The Queen is spending three months at Balmoral, taking long, drizzly walks in the rain. William and Kate have been vacationing on the tiny Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, which must be a painful reminder of how much they miss Mustique. Even the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, have taken a break from their usual secessionist palace-baiting schedule.
But don’t be fooled by the tranquility of the moment. That won’t last, and signs are pointing to the emergence of a new royal schism today – one that could be the work of a rather surprising member of the House of Windsor.
Princess Eugenie isn’t known for making headlines. She’s made it to 31 without being photographed naked in Las Vegas, wearing an abomination of a hat in public, or accidentally scaring Ed Sheeran while ‘knighting’ him during an evening that presumably involved a crate of Chateau Lafite. (Cough, Princess Beatrice, cough…) The first, and comparatively benign, hint of a Eugenie-related scandal came only this month, when her husband Jack Brooksbank was photographed on a boat off the coast of Capri with a couple of women in bikinis (we’re hardly in toe-sucking territory here, are we?)
It’s always the quiet ones, though.
According to a new report released this weekend, Harry may enlist the help of his cousin Eugenie for his upcoming autobiography, which is expected to be a bombshell. The work, which has yet to be named, will be released next year.
According to The Sun, the book’s ghostwriter, Pulitzer Prize winner JR Moehringer, “is expected to bypass formal channels and contact the duke’s inner circle via Harry.” An insider told the paper’s royal correspondent Matt Wilkinson, “I could only imagine Eugenie talking or being approached as she is someone Harry is still in regular contact with.”
Eugenie has been the royal family member who has been closest to Meghan for years.
While the various royal houses all shared sterile, official posts on social media last week to commemorate the duchess’ 40th birthday, Eugenie was the only one who enthusiastically endorsed “dear Meghan’s” 40×40 mentorship campaign via Instagram.
Eugenie wrote on her Instagram Stories, “To celebrate The Duchess of Sussex’s 40th birthday, I am devoting 40 minutes of mentorship or service to a cause I care about.” “I’d like to ask you to join me in donating your time. Together, we can help to create a global wave of compassion and positive change.” It was the most outspoken indication yet of the mother-of-allegiance. one’s
You have to go back to 2016 to understand why Eugenie and the former actress have such a different relationship than the rest of her blue blooded family. Eugenie’s name has been mentioned several times as the mysterious person who set the duo up on their now famous blind date, alongside fashion PR Violet Westenholz and designer Misha Nonoo.
In 2016, the day after the news of Harry and Meghan’s relationship broke, the new couple celebrated Halloween with Eugenie and Jack at Soho House in Toronto. (The two couples are said to have gone on a number of double dates in both Canada and the UK.) As Meghan told Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, “Eugenie and I had known each other before I had known Harry, so that was comfortable […] We’re friends with them as a couple.” “She was there from the beginning.” Eugenie and her husband Jack (along with their baby son August) moved into the Sussexes’ home Frogmore Cottage last year, demonstrating the closeness of the Windsor cousins. When Harry returned to the UK this year for the second time, it was the first place he went after landing.
What binds Harry and Eugenie is the fact that she, too, has a grievance against the palace’s treatment of her.
Eugenie and her sister Beatrice have paid a high price for Prince Charles’ unwavering commitment to a smaller royal family.
The York sisters, along with their uncles, aunts, and cousins, were not invited to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Only Charles, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Harry, William, and Kate were included.
It was reported at the time that Charles and his brother Prince Andrew were at odds over the future king’s decision to marginalize those not in the direct line of succession. Andrew is also widely reported to have fought for them, as the only blood princesses of their generation, to be afforded similar piety, according to a Daily Mail report from 2012. Beatrice “is known to have passionately wanted to play an official role as well as have a private career.” After reportedly approaching William with her thoughts, only to be rebuffed, Andrew was reportedly left “infuriated.”
Following Andrew’s complete and total Hidenburg of a BBC interview in 2019, Charles is said to have encouraged the Queen to take a hard line and demand Andrew step down as a working member of the royal family.
All of this could explain why, when the news of Harry’s memoir broke in late July, the Mail on Sunday reported that Beatrice and Eugenie were “far more sympathetic” to the exiled duke than the rest of the family.
According to a friend, Harry’s outspoken remarks may have been triggered by the fact that his voice and opinions were previously rarely heard within the Royal Family.
The York sisters interpreted the Sussexes’ spate of interviews this year as a sign that Harry feels he is “finally being listened to,” according to the report. If Eugenie did decide to assist Harry with his memoir, it would be a complete game changer for the Sussexes; her apostasy would be nothing short of devastating for the palace.
If she entered the Megxit fray, she would only add fuel to the fire that has raged within the palace walls since the Sussexes fled into the wilderness.
So far, the feud has primarily pitted Harry and Meghan against anyone who owns a copy of Debretts and knows the Sandringham Wi-Fi password. For more than 18 months, every other member of the House of Windsor has remained silent, at least publicly, in a show of unity in the face of this never-ending public relations crisis.
That calculation would be thrown out the window if even Eugenie, let alone Beatrice, switched sides and backed the now-Californian couple and their litany of royal grievances.
Eugenie would be the first member of the Queen’s inner circle to defect in this scenario, lending credibility to the Sussexes’ claims. She would be the first HRH – heck, the first of the dozens of Windsors who throng the Buckingham Palace balcony every year – to support the breakaway state of Sussex.
If this happens, any notion of royal solidarity may be thrown out the window, and their other cousins may be pressured to choose sides.
Today, Harry and Meghan are the only royal dissenters and outliers; or, to put it another way, it’s their word against the Sphinx-like royal house. The palace’s defense strategy of issuing thin-lipped denials and wholesale rebuffing the Sussexes’ allegations would be quickly undermined if Eugenie spoke out in their favor via the memoir.
So, do you recall the peace and quiet? Those long walks in Scotland? All that forced merriment on a bike ride in the biting Cornish breeze? Let’s hope the Queen and her family are having a good time while it lasts.
Because, while the royal family has survived one civil war, two world wars, Oliver Cronwell, and Sarah, Duchess of York, the pen (or at least the Macbook Air) may very well prove to be mightier – and far more dangerous – than the sword in the case of Harry.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with over 15 years of experience working for some of Australia’s most prestigious publications.