Inside story of Princess Beatrice’s whirlwind engagement to Italian count’s son Edo Mapelli Mozzi

Princess Beatrice declared she was ‘so excited’ and ‘can’t wait to be married’ as her engagement to her millionaire property tycoon boyfriend was announced yesterday.

The 31-year-old eldest daughter of the Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York, got engaged to Edoardo ‘Edo’ Mapelli Mozzi in Italy earlier this month. 

The wedding will take place next year, Buckingham Palace said.

Their official colour engagement portraits, showing the couple gazing into each other’s eyes, were taken by Beatrice’s sister Princess Eugenie.

Beatrice and Edo endured a rocky start to their romance after news of their relationship apparently came as a surprise to his ex-fiancee Dara Huang, mother of his two-year-old son Christopher Woolf. 

Yesterday Ms Huang said: ‘I wish the best for Edo and Beatrice and look forward to uniting our families.’

Here, we tell the inside story of the latest royal romance . . .

Princess Beatrice declared she was 'so excited' and 'can't wait to be married' as her engagement to her millionaire property tycoon boyfriend Edoardo 'Edo' Mapelli Mozzi was announced yesterday

Princess Beatrice declared she was 'so excited' and 'can't wait to be married' as her engagement to her millionaire property tycoon boyfriend Edoardo 'Edo' Mapelli Mozzi was announced yesterday

Princess Beatrice declared she was ‘so excited’ and ‘can’t wait to be married’ as her engagement to her millionaire property tycoon boyfriend Edoardo ‘Edo’ Mapelli Mozzi was announced yesterday

Compared to some royal courtships, the relationship between Princess Beatrice and Edoardo ‘Edo’ Mapelli Mozzi has been something of a whirlwind romance. 

Beatrice’s younger sister Princess Eugenie, rapidly approaching her first wedding anniversary, was dating drinks company ambassador Jack Brooksbank for seven years before they married last October.

Then there’s the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were a couple for the best part of eight years before their nuptials in 2011 — earning Kate Middleton the cruel moniker of ‘Waity Katie’.

By contrast, Beatrice and Edoardo, who announced their plan to wed yesterday, have galloped to the engagement stage in a little less than 12 months. 

Even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had been dating for just over a year when they announced their wedding plans.

The engagement was announced yesterday morning, along with a series of snaps of the loved-up couple gazing into each other’s eyes in Windsor Great Park (taken by Eugenie), pulling faces at each other in arty black and white (taken by photographer Misan Harriman), as well as showing off the ring, a stunning art deco-style diamond dazzler valued at up to £100,000 (Edo helped British jewellery designer Shaun Leane design it).

The photographs of Beatrices's engagement to Edo were taken by her sister Eugenie. Above: The princess's stunning engagement ring

The photographs of Beatrices's engagement to Edo were taken by her sister Eugenie. Above: The princess's stunning engagement ring

The photographs of Beatrices’s engagement to Edo were taken by her sister Eugenie. Above: The princess’s stunning engagement ring

Hair tumbling in artfully dressed curls over her shoulders, wearing a £595 floral midi dress by Australian brand Zimmermann, Bea looked every inch the besotted, beautiful princess; head over heels in love with the man who, if not a prince, is the son of an Italian count.

He, for his part, looked equally enamoured, nuzzling his fiancee’s forehead as she nestled against his shoulder. 

Announcing their news, the couple said in a statement: ‘We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can’t wait to actually be married.

Beatrice and Edo endured a rocky start to their romance after news of their relationship apparently came as a surprise to his ex-fiancee Dara Huang (right with Edo)

Beatrice and Edo endured a rocky start to their romance after news of their relationship apparently came as a surprise to his ex-fiancee Dara Huang (right with Edo)

Beatrice and Edo endured a rocky start to their romance after news of their relationship apparently came as a surprise to his ex-fiancee Dara Huang (right with Edo)

Scroll further through the Italian's page and there is another particularly striking image. One of an adorable little boy, his baby hair combed into a jaunty quiff and sporting a pair of sunglasses. This is Edo's two-year-old son, Christopher Woolf ¿ Wolfie as he's known

Scroll further through the Italian's page and there is another particularly striking image. One of an adorable little boy, his baby hair combed into a jaunty quiff and sporting a pair of sunglasses. This is Edo's two-year-old son, Christopher Woolf ¿ Wolfie as he's known

Scroll further through the Italian’s page and there is another particularly striking image. One of an adorable little boy, his baby hair combed into a jaunty quiff and sporting a pair of sunglasses. This is Edo’s two-year-old son, Christopher Woolf — Wolfie as he’s known

‘We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness.’

There was a decidedly Latin flare to the more gushing post Edo made to his 14,000 followers on Instagram: ‘You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home.

Hand in hand, today, tomorrow and forever,’ the 36-year-old declared, next to four black-and-white images from the couple’s official engagement photo shoot.

Scroll further through his page, however, and there is another particularly striking image. 

One of an adorable little boy, his baby hair combed into a jaunty quiff and sporting a pair of sunglasses.

This is Edo’s two-year-old son, Christopher Woolf — Wolfie as he’s known.

Princess Eugenie got married last October and Beatrice stood next to her mother Sarah Ferguson as her sister walked down the aisle

Princess Eugenie got married last October and Beatrice stood next to her mother Sarah Ferguson as her sister walked down the aisle

Princess Eugenie got married last October and Beatrice stood next to her mother Sarah Ferguson as her sister walked down the aisle

For Edo, for all his charm and dashing good looks, comes with ‘baggage’ — a considerable amount in the form of an ex-fiancee, glamorous architect and designer Dara Huang, the mother of his son with whom he broke up barely months before meeting Beatrice.

The split was so speedy the couple were still sharing a home and Chinese-American Dara’s own family had no idea they were no longer an item when news of Edo and Bea’s romance first broke. 

‘I think Dara was hiding it from me,’ said her mother Lily at the time. 

Sharing her joy, Beatrice;s mother Sarah Ferguson said on Twitter: 'I know what a mother feels so I have tears of joy'

Sharing her joy, Beatrice;s mother Sarah Ferguson said on Twitter: 'I know what a mother feels so I have tears of joy'

Sharing her joy, Beatrice;s mother Sarah Ferguson said on Twitter: ‘I know what a mother feels so I have tears of joy’

Beatrice and the property tycoon first began dating last October and got engaged on a trip to Italy this month

Beatrice and the property tycoon first began dating last October and got engaged on a trip to Italy this month

Beatrice and the property tycoon first began dating last October and got engaged on a trip to Italy this month

‘She didn’t want me to be sad. I am shocked. I love Edo. I love his family. Why has this happened? This has broken me to bits.’

A close family friend of Edo was quick to stress that he had Dara had actually split six months previously, while a Palace aide who had known the Princess all her life insisted: ‘She would never allow herself to break into another couple’s happiness, especially if there was a small child.’

To the credit of all concerned, the ensuing new romance unfolded with dignified discretion and there have been no unseemly public recriminations. 

Indeed, everything appears terribly amicable between the two high-flyers now. (Dara has her own design company and an international client list.)

That doesn’t alter the fact, however, that when Princess Beatrice marries the charming, multi-millionaire property developer next year, she will become the first royal of her generation to become a stepmother — a role previously only held by the Duchess of Cornwall who, of course, has two stepsons in Princes William and Harry,

Edo is clearly adored by Beatrice’s family. 

In a public statement Beatrice and Mr Mapelli Mozzi said of their 11-month romance: 'We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement'

In a public statement Beatrice and Mr Mapelli Mozzi said of their 11-month romance: 'We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement'

In a public statement Beatrice and Mr Mapelli Mozzi said of their 11-month romance: ‘We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement’

The announcement comes more than three years after she parted ways with her  former partner Dave Clark (right) after ten years together

The announcement comes more than three years after she parted ways with her  former partner Dave Clark (right) after ten years together

The announcement comes more than three years after she parted ways with her  former partner Dave Clark (right) after ten years together

Their engagement triggered messages of congratulations from various quarters, including from Eugenie, who declared on Instagram: ‘Beabea — wow! ‘I’m so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo. 

‘It’s been a long time coming and you two are meant to be.’

Proud mother Sarah, Duchess of York, who now finds herself preparing to become a step-grandmother, meanwhile declared: ‘I have tears of joy. I am so proud of this sensational news. 

‘Andrew and I are just the luckiest people ever to have two great sons-in-law.’

The announcement of Beatrice's and Edoardo's engagement was made in a public statement released by Buckingham Palace

The announcement of Beatrice's and Edoardo's engagement was made in a public statement released by Buckingham Palace

The announcement of Beatrice’s and Edoardo’s engagement was made in a public statement released by Buckingham Palace

Beatrice’s father, the Duke of York, included two photographs taken by Princess Eugenie on his official Instagram page, along with a message from him and Fergie.

‘We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride. 

‘We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. 

Following the news of Beatrice's engagment, sister Eugenie immediately rushed to share her joy on Instagram

Following the news of Beatrice's engagment, sister Eugenie immediately rushed to share her joy on Instagram

Following the news of Beatrice’s engagment, sister Eugenie immediately rushed to share her joy on Instagram

‘We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future.’

The engagement, which comes shortly after the couple enjoyed a romantic break to Positano, in Italy, will doubtless come as a welcome piece of good news for Beatrice’s family after weeks of controversy about the Duke of York and his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein.

So as the Royal Family prepares for the fourth wedding since last year, when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married in May, Princess Eugenie in October, then Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, in May this year, what is the history of the latest royal romance?

For all his business credentials, Edo is also impeccably connected with his own aristocratic background. 

His father, 67-year-old Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, skied for Great Britain at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Japan. 

But the count and Edo’s mother, Nikki, divorced when their son and his sister Natalia were very young and his father moved to France.

Edo was brought up in England and educated at Radley College, in Oxfordshire, before studying for a Master’s in politics at Edinburgh.

While the count holds dual British and Italian citizenship, his son is solely a British citizen, meaning he is not eligible for his father’s title. 

Nikki remarried and (hearteningly, perhaps for Beatrice) the young Edo became very close to his stepfather, the businessman and Conservative politician Christopher Shale, a close personal friend of David Cameron.

Edo and the rest of the family were hit particularly hard by the unexpected death of Shale, at the age of 56, in 2011.

He was with family and friends when he collapsed at Glastonbury Festival and died of a sudden heart attack. 

An inquest subsequently found he had been suffering from undiagnosed heart disease. 

Following the inquest, where a verdict of natural causes was recorded, Edo spoke movingly of the loss felt by himself, his sister and their half-brother, Alby. 

‘He was a father to me, the only father I have ever known and a father to all three of us. The best father we could ever have.’

At the funeral were both the Duke and Duchess of York and their daughters, the families being close for many years, going back to a time when Sarah Ferguson was employed by Shale as a secretary.

So close are the family ties that Fergie is godmother to Alby, 28.

Hardly surprising then that when Beatrice, whose previous ten-year relationship with U.S. executive Dave Clark came to an abrupt end in 2016 (she is understood to have given him an ultimatum about their future) and when she and Edo reconnected late last year, a rapport soon turned into the spark of new romance.

In 2016 reports began to emerge that Beatrice gave former partner Dave an ultimatum to marry and the pair subsequently separated

In 2016 reports began to emerge that Beatrice gave former partner Dave an ultimatum to marry and the pair subsequently separated

In 2016 reports began to emerge that Beatrice gave former partner Dave an ultimatum to marry and the pair subsequently separated

Having accompanied her mother to her sister’s wedding, Beatrice is said to have taken a cautious approach to the fledgling stages of the relationship, ‘coming out’ to their families (his mum Nikki is now married to sculptor David Williams-Ellis) at a party thrown by London-based Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

Before Christmas last year they were seen leaving (separately) from London private members’ club, Home House. 

They made their debut public appearance — studiously avoiding being photographed together — at a glitzy gala in New York shortly afterwards.

Then came the New Year, when pictures emerged of them strolling hand in hand while on a beach in Lamu Island, Kenya, where Edo’s family own a luxury coastal estate — and reportedly where he proposed, in 2015, to Dara Huang.

Beatrice, who has the title vice-president of partnerships and strategy at tech company Afiniti, was reportedly seen on New Year’s Eve, dancing on a hotel bar, and also chatting with Edo’s mother. 

Two indications of just how close the relationship had become came in May and then in June. First Edo was a guest, with Beatrice, at the wedding of Lady Gabriella Windsor to Tom Kingston at St George’s Chapel, Windsor — where the Queen was also a guest.

Then Edo was a guest at St James’s Palace, alongside Beatrice, for an event called Pitch@Palace, an initiative to support entrepreneurs founded by the Duke of York.

Well-placed to offer advice to anyone starting out in business, Edo describes himself as a ‘UK real estate specialist’. 

He is also the co-founder of a charity called Cricket Builds Hope, which uses sport as a ‘tool for social change’ in Rwanda.

While still at university, he persuaded investors to back him in buying Fulham townhouses and converting them into flats. 

After graduation in 2007, he started his property consultancy Banda, or ‘big shed’ in Swahili, and eventually took on two partners.

And in an interview with the New York Times earlier this month, discussing his latest Notting Hill development, he said: ‘There is certainly no one else of my age doing things like this in London.’

He’s already created three of his own homes, in West London, but earlier this year said he was ‘in St James’s at the moment’, suggesting he may have moved into the apartment in St James’s Palace that Bea used to share with her sister.

Beatrice, for her part, is said to be ‘wonderful’ with Wolfie, who enjoys spending time with his father. 

Will there be half-siblings for Wolfie? Who knows, but Edo will have to make sure his next property really is fit for a princess.

Link hienalouca.com

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