When Princess Beatrice stepped up to the lectern at St George’s Chapel to give a reading from F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby at her sister’s royal wedding, there was some confusion as to which passage the bride would have chosen. Sure, Gatsby is an American classic, but it’s not exactly a great romance: the main character is – spoiler alert – a conman and a fraud, and his love interest isn’t much better. The excerpt itself, which details the narrator Nick Carraway’s first meeting with Jay Gatsby, initially only seemed to add to that confusion…
Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding reading: in full
"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 eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.
"It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
Precisely at that point it vanished — and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care."
Look back at Princess Eugenie's stunning wedding dress in the gallery below...
Princess Eugenie arrives at St George's Chapel
Princess Eugenie arrives at St George's Chapel in a dress designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos.
The royal wedding reading: the real meaning
An unusual choice, no? Or so, at least, some Twitter commentators decided, piping up with snarky comments about how the sisters hadn’t read the novel ‘properly’ (any former English Lit students getting uncomfortable flashbacks to being talked over in tutorials by louder men?). However, the real meaning behind Beatrice’s reading was soon revealed – and it’s pretty heart-warming stuff.
The wedding programme and address reveals that Eugenie first read The Great Gatsby soon after meeting her now-husband Jack, and was struck by ‘one particular passage in which Jay Gatsby is described’ which ‘reminded her immediately of Jack.’ It was the description of Gatsby’s smile that
And so, ‘she decided that she wanted eventually to let Jack know how much those words had brought him to mind.’ What better way of doing so than including them in her wedding service?