Princess Beatrice’s sad ‘plan B’ wedding
Can you believe it has been only two years? It is exactly two years today since a beaming Prince Harry and Meghan Markle fronted the press at Kensington Palace and announced that after a now infamous roast chicken dinner they were engaged.
In the intervening time they have gotten married, faced her family's regular media eruptions, gotten pregnant, gone on three international tours, had a baby, weathered a series of controversies and PR bungles, launched two contentious legal actions and somehow found time to renovate Frogmore Cottage.
It has been a wild, wild ride and one that Harry's cousin Princess Beatrice should be on right now.
In September, she announced that she was set to wed wealthy British-Italian property developer and single father Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi after he popped the question with a honking great diamond ring.
It was a welcome piece of good news for the York clan after father Prince Andrew had at that stage faced two months of intensive, renewed scrutiny about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
First, Epstein was arrested in July on new sex trafficking charges before, only a month later, being found dead in his cell in New York, having apparently committed suicide.
All of which dramatically revived focus on claims made by Epstein's "sex slave" Virginia Giuffre that she had had sex with the Prince on three occasions when she was only 17 years old. Andrew has always vigorously denied the allegations.
So, come September, a happy story about a York and the chance for a serious injection of public goodwill courtesy of a royal wedding was just the ticket!
Beatrice's sister Princess Eugenie posted vaguely awkward photos of the happy couple on her Instagram account and their parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, took to their respective social media accounts to congratulate the couple.
And then … nothing.
As of the time of writing it has been 62 days since they revealed they are set to wed but they have not announced a single concrete detail about their big day. All that has been mentioned is that it will be a spring wedding. No actual date. No location. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
For a normal couple, this would be par for the course, however, for a member of the royal family this is highly, highly unusual.
See, the Windsors like to get things moving, traditionally announcing an engagement and then only a matter of days or weeks later disclosing the wedding date and where the ceremony will be held.
For example, there was a 19-day gap between Harry and Meghan's giggly media debut at Kensington Palace and the specifics of their wedding being disclosed.
Ditto, Princess Eugenie and her husband, tequila ambassador Jack Brooksbank. From the day they posed for some equally staged photos in Buckingham Palace's Picture Gallery it was 12 days until they told the world that they too had chosen the chapel at Windsor Castle and publicly setting the date.
Even William and Kate, who had THE royal wedding, the biggest, fanciest, hardest to plan of all, announced the date and venue 7 days after they posed for their engagement portraits.
Basically, the royal formula goes: Reveal Happy News! Pose for slightly clumsy official pictures. Then, put out a statement with all the particulars the following month.
So back to Bea and Edo. The last couple of weeks, in the wake of her father's excruciating BBC interview about Epstein and then the humiliation of being "sacked" as working royal, must have taken a high personal toll. No palace equerry or PR flunkie would ever suggest that this period of extreme familial turmoil was the moment to bust out a cheerful wedding update.
The question that remains to be answered is, why was no information about Bea's big day put out long before the current Andrew scandal kicked off?
But that still doesn't explain why in the 31 days between news of their engagement and the beginning of November (thus breaking the usual timing pattern) there has been total and absolute radio silence about their wedding.
Given the tumultuous events of the past week, it is hard to see when in the near future it would even be appropriate for Bea and Edo to update the public on their wedding. If they do it too soon, it will just look like a desperate attempt to gin up a dash of good PR.
That said, how long can they actually wait before any planning details leak? (We have to assume that they have quietly started planning by now. Even royal nuptials take months to prepare for.)
The public has had some degree of access to every royal wedding since Prince Albert, Duke of York married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (aka the Queen's parents) in 1923, however Her Majesty's 1947 big day was the first that was broadcast on the radio.
Which makes one option on the table for Beatrice so remarkable - a private wedding. Rather than having the ceremony somewhere like Windsor or Westminster Abbey followed by an official carriage ride a la Princess Eugenie, this Plan B scenario would entirely play out behind closed doors.
Things could potentially unfold something like this: Bea and Edo would tie the knot at a private chapel in one of the royal palaces or the Queen's homes such as Balmoral or Sandringham, with a reception held on site.
A private wedding, held far away from the press and prying eyes, would offer the royal family the chance to carefully stage manage the event from an image-perspective.
For example, a selection of official pictures would most likely be released on the day, however, we would be unlikely to see say Prince Andrew in the same happy family shot as Princes Charles and William.
They could broadly offer the image of a happy family without the more senior royals being concerned about being publicly associated with outcast Andrew.
The other benefit to this far more low-key celebration is that Bea's wedding could not be interpreted as a base attempt at improving Andrew's tattered image. Nor would the royal family have to contend with the complicated optics of the Duke beaming side-by-side with his daughter outside a church.
Interestingly, Bea and Edo were photographed leaving Windsor Castle over the weekend, reportedly having gone there to see Bea's grandmother the Queen. It would be fascinating to know if they were there simply for some grandmotherly hugs and a nice afternoon tea or whether the subject of their wedding came up.
Come 2020, it is certain that we are going to be treated to another royal wedding, our fourth in two years, however where and when that will be remains an unexplained mystery.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years' experience working with a number of Australia's leading titles.