With less than a week to go before Princess Eugenie marries wine merchant Jack Brooksbank, little is being left to chance.
When the Duke of York walks his daughter down the aisle of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on Friday morning, it will be the start of a star-studded £2 million extravaganza.
Here, ANTONIA HOYLE gives an A-to-Z guide to the big day…
Tequila will flow like water, given that Jack, who set up his wholesale wine firm, Jack Brooksbank Ltd, in 2016, now works for Casamigos tequila (below left), the brand co-founded by George Clooney
A is for Peregrine Armstrong-Jones, party planner extraordinaire, whose company Bentley’s Entertainments is reportedly responsible for Eugenie and Jack’s lavish wedding dinner. Old Etonian Armstrong-Jones, 57, the half-brother of the late Earl of Snowdon, has form for throwing extravagant bashes — he masterminded David and
B is for Bocelli — Andrea Bocelli. The 60-year-old Italian opera superstar, blind since a football accident as a child, will perform during the ceremony.
Andrea Bocelli. The 60-year-old Italian opera superstar, blind since a football accident as a child, will perform during the ceremony.
B is also for Beautiful Big Sissy, the moniker that Eugenie, 28, recently gave elder sister Beatrice, 30, her maid of honour. The siblings have been close since childhood when their parents divorced and are, says Eugenie, ‘each other’s rocks’.
Jack’s younger brother Tom, 29, whom Eugenie already considers a ‘sort of’ brother figure, is reported to be best man, making the immediate bridal party very much a family affair.
The groom’s mother is 64-year-old Nicola and his father George, 68, is a chartered accountant.
C is for Coat of Arms. Of all the secrets before Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry, none was guarded more jealously than her coat of arms, secretly designed by the College of Arms and personally approved by the Queen.
London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu is odds-on favourite to have created Eugenie’s wedding dress. Seen in Erdem (left) and Amanda Wakeley (right)
But no such secrecy shrouds the arms of Princess Eugenie’s fiancé. Jack’s have been in his family since 1703, when his distant ancestor Joseph Brooksbank, who had made a fortune after moving to London from Yorkshire, was granted his own coat of arms (left), featuring a hart’s head ‘couped’ (cut) cleanly at the neck, which is engraved on Jack’s signet ring.
D is for Dodgems, reportedly being set up at Windsor Castle for next Saturday’s reception as part of a ‘festival and funfair’ bash, including coconut shies and food stalls.
It will round off two days of celebrations, starting with a formal reception lunch organised by party planner and cousin to the Queen Lady Elizabeth Anson, and continuing with a Friday evening black-tie reception at Royal Lodge, Windsor, where the Duke of York lives and the Duchess of York — the couple divorced in 1996 — still keeps a room.
Some 850 guests are said to have been invited, at an estimated cost of around £170,000.
E is for Eugenie, of course, and also Erdem.
F is for Fergie, who seems to have assumed the role of unofficial wedding planner and, since the engagement was announced in January, hasn’t missed an opportunity to gush about the upcoming nuptials.
Her future son-in-law, she tells us, is an ‘amazing bringer of light’ and the couple are ‘very contemporary, they are very inclusive and they are all about love’.
X Factor host Robbie Williams and his X Factor co-host and actress wife Ayda (left), whose five-year-old daughter Theodora Rose is reportedly a flower girl.
G is for Grandmothers, on both sides. Eugenie — ninth in line to the throne — is particularly close to the Queen, aka ‘Granny’, who was among the first to hear about her engagement and was, Eugenie added, ‘very happy, as was my grandfather’. Jack’s grandmother Joanna, 91, has said she is ‘thrilled’ her grandson, whom she describes as a ‘good egg’, is marrying into the monarchy, adding: ‘Of course I shall be going to the wedding, I’m Granny. It’s very exciting because I’m a massive fan of the royals and it will be lovely to meet them.’
H is for Horse-Drawn Parade. Like Meghan and Harry, the newlyweds will ride in a carriage through the streets of Windsor after they have exchanged vows. Although the route isn’t as long as that taken by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, it is more controversial, with extra security costing the taxpayer around £2 million. With Eugenie worth an estimated £1.8 million and her father around £65 million, many say they should foot the bill themselves, especially because Eugenie, who works for a London art gallery, does not carry out any official royal duties.
The love island
Necker Island is a 74-acre Caribbean hideaway owned by Sir Richard Branson, who has reportedly offered it to the couple for their honeymoon.
Necker Island in the Caribbean
The Virgin boss is a family friend, and Eugenie and Beatrice visited the island in 2011 for Sir Richard’s daughter Holly’s wedding.
If holiday-loving Eugenie doesn’t fancy a sunshine break, she and Jack may plump instead for a trip to Verbier, where they met and where the Yorks own a £13 million ski chalet.
I is for ITV, which is broadcasting the wedding in a special edition of This Morning after the BBC reportedly turned it down. Hosts Eamonn Holmes and his wife Ruth Langsford will present live from Windsor from 9.25am, with the 11am service followed by comments and discussion.
J is for Jitters, common in most brides-to-be, but not Eugenie, who insists that she is ‘not stressed at all’.
She says: ‘It’s nerve-racking because you want it to be perfect but then you realise that you’re going to be with the person you love forever and nothing else really matters.’
Luckily, her fiancé, whom she met during her father’s 50th birthday trip to Verbier in 2010, is similarly smitten.
‘It was love at first sight,’ says Jack, who joined the hospitality industry from school, working at the fashionable Markham Inn, where he befriended Prince Harry, then managing nightclub Mahiki.
K is for Kensington Palace, where the newlyweds will live, in the pretty, three-bedroom Ivy Cottage in the grounds, next to the house that Harry and Meghan used to share.
The royal property has also inspired the commemorative china unveiled this week by the Royal Collection Trust. The crockery features Jack and Eugenie’s initials in gold and is priced from £20 for a coaster to £39 for a tankard.
L is for Lavish. According to Hamish Shephard, founder of wedding planning app bridebook.co.uk, who calculated the price of the Royal Wedding, it will cost £2,684,020 — taking into account the fact that Eugenie has said she wants a plastic-free wedding, which means costlier products. Not that the newlyweds will pick up the bill — the wedding is being paid for by the Queen and the Duke of York.
M is for Myrtle, the flowering evergreen plant that represents love. Eugenie is expected to carry a sprig of it in her bridal bouquet, as her mother did on her big day. The wedding flowers are reportedly being arranged by leading florist Rob van Helden, who created displays for Princess Margaret’s 70th birthday, the Beckhams’ World Cup party and Sir Elton John’s civil partnership.
N is for Newlyweds — and for Necker Island.
O is for Organist. Peter Roper-Curzon is a cousin of the Duchess of York. He was once a BBC Young Musician of The Year piano finalist and will play two organ solos during the service. His involvement in the ceremony is the only nod to the Ferguson side of the family.
O is also for Order of the Garter, the most prestigious order of chivalry, the old French motto of which — Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks this evil) — has been inscribed on the wedding invitations.
Eugenie is expected to carry, Myrtle, the flowering evergreen plant that represents love in her bouquet
P is for Pre-wedding-preparation. It is not yet known who will be doing Eugenie’s make-up, although she has declared make-up artists Charlotte Tilbury and Bobbi Brown ‘geniuses’, so their products will most likely be used. Celebrity hairstylist Ben Skervin is said to be in charge of her locks.
Q is for Quarrelling about security costs, which many believe should not fall on the taxpayer. A spokesman for Republic, a group campaigning for an elected head of state, says: ‘Public services are being cut and councils are struggling. Why are we footing wedding bills for the richest family in the country?
R is for Role model. Born with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, Eugenie had eight hours of corrective surgery at the age of 12. As a thank you for the fact that ‘she is walking up that aisle with a straight back’, she has invited one of the team who performed her operation, NHS surgeon Jan Lehovsky, to the ceremony.
Casamigos tequila will flow like water
Other members of staff from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital will also attend.
Since she had the surgery, Eugenie has tirelessly worked to help other youngsters afflicted by scoliosis and will combine working as a director at Hauser & Wirth art gallery with her quest to raise awareness of the condition.
Eugenie, a patron of seven charities, as well as working full-time, is also a supporter of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, and this month visited Serbia to visit organisations supporting victims of human trafficking.
S is for Singers and Supermodels, who make up much of the guest list. Eugenie is pals with supermodels Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss, as well as pop singers Ellie Goulding and James Blunt, and his society wife Sofia Wellesley — all of whom are expected to be receiving an invitation, along with the Beckhams, Sir Elton John and the actor Eddie Redmayne. Also present will be Prince Harry’s former girlfriends, actress Cressida Bonas and jewellery designer Chelsy Davy. Most royals will be there — although with Pippa Middleton about to give birth, the Duchess of Cambridge may have to miss the occasion.
T is for Tequila, which will flow like water, given that Jack, who set up his wholesale wine firm, Jack Brooksbank Ltd, in 2016, now works for Casamigos tequila, the brand co-founded by George Clooney. The actor and his wife Amal are expected to attend the wedding.
U is for military Uniforms, which — as Jack has not served in the military — are banned on the big day.
V is for the Volcano in Nicaragua, Central America, that was the backdrop when Jack proposed on one knee this January as ‘the sun was setting, birds were flying’ and his fiancée sobbed tears of joy. Jack chose a padparadscha sapphire for the engagement ring because ‘it changes colour from every angle that you look at it’.
W is for Windsor Castle, home to St George’s Chapel, where Eugenie was baptised and will be married by the Dean of Windsor, David Conner, with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, leading prayers.
W is also for wax, which Jack had poured over him while blindfolded and touching a stripper’s breasts at his 21st birthday party. The pictures were leaked online in 2013, three years after he and Eugenie started dating.
Like every recent first-time royal bride, Eugenie is almost certain to wear a veil. Seen in Jenny Packham (left) and Ralph & Russo (right)
X is for X Factor host Robbie Williams and his X Factor co-host and actress wife Ayda (left), whose five-year-old daughter Theodora Rose is reportedly a flower girl. Princess Charlotte, three, is likely to be a bridesmaid and Prince George, five, a page boy. Another flower girl is Maud Windsor, five, daughter of Lord Freddie Windsor and his wife Sophie Winkleman.
Y is for the York Diamond Tiara, the jewels belonging to Eugenie’s mother that were given to the Duchess of York by the Queen and Prince Philip for her wedding — Eugenie is expected to wear them next Friday. The dazzling headpiece is estimated to be worth £200,000.
Z is for the Zealously arranged seating plan — to take account of the fractious relationship between the Duchess of York and Prince Philip, who will attend provided he is in full health. The Duke of Edinburgh hasn’t forgiven Sarah for embarrassing the family after she was pictured having her toe sucked by a financial adviser in 1992. The Duchess is said to be ‘terrified’ at the prospect of seeing him again.
So which dress will the bride choose?
London-based designer Erdem Moralioglu is odds-on favourite to have created Eugenie’s wedding dress.
Eugenie reassures us that, unlike the puffy dress her mother wore to marry the Duke of York in 1986, hers will have ‘no meringue shoulders’ and will be the work of ‘a British-based designer’, adding: ‘As soon as we announced the wedding, I knew the designer and the look.’
Stella McCartney — who designed Meghan’s evening wedding gown — is also in the running, as are Jenny Packham, Suzanne Neville and Alice Temperley.
Like every recent first-time royal bride, Eugenie is almost certain to wear a veil.
Left to right: How Eugenie might look in Erdem, Amanda Wakeley, Jenny Packham, Ralph & Russo