The Making Of A Party Princess: How Eugenie Forged Her Own Path Within The Royal Family

As Eugenie steps out of the shadows, Amy Iggulden reveals a young woman determined to do it her way – and discovers what’s next for the ‘warmest, nicest’ royal…

Princess Eugenie

by Amy Iggulden |
Updated on

For once, she was centre stage. After 28 years in a supporting role, Princess Eugenie of York last week married her former bartender prince, Jack Brooksbank, in a lavish, two-day wedding extravaganza that could yet be seen as her breakthrough act. Thanks to her so-called ‘pushy’ parents, Prince Andrew and Fergie, we were finally offered a glimpse inside the court of party princess ‘Euge’ (her family nickname).

And it offered a tantalising insight into the girl with a gilded life. Yes, there may have been dodgems, coconut shies and Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli. But the ninth-in-line to the throne also extended an invite to the NHS surgeon who, 16 years ago, cured the curvature of her spine, caused by scoliosis, and apparently insisted that the entire event was plastic-free.

Variously described as ‘edgy and sassy’, ‘mischievous and conscientious’ and with a wicked sense of humour, the Queen’s sixth grandchild is clearly very much a modern woman. From frolicking naked at midnight at Marlborough College – alma mater of the more straitlaced Kate Middleton – to sunbathing apparently topless in Thailand during her gap year, to jokingly demanding a chance to do a 4am pole dance in a London strip club, Eugenie has been doing it her own way for a while now. And that doesn’t just mean the 16th birthday party that ended with her parents’ house looking rather the worse for wear; or the recent Ibiza hen party where phones were allegedly banned (what happens in Ibiza...).

‘Even her father admits she’s liable to be a bit of a tearaway,’ a family friend has said. But those in her circle also describe a girl whose sense of fun means she’s the guest everyone wants to sit next to at a dinner party. ‘Eugenie is exceedingly loyal to pals, caring, self-deprecating and really able to enjoy herself,’ a close friend told Grazia last week. ‘If she weren’t a princess, she could easily have forged a great career away from the spotlight, not have faced such harsh criticism, and probably have lived a far easier life. But she’s a strong character and, despite frustrations, she’s realising the position she’s in has a lot of benefits. I wish people could get to know the real Eugenie.’

It’s certainly true that Eugenie knows her own mind. At 13, she refused to pose for official photos on the day she started at Marlborough, preferring to play down her royal connections (she later revealed she finds it ‘annoying’ when people call her ‘princess’). Casually notching up two As and a B at A-level – the best results of any Windsor thus far – she headed straight to the party town of Newcastle for her degree, insisting on £96-a-week digs shared with five other students (unlike the grace-and-favour home her sister Bea chose when studying in London). It was around this time, aged 20, that Eugenie met her tequila-ambassador boyfriend Jack, while skiing in Verbier, and within a month she was blushingly confiding that they were ‘very happy’.

After Newcastle came a jet-set move to New York to work for auction house Paddle8, where she rubbed shoulders with Misha Nonoo, a close friend of Meghan Markle. Regular Skype calls kept the magic alive with Jack – by then managing Mayfair club Mahiki – and, within two years, Eugenie was back in London, working at art gallery Hauser & Wirth. The princess has revealed this job means she can leave at 5pm on the dot to carry out engagements – and she appears free to take as much holiday as she wishes, travelling a reported 25 days in the first 10 weeks of starting.

But the subject of Eugenie conducting royal engagements hasn’t been without tension, with Prince Charles said to be behind attempts to trim down the royal family, a move believed to have irritated younger brother Prince Andrew. Eugenie– who drives with a personalised ‘8’ number plate (believed to refer to her previous position in line to the throne before Prince Louis was born), is said to be ‘at peace’ with her lineage.

‘Princess Eugenie is probably the most intelligent member of the royal family: the warmest and nicest of them all,’ royal author Robert Jobson told Grazia. ‘She’s tried hard to impress and do lots of charity work. Behind the scenes Prince Andrew is pushing for her and Beatrice to get the same privileges as Kate and Meghan. But Eugenie understands it’s difficult. It’s actually very difficult to forge a role as Princess Eugenie of York but she’s tried hard.’

Still not hard enough for some. Eugenie’s parents kept her out of the spotlight while their marriage was imploding (she was just two when they split) and this may have affected her relationship with the public. It wasn’t really until those hats at William and Kate’s wedding in 2011 that she and her sister became ‘talked about’

Eugenie and Beatrice

– and the comments weren’t always positive. The princesses recently told Vogue how hurt they were by the reaction to their outfits, with Eugenie confiding, ‘There was a horrible article written about Beatrice and she got really upset. We were just about to step out and she had a bit of a wobble and cried. I was looking after her. And then about an hour later, I had a wobble and started crying and Bea was there for me.’

Click through to see every one of Eugenie and Jack's celebrity wedding guests...


slider eugenie wedding guests

Pixie Geldof and Jack Brooksbank1 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Pixie Geldof and Jack Brooksbank

Jimmy Carr and Karoline Copping2 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Jimmy Carr and Karoline Copping

Richard Bacon3 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Richard Bacon

Tracey Emin4 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Tracey Emin

Chelsea Davy5 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Chelsea Davy

Heather Kerzner6 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Heather Kerzner

David Emmanuel7 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

David Emmanuel

Naomi Campbell8 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Naomi Campbell

Liv Tyler and Dave Gardner9 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Liv Tyler and Dave Gardner

Ollie Proudlock and Emma Louise Connolly10 of 15
CREDIT: REX/Shutterstock

Ollie Proudlock and Emma Louise Connolly

Owain Walbyoff and Natalie Pinkham11 of 15

Owain Walbyoff and Natalie Pinkham

Ellie Goulding12 of 15

Ellie Goulding

Cressida Bonas13 of 15

Cressida Bonas

James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley14 of 15

James Blunt and Sofia Wellesley

Robbie Williams and Ayda Williams15 of 15

Robbie Williams and Ayda Williams

Since Eugenie hasn’t been given official royal duties, she is instead forging a path in charity work as patron of seven, including one that supports people going through operations to correct scoliosis. She has a close relationship with the Queen – calling her ‘Super-Gran’ – and sources say she will be hurt by the reported snub from Camilla, who didn’t attend the wedding. ‘It was a surprise and the Yorks were a little hurt,’ a close royal source said. ‘Charles and Andrew have a very difficult relationship and Andrew resents what his brother has done to airbrush the girls out.’ But Eugenie and Fergie are exceptionally close, and the two are said to have been in near constant contact in the run-up to the big day. Who better than Fergie to advise on the ups and downs of dealing with the royal family?

‘Unfortunately, Eugenie has no choice about the family she was born into,’ said the friend. ‘She knows she just needs to keep her head down and carry on.’ And as the bride herself has put it in the past, ‘There’s no point being angry with anyone for beating us up – we just need to shine light and love in the world.’ And throw a mean wedding party, of course.

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