Having the second royal wedding of the year isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Five months after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made front pages around the globe, Princess Eugenie and James Brooksbank said their I-dos in the same spot—St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle—but without the pressure of having everyone looking.
Plenty of people did look, however!
Almost 4 million tuned in to watch Eugenie and Jack’s nuptials on ITV, the largest audience for the U.K. station in that morning time slot since Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s wedding in 2011. For Meghan and Harry, they had more competitors, including BBC One, to split the audience with, but just as with the first royal wedding of 2018, fans of the royal family lined the streets of Windsor to glimpse the festivities.
Some even laid out picnic blankets and celebrated with champagne despite the blustery October day, and all cheered the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson as she made her way to the church a blushing bride-to-be and came out a newlywed.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our wedding so special and for thinking of us as we start our married life,” read handwritten thank-you note Eugenie and Jack drew up to reply to the thousands of well-wishers who sent them cards and congratulatory messages. “We are completely over-whelmed with happiness.”
Eugenie’s mum, the Duchess of York, also sent thank-yous (albeit typed ones), and in addition to agreeing that it was a most beautiful wedding, she wrote, “We are so happy to welcome Jack into our family, he is the most marvelous person and enriches Eugenie’s life. They are such a devoted couple.”
And with most of the news oxygen sucked up in the U.K. by either Brexit or the incoming royal baby, James and Eugenie have been enjoying a remarkably quiet honeymoon period since tying the knot on Oct. 12. But—and they could probably check with Harry and Meghan on this—they’re not missing anything by not being the subject of endless headlines (not to mention the inevitable bump-watch).
In fact, the couple just stepped out for their first public engagement as a married couple on Thursday, the opening of a new building at Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in London, where Eugenie had surgery for scoliosis—the scars from which she proudly showed off with the low-cut back of her wedding gown—when she was 12.
Prince Andrew joined his daughter, who is now a patron of the hospital, and son-in-law in meeting patients, staff (including a nurse who helped care for Eugenie after surgery) and a robot named Pepper.
“It is such an honor to be here today, I feel like my bones and my blood are a part of this building,” Eugenie said in addressing an audience at the hospital, per Hello! “I learnt on this visit today that we all share in something with this building because we care, and so to us it is very important that we are here opening this new building and that Jack, as my newly married husband on his first event has been able to come and see where I had my operation.”
Eugenie also wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo of the Queen Mother, “What an honour to open the RNOH Stanmore Building today. My Great Grandmother visited the RNOH in 1931 and to follow in her footsteps is so special.”
“I was so lucky to have Jack come with me, so I could show him where I had life changing surgery,” she added later on Instagram Story.
Unlike her cousins who are closer in line to the throne, Eugenie—who’s ninth in line, after her sister Princess Beatrice—gets to have her own social media. While she surely self-curates with a discerning eye, knowing that the House of Windsor is watching, she’s adept at the art of the #tbt and the #fbf, never forgets an important birthday (or Valentine’s Day), and since joining last March posts regularly from all the public goings-on in her life.
Her mum is also active on Instagram and no doubt will be marking Eugenie’s 29th birthday Saturday.
Upon marrying into the family, Jack did not receive any royal title (or a crown insignia on the commemorative china)—and unless the ruling monarch decides to bestow them, neither will their children—but he knew full well that he was 100-percent adopting a certain lifestyle nevertheless when he proposed to Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie of York in front of a volcano in Nicaragua on New Year’s Day last year.
They won’t be spending their young lives knowing that one day they have to assume the throne, like William and Kate. But as a granddaughter of the queen, Eugenie is still expected to comport herself accordingly, and Jack knows that any over-the-line behavior won’t go unnoticed.
Most significantly, Jack and Eugenie are free to keep their day jobs, his as U.K. brand manager for Casamigos tequila and hers as director of the Mayfair art gallery Hauser & Wirth, on Savile Row. The princess is considered a working royal, meaning she has patronages—including the Teenage Cancer Trust and Royal Coronet Theatre—and attends events on official behalf of the family, but that’s not her only gig.
In 2016, Andrew shut down a rumor that he was trying to get his daughters to become full-timers, stating, “As a father, my wish for my daughters is for them is to be modern working young women, who happen to be members of the Royal Family, and I am delighted to see them building their careers. When they do support the Royal Family in its work this is very much appreciated by my Family and most importantly by those organizations and to those for whom their participation makes such a difference to their lives.”
Eugenie’s parents warmly welcomed Jack into the family and the mother of the bride—whose attendance at Harry and Meghan’s wedding was a moment all in itself after being excludedfrom Kate and William’s in 2011—threw herself into the planning.
“We love Jack and I am so excited to have a son, a brother and a best friend. Eugenie is one of the finest people I know and so together it will be pure harmony,” Sarah, Duchess of York gushed on social media at the time.
Eugenie and Jack married on a Friday, the ceremony preceding an afternoon reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, followed by a black-tie bash that night at Royal Lodge, the York family’s country estate. The party continued there on Saturday with a festival-style daytime party with different stations offering food from around the world—including pizza, hamburgers, Nicaraguan rice dishes and Swiss crepes.
Before setting off for their honeymoon (in a still-undisclosed location) that Monday, the newlyweds spent Sunday night at Royal Lodge, enjoying pizza with Beatrice and the Duke and Duchess of York—who have lived at the Berkshire estate together for the past decade despite being divorced since 1996. They also still own a chalet together in Verbier, Switzerland, one of the royal family’s preferred skiing spots.
“We’re the happiest divorced couple in the world,” Sarah Ferguson told the Daily Mail in November. “We’re divorced to each other, not from each other.”
Meanwhile, the duchess has nothing but high hopes for her daughter and new son-in-law’s future together.
“She and Jack are just meant to be,” Sarah gushed.”He adores her, and now I’ve got a son. Jack is like Zebedee, boing–boing!” (Zebedee is a jack-in-the-box character from the 1960s-and ’70s-era children’s show The Magic Roundabout.)
“He will be the best consort there is, as Prince Albert was to Queen Victoria,” added the proud mum and author of two books about Victoria. “I know it will be that sort of love match.”
Eugenie first met Jack, then the manager of a posh Mayfair nightclub, through mutual friends while on holiday in Verbier in 2010, when she was 20 and he was 24.
The princess was finishing a combined degree in art history, English literature and politics at Newcastle University and in 2013 she moved to New York to work at online auction house Paddle8, the co-founder of which had gone to Eton with Prince Harry.
“We spend a lot of time on Skype,” Jack told the Daily Mail a couple months after Eugenie moved across the Atlantic. “It’s great. We are still very much together.”
The London-born son of George and Nicola Brooksbank went to Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, for prep school but got the go-ahead from his parents to leave university in favor of going straight to work in the hospitality industry. He started off as a waiter in Chelsea before making contacts that led him to a job at the hot spot Markham Inn, frequented by the likes of Prince Harry and then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas (whom he met through Eugenie and Beatrice) and pal Guy Pelly (who’s now one of Prince Louis‘ godfathers).
Jack was managing Mahiki in Mayfair when he met Eugenie, the circles they both ran in finally conspiring to introduce them.
“There was an immediate attraction and since that meeting, they have barely been apart,” a friend recalled to the Mail. Talking about why the relationship worked, the pal reflected, “She is very uncomplicated. She’s a doer, a worker, as is Jack. They are very suited. Jack’s always worked hard. He chose not to go to university so that he could get on the career ladder and Eugenie loved that. She didn’t care at all that he was a waiter. She might be a princess, but Eugenie comes with few airs and graces.”
Eugenie was known to enjoy a good night out and was one of cousin Harry’s regular going-out buddies at some of London’s most fashionable bars and clubs, but Jack—while certainly in the know—acknowledged that the party scene wasn’t always his…well, scene.
“I leave work at 11 p.m. and head home,” he said in 2013. “I’m not a big drinker. People think we party a lot but actually we [in the club business] are very quiet. For me it’s a case of going home and watching a DVD.”
Eugenie returned to London for good in 2015 and went to work at Hauser & Wirth. And with that, she and Jack were finally able to indulge more often in their common interests, including trying new restaurants and traveling.
“I collect restaurant cards,” Eugenie shared with Harper’s Bazaar in 2016. “(I also collect airplane tickets, by the way—since I was 16. One day, I’m going to turn them into wallpaper and paste it into my cupboard.) Two of my favorite restaurants in London are Bocca di Lupo and the Palomar in Soho. For dinner, when I’m being good, I cook my own food. When I’m being really bad, it’s Basilico pizza. My favorite drink is vodka soda with loads of lime. Can’t beat that.”
Jack eventually moved into Eugenie’s apartment at St. James’s Palace, one of the places Harry was happy to take Meghan in the early days of their relationship in 2016, when they were intent on keeping a low profile in London. The foursome also dined together at Soho House in Toronto on Halloween together.
All the while Jack was getting ready to propose—he had found the perfect sapphire “but then didn’t want to do anything till Eugenie had signed off on it”—and their engagement was announced on Jan. 22, 2018.
After they returned from their mystery honeymoon, Eugenie and Jack settled into married life at Ivy Cottage, one of the cozier residents at Kensington Palace. William and Kate remain a hop-skip away in the 20-room Apartment 1A, the onetime home of Princess Margaret, and Harry and Meghan lived there until recently, but have since chosen to start their family at Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Eugenie was one of the first members of the royal family to meet Meghan Markle when she started dating Harry in 2016 and, having witnessed her cousin’s increasingly frustrated quest for long-term love over the years, was one of the American actress’ biggest champions.
“They have all become great friends,” a source told the Sunday Express that November. The ladies bonded over “a shared love of art, dogs and late-night macaroni suppers. Eugenie loves Meghan to bits and believes she is perfect for Harry. They are thick as thieves and may even all go on holiday together soon. Eugenie has lots of friends who could let them stay and be discreet, away from prying eyes.”
Meghan brought rescue beagle Guy with her to the U.K., while Eugenie is dog-mama to terrier Jack. “Total accident!” she toldHarper’s Bazaar in 2016 about her dog and then-boyfriend having the same name.
Though they’re no longer immediate neighbors, Jack and Eugenie were with the whole family celebrating Christmas at Sandringham, and surely Eugenie will be among the first visitors when Meghan has her baby. (It remains unclear if the Duchess of Sussex will follow in the footsteps of Kate, Princess Diana and Princess Anne and give birth at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, or somewhere closer to Windsor. Eugenie and Beatrice were both born at London’s Portland Hospital.)
With all the world obsessing over that, and having dated for so long prior to getting married, Eugenie and Jack are happily settled back into their usual routine of work, relaxing at home and attending the occasional glittering royal party or black-tie gala.
In November they were at Prince Charles‘ 70th birthday party hosted by the queen at Buckingham Palace along with Beatrice, Harry, Meghan, Kate, William and many more. A week later they feted the U.K. charity Street Child, which counts founding patron Sarah Ferguson as a global ambassador, at a 10th-anniversary dinner at Kensington Palace. They spent time with their families over the holidays and marked the anniversary of their engagement announcement in January.
“What a year it’s been since then and how exciting for 2019,” Eugenie wrote.
Eugenie recorded commentary for the audio tour and talked about the glittering accessories she wore that day, including the scene-stealing Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara loaned to her by Granny, the queen. The center emerald itself is almost 94 carats.
“It was the most incredible thing to wear such a piece of history that my grandmother had lent me, very proud moment,” she said, “and the beautiful earrings were a gift from my husband.”
He’s got good taste, that Jack.
Five months into marriage, the couple are still living their best life—food, drink, friends and enjoying the local scene. Last weekend James and Eugenie had a casual date night at members-only club Annabel’s in Mayfair, where they strolled out hand-in-hand, all smiles. It also looks as though another ski holiday is imminent, as the couple were spotted leaving sports equipment store Snow & Rock with a couple of bags this week.
Eugenie mentioned a few years ago that her favorite shows were How to Get Away With Murder and Outlander, and that she and Jack were both “obsessed” with The Walking Dead. She also mused, “Maybe Game of Thrones is our next thing.”
If they did end up getting into the binge-worthy drama, then we know what they’ll be busy obsessing over starting in April.