What next for princesses Beatrice and Eugenie?

Prince Andrew’s civil sex case settlement leaves his daughters in awkward limbo

Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice
Princess Eugenie (left) and Princess Beatrice at Ascot in 2019
(Image credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Prince Andrew has avoided a potential public trial over sex abuse claims against him by agreeing a multimillion-pound settlement with his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

But while the Duke of York continues to deny all the allegations against him, the case will now never be settled in the court of public opinion – leaving the rest of the Royal Family facing the fallout from the scandal.

Andrew’s road back to official royal status appears forever barred, and a question mark hovers over where his out-of-court settlement leaves his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Their royal duties had been expected to expand after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle quit the UK, but the future role to be played by the sisters in royal life is now unclear.

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‘Greater roles’ post-Megxit?

When Harry and Meghan made the sensational decision to step back from royal duties two years ago, ultimately moving to California, it was widely believed that Beatrice and Eugenie would take on more prominent public roles for “the Firm”.

Over the years, the sisters have appeared at large royal events, from Westminster Abbey services to the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony. However, they are not full-time working members of the family and have civilian jobs, a combination that Beatrice described as “hard to navigate… because there is no precedent, there is no protocol” in an interview with Vogue’s Ellie Pithers in 2018.

In the days following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell announcement, Robert Lacey, the historical consultant for The Crown, told Mail Online that he thought Beatrice and Eugenie would “be brought forward” because it’s “what the royal family needs”.

This was something Prince Andrew pushed for from within the family, according to Hilary Rose in The Times. She wrote that the Duke of York had “hoped that Megxit” would lead to “greater roles on the royal stage for his daughters”.

However, this promotion that royal experts had anticipated and Prince Andrew had pinned his hopes on never happened. “Andrew’s years of lobbying for the ‘blood Princesses’ to have a greater role in The Firm… has finally been thwarted,” said royal correspondent Rebecca English and columnist Alison Boshoff in the Daily Mail.

Following the Duke of York’s disastrous Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis in November 2019, a royal aide confirmed that Beatrice and Eugenie would continue undertaking “a small number of royal engagements each year”.

When Prince Charles inherits the throne, their number of engagements may shrink even further. The Prince of Wales is famously in favour of a streamlined future monarchy with fewer public-facing family members.

“Under his plan the number of front-rank royals, we would see at formal ceremonial occasions would be considerably reduced with Andrew’s daughters Beatrice and Eugenie the most likely to be surplus to requirements,” said Richard Kay in the Daily Mail.

Patronages as a ‘dowry’

A week after the Newsnight interview, The Sunday Times reported that the Duke of York was hoping that his daughters would take over many of his royal patronages as he stepped back from public duties.

A source close to the paper said it would be a “logical next step”, with Prince Andrew “determined that his daughters should not be punished for his behaviour”.

But Sir Stephen Bubb, director of the independent and influential think-tank Charity Futures, warned the Duke of York against treating patronages as a “dowry” for Beatrice and Eugenie.

“You certainly can’t have a situation where the sins of the father are visited on the children,” he told The Sunday Times. “But the decision on patronage is a matter for the charity itself to decide what is most appropriate.”

Prince Andrew was stripped of his remaining royal patronages, along with his military titles, by the Queen in January this year after a New York judge dismissed an appeal by his lawyers to have the sexual abuse case against him dropped.

The Duke of York’s patronages “will never be returned – regardless of the outcome of any future legal proceedings”, wrote The Daily Telegraph’s associate editor Camilla Tominey when the news broke. “Instead, they will be redistributed to other members of the Royal family.”

It is not yet clear whether Beatrice and Eugenie are included in the list of royals that Prince Andrew’s 90 or so patronages, which include the Royal Free Charity, the Royal Society and the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, will be given to.

Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Royal experts have suggested that Beatrice and Eugenie will still play a role in their grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer because of the “great efforts” they have made to distance themselves from the controversies surrounding their father, said the i news site.

They may end up joining the Queen and other members of the Royal Family to watch the traditional RAF flypast from the Buckingham Palace balcony on 2 June or accompany their grandmother to the Derby at Epsom two days later.

“Both have managed to achieve quite separate identities, independent from their father’s, and I don’t think the public would expect them to be punished as well,” Professor Pauline Maclaran of Royal Holloway, University of London, and co-author of Royal Fever: The British Monarchy in Consumer Culture, told the paper.

Solidarity between cousins

In a recent display of solidarity with the Royal Family, Eugenie was pictured attending the Super Bowl in Los Angeles with her cousin Prince Harry. Eugenie was “the first member of the royal family to visit [Harry] since Megxit” with the trip “raising hopes that she might help heal the rift with the wider family”, said Rose in The Times.

The fallout from Megxit relatively pales in comparison with the other scandals the Royal Family has faced just this year alone, from Prince Andrew’s multimillion-pound sexual abuse settlement to Prince Charles’s charity being investigated by police over “cash for honours”.

Given all that’s going on for the family, not to mention the Queen’s concerning Covid diagnosis, it is perhaps unsurprising that the bond between Harry and Eugenie remains strong and could be a sign that we’ll see continuing solidarity between various royal cousins throughout 2022.

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Kate Samuelson is the newsletter editor, global. She is also a regular guest on award-winning podcast The Week Unwrapped, where she often brings stories with a women’s rights angle. Kate’s career as a journalist began on the MailOnline graduate training scheme, which involved stints as a reporter at the South West News Service’s office in Cambridge and the Liverpool Echo. She moved from MailOnline to Time magazine’s satellite office in London, where she covered current affairs and culture for both the print mag and website. Before joining The Week, Kate worked as the senior stories and content gathering specialist at the global women’s charity ActionAid UK, where she led the planning and delivery of all content gathering trips, from Bangladesh to Brazil. She is passionate about women’s rights and using her skills as a journalist to highlight underrepresented communities.

Alongside her staff roles, Kate has written for various magazines and newspapers including Stylist, Metro.co.uk, The Guardian and the i news site. She is also the founder and editor of Cheapskate London, an award-winning weekly newsletter that curates the best free events with the aim of making the capital more accessible.