Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are respectively Queen Elizabeth II’s fifth and sixth-born among her eight grandchildren. The relationship that the queen had with the two daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York was not as heavily scrutinized as the ones she had with their cousins, Prince William and Prince Harry, and perhaps it was because the sisters had never been senior royalty. Instead, the relationship that the queen had with both granddaughters was one of mutual affection.
While known to the world as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, she was "Granny" to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, who have always been very open about their admiration for her in public and in Eugenie’s case, her social media. On the queen’s part, royal expert Tom Quinn surmised that her heart probably went out to them even more as the two sisters reminded her "something of her own relationship as a child with Princess Margaret" (per the documentary "Beatrice and Eugenie: Pampered Princesses?" via Daily Express). Here’s a look at how Queen Elizabeth II has influenced Beatrice and Eugenie from when they were young princesses to now when they are both mothers.
Queen Elizabeth II was the one who named Beatrice
Princess Beatrice would be living with a different first name if it wasn’t for the queen. Royal commentator Kate Williams told CNN that when a royal baby is due, the parents will have an "informal conversation" about the baby’s name with HRH, and that "they have such respect for the Queen that if she says, ‘I really don’t like that name,’ they’d definitely take that into account" (via Marie Claire).
That consideration was allegedly the case when Andrew and Sarah’s first child was born on August 8, 1988. According to The Sun via Associated Press, the prince and duchess wanted to name their baby Annabel, but Queen Elizabeth II thought the name was too "yuppie" and suggested Beatrice instead. The queen obviously won the argument, and Princess Beatrice’s name was officially announced two weeks later with "the name [being] royal enough for the Queen but unusual enough to please Sarah [Ferguson]."
Eugenie spoke her mind to the queen when she was growing up
Queen Elizabeth II must’ve approved of Eugenie’s name as it was announced as soon as Andrew and Sarah stepped out of the hospital after the Duchess of York gave birth by Caesarean section on March 23rd, 1990 (per the Los Angeles Times). In an interview, the Duchess revealed that while Eugenie had "excellent table manners" growing up, she was "fiercely candid" as well. The young princess wouldn’t be afraid to say that "she doesn’t like her granny’s lipstick."
This trait stuck with her as a young adult as the princess revealed in her first interview before her 18th birthday — although one would guess that she probably toned down the candidness in front of her grandmother as she got older. "I am definitely not as polite as Beatrice, I have to say. I tell it as it is," Eugene told The Telegraph. She also admitted, "I do have an occasional temper — I sort of inherited my dad’s short fuse."
Queen Elizabeth felt ‘maternal’ toward Beatrice and Eugenie after their parents’ divorce
In Channel 5’s documentary "Beatrice and Eugenie: Pampered Princesses?" the narrator notes that the sisters grew up "doted on by their grandparents" (via Daily Express). They lived near Windsor Castle and visited often to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. According to royal author Ingrid Seward, Fergie had taught Beatrice and Eugenie to have "three sets of manners: One was for her, one was for when they were out and the third was when they were with the Queen."
Despite the formalities, the queen had a soft spot for her granddaughters not only because of their parallels with herself and her sister Margaret, but also because of their parents’ divorce. Beatrice was three while Eugenie was about to turn two when Andrew and Sarah separated in 1992. Royal expert Angela Levin said of the matter, "It’s always very difficult for children to see their parents split up. And I think perhaps the Queen even felt more maternal towards them. They’d had a very hard time."
Beatrice was trusted with the task of restoring her grandmother’s childhood playhouse
Another property of Queen Elizabeth II’s that Beatrice and Eugenie enjoyed when they were younger was her childhood playhouse at the Royal Lodge in Windsor. Called the Y Bwthyn Bach, which is Welsh for "The Little Cottage," it is a two-story miniature house with four rooms that are only five feet high. Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret baked cakes in the fully-equipped kitchen and read Beatrix Potter books in the parlor that had armchairs for their dolls and blue and gold china in the dresser (per the BBC).
The cottage had been enjoyed by the royal generations that followed, and in 2012, Beatrice gave a tour of the newly-renovated version for BBC’s documentary, "The Diamond Queen." The queen had trusted her granddaughter with the task, and Beatrice revealed that she had very specific requests. "Granny was very clear that for all the fabric she wanted very little designs," she told former BBC presenter Andrew Marr. "It’s such a little house that she wanted little flowers and patterns."
The playhouse got a fresh coat of paint, new curtains and upholstery, and an updated roof and wiring. Recalling her childhood memories in the playhouse, Beatrice said, "Granny and her sister played here growing up. And we have been lucky enough to play here and cousins and second cousins. It’s a real family treat. It’s the most glamorous Wendy house ever."
The queen was one of the first to know about Eugenie’s engagement
In January 2018, Eugenie announced her engagement to businessman Jack Brooksbank on BBC’s "The One Show." She revealed that the queen was one of the handful of people that they told right away — along with Prince Philip, their parents, and their siblings. "Grannie actually knew right at the beginning, she was one of the very few people," Eugenie said during the interview (via Town and Country).
For the wedding, instead of wearing the York Diamond Tiara that her mother wore for her own wedding in 1986, Eugenie was lent the Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara by the queen. It was originally the Queen Mother’s and has a 93.7 carat emerald in the center. In regards to the princess’ decision to wear this tiara, gemologist Grant Mobley said, "By wearing this stunning emerald and diamond tiara, Princess Eugenie honored the history and tradition associated with the Royal Family, while also showcasing her own personal style" (per Town and Country).
Beatrice altered one of her grandmother’s gowns for her wedding
Queen Elizabeth II was the central influence on Beatrice’s 2020 wedding to property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Due to the pandemic, the wedding was held at the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge and scaled back to adhere to social distancing protocols. It was also scheduled around the queen’s schedule, according to Town and Country. The queen’s touch was also present on Beatrice from head to toe as the tiara and gown she chose to wear had both been worn in the past by her grandmother and lent to her for her special day.
Beatrice wore the Queen Mary diamond fringe tiara, which was sentimental as it was the tiara that Queen Elizabeth II wore to marry Prince Philip in 1947. Her altered wedding dress was previously worn by the queen to a state dinner in Rome in 1961 and the theater premiere of "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1962. The princess expressed on her Twitter, "It was an honour to wear my grandmother’s beautiful dress on my wedding day."
Queen Elizabeth II remained on the sisters’ side in the midst of various challenges
Beatrice and Eugenie have often found themselves caught in the crossfire of the various scandals that their mother — and most notoriously, their father — have been involved in over the years. There probably was no bigger support than from the queen herself, who the Daily Beast reported as being "known to be proud" of her granddaughters for the way they faced the challenges and often invited them for afternoon tea.
And despite being non-working royals, it was rumored that Queen Elizabeth II still wanted them to be respected as "blood princesses." According to a leaked and updated Order of Precedence, since Princess Catherine is a commoner, she had to curtsy to the princesses who were royal by birth. The exception was if Prince William was also present, which would then turn the tables to have Beatrice and Eugenie curtsying to Princess Catherine. Of course, this all may seem a bit old-fashioned in today’s modern times, but it illustrated the queen’s continued fondness for her granddaughters.
In turn, the sisters have taken the sometimes unwanted media attention in stride. "We believe very strongly in who we are, and the support system of our friends and our family is pretty incredible," Eugenie said to British Vogue. "There’s no point being angry with anyone for beating us up — we just need to shine light and love in the world."
In public, Beatrice and Eugenie openly referred to the queen as ‘Granny’
Unlike other grandchildren who have been more formal when referring to the queen in public, the two sisters have always been open to affectionately calling her "Granny." Eugenie especially alternated between using ‘Granny’ and ‘Grannie’ in her Instagram, such as when she made a tribute post to Prince Philip that ended with "Thank you for your dedication and love for us all and especially Granny, who we will look after for you" and congratulating "our Majesty, Grannie, for 70 years of service, selflessness and dedication" in a post about the Platinum Jubilee. (As a note — both spellings are accepted and interestingly enough, the Mirror pointed out how Prince William used "Grannie" while Prince Harry used "Granny" in their tributes).
Furthermore, when the sisters introduce themselves, they tend to do it by their connection to their "granny/grannie." During the Platinum Jubilee, Beatrice and Eugenie attended The Big Jubilee Lunch where they met and played games with people at the Paddington Recreation Ground in West London (per the Evening Standard). When a woman asked Beatrice who she was as she did not recognize her, the princess answered, "My name is Beatrice. And the queen is my granny" and called herself "very, very lucky" for that fact. Eugenie echoed this in her introductory paragraph for her congratulatory Platinum Jubilee piece in The Spectator when she wrote, "Her Majesty the Queen is an incomparable monarch who has reached a record-breaking milestone. She also happens to be my grannie, and I am a very proud granddaughter."
The sisters both cite the queen as their role model
Over the years, whenever the sisters were interviewed, they would often use the phrase "role model" to describe the queen. In a 2017 interview with Hello!, Beatrice credited her mother and the queen as being her role models and said that "having female role models is incredibly important and I am very lucky that I happen to be related to these two incredible women." In a 2018 British Vogue interview, Eugenie described her grandmother as the "ultimate role model," citing that the "dedication that she and our grandfather have put towards this country is incredible."
When explaining the reasons as to why they thought the queen was a role model, the sisters mentioned not only her wisdom, but her curiosity to gain more wisdom. "All I can say is that she has this air of magic about her," Eugenie told The Telegraph. "And she is incredibly wise. What doesn’t she know?" Beatrice described her grandmother as "inspiring every day" to Hello! as "her overwhelming sense of duty is linked with an overwhelming curiosity. Every day she’s curious to learn something new, to do something new, and … she goes out into the community with a genuine curiosity as to how she can be a force for good in the world."
Both princesses are following in the steps of their grandmother’s philanthropy
Following in their grandmother’s footsteps, Beatrice and Eugenie are also involved in various charitable causes. Per British Vogue, the sisters have worked with the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where Eugenie had scoliosis surgery in 2002. Beatrice has a heart for young people, having co-founded Big Change — which seeks "a society where every young person is set up to thrive in life, not just exams" according to its website — and partnered with the cyberbullying campaign, "Be Cool, Be Nice," in light of her struggles as a teenager with dyslexia. Eugenie co-founded the Anti-Slavery Collective to shed light about modern slavery and also partnered with the anti-plastic campaign, Project Zero.
And while the sisters are both busy with events and fundraisers along with their regular jobs and families, they’ve expressed amazement at the sheer volume of causes that their grandparents have supported over the queen’s reign. Eugenie mentioned that it was "more than 1,000" in The Spectator‘s Platinum Jubilee tribute piece while Beatrice praised her grandmother to Hello! for being able to "set aside time to dedicate to so many different causes. I’ve got 30 emails in my in-box. She doesn’t necessarily have email, but she’s got red box after red box. I admire her dedication greatly."
Beatrice and Eugenie hope their children will grow up to be like Queen Elizabeth II
Beatrice and Eugenie are 21 months apart, and they each had their first child in the same year. Eugenie’s son, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, was born on February 9, 2021, while Beatrice’s daughter, Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi, was born a few months later on September 18, 2021. Along with sharing the same birth year, both mothers hope that they will carry on the legacy of their great-grandmother.
For Beatrice, that hope is reflected in having her daughter’s middle name be named after Queen Elizabeth II. And for Eugenie, she dreams that her son would inherit the queen’s "patience, her calmness and her kindness, while always being able to laugh at himself and keep a twinkle in his eye" (per The Spectator). With the queen passing away when August was only a little over a year old and Sienna just short of her first birthday, the sisters are no doubt grateful that she could spend even a short time with two of the newest members of her now 12 great-grandchildren.