An Italian count with movie star looks and pots of money. While such charms may seem a little too obvious to some, it’s not hard to figure out what Princess Beatrice sees in her new husband, the dashing man about town Count Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
Although, strictly speaking, he’s not a count because the title isn’t recognised in this country and even in Italy is recognised only as a courtesy title.
Then there’s his other history, the personal one. When 36-year-old Edo, as he’s known, and Beatrice got together in 2018, he was newly separated from but still living with his former fiancee, Harvard-educated architect Dara Huang, the mother of his son, Christopher ‘Wolfie’ Woolf, now four.
Edo Mapelli Mozzi, pictured with his former partner Dara Huang, right, and their child Wolfie Mapelli Mozzi. Dara remains a part of Edo’s life and even helps him pick out clothes
Dara remains a part of Edo’s life. She is said to still help Edo, 37, pick out clothes and cut his hair. Unsurprisingly in January this year, it was reported that Beatrice, 31, ‘would rather there was a little more distance’ between her fiance and his ex.
Edo’s family told the Mail they were thrilled that he and Beatrice had finally tied the knot. Dario Mapelli Mozzi, Edo’s cousin once removed, said: ‘We are very happy for him to be marrying the queen’s granddaughter, although we would have been happy with whoever he chose.
‘We were not disappointed that they didn’t have a big wedding. We were happy with anything. When they got engaged it seemed like it might be a bit bigger, but always limited. 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.
Or perhaps because of the problems with her father they didn’t want to go overboard with publicity in case anyone criticised them. Probably they were right to have a private wedding.’
Another cousin, Maria Lia Mapelli Mozzi, said: ‘We have already sent our congratulations privately, we are very happy that they were able to go ahead with a wedding. They didn’t manage to do it in May, because of the coronavirus, so it’s lovely that they have been able to do it now, privately instead of waiting another year.
‘We are not disappointed they didn’t do it in Italy. They never planned to and they wouldn’t have been allowed to have a big gathering in the lockdown. He has always lived in England and that is what they always planned.’
While Dara apparently remains close to Edo, her father Po-Tien recently blamed the Royal Family for robbing his daughter of the chance to walk down the aisle with Edo. When news of the romance became public in December 2018, the retired Nasa scientist said: ‘Why would they want to go and break this up? I can’t understand it.
‘It’s not fair, but the Royal Family are very powerful. What can I do? I can’t do anything?’
Edo’s family told the Mail they were thrilled that he and Beatrice had finally tied the knot. Dario Mapelli Mozzi, Edo’s cousin once removed, said: ‘We are very happy for him to be marrying the queen’s granddaughter, although we would have been happy with whoever he chose
He said he believed his daughter knew nothing about the relationship until it was reported in the press.
Speaking from the family home in Florida, he said: ‘Dara came back home from London for Thanksgiving with Wolfie. She didn’t know anything about it and the next day her friend emailed the newspaper report to her.’
So these were not entirely happy beginnings to the romance, but it seems Beatrice was swept off her feet. And who can blame her – Edo certainly has a most romantic turn of phrase.
After they announced their marriage, he declared on Instagram: ‘You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home. Hand in hand, tomorrow and forever.’
Who could resist a man who makes such pronouncements – and in public, too?
It has been reported that an 18th-century Baroque palace in Casatenova, Lombardy, about 20 miles from Bergamo, is Edo’s family seat, but it seems that’s not quite the case – the property belongs to another branch of the family.
‘It’s the same family but another branch,’ says current owner Marialia Mapelli Mozzi. ‘My great-grandfather was the brother of his great-grandfather. We are distant cousins. Edoardo has only visited once.’
Sadly, then, Edo is not in line to inherit Villa Mapelli Mozzi. But perhaps this resourceful new member of the Royal Family will build his own fabulous equivalent for himself and his bride.
Edo describes himself as a property developer. His property development company Banda, which he set up in 2007 aged 24, specialises in creating homes for the super-rich in which no expense or detail is spared. The company has reportedly made him a multi-millionaire
Edo describes himself as a property developer. His property development company Banda, which he set up in 2007 aged 24, specialises in creating homes for the super-rich in which no expense or detail is spared. The company has reportedly made him a multi-millionaire.
The firm’s philosophy ‘is not to just sell the lifestyle’ – although his latest development, a group of stucco-fronted houses in Battersea that he has converted into luxury flats, for example, is all lifestyle, with every master suite featuring a double-sized shower. ‘People like their own sides and their own shampoo,’ Edo explained in an interview to promote his business. The blurb on the Banda website says: ‘We strive to craft environments which are both intrinsically beautiful and faultlessly functional. Life, front of mind.’
Edo has been fascinated by grand buildings since he was a child – what fun it will be, then, exploring Buckingham Palace, Balmoral et al. And, if rumours are correct, the couple will live in St James’s Palace.
So who is this new member of the Royal Family really? Despite his rakish appearance, there is English grit in the family tree, albeit moneyed grit. The family of his mother, Nicola ‘Nikki’ Burrows, made their fortune in the Lancashire coal-mining industry.
His basic CV reads like that of any middle-class Englishman; he was educated privately at Radley College in Oxfordshire and studied business and economics at Edinburgh University. Yet his dashing appeal is more colourful. His father Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi was born in Argentina but moved with his parents to the UK. A charismatic figure, he went on to become a British junior ski champion and represented Great Britain at the Winter Olympics in Sapporo in Japan in 1972.
Princess Beatrice, pictured with her father Prince Andrew at Trooping of the Colour in June 2007
Edo’s older sister, Natalia, was born in 1981; Edo followed two years later in 1983 at the Portland Hospital in London – something he shares in common with Princess Beatrice.
The family divided their time between homes in Chelsea and Oxfordshire. The marriage, however, didn’t last and Edo’s parents split when he was still a child. Alessandro married twice more and moved to the South of France, while Edo’s mother Nikki wed Christopher Shale, chairman of the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association. Edo has a younger half-brother, Albemarle, known as Alby. The family lived at Hundley House, a large property, complete with tennis court and croquet lawn, near Charlbury in Oxfordshire. Holidays were spent at the relaxed but luxurious coastal estate Mr Shale owned on the Kenyan island of Lamu.
Mr Shale, who died suddenly aged 56 in 2011 at the Glastonbury festival, was a friend of the Duke and Duchess of York and the Duchess is godmother to Alby. (Edo’s mother remarried, to sculptor, David Williams-Ellis, in 2017.)
Naturally, then, Edo mixed in the same circles as Beatrice, although for many years they were no more than friends. Edo, after all, had a fiancee and young son, and Beatrice was in a long-term relationship with her ex, Dave Clark.
But then history was changed for the Royal Family when in 2018 he wooed the princess who was to become his wife. And now they will settle into married life, the count and his contessa, as Beatrice could style herself.