I’m a Royal Reporter and I Think It’s Time to Take Princesses Eugenie & Beatrice Off the Bench

The monarchy needs them

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Before royal events were tabled due to the snap general election called by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, it was a (rainy) royal occasion to remember. Prince William, heir to the throne, hosted a garden party for 8,000 people at Buckingham Palace last week on behalf of the monarch, King Charles—his dad—and included a few surprise (yet not totally unexpected) co-hosts: his cousins.

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Sure, there was Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne) and Mike Tindall (who is married to Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara), but the faces that stood out the most in the crowd—and in the absence of William’s wife, Kate Middleton, who continues to recover from cancer—were royally familiar: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson (Fergie!).

From my point of a view as a long-term royal watcher, Beatrice and Eugenie’s presence felt like the ultimate palette cleanser. And we need more of it.

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It’s true, we’ve recently seen the king make an official (and welcome!) return to public duties, quite possibly overdoing it as he bops to the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Opera House and more, all while minding his doctor’s orders to take it easy. Simultaneously, William has been showing up where he can, juggling taking care of Kate and the kids with his royal responsibilities. But, even with Queen Camilla, Anne and Duchess Sophie working overtime to pull their own weight as senior working members of the royal family, it’s left the monarchy as a whole looking quite...slim.

Helpful to U.K. taxpayers and a hallmark of Charles’s reign? Perhaps. But, even though I hate to admit it as someone who is royally obsessed, there’s been another unfortunate (and unintentional) consequence of having fewer official players: Royal goings-on as of late have felt a bit dull.

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Enter Beatrice and Eugenie! Dressed in bright crimson and a soft (and oh-so-elegant) white, they added levity last week to what would have otherwise been a turn-key royal occasion. At the garden party, they braved the rain, they schmoozed—but more than anything they infused the day with color and fun.

Zara did, too, and had many a scene-stealing moment with her Mary Poppins-like vibe and brilliant high heel hack. But unlike her cousins Beatrice and Eugenie, she doesn’t have a royal title and has previously shared that she prefers it that way, which is why I’m not including her here.

Perhaps it all ties back to the Diana Effect on the royals—so much of my interest is in the institution’s modernity, which I mostly connect with through the women. Of course, I care about what they’re wearing, but I love any tidbits about marriage and motherhood (which Eugenie occasionally shares about on Instagram) as well as the causes they support (Bea is a passionate advocate for Made by Dyslexia; Eugenie works hard on behalf of the Anti-Slavery Collective). These are all easy and relatable entry points and one that, without Kate—and, frankly, Meghan—in the mix, I absolutely miss.

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Don’t get me wrong: William in a top hat and under a brolly (as they refer to umbrellas in the U.K.) is great fun. But even his demeanor changed with his royal cousins by his side. I hope someone at Buckingham Palace is taking note.

Of course, royal protocol ultimately dictates what’s possible here. In the past, Beatrice, Eugenie and Zara have all popped up at royal occasions as non-working members of the family with the understanding that they are still representatives of the institution and, every so often, duty calls.

But wouldn’t it be nice if more of a part-time arrangement could be procured? Back in 2019 and into 2020, that flexibility didn’t exist for Harry and Meghan—but we all know from that situation, there are some royal lessons that could (and should!) be learned.

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There has been some recent buzz that Beatrice may be taking on a more visible position at upcoming events, such as the state visit with Japan that Charles is set to host. Still, so much is now in flux with the pending election, which means we’ll have to wait and see.

While the monarchy does feel a bit slim in its current status, the future has potential—let’s just not ignore the benchwarmers.

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...