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Princess Eugenie Marries, and Britons Gripe About the Tax Bill


LONDON — What a difference a royal wedding makes.

In May, a grandchild of the queen of England married a commoner in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle as thousands of well-wishers gathered in the town and the global news media provided breathless, wall-to-wall coverage.

On Friday, five months after that wildly popular wedding — of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle — a much windier and less-celebrated royal ceremony took place at St. George’s Chapel: the marriage of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

This time, a majority of Britons declared that they would not be tuning in, according to one opinion poll, and legions took to social media to gripe about the tax bill.

The two weddings, though anchored in the same castle, had marked differences from the higher star power of the guests in May to the scaled-back media coverage of the nuptials on Friday.

The union of Prince Harry, who is sixth in line to the British throne, and Ms. Markle, an American actress who is biracial, divorced and a self-described feminist, was seen as the dawn of a new era: a more inclusive monarchy.

Princess Eugenie, 28, is ninth in line to the British throne and an associate director of the Hauser and Wirth art galleries in London. She is the daughter of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York; and of Sarah Ferguson. Mr. Brooksbank, 32, is a brand ambassador for Casamigos tequila, which was co-founded by the actor George Clooney.

“It was love at first sight,” Eugenie told the British broadcaster ITV about meeting Mr. Brooksbank.

But that love apparently was not shared by the British public on Friday.

While millions of people watched the royal wedding in May, according to the BBC, the British broadcaster decided not to show Eugenie’s wedding in full, though ITV stepped into the void. At least 84 percent of Britons said they “probably” or “definitely” would not tune in, a government poll said this month.

Among the 850 guests on Friday were the models Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne (in a smart pantsuit and top hat); the singer Robbie Williams; the actor Demi Moore; the comedian and author Stephen Fry; and, of course, Queen Elizabeth; Prince Philip; the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; and Harry and Ms. Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Princess Eugenie, who had surgery to correct scoliosis when she was 12, wore a dress designed by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos that allowed her scar to show. “I think you can change the way beauty is, and you can show people your scars, and I think it’s really special to stand up for that,” she told ITV before the wedding.

The dean of Windsor, David Conner, led the vows. Princess Eugenie’s sister, Princess Beatrice, read an excerpt from Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” that invoked a passage reminding her of her fiancé’s “rare” smile. For some, even that did not go down well.

One journalist, Ned Donovan, wrote on Twitter: “I get the impression that the Princesses may not actually have read the Great Gatsby, seeing as they just read a passage about the smile of a conman about to massively defraud you.”

Twitter was also rife with criticism about the cost of the affair. While the royal family paid for trappings such as the flowers, the dress and the party, significant security was required for the event because the couple decided to have a carriage procession through Windsor.

That security was provided by Thames Valley Police — and paid for with taxpayers’ money. The exact cost was not immediately released, but news reports estimated it at two million pounds, or about $2.6 million.

“Princess Eugenie is getting married today,” Hasan Patel wrote on Twitter. “I hope she has a nice time knowing that millions of pounds of taxpayers money is being used for her special day while schoolchildren go hungry and rough sleepers are dying on the streets.”

Others said the expense showed a tone-deafness at a time of austerity in Britain.

“All the whilst there’s been a sharp increase in homelessness and food bank usage,” Shahil Parmar wrote on Twitter. “What a joke.”

Almost 47,000 people signed a petition by Republic, a campaign group in favor of abolishing the British monarchy, to commit no public money to the wedding and to publish all taxpayer costs.

“The Palace claims the wedding will be funded by the royal family, but royal funding blurs the lines between private income and public money,” Republic wrote in a statement. “So, whether it’s the cost of policing paid for directly by us, or costs of the wedding ceremony, paid for by the royals, the taxpayer still ends up paying.”

But it wasn’t all acrimony on social media. Eugenie’s decision to show her scars drew praise.

“It’s so good to see that Eugenie chose her wedding dress to reveal her scar from her scoliosis surgery,” a Twitter user named Harmony wrote. “I love the mindset that it’s a badge of honour showing what she’s been through and encouraging others to do the same and not to be ashamed of surgery scars.”

After Andrea Bocelli’s soaring rendition of “Ave Maria,” the couple were pronounced husband and wife, and the newlyweds set off for their ride through the streets of Windsor.

Follow Iliana Magra on Twitter: @magraki.




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