By Helena Williams
WINDSOR, England (Reuters) – Final preparations were being made in the English town of Windsor on Thursday for Britain’s second major royal wedding this year, this time involving Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Princess Eugenie.
Eugenie, younger daughter of the queen’s third child Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, will tie the knot with Jack Brooksbank, at the monarch’s Windsor Castle home on Friday.
The nuptials come just five months after the glittering wedding of Prince Harry, younger son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, and U.S. actress wife Meghan, now the Duchess of Sussex, at the same location.
Eugenie, 28, ninth-in-line to the throne and a director at London’s Hauser & Wirth art gallery, and Brooksbank, 32, who works in the drinks and hospitality industry, are copying some of her cousin’s plans.
The couple, who met in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier in 2010 and got engaged in Nicaragua in January, have likewise invited 1,200 people from across Britain to join in the celebrations in the castle grounds and to watch the newlyweds leave St George’s Chapel after the service.
They will then take an open-top carriage ride through Windsor, although it will be shorter than the one Harry and Meghan took in May when thousands thronged the streets and hundreds of millions worldwide watched on television.
“We think we’ve been blessed this year with two royal weddings,” said Phillip Bicknell, the local council deputy leader.
“We’re hoping she’s going to have a great day and we’re very pleased that she’s shared her day with us.”
Stars from the world of showbusiness and sport attended Harry’s wedding and Buckingham Palace announced on Wednesday that one of Eugenie’s bridesmaids will be Theodora Williams, the six-year-old daughter of ex “Take That” singer Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Field.
Three-year-old Princess Charlotte, daughter of second-in-line to the throne Prince William and his wife Kate, will also be a bridesmaid while her brother Prince George, 5, will be a page boy. Eugenie’s older sister Beatrice, 30, will be her maid of honor.
Nearly all Britain’s senior royals are expected to attend although Prince Charles’s wife Camilla will be absent as she has a prior engagement in Scotland. It was not certain whether the 92-year-old queen’s husband Prince Philip, 97, who no longer carries out official duties, would be present.
The Dean of Windsor will officiate the ceremony while Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform during the service. Also among the guests will be the surgeon who carried out an operation to straighten Eugenie’s back when she was 12, British media reported.
The ceremony will be broadcast on British TV and live streamed on the Royal Family and Prince Andrew’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.
“I’m not stressed at all,” Eugenie told Vogue magazine for its September issue. “It’s very nerve-wracking because you want it to be perfect but then you realize that you’re going to be with the person you love forever and nothing else really matters.”
While the royal family is paying for the wedding itself, there has been disquiet among republicans and some newspapers over the security bill for the event, which has been estimated at more than 2 million pounds ($2.6 million), given that Eugenie does not carry out official royal duties.
About 38,000 people signed a petition, organized by campaign group Republic, against taxpayers’ money being spent on the occasion.
“Most Brits opposed taxpayer funding of Prince Harry’s wedding but as with all royal events were forced to accept it,” a spokesman for the group said. “But there’s something different about Friday’s royal wedding, and people aren’t happy.”
Britain’s top-selling Sun newspaper ran a front page story on Wednesday with the headline “£2m too much for Eugenie wedding”, saying the event could have been held at a chapel near her childhood home.
(Writing by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)