Deciding the seating arrangements at any wedding is a delicate affair – as Princess Eugenie will soon discover. According to reports, the bride-to-be’s grandfather, Prince Philip, has a frosty relationship with her mother, Sarah Ferguson, and is said to struggle to even be in the same room as the Duchess. Sarah was married to Prince Andrew – the Queen and Philip's second son – from July 1986 until their separation announcement in March 1992; they were officially divorced in May 1996.
Difficulties in the Duchess' relations with the royal family came in 1992 when intimate photos were taken showing her with oil tycoon John Bryan, who she had described as her financial advisor. Sarah was staying at Balmoral with the family at the time the images were published and her relationship with her in-laws, in particular the Duke of Edinburgh, was left in tatters. In subsequent years, she has been to Balmoral on short breaks with the Queen, Andrew and their daughters Beatrice and Eugenie – but apparently only when Philip has not been present.
Sarah Ferguson was married to Prince Andrew from 1986 until their split in 1992
Sarah was also not invited to Prince William and Kate's wedding in April 2011. The 58-year-old – who was herself married at Westminster Abbey – later admitted she was hurt by the exclusion. "It was so difficult. Because I wanted to be there with my girls… and to be getting them dressed and to go as a family," she said. "And it was also hard because the last bride up that aisle was me."
Eugenie is set to marry Jack – a former manager of Mayfair nightclub Mahiki – at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in the autumn. The couple first met during a skiing holiday and have been dating for several years. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Eugenie's grandparents, the Queen and Prince Philip, were "very pleased and wish the couple all the best".
Prince Andrew, Eugenie and Beatrice on their way to William and Kate's wedding
In a series of posts following the engagement announcement, Sarah congratulated Eugenie and Jack, calling the news "total joy". One message shared alongside a photo of the couple read: "A total embrace of goodness AND JOY, we love Jack and I AM SO EXCITED to have a son, a brother and a best friend, eugenie is one of the finest people I know and so together it will BE PURE HARMONY #totaljoy #engagement #TheDukeOfYork."
A second caption read: "I always say the river flows well to its destiny because of the guidance of a solid rock #engagement #eugieandjack." In a third, the Duchess wrote: "They make laughter and we feel the joy. Thank you for the magic. Jack and Eugie, so proud of you."