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From opulence to obscurity: What a difference a year makes for royal weddings

Harry and Meghan, 2018

The crowds were unprecedented, with more than 50,000 people an hour pouring into the Berkshire town of Windsor and packing the streets and the Long Walk in the Great Park.

TV crews from America, Britain and around the world paid thousands for vantage points. 

And the atmosphere was electric as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in May 2018 in the grand St George’s Chapel in the Castle. 

There, hundreds of guests — including George and Amal Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, along with the Royals. 

In Britain alone, 13 million watched on TV. The Prince and the Hollywood star — we all thought it was a new dawn for the Royal Family but, sadly, it was not to be.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in May 2018 in the grand St George’s Chapel in the Castle at Windsor

In Britain alone, 13 million watched on TV as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex rode in a carriage down The Long Walk towards Windsor Castle

In Britain alone, 13 million watched on TV as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex rode in a carriage down The Long Walk towards Windsor Castle

Jack Brooksbank and Eugenie, 2018 

Just a few months after Harry and Meghan’s big day, a packed St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle hosted its second Royal Wedding of the year. 

Eugenie, younger daughter of Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York, married Jack Brooksbank, the European brand manager for Casamigos Tequila, a company founded by George Clooney.

Thousands of members of the public lined the streets of Windsor to catch a glimpse or the couple whose bridesmaids and pageboys included Princess Charlotte and Prince George.

Members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra provided the music, while the guests included Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. 

Brooksbank drove his wife to the reception at Royal Lodge in a Aston Martin DB10, one of the eight made for the 007 movie Spectre.

Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank leave after their wedding at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on October 12, 2018

Princess Eugenie of York and her husband Jack Brooksbank leave after their wedding at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on October 12, 2018

Princess Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank walks down the aisle of the Quire after they were married at St George's Chapel

Princess Eugenie and Mr Brooksbank walks down the aisle of the Quire after they were married at St George’s Chapel

 

Princess Eugenie's mother Sarah Ferguson at their wedding in Windsor in October 2018

Princess Eugenie’s mother Sarah Ferguson at their wedding in Windsor in October 2018

Edo and Beatrice, 2020

Hit by the double whammy of Covid-19 and the scandal engulfing her father, Princess Beatrice’s wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi was as low-key as you could imagine. 

The venue — originally planned to be the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, in London — was the relatively humble Royal Chapel of All Saints in the grounds of her parents’ home of Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park. 

It is usually used as the parish church for Royal Household staff. Closed off entirely to the public, the event was attended by only about 15 guests, but among them joyfully was the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

At least the bride’s father Prince Andrew looked more than happy after the ceremony.

The venue — originally planned to be the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, in London — was the relatively humble Royal Chapel of All Saints in the grounds of her parents’ home of Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park

The venue — originally planned to be the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, in London — was the relatively humble Royal Chapel of All Saints in the grounds of her parents’ home of Royal Lodge, in Windsor Great Park 

Britain's Princess Beatrice of York and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi arrive for the wedding ceremony of the Prince Napoleon Countess Arco-Zunneberg at the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides National Hotel in Paris on 19 October 2019

Britain’s Princess Beatrice of York and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi arrive for the wedding ceremony of the Prince Napoleon Countess Arco-Zunneberg at the Saint-Louis-des-Invalides cathedral at the Invalides National Hotel in Paris on 19 October 2019

The bride’s father Prince Andrew looked more than happy after the ceremony (pictured)

The bride’s father Prince Andrew looked more than happy after the ceremony (pictured)

Closed off entirely to the public, the event was attended by only about 15 guests, but among them joyfully was the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured)

Closed off entirely to the public, the event was attended by only about 15 guests, but among them joyfully was the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (pictured)

Why Beatrice had to marry in secret: Groom’s cousin blames Prince Andrew’s ‘problems’ after first royal wedding behind closed doors for 235 years that only the family’s ‘inner circle’ knew about in advance

Prince Andrew walked his daughter Beatrice down the aisle on Friday in the first ‘secret’ royal wedding for 235 years.

The disgraced royal put his troubles over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal to one side to give the princess away in a remarkable private ceremony. 

The clandestine nature of the hastily arranged nuptials meant the Queen’s beleaguered son was spared appearing in public.

Princess Beatrice (pictured right), 31, got married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (left), 37, on Friday in the first ‘secret’ royal wedding for 235 years

Princess Beatrice (pictured right), 31, got married to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi (left), 37, on Friday in the first ‘secret’ royal wedding for 235 years

Prince Andrew (pictured) walked his daughter down the aisle during the private ceremony at the All Saints Royal Chapel near Windsor Castle

Prince Andrew (pictured) walked his daughter down the aisle during the private ceremony at the All Saints Royal Chapel near Windsor Castle 

Beatrice, 31, wed her fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, 37, known as Edo, at All Saints Church on the Queen’s Windsor estate in an intimate ceremony, with just 15 family and friends. 

The couple had planned a much bigger event in London for May but had to cancel due to lockdown.

Her grandparents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, were the only royals present beside Beatrice and her immediate family including her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, and younger sister, Princess Eugenie.

The monarch shared her delight with Captain Sir Tom Moore, who she knighted at Windsor Castle hours after the nuptials, telling him: ‘My granddaughter got married this morning. Both Philip and I managed to get there – very nice.’

Edo’s son Wolfie, four, was his ‘mini best man’ as Beatrice became the first ‘blood princess’ to become a stepmother. The last royal believed to have married in secret was George IV, who wed his mistress Maria Fitzherbert in 1785 in a furtive ceremony in her Mayfair drawing room.

Details of Beatrice’s wedding were briefly confirmed by Buckingham Palace yesterday. But the Daily Mail can also reveal that:

  • Only members of the family’s ‘inner circle’ were told about the wedding and were sworn to secrecy;
  • The bride and her mother organised the wedding in just two weeks after government restrictions were relaxed, so that her grandparents could attend before relocating to Balmoral for the summer;
  • Beatrice walked from her father’s home Royal Lodge – where she had stayed the night before the wedding – to the nearby church and had only a single bridesmaid;
  • Wolfie’s mother, Dara Huang, is not believed to have been present;
  • The bride wore the wedding dress she had planned to show off back in May;
  • Guests, including the Queen, stood socially-distanced in the church and had an outdoors reception at Royal Lodge.

Family friends insisted the secretive nature of the wedding was not down to Andrew’s issues over the Epstein scandal. 

The FBI wants to question him over his close friendship with the convicted paedophile, who killed himself while awaiting trial on further charges last summer.

Pressure on Andrew, 60, intensified following the arrest in the US of his close friend, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. 

But the sources said the secrecy was explained by Beatrice and Edo’s desire for a quiet, private ceremony and the fact they did not want to overshadow Sir Tom’s knighting at Windsor.

But Dario Mapelli Mozzi, Edo’s cousin once removed, told the Mail: ‘We heard it was postponed to next year but that was clearly to keep it secret. Maybe they did it now to be sure that the Queen could be there.

Pressure on the disgraced Andrew (pictured left with Beatrice) intensified following the arrest in the US of his close friend, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. The groom's cousin blamed the Prince's 'problems' for the clandestine wedding

Pressure on the disgraced Andrew (pictured left with Beatrice) intensified following the arrest in the US of his close friend, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. The groom’s cousin blamed the Prince’s ‘problems’ for the clandestine wedding

‘Or perhaps because of the problems with her father they didn’t want to go overboard with publicity in case anyone criticised them.’

Edo was previously engaged to architect Miss Huang for three years. They are said to have broken up just weeks before he and Beatrice started dating.

The small guest list included Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack, Edo’s mother Nikki Williams-Ellis and stepfather David, as well as his half-brother, Alby Shale, to whom he is extremely close.

Alby is a son by Nikki’s second marriage, to the late Tory grandee Christopher Shale, and is also the Duchess of York’s godson.

George IV was last to marry in secret in 1785 

The last royal to marry in secret is believed to have been George IV, while he was still Prince of Wales.

The future monarch wed his Catholic mistress Maria Fitzherbert in a secret ceremony performed in the drawing room of her Mayfair home in 1785.

It was technically invalid as George had not sought his father George III’s consent, as required of any heir to the throne by the Royal Marriage Act of 1772.

Marriage to a Roman Catholic would also have excluded him from succeeding to the throne.

Rumours of the marriage scandalised society but the couple remained together until 1795, when George agreed to marry a Protestant, Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

He had run up huge debts and was forced into the marriage in exchange for a financial bail-out but came to loathe his new wife. The couple had a daughter together, Princess Charlotte, but lived separately after her birth and George later described Mrs Fitzherbert as ‘the wife of my heart and soul’.

He became Prince Regent in 1811 after George III was deemed unfit to rule because of his mental instability.

His marriage with Princess Caroline was such a failure he tried unsuccessfully to divorce her after he became king in 1820. He died a decade later.

He is said to have given instructions that he should be buried with a tiny portrait of Mrs Fitzherbert tied around his neck.

She kept a corresponding portrait of him in a locket which is said to have been in her hand when she died in 1837.

George’s only child, Princess Charlotte, died in childbirth in 1817 so the crown passed to his brother who became William IV.

It is understood Edo’s father, Nikki’s first husband, the Olympic skier Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, who holds British and Italian citizenship, was invited, but it is not clear whether he went. A source said they thought it ‘unlikely’ and the pair are ‘not close’.

Sources said it was impossible to invite other members of the Royal Family ‘because if you invite one, questions will be asked as to why you didn’t invite the others and there are just too many of them’.

An insider said that while it wasn’t the first time that the Queen and her husband have seen members of their family it was still the first family ‘event’ the elderly couple have attended in months.

Beatrice and Edo had planned to wed at the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace on May 29 in front of 150 guests, followed by a reception in the garden at Buckingham Palace.

The couple, who spent lockdown together at the home of Edo’s mother and her husband in Oxfordshire, decided to just ‘sit back’ and wait to see how things went. 

Their only stipulation was that they did not want to have to wait too long to tie the knot – even if it had meant it was just the two of them – and that if they could have a small wedding then the Queen, 94 and Philip, 99, had to be there.

When the Government announced that from July 4 weddings with up to 30 socially-distanced guests would be permitted, Beatrice and Edo – with her doting mother taking charge of the arrangements – sprang into action. 

The 190-year-old All Saints Chapel, also called The Royal Chapel of All Saints or Queen Victoria’s Chapel, is Grade II listed. The Queen regularly attends Sunday service when she is in the area, as did her mother before her.

It has the bonus of being completely private – cut off from any members of the public and press – which meant that Andrew who has been keeping a low profile due to the Epstein scandal, would not have to be seen in public.

News of Beatrice’s wedding began to break only after a photographer spotted Philip and the Queen, resplendent in a turquoise coat and hat with flowers, being driven in their official car from Windsor Castle up the Long Walk and through the Great Park to the church.

Both the ceremony and a reception at Andrew’s home afterward were organised with strict social distancing in mind. Covid-19 guidelines say wedding ceremonies must be kept as short as possible with no food or drink and singing and playing of instruments to be avoided, so the family congregated in the garden.

The Queen was one of the first to leave the party at 11.45am in order to honour Captain Tom at the castle.

The newly-weds decided not to release the traditional wedding photograph until today to avoid overshadowing the knighthood ceremony.

One close family friend said Wolfie was a star turn, adding: ‘Wolfie has spent a lot of time with them and although Beatrice is, of course, hugely respectful that she is his step-mother and Dara is a wonderful mother, she does love Wolfie very deeply. Beatrice is a very sweet, very sensitive young woman.’

Another friend said the past year had been a ‘tremendously difficult one for the family’ due to the scrutiny over Andrew’s friendship with Epstein.

‘Those children have been so devastated by it all, so it was really nice to have this wedding away from the public eye,’ they said.

‘They were all there and Sarah kept the show on the road. Very, very few people were given any information about it.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk