23 March 2015

Today's Princess: Eugenie of York

What's a millennial princess to do? For The Queen's Yorkie granddaughters, the question is being answered on a day-to-day basis. In many ways, Princess Eugenie of York (1990- ) and her sister are caught between the past and future. They are subjected to unrelenting public/media attention at the same time general public opinion insists that they get jobs and support themselves. They are expected to behave impeccably but are denied any real royal duties.

As Eugenie celebrates her 25th birthday today, I think she has shown remarkable grace despite the competing tensions in her life. For goodness sake, after her christening, at least one headline labeled her "Hugenie" and declared she was a fat baby. That was followed by the very public demise of the marriage of her parents, Prince Andrew The Duke of York and Sarah Duchess of York. Then, Eugenie had to undergo surgery to correct a severe curvature in her spine. As a young adult, she faced tabloid speculation that she was a lesbian because she enjoyed traveling and hanging with her girlfriends while not having a boyfriend.

Those who have followed her life in the media would likely be surprised to know that she actually seems like a very well-adjusted woman. She is only the second British princess to complete a university degree--her sister was the first. She has successfully launched a career in the world of high-end art auctions. She has represented The Queen in Germany. And, she has taken on her first charitable patronage, serving Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where she herself underwent treatment for scoliosis.

Eugenie is very much a princess of the new millennium--today, her father even sang "Happy Birthday" to her via Facetime from one of his official engagements.

Read Eugenie's official bio.

For more about Eugenie:
10 Facts about the Royal on Hello
Princess Eugenie: A Life in Pictures on Marie Claire

Blogs about Eugenie:
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie on Tumblr
Princess Eugenie
Princess Eugenie on Pinterest
Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice on Pinterest
The Princesses of York on Tumblr

21 March 2015

Today's Princess: Beatrice Alfonso of Castile

By Antonio de Hollanda via Wikimedia Commons
When arranging most royal marriages, the following is usually true: neither is already married to someone else and neither is illegitimate. Both, however, were true when King Alfonso III of Portugal married Beatrice Alfonso of Castile (c. 1242-1303), daughter of King Alfonso X the Wise and his longtime mistress Mayor Guillen de Guzman. So desperate was Alfonso III to solidify his power as the Portuguese king that he was willing to divorce his wife, Matilda II Countess of Boulogne, and agree to marry the bastard daughter of his overlord--never mind the fact that Beatrice was about 10 years old! At 43, the bridegroom was more than a decade older than his new father-in-law.

Castilian King Alfonso X was attentive to all of his children, legitimate or otherwise, and it is widely believed that Beatrice was his favorite child of all. Of his seven daughters, she was the only one to marry a king. As part of the marriage agreement, he also granted numerous estates to her firstborn son. Beatrice became even richer when her mother died a decade later and she inherited her expansive lands. Despite bride's wealth, many in Portugal found the whole thing distasteful, not the least of which was the repudiated wife, who accused her husband of bigamy. Her complaint made it to the Pope, but it was forgotten when she died a few years later.

Once she was a little older, Beatrice became a very productive queen. She gave her husband eight children, including two who were born in the same calendar year!

Given their great age difference, it is not surprising that Beatrice outlived her husband. Because her oldest son, the new King Denis, was only 17, she assumed some of the royal authority. Denis did not like this and it was not long before the rift between them grew unbearable. Beatrice returned home to Castile and her still-doting daddy showered her with even more lands, including the Kingdom of Niebla, which had been wrested from the Muslims just a few decades before. All of this was in recognition of her unwavering support of her father, when many of her half-siblings had turned against him. Completely devoted, she remained by him even on his deathbed.