, was forced to step back from royal duties after a disastrous interview in November 2019 where he unsuccessfully tried to explain his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

"Between the coronavirus outbreak and the continuing saga as a result of Prince Andrew's association with Jeffrey Epstein, it has been a very difficult time for the Queen and a highly emotional one for Beatrice, who has been very concerned about her father," said one Palace insider. "Her Majesty really wanted the princess to have her wedding despite all the obstacles and have it be a joyous occasion devoid of drama. It was decided that having the ceremony out of the public eye would be the best course of action for all concerned."

A statement from Buckingham Palace released the day after the wedding stipulated that the event went ahead "with kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen."

 

In an unmistakable gesture of love and support, the Queen loaned Beatrice a dress designed by Norman Hartnell that she'd originally worn in 1962 to the London movie premiere of Lawrence of Arabia. The stunning gown with a diamanté encrusted bodice was slightly remodeled by the Queen's dresser, Angela Kelly, and long-time dressmaker, Stewart Parvin. The dress was updated with the addition of puffy organza sleeves (because a royal bride cannot have bare shoulders) and a paneled skirt.

The Queen also loaned her granddaughter a priceless family heirloom with a richly romantic history. Beatrice wore the Queen Mary diamond fringe tiara that Her Majesty also wore on her wedding day. The tiara was originally made for Queen Mary by Garrard and Co. in 1919, fashioned from a diamond necklace given by Queen Victoria for her wedding. Previously, the Queen had loaned it to her daughter, Princess Anne, for her wedding.

"Her Majesty must have been so thrilled to see her granddaughter married in the same tiara she wore 70 years ago," a royal insider told me. "The love and message of continuity in that gesture was very powerful indeed."

In an undoubtedly deliberate decision, after the wedding, Buckingham Palace released two photographs by Benjamin Wheeler (embedded above)—one shows the bride and groom leaving the ceremony and the other shows the couple with the Queen and Prince Philip (with the appropriate social distance). The second set of images featured Beatrice and Edo alone. While Prince Andrew is reported to have walked his daughter down the aisle, there was no sign of him or his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, in the official photographs. (Last week, the prince's website was quietly taken down.)

"It is a definite departure from what we usually see after a royal wedding," said my source. "But in this case, the Palace is all too aware of the negative press surrounding Prince Andrew and they did not want to muddy the waters on such a happy occasion."

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The private ceremony was held on July 17 at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor. According to The Sun, it was an intimate gathering of just 20 guests including the Queen and Prince Philip, the bride and groom's parents and siblings, and a few close friends. A reception and luncheon were reportedly held afterwards at Andrew and Sarah's nearby home at the Royal Lodge.

The wedding was originally planned for May 29 at the Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace as a much grander affair for 150 guests. But it was never set to be televised like Princess Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank, which was shown, in part, on ITV. At the time of Eugenie's wedding, Andrew was feuding with Prince Charles because he believed Eugenie deserved a wedding on the same scale as Prince Harry's nuptials to Meghan Markle. (Ironically, Andrew was also said to be furious that the BBC, where his infamous Epstein interview later aired, decided to pass on airing the ceremony.)

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall were not present at Beatrice's wedding, but they did offer their congratulations on Instagram. Prince William and Kate Middleton did not attend, but posted a sweet message to the newlyweds in an Instagram story. According to Hello, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle offered their congratulations privately.

But it was the Queen's overwhelming and deep support that made Beatrice and Edo's wedding so memorable. "The Queen has always been brilliant at telegraphing just the right message at the right time," said my insider. "The wedding showed that while she is a monarch sensitive to the issues of the day, she is also a loving grandmother who wanted one of her favorite granddaughters to have the wedding she deserved." And for more on the royals, check out The Secret Ways All of the British Royals Stay Fit.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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