The names "Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie" are more likely to conjure the two women pictured on the right (above) than the ones in the left photograph. That's because nearly seven years after their first cousin Prince William married Kate Middleton, the two royals are still haunted by the images that catapulted them into meme territory.
As soon as Kate, and now Meghan, stepped into their public royal life, they were welcomed with gusto by the public. Aside from the occasional tabloid feature, they were beloved, idolised for their style and poise, and oftentimes the emblem du jour. (Markle has had her troubles with a chatty family, but style-wise, she's celebrated.) This isn't how the press has treated Beatrice, 29, and Eugenie, 28, at least according to the sisters. This month, they gave their first interview about their harsh experiences in the limelight to British Vogue.
“There was a horrible article that had been written about Beatrice and she got really upset. We were just about to step out [at a Buckingham Palace garden party] and she had a bit of a wobble and cried. I was looking after her,” Eugenie said, adding, “And then about an hour later, I had a wobble and started crying and Bea was there for me.” (Representation for Princess Eugenie and Beatrice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.)
As news of the British Vogue interview made rounds on Thursday, outlets simplified the bullying, reporting that the sisters were upset over the ridicule over their hats. But it's more complicated than that, and it goes back to before they were even born.
So, who are Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, anyway?
The sisters are the only two children of Sarah, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth, which makes the sisters first cousins with Princes William and Harry. After a short and tumultuous marriage, Andrew and Fergie, as the duchess is called, announced their separation. This was four years after they'd welcomed Beatrice. As duchess, Fergie was mercilessly ridiculed by the tabloid media on both sides of the pond. Everything she did was wrong. A number of outlets fat-shamed her by dubbing her the "Duchess of Pork."
It's not surprising that the media then turned their misogyny and attention on her daughters as soon as it was possible, publishing paparazzi shots of the two in bikinis, mocking their bodies, their fashion sense, and nearly everything about them. (We won't be linking to these stories out of respect for Eugenie and Beatrice.) The press interest reached a fever pitch during Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding. And the fascinators were at the centre of the attention.
So, about the nine circles of meme hell...
A search for "Princess Eugenie Princess Beatrice meme" will produce pages and pages worth of respectable publications featuring the now infamous photos of the royal sisters and their fascinators on Kate and William's wedding day. After the wedding, Pippa Middleton was immediately designated the next most eligible bachelorette in the U.K. while Eugenie and Beatrice were likened to Cinderella's evil and ugly step-sisters. Literally. Someone photoshopped an image of Cinderella's sisters to make them look more like Eugenie and Beatrice. Things got so ugly, the royals had to hire a new stylist to "turn around" their style.
That's so disgusting! How did they move on from this?
There's a silver lining in Eugenie's and Beatrice's horrible experience: the sisters have been very active in anti-bullying campaigns, speaking out about overcoming their own most "vulnerable" moments. Just this year, the sisters spoke at an event for “WE Day,” a charity event attended by over 200,000 teens over 17 cities.
“I don’t believe that there are many things in life that can make you feel more vulnerable, more helpless, more alone, than being bullied," Beatrice said. “It comes in many, many forms, we’ve all suffered our fair share along the way. Growing up in the public eye, means that every embarrassing, slightly awkward growth spurt, or hilarious fashion moment are published around the world."
Eugenie also took the mic to share her own hopeful message: “This stage has witnessed many of their stories, remind yourself of them, the next time you feel you are surrounded by people who try to undervalue or undermine you. Remind yourself, you are one of the great ones, in fact the best ones!”
Prince Andrew and Fergie were both there to cheer their daughters on.
So, what do they do now?
Besides the typical obligations of all royals (charity events, royal functions, fashionable garden parties, etc.), the princesses both work. Eugenie is the director of the Hauser & Wirth art gallery in London, and Beatrice is the vice-president of U.S.-based technology company, Afiniti. Beatrice is also a co-founder of Big Change, a charity that encourages kids to develop skills outside of a traditional curriculum.
Eugenie is set to marry fiancé Jack Brooksbank on 12th October, making it the third most important Royal Wedding of the year, after Kit Harington and Rose Leslie's Scottish nuptials and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's big day, of course. This royal wedding is also bound to be full of celebrity guests.
Oh, yeah? Are they friends with stars?
Beatrice, the more outgoing and social of the two — she's the only one with social media accounts — recently vacationed with supermodel Karli Kloss and singer Ellie Goulding in Jordan, so when Kloss got engaged to long-time boyfriend Josh Kushner last week, one of the people she FaceTimed to share the news was none other than Beatrice.
Then there was that time an Uber driver shared a photo of Beatrice, her now ex-boyfriend Dave Clark, Ashton Kutcher, and Mila Kunis hanging out in the backseat of the car.
Alright. You asked for it.