Royals at war: the hostility between Duchess Catherine and Princess Beatrice and other royal family members

Turns out several members of the family have been at loggerheads for years

When the royal family gets together in a couple of weeks for the wedding of Princess Eugenie, they will, of course, put on their usual united front. But the smiles will hide tensions that have been simmering under the surface for some time now.

Several members of the family have been at loggerheads for years, but matters have been threatening to boil over since Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, married in May this year. Their marriage and huge popularity with the public, even in the face of the ongoing Markle Debacle, has only served to highlight the ever-widening divide between Prince Charles’ side of the family and Prince Andrew’s.

Andrew and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie are seen as irrelevant to the royal family, and that rankles. Charles (69) and Andrew (58) have never been close, but their relationship has deteriorated thanks to the fact that as heir to the throne, Charles and his boys get greater prominence. Being left in the shadows of their cousins, Prince William and Harry, has also caused some bad blood between the next generation.

Eugenie’s jealousy of Meghan’s nuptials to Harry has driven the bride-to-be to do her utmost, with the help of her doting dad, to one-up the new duchess in the wedding stakes, in everything from the dress to the number of guests and celebrations, which will feature three separate parties over two days.

Meanwhile, the hostilities between Beatrice and William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, are well known and still haven’t abated.

When Kate started dating William in 2003, she was welcomed with open arms by most members of the royal family, except for Beatrice.

“When Kate arrived on the scene there was a lot of attention on her, which took the spotlight away from other members of the family, including Andrew’s daughters,” says a source.

Another palace insider adds, “Royalty is all about pecking order, often in a cruelly blunt sense, and it is Kate who has all the toys and the position. Despite being the only young ‘blood princesses’ (apart from, now, Princess Charlotte), Beatrice and Eugenie have been reduced to walk-on parts in royal family life.

“It particularly hurt when Kate did solo engagements with the Queen during the Diamond Jubilee. They felt snubbed.”

Princess Beatrice with ex-boyfriend Dave Clark

Although Beatrice (30) and Eugenie (28) generally get on well with Harry (34), they are not very close to William (36). Something that previously caused even more friction was that William didn’t like Beatrice’s ex-boyfriend, Dave Clark.

The tension between the two couples was not obvious until 2008, when Kate (36) organised a roller disco party to raise money for a cancer charity. The evening is mostly remembered for the fact that she fell over and ended up flat on her back. But it was also the first time disharmony between Kate and Beatrice was noticed.

Prince Andrew’s eldest daughter was initially not invited to the event, but managed to secure a last-minute ticket. However, nobody told her about the ’80s dress code, and she was left feeling embarrassed after she turned up in everyday clothes. Other guests noted that Kate seemed to give Beatrice the cold shoulder all evening, and it got people talking about whether there was a problem between the two women.

Tongues also wagged that same year when Beatrice and Eugenie snubbed Kate’s sister Pippa at a fashion show.

Fast forward three years to Kate’s wedding to William, and Beatrice was deeply upset that not only was her mother Sarah, Duchess of York, not invited, but her partner Dave was left off the guest list. While Kate made a beautiful bride, Beatrice was deemed the worst dressed and made fun of, thanks to her over-the-top hat.

To make matters worse, Dave was once again snubbed when it came to the christening of Kate and William’s first child, Prince George. While Beatrice did attend without her then other half, she wasn’t asked to be godmother, which many people had expected. Instead, Zara Phillips got that honour.

Two years later, Beatrice was a no-show for the christening of Princess Charlotte, and she wasn’t at Prince Louis’ either.

Palace insiders say Beatrice once plucked up the courage to speak to William about why she had been sidelined from various royal events.

“He kept her waiting for ages, then said it wasn’t his decision what she was included in,” says a source. “It was all very friendly, but it didn’t achieve anything.”

Princess Beatrice with Isabella Branson

While this tension between the family members may seem rather one-sided, apparently Kate also has issues with Beatrice, especially the fact that she and Eugenie are good friends with Isabella Branson.

The socialite – who is now married to Richard Branson’s son Sam – was linked to William when he and Kate briefly split in 2007, and she is apparently the one woman who makes Kate feel insecure. Isabella is likely to be at Eugenie’s wedding next month, as will William and Kate, so it could be tricky.

One royal source says Beatrice and Eugenie will have to get used to the fact that the spotlight is on William and Kate, and now Harry and Meghan, and they are being edged out.

“But it is challenging to start off feeling very royal and end up less so.”

Kate and Beatrice aren’t the only royals who have issues with each other – there are also tensions between several other family members.

Fergie versus Prince Philip

The strained feelings between Andrew and Charles, and Beatrice and Kate, are nothing compared to the out-and-out animosity directed at Sarah, Duchess of York, by her former father-in-law, Prince Philip.

Philip’s dislike of Fergie is so strong there’s a chance he won’t attend granddaughter Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank next month because he can’t stand being in the same room as her mother.

Philip (97) has never got over the infamous toe-sucking scandal of 1992, when Fergie (58) was photographed in a compromising position with her financial adviser John Bryan. Her subsequent money woes and attempts to cash in on her royal connections – such as trying to sell access to Andrew to a businessman who turned out to be an undercover reporter – have continued to fan the flames of his fury.

Philip doesn’t seem to care who knows about the low regard in which he holds his ex-daughter-in-law. The Queen (92) is far more forgiving and has slowly started inviting Fergie back into the fold, thanks to the fact she’s still very much a part of Andrew’s life, but everyone in the family knows she’ll still always be persona non grata as far as Philip is concerned.

He was barely able to hide his contempt when he spotted her with Andrew at Royal Ascot three years ago, and looked “aghast”, one onlooker told.

Fergie has also been invited several times by the Queen to stay in a cabin at the Balmoral estate while the rest of the family are at the main residence for their summer holidays.

After one visit in 2005, a friend of Fergie’s said, “[Philip] avoided her like the plague. I don’t think they spoke a word all week.”

Fergie doesn’t have anything good to say about Philip either. She’s told “endless stories about how tyrannical he is”, says a source. “They loathe each other, to put it frankly.”

They were both in the same room – St George’s Chapel – when Harry married Meghan in May this year, but unlike then the duchess will have a major role to play as mother of the bride and it could prove very awkward if Philip refuses to acknowledge her.

“I would be surprised if he does go,” says a courtier. “I think he will decide at the 99th hour.”

Anne versus Camilla

Princess Anne and her sister-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, may seem civil to each other in public, but behind the scenes they have very little to say to one another, according to royal insiders. They don’t get on due to the fact that they were once rivals for the attention of the same man.

Camilla (71) met army officer Andrew Parker Bowles first. They started dating in 1965 when she was a fresh-faced 17-year-old debutante and he was a dashing 25-year-old cavalry officer. However, Andrew had an issue with being faithful and embarked on a series of affairs, including, in the early 1970s, with Anne (68).

Camilla knew what was going on, and when a friend introduced her to Anne’s brother Charles, she saw an opportunity to get her own back by having a fling with him, according to royal biographer Penny Junor.

It was not quite the “love at first sight” romance many have since dubbed it, says Penny, who wrote about the relationship in her book The Duchess: The Untold Story.

“There was certainly an element of tit-for-tat in Camilla’s fling with Charles. Her principal motivation was to have some excitement and make Andrew jealous. She knew the affair with Charles would never go anywhere.”

Camilla’s wedding to Andrew Parker Bowles

Andrew (78) was fully aware of Camilla and Charles, and when he and Anne drifted apart, and she began seeing Mark Phillips, he realised he was in danger of losing both girlfriends. He waited until Charles went off to the West Indies on a naval posting in 1973 and then proposed to Camilla, who said yes.

Two months later, Anne and Mark (69) announced their engagement. Meanwhile, Charles embarked on a series of short-lived relationships before marrying Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. The heir to the throne rekindled his relationship with Camilla while they were both still married, but it wasn’t until 2005, following the breakdown of their marriages and the death of Diana, that Charles and Camilla finally became husband and wife.

The tangled web of romances has left Anne and Camilla feeling sour towards each other, says the insider, and while they’ve managed not to let it cause any major issues, at times it is “seriously awkward”.

Markle train wreck

Meghan’s arrival has exacerbated existing tensions by taking the spotlight from other members of the family. The former actress is adapting seamlessly to life as a duchess and even bad publicity – such as her outspoken family – is endearing her to the public, who feel for everything she is going through.

Hardly a week goes by when Meghan’s dad Thomas Markle (74) or half sister Samantha Markle doesn’t make the news for some reason – usually speaking out against the royal family for allegedly turning Meghan against her father.

Related stories

Get NZ Woman’s Weekly home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.