It’s a fall day in 2018 in Windsor, U.K., and a select crowd of onlookers are waiting for Princess Eugenie to come out of St. George’s Chapel with her new husband, Jack Brooksbank. Inside, the wedding attendees sound the last few notes of a rousing rendition of the British national anthem. Then Eugenie does something to the Queen that raises a few eyebrows and shows everyone how she really feels about her grandmother.
Eugenie, you see, is the third eldest of the Queen’s four granddaughters, and the signal she gave to her grandmother on her wedding day certainly didn’t go unnoticed. The monarch seemingly holds the young woman in high regard, too, as before her marriage, she was given the title Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York. And afterwards she became HRH Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank.
So, the princess walked down the aisle with her beau in a ceremony that was bursting at the seems with royal pomp and pageantry. That’s right, an archbishop said prayers, a bishop heard her vows and the Queen’s household cavalry saluted her with trumpets. All in all, it was a magical occasion, and Eugenie’s moment with her grandmother was especially memorable.
Before we look more closely at Eugenie’s heartwarming gesture to the Queen, let’s learn a little more about her and Jack – who now works for George Clooney’s tequila brand, Casamigos. The two first crossed paths in the Swiss skiing center in Verbier – a favorite vacation spot among Eugenie’s immediate family. Indeed, in 2015 her parents even purchased a chalet in the area.
It was as though lightning struck between the couple, as they disclosed in an interview with the BBC in January 2018. Eugenie said, “We met when I was 20 and Jack was 24 and fell in love. We have the same passions and drive for life.” Jack also confirmed the instant attraction between the pair and even said that it had been “love at first sight.”
As it turns out, Jack and Eugenie are more akin than you may have initially imagined. They are, in fact, distant cousins. This is often the case with couples in the British royal family. Yes, the Queen and Prince Philip are third cousins. And the romance may well have been fated, too, because Eugenie’s dog is also called Jack.
Not long after they first got together in 2010, Jack went to the Royal Ascot horse race with Eugenie. And this seems to be regarded as quite the treat; Kate Middleton apparently had to wait until she was married for an invite. But it’s likely because Eugenie doesn’t do official work for the Queen, and as a result she doesn’t have to follow quite so many rules.
A couple of years after the Ascot jaunt, Eugenie went to New York City to work for online auctioneer Paddle8. Jack, meanwhile, stayed behind in the U.K. But all was well, as he explained to British newspaper the Daily Mail in 2013. He said, “We spend a lot of time on Skype. It’s great. We are still very much together.”
Eugenie then returned to London in 2015, and the pair bonded all over again. Yes, the princess explained to U.S. magazine Harper’s Bazaar the following year that they were enjoying cozy domesticity. She said, “When I’m with Jack, we watch The Walking Dead, which we’re obsessed with. Maybe Game of Thrones is our next thing. I don’t watch reality shows, but I love cooking programs.”
Then, in September 2016 talk of engagement sparked up when the pair spent the weekend at the Queen’s Scottish home at Balmoral. A source reportedly told U.K. newspaper The Daily Express, “You could call this weekend a rite of passage for Jack. There is no way he would be invited to stay with the Queen unless he was being welcomed into the royal fold and the bosom of the family.”
It wasn’t until January 2018, though, that Jack asked Eugenie to marry him while they were on holiday in Nicaragua. The princess, for her part, described the lakeside setting for the proposal to the BBC in that same month. She said, “The lake was so beautiful. The light was just a special light I had never seen. I actually said this is an incredible moment, and then he popped the question, which was really surprising even though we have been together seven years.”
And Eugenie was absolutely delighted with the proposal. She explained to the BBC, “I was over the moon. [It was a] complete surprise. But it was a perfect moment. We couldn’t be happier.” Jack also seemed to have enjoyed the occasion, saying, “It was amazing. I love Eugenie so much, and we are just so happy and over the moon for what is to come.”
When the Queen found out, she was apparently delighted too. Eugenie told the BBC, “Granny actually knew right at the beginning [of the engagement]. She was very happy as was my grandfather [Prince Philip].” On top of that, mom Sarah Ferguson shared her congratulations on Twitter, posting, “Total joy!”
Jack went to some trouble to create the perfect engagement ring – although he hadn’t had it with him when he actually asked Eugenie to marry him. He found a ring and then had a design made centered on a padparadscha sapphire. Jack told the BBC, “What’s amazing about it is that it changes color from every different angle that you look at it, which is what I think of Eugenie.”
A padparadscha, you see, is a type of sapphire that’s most often mined in Sri Lanka. It’s colored pink-orange – which is not common for this type of gemstone. And according to the Natural Sapphire Company, it gets its name from a lotus blossom’s color. Eugenie’s ring ended up being quite like the one that her mom had received when she’d got engaged, although her mother’s band featured a ruby.
But what about the all-important dress? Well, Eugenie had her dress designed by Christopher De Vos and Peter Pilotto. The design was complex and layered. Built up from an underskirt and corset to a skirt, it was fully pleated and had a fitted bodice. A particularly interesting feature of the dress was its low back. This detail, you see, was chosen by Eugenie specifically because she’d had surgery as a child to fix her scoliosis, and she wanted to show her scar.
The gown also featured a set of symbols that evidently held meaning for the princess. The thistle, for example, represented Scotland, and the shamrock stood for Ireland. In addition, her bouquet was made up of white roses, which are symbolic of York, and sprigs of ivy, which linked the bride to her home. And to finish off the look, the Queen lent Eugenie an emerald tiara.
Although Eugenie was willing to uphold tradition in most respects, she didn’t wear a veil. It’s usually custom for royal brides to wear one – unless they’re getting married for the second time, of course. When Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles, for example, she eschewed the veil, as did Princess Anne when she tied the knot with Sir Tim Laurence.
Like other elite brides before her, though, Eugenie stepped into a second outfit for the formal reception. That’s right, she arrived at the Windsor Royal Lodge adorned with a Zac Posen blush gown. And in keeping with her favored flower motif, the English rose had seemingly influenced the choice of color.
The marriage took place in St. George’s Chapel, which is a part of the Windsor Castle complex. The former building has been around since the 14th century, and royals choose to get married there quite often. For instance, Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle in the same spot, and Eugenie’s uncle Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles there, too.
The ceremony was officiated by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, who is also lead churchman at the chapel. He used the standard service in the Anglican church, which involved giving the wedding address and hearing the couple’s vows. Elsewhere, the chapel’s director of music, James Vivian, had composed descants – soaring treble parts – to accompany the hymns that were sung during the service.
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, read the prayers on the day and had written a personal prayer for the occasion. The cleric has the second-most important post in the Church of England and ranks beneath only the Archbishop of Canterbury. Furthermore, he has the distinction of being the first archbishop of color in the church.
And to sing the couple into marriage, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli sang two songs alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Eugenie’s dad, the Duke of York, is the orchestra’s patron, and the newlyweds had met frequently with its managing director, James Williams, to select their wedding music.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a royal occasion without some pageantry, and Eugenie’s wedding didn’t disappoint on that front. The Band of the Household Cavalry’s State Trumpeters regaled her with a specially written fanfare. What’s more, members of the Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards then formed up on the chapel’s steps. And from here, they saw the couple on their way to enjoy the salutes of spectators from an open carriage.
The Queen welcomed guests at Windsor Castle in the afternoon, but the evening saw something a bit more laidback. An supposedly told U.K. newspaper The Sunday Times that the later reception in Eugenie’s family home was “a relaxed party.” They said, “There will be dodgems and funfair rides, coconut shies, lots of food stalls, loads of cocktails, bloody Marys for the hangovers and a festival vibe.”
And of course, where there’s a wedding, there’s cake – this was no exception. However, Eugenie’s choice wasn’t totally conventional, and she opted for a chocolate and red velvet confection over the usual fruit cake. She had asked London-based baker Sophie Cabot to create the delicious dessert. And it was quite the job; the cake included a whopping total of 400 eggs.
Naturally, the cake had to be big, given that over 800 people were on the guest list for the nuptials. They included celebrities such as Liv Tyler, Ellie Goulding, Cara Delevingne and Demi Moore. On top of those in the chapel, 1,200 ordinary folk and charity representatives also reveled in the surrounds of the castle.
All of this cost a pretty penny, and Eugenie’s dad Prince Andrew did not have to foot the whole bill. The Queen may well have chipped in, and Jack Brooksbank’s family certainly did – along with the British public. Tax money paid for security for the ceremony, which made it on to our screens.
But let’s return to that all-important gesture Eugenie made to the Queen. It came, you see, right after the newlywed had finished singing the United Kingdom’s national anthem. She was about to take her first walk as a married woman and go outside to allow the public to see her share a kiss with her new husband. But before that, she halted and what she did in front of her grandmother spoke volumes.
The princess, for her part, presented the Queen with a very deep curtsy. It represented a glorious effort given her billowing dress and demonstrated the extent of her respect for the U.K.’s sovereign. For royal watchers, the move sparked a memory of the curtsy her mom, Sarah Ferguson, had honored the regent with at her own wedding some 30 years ago.
Of course, photographers had been on high alert for Eugenie’s curtsy. This is partly because they hadn’t captured Meghan Markle’s elaborate bow for the Queen when she had married Prince Harry in May that year. They were quite determined, then, that they wouldn’t miss Eugenie’s version – and she didn’t disappoint, either.
Eugenie, though, was not alone in descending towards the floor; Meghan also curtsied, though this time an onlooker was able to grab a snap of it. It’s not just this occasion that the Duchess of Sussex made the news with a gesture of respect to the Queen; she had a few months earlier, too.
In December 2017 Meghan was seen out and about with Kate Middleton for the first time. The Duchess of Cambridge had been photographed with Prince William, along with Meghan and Prince Harry, on their way to a Christmas service. And when they saw the Queen, all four had paid their respects, with the ladies performing a curtsy.
In fact, everyone is required by protocol to curtsy to the Queen when she comes into a room. Even her husband, Prince Philip, has to honor her with a bow. But that’s not all; you also need to curtsy to any other royal V.I.P.s, and you have to do it in the correct order.
The Queen receives the first curtsy, of course, since she’s the top royal. But then you need to perform the gesture to the next most important – and that would usually be her children. Furthermore, if you ever find yourself confronted by more than one of her offspring, you should honor them in order of age. So far, so good.
Women who are born princesses – like Eugenie herself – are higher in rank than those who marry a prince. The Queen made that the rule when Camilla married Charles in 2005, and it meant that Princess Anne, for instance, would outrank Camilla. However, if the Prince of Wales is also alone, things get even more complicated.
More specifically, when a royal couple is together, the wife gets to share the rank of her husband. Meghan must curtsy to Eugenie if she comes across her on her own since Eugenie is a “blood princess” in her own right. But if she’s with Harry, it will be the other way round.
According to Best Life, when the royals encountered Meghan after her marriage to Harry, it was the first time an American had been honored with a curtsy by British royalty. It would be a different story if she attended a function without her prince, though; then she’d be curtsying to everyone even a little bit royal.
One question does arise, though: when Kate and Meghan get together, who curtsies? On formal occasions, if their husbands are present, the latter does the dip. That’s because William is the eldest brother. However, it’s pretty likely that they greet each other without too much fuss when no one’s looking.
But what of the men? They show their respect to the Queen with a bow of their heads – at least, they usually do. International rugby player Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara decided to give the curtsy a try in 2015 at Royal Ascot. However, the results weren’t quite as impressive as Eugenie’s wedding bob.