28 November 2018

Your Favorite British Princess

In our continuing series of Princess Polls on Twitter, we recently focused on the ladies born to the Blood Royal in Britain, asking participants to choose a favorite from among the four adult royal women who have been princesses since birth: from oldest to youngest, these are the Queen's cousin Princess Alexandra, her daughter Anne The Princess Royal, and two of her granddaughters, Princess Beatrice of York and the newly married Princess Eugenie.

From Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons
Although she has sometimes had a reputation for irascibility and a no-nonsense attitude, Princess Anne emerged as the clear winner with 56% of the votes. The second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Philip Duke of Edinburgh has never suffered fools and has been known to tell off journalists. Like two of her brothers, she also experienced marital scandal in her first marriage, after it was discovered that she had written love letters to royal equerry Timothy Laurence, whom she later married as her second husband. (First marriage = 19 years; second marriage = 26 years and counting.) [Read my Silver Salute to Anne and Timothy.] The Royal Watcher @saadsalman719, who selected both Alexandra, who earned 19% overall, and Anne, said that he admires Anne, "but her turbulent personal life, and harsh attitude do not give her a positive image." However, he goes on to note that the 68-year-old princess "has also been carrying out engagements since she was a teenager, and has an enviable work ethic, which should be copied by other members of the Royal Family." Indeed, Anne has been at or near the top of busiest royals every year for decades, completing 540 engagements (including 85 abroad) in 2017. Zef Dahlia/QRC @nelainedahlia93 likewise refused to choose between Alexandra and Anne, calling them "two phenomenal princesses in their own right."

Nathalie @MmedeParis, Linda Rossi @Lros123 and Larissa Bona @larissabona had no qualms at all about declaring Anne their favorite. Nathalie says Anne "works hard since so many years; she's got a special sense of humor. She deserves all the respect." Linda added to the list of accolades the facts that Anne is highly successful in the equestrian world (where she was an Olympic athlete) and that she chose to give her children a more normal life by declining titles for them. Linda summed her up as "Intelligent. Classy. Horsey." Larissa called the princess a 'work machine' and the "female version of the Duke of Edinburgh, without the gaffes."

By LancasterII via English Wikipedia
Second place was a virtual tie between the almost 82-year-old Alexandra (19%) and 28-year-old Eugenie (20%), whose numbers may have been raised a bit by the fact that the poll was conducted in the weeks leading up to her October 12, 2018 wedding. A granddaughter of King George V through his son George Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece, Alexandra is 12 years younger than her first cousin The Queen. [Read my profile of Alexandra.] She lost her father in a flying accident during World War II when she was just five years old. She became a working member of the British Royal Family as a teenager and married a highly respectable son of the Scottish peerage, Sir Angus Ogilvy, who by declining a title for himself and their children set the precedent that was followed a decade later by Princess Anne and her first husband. The Royal Watcher remarked that "Princess Alexandra has been carrying out duties since she was a teenager, and has carried out a heavy load of engagements ever since. She has kept her personal life mostly discreet, and has expertly represented the Royal Family for decades! They don't make them like her any more!"

Prince Royal @Princeroyal99 selected Alexandra because, "she's a very hardworking and glamorous member of the British Royal Family. She deserves full-on respect." Tojori Jewel @Tojorij remarked, "She is courteous and respectful when asked to represent The Queen. I don't think that she set a foot wrong, ever. What I dislike is that we don't see enough of her." The princess has had some health issues in recent years that have led her to cut back on some of her engagements. Plus, as a member of the extended family, her engagements are less well-covered by the media than those of the Wales family. JR @Jakreg76 rounds out the list of Alexandra fans declaring that "she's classy, authentic, not putting on airs, in spite of having ups & downs in private life (like we all have) never putting a foot wrong herself, no complaints just getting on with it...she's basically the perfect princess for her time and place.

Eugenie (left) and Beatrice together at Ascot in 2015.
By Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons
The York sisters completed our list with Princess Eugenie just edging out Alexandra while her big sister Beatrice garnered only 5% of the votes. [Read my profile of Eugenie.] The Yorkies have long been the subject of intense conversations (let's not say "controversies") among royal watchers. While neither of them have done anything particularly scandalous, nor particularly noteworthy for that matter, they suffer in the shadow of their scandal-ridden parents, The Queen's second son Prince Andrew The Duke of York and the former Sarah Ferguson. As JR said, "I've always been of the opinion that the York girls are being punished by the public for both the actions and alleged actions of their parents. Punished in a way any sons of the couple wouldn't have been. Always easier to vilify women."

Both princesses, who are slightly younger than their cousins Prince William and Prince Harry, completed university and have worked steadily in the "real world" while also supporting a number of charitable causes. They each also have faced personal challenges: Beatrice has dyslexia while Eugenie underwent surgery as a girl to overcome a severe curvature of the spine caused by scoliosis. They have faced incredible and unfair ridicule in the media. Chubby baby Eugenie was dubbed "Huge-genie" as an infant while an adult Beatrice undertook a weight loss and fitness regimen after one too many tabloid photos criticizing her rounded figure. They also were lambasted for their choice of headgear at Prince William's wedding, having relied on the talents of the usually very reliable Philip Treacy to design them. Nevertheless, they do have some die-hard fans like Julia Annette @Mimi4AU who wrote, "I really love Bea!"

Beatrice and Eugenie have occasionally represented their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in an official capacity, but they are not considered working members of the British Royal Family. Support for their charitable work, which includes charities led by both of their parents as well as their own favorite causes, comes from their father's pocket. This awkward combination of royal titles without royal responsibilities makes them particularly vulnerable to public criticism through no fault of their own, as it seems to have been their uncle The Prince of Wales and the Way Ahead Group that made this decision when they were just children. [Read my post about the status of princesses in today's monarchies, To Be a Princess of Not?]