With a dad embroiled in the Epstein scandal and the fallout from Megxit, Beatrice's dream plans have been thrown into disarray many times. Michelle Davies reveals what's going on behind palace walls
There may well be a moment on Princess Beatrice’s wedding day later this year when she releases a huge sigh of relief that she’s made it down the aisle at all. For since the 31-year-old announced her engagement to multi-million pound property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi last year, planning for her nuptials have been beset by the kind of setbacks and scandal that would have other brides-to-be wondering if it was worth the effort.
Beatrice and ‘Edo’, 37, announced their engagement in September with the happy statement that ‘we are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can’t wait to be married’. But four months on and they still haven’t confirmed neither the date nor venue, let alone revealed any finer details, which is unusual for a royal wedding at this stage. Although Friday May 29 is now being tentatively touted as a possible date and the Queen has offered Beatrice the use of Buckingham Palace for her reception, according to breaking reports the princess is furious her father’s continued involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal and the fallout from Megxit means her plans have been shoved to one side as the Royals navigate those two cataclysmic events.
Prince Andrew and the FBI
Initially it was reported the Queen had asked the couple to hold off confirming any details until the royals had concluded their engagements for 2019 – including her speech to Parliament laying out the Government’s agenda, which was delayed by the December General Election. However, it’s now clear that progress since then has been largely stymied by the continued involvement of Beatrice’s dad, Prince Andrew, in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking scandal and the fallout from his disastrous Newsnight interview in November 2019.
He was forced to step down from royal duties in the wake and such was the level of public disgust he skipped Beatrice and Edo’s engagement party at Chiltern Firehouse before Christmas because he didn’t want to deflect from the occasion. He’s also cancelled his own 60thbirthday party, due to be held at Buckingham Palace this month. It has since been reported a favoured wedding venue has also fallen through as a result of the scandal: The Guards Chapel in London’s St James’s Park. It was considered an ideal choice given Prince Andrew is Colonel of the Grenadier Guards but after he announced he was suspending military associations as he stepped back from public life the venue was apparently vetoed.
The scandal shows no signs of abating either. Last week the FBI gave a press conference to reveal Andrew has so far declined all requests to cooperate with their investigation, despite promising in his Newsnight interview that he would – again raising questions about how this will impact Beatrice’s wedding. It would be unthinkable for him not to walk her down the aisle, but as the FBI’s grip tightens, what would that say about the Royals if he did? Already the Queen has been criticised for standing by him in the light of Epstein victim Virginia Robert’s testimony that she was procured by Epstein to have sex with the prince, something he denies doing. Royal expert Angela Mollard told the Mirror she wouldn’t be surprised if Prince Andrew was absent from the official wedding photographs. ‘I think it will be a very quick scamper down the aisle and that’s about it, to be honest,’ she said.
No cameras allowed
Also overshadowing Beatrice’s plans is the fallout from Megxit. She’s reportedly rejected the idea of marrying at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where Harry and Meghan married in May 2018, because she no longer feels able to have a wedding on a similar scale given the backlash in some quarters about their quitting as senior royals. It’s going to be bad enough if the couple and Archie are guests: instead of the focus being on the bride, all eyes will be on them.
A second reason to reject St George’s Chapel is that neither the BBC nor ITV plans to cover the wedding. Even her little sister Eugenie’s wedding at the chapel in October 2018 was broadcast by ITV during a three-hour special edition of This Morning.
With no cameras present a more private venue seems likely now, but at least that will make it easier for Beatrice to manage her stepson-to-be’s presence on the day. Edo has a three-year-old boy, Wolfie, with former partner Dara Huang and both parents are scrupulous about protecting his privacy and keeping him off their social media feeds. A live broadcast would’ve made it hard for them to manage the toddler’s first appearance on the world stage as a new member of the Royal family, especially as Wolfie is expected to play a key part in the ceremony, as either ring bearer or even best man.
It will be interesting to see if Dara herself is invited, though. According to recent reports, she and Edo, who split only a few months before he began dating Beatrice, remain close and she even cuts his hair and takes him shopping for new clothes. This has apparently caused tensions between him and his fiancée. ‘Having initially been very cool about their friendship, Bea would rather there was a little more distance between [them],’ a source told one newspaper.
It is said the Queen in particular is ‘desperately sorry’ her granddaughter’s wedding plans are in such array and offered her the use of Buckingham Palace as a reception venue by way of apology, but that will be of little comfort to Beatrice as she’s forced to play the waiting game. As Angela Mollard said, ‘It’s very hard to be planning a wedding at the same time as your family is doing a major damage limitation exercise.’