Princess Eugenie, the queen’s granddaughter and ninth in line to the throne, married her longtime boyfriend Jack Brooksbank Friday morning. The ceremony ran smoothly, despite storm-force winds that blew hats off heads and knocked a page boy off his feet, and a reading that compared her beau to one of the most famous con men of literature, Jay Gatsby.
The queen’s 97-year-old husband, Prince Philip, whose attendance hadn’t been confirmed prior to the ceremony, escorted his wife into the church and sat directly behind the bride’s mother, Sarah Ferguson, with whom he has had a long and bitter feud.
In a sign that the rift at the heart of the royal family persists, Prince Charles’ wife Camilla Parker Bowles didn’t attend. The palace briefed she was hosting a house party at the home she shares with Charles in Scotland although, as her husband was able to attend, her non-appearance was interpreted as a deliberate snub to Prince Andrew and Ferguson.
Ferguson herself, who was excluded completely from William and Kate’s wedding and forced to sit away from her daughters and other members of the royal family at Harry and Meghan’s nuptials, was seated in the front row between her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, and her other daughter, Princess Beatrice.
Exactly 850 people attended the ceremony, which began at 11 a.m. It was 250 more people than attended Harry and Meghan’s wedding held in the same location, St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Celebrity guests included Demi Moore, Naomi Campbell, and Robbie Williams—but George and Amal Clooney did not make an appearance.
Eugenie’s dress was by Peter Piloto and Christopher de Vos.
And while there was nothing to rival Michael Curry’s extended and impassioned sermon at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, the choice of a reading from The Great Gatsby describing Jay Gatsby’s smile left some observers wondering just how much Eugenie had understood it.
The passage read out by Princess Beatrice ran:
“He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”
But, as most English majors would tell you, Gatsby’s smile is a mask hiding his true self.
The Archbishop of Canterbury gave the following explanation to the congregation for the choice of reading: “It was soon after she and Jack had first met that Princess Eugenie read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One particular passage in which Jay Gatsby is described reminded her immediately of Jack.
“She decided that she wanted eventually to let Jack know how much those words had brought him to mind. That is why they have had a special place (as the second reading) in today’s wedding service.
“The words that particularly reminded her of Jack concern Gatsby’s smile. As we heard from the reading: ‘It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it... It concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.’
“Well, a few years have passed, and Eugenie and Jack come here today to smile on each other, and to offer each other something like ‘eternal reassurance’ and the promise of an ‘irresistible prejudice’ in each other’s favour.”
The archbishop wisely didn’t mention Gatsby’s ultimate fate: After falling hopelessly in love with married Daisy Buchanan, it’s revealed that Gatsby had built his fortune on corruption, and he’s murdered.