Alex Bramall

Having the second royal wedding of the year wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Five months after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made front pages around the globe, Princess Eugenie and James Brooksbank said their I-dos in the same spot—St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle—but without the pressure of having everyone looking.

Plenty of people did look, however!

Almost 4 million tuned in to watch Eugenie and Jack’s nuptials one year ago today on ITV, the largest audience for the U.K. station in that morning time slot since Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s wedding in 2011. For Meghan and Harry, they had more competitors, including BBC One, to split the audience with, but just as with the first royal wedding of 2018, fans of the royal family lined the streets of Windsor to glimpse the festivities.

Some even laid out picnic blankets and celebrated with champagne despite the blustery October day, and all cheered the youngest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson as she made her way to the church a blushing bride-to-be and came out a newlywed.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our wedding so special and for thinking of us as we start our married life,” read handwritten thank-you note Eugenie and Jack drew up to reply to the thousands of well-wishers who sent them cards and congratulatory messages. “We are completely over-whelmed with happiness.”

Eugenie’s mum, the Duchess of York, also sent thank-yous (albeit typed ones), and in addition to agreeing that it was a most beautiful wedding, she wrote, “We are so happy to welcome Jack into our family, he is the most marvelous person and enriches Eugenie’s life. They are such a devoted couple.”

And with most of the news oxygen sucked up in the U.K. by either Brexit or the incoming royal baby, James and Eugenie have been enjoying a remarkably quiet honeymoon period since tying the knot on Oct. 12, 2018. But—and they could probably check with Harry and Meghan on this—they’re not missing anything by not being the subject of endless headlines (not to mention the inevitable bump-watch).

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In fact, the couple didn’t step out for their first public engagement as a married couple until March, appearing at the opening of a new building at Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in London, where Eugenie had surgery for scoliosis—the scars from which she proudly showed off with the low-cut back of her wedding gown—when she was 12.

Prince Andrew joined his daughter, who is now a patron of the hospital, and son-in-law in meeting patients, staff (including a nurse who helped care for Eugenie after surgery) and a robot named Pepper.

“It is such an honor to be here today, I feel like my bones and my blood are a part of this building,” Eugenie said in addressing an audience at the hospital, per Hello! “I learnt on this visit today that we all share in something with this building because we care, and so to us it is very important that we are here opening this new building and that Jack, as my newly married husband on his first event has been able to come and see where I had my operation.”

David Mirzoeff – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Eugenie also wrote on Instagram, captioning a photo of the Queen Mother, “What an honour to open the RNOH Stanmore Building today. My Great Grandmother visited the RNOH in 1931 and to follow in her footsteps is so special.” 

“I was so lucky to have Jack come with me, so I could show him where I had life changing surgery,” she added later on Instagram Story.

Unlike her cousins who are closer in line to the throne, Eugenie—who’s ninth in line, after her sister Princess Beatrice—gets to have her own social media. While she surely self-curates with a discerning eye, knowing that the House of Windsor is watching, she’s adept at the art of the #tbt and the #fbf, never forgets an important birthday (or Valentine’s Day), and, since joining in March 2018, posts regularly from all the public goings-on in her life.

Eugenie first met Jack, then the manager of a posh Mayfair nightclub, through mutual friends while on holiday in Verbier in 2010, when she was 20 and he was 24.

The princess was finishing a combined degree in art history, English literature and politics at Newcastle University and in 2013 she moved to New York to work at online auction house Paddle8, the co-founder of which had gone to Eton with Prince Harry.

“We spend a lot of time on Skype,” Jack told the Daily Mail a couple months after Eugenie moved across the Atlantic. “It’s great. We are still very much together.”

The London-born son of George and Nicola Brooksbank went to Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, for prep school but got the go-ahead from his parents to leave university in favor of going straight to work in the hospitality industry. He started off as a waiter in Chelsea before making contacts that led him to a job at the hot spot Markham Inn, frequented by the likes of Prince Harry and then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas (whom he met through Eugenie and Beatrice) and pal Guy Pelly (who’s now one of Prince Louis‘ godfathers).

Jack was managing Mahiki in Mayfair when he met Eugenie, the circles they both ran in finally conspiring to introduce them.

Royal Family

“There was an immediate attraction and since that meeting, they have barely been apart,” a friend recalled to the Mail. Talking about why the relationship worked, the pal reflected, “She is very uncomplicated. She’s a doer, a worker, as is Jack. They are very suited. Jack’s always worked hard. He chose not to go to university so that he could get on the career ladder and Eugenie loved that. She didn’t care at all that he was a waiter. She might be a princess, but Eugenie comes with few airs and graces.”

Eugenie was known to enjoy a good night out and was one of cousin Harry’s regular going-out buddies at some of London’s most fashionable bars and clubs, but Jack—while certainly in the know—acknowledged that the party scene wasn’t always his…well, scene.

“I leave work at 11 p.m. and head home,” he said in 2013. “I’m not a big drinker. People think we party a lot but actually we [in the club business] are very quiet. For me it’s a case of going home and watching a DVD.”

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BTS Moments From Princess Eugenie’s Royal Wedding

Eugenie returned to London for good in 2015 and went to work at Hauser & Wirth. And with that, she and Jack were finally able to indulge more often in their common interests, including trying new restaurants and traveling.

“I collect restaurant cards,” Eugenie shared with Harper’s Bazaar in 2016. “(I also collect airplane tickets, by the way—since I was 16. One day, I’m going to turn them into wallpaper and paste it into my cupboard.) Two of my favorite restaurants in London are Bocca di Lupo and the Palomar in Soho. For dinner, when I’m being good, I cook my own food. When I’m being really bad, it’s Basilico pizza. My favorite drink is vodka soda with loads of lime. Can’t beat that.”

Jack eventually moved into Eugenie’s apartment at St. James’s Palace, one of the places Harry was happy to take Meghan in the early days of their relationship in 2016, when they were intent on keeping a low profile in London. The foursome also dined together at Soho House in Toronto on Halloween together.

All the while Jack was getting ready to propose—he had found the perfect sapphire “but then didn’t want to do anything till Eugenie had signed off on it”—and their engagement was announced on Jan. 22, 2018.

Yui Mok/PA Wire

After they returned from their mystery honeymoon, Eugenie and Jack settled into married life at Ivy Cottage, one of the cozier residents at Kensington Palace. William and Kate remain a hop-skip away in the 20-room Apartment 1A, the onetime home of Princess Margaret, and Harry and Meghan lived there until recently, but have since chosen to start their family at Frogmore Cottage, on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Eugenie was one of the first members of the royal family to meet Meghan Markle when she started dating Harry in 2016 and, having witnessed her cousin’s increasingly frustrated quest for long-term love over the years, was one of the American actress’ biggest champions.

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“They have all become great friends,” a source told the Sunday Express that November. The ladies bonded over “a shared love of art, dogs and late-night macaroni suppers. Eugenie loves Meghan to bits and believes she is perfect for Harry. They are thick as thieves and may even all go on holiday together soon. Eugenie has lots of friends who could let them stay and be discreet, away from prying eyes.”

Meghan brought rescue beagle Guy with her to the U.K., while Eugenie is dog-mama to terrier Jack. “Total accident!” she told Harper’s Bazaar in 2016 about her dog and then-boyfriend having the same name.

Though they’re no longer immediate neighbors, Jack and Eugenie were with the whole family celebrating Christmas at Sandringham, and they’re still tight with Harry and Meghan, whose son Archie was born at London’s Portland Hospital, where the Duchess of York had both Beatrice and Eugenie.)

In fact, media detectives suspect that the video that Harry made with Ed Sheeran for World Mental Health Day that they debuted this week was shot at Ivy Cottage—considering a photograph of Eugenie and Jack sharing a kiss on their wedding day is hanging on the wall behind Harry when he opens the door.

Instagram

Meghan’s pregnancy was announced three days after Eugenie and Jack’s wedding, so after the honeymoon the newlyweds quietly settled back into their usual routine of work, relaxing at home and attending the occasional glittering royal party or black-tie gala. 

In November they were at Prince Charles‘ 70th birthday party hosted by the queen at Buckingham Palace along with Beatrice, Harry, Meghan, Kate, William and many more. A week later they feted the U.K. charity Street Child, which counts founding patron Sarah Ferguson as a global ambassador, at a 10th-anniversary dinner at Kensington Palace. They spent time with their families over the holidays and marked the anniversary of their engagement announcement in January.

“What a year it’s been since then and how exciting for 2019,” Eugenie wrote.

Mark R. Milan/GC Images

On March 1, James’ morning suit and Eugenie’s Peter Pilotto- and Christopher De Vos-designed wedding dress went on display at Windsor Castle, as did the blush-colored Zac Posen gown the bride wore for the evening reception.

Eugenie recorded commentary for the audio tour and talked about the glittering accessories she wore that day, including the scene-stealing Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara loaned to her by Granny, the queen. The center emerald itself is almost 94 carats.

“It was the most incredible thing to wear such a piece of history that my grandmother had lent me, very proud moment,” she said, “and the beautiful earrings were a gift from my husband.”

He’s got good taste, that Jack.

As Eugenie’s 29th birthday approached in March, the couple were living their best life—food, drink, friends and enjoying the local scene. They were spotted having a casual date night at members-only club Annabel’s in Mayfair, where they strolled out hand-in-hand, all smiles. It also looked as though another ski holiday was imminent, as the couple were spotted leaving sports equipment store Snow & Rock with a couple of bags.

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Happy Birthday to you, my one and only Jack. You are one of a kind and totally extraordinary. Nine birthdays and counting…to quote you from a few months ago "you light up my life" ???? #birthday

A post shared by Princess Eugenie (@princesseugenie) on

Jack turned 33 in May, and Eugenie posted a sweet message, “Happy Birthday to you, my one and only Jack. You are one of a kind and totally extraordinary. Nine birthdays and counting…to quote you from a few months ago ‘you light up my life.'”

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While Eugenie mainly attends to her royal duties and other personal appearances solo (or with her mother, sister or father), James was at the Trooping of the Colour, an event important enough to the queen that it also marked Meghan’s first public appearance after giving birth, months before she returned to official engagements.

Also in June, the couple traveled to Saint-Vivien-de-Monségur, in the southwest of France, for the wedding of Jack’s younger brother (and best man at his wedding), Thomas Brooksbank, and his bride, Amy Rodgers.

When they’re not jetting across the English Channel, Eugenie mentioned a few years ago that her favorite shows were How to Get Away With Murder and Outlander, and that she and Jack were both “obsessed” with The Walking Dead. She also mused, “Maybe Game of Thrones is our next thing.”

If they did end up getting into the binge-worthy drama, then we know exactly what they did on at least six Sunday nights this year. Fictional royal drama is always more appealing than the real thing.

(Originally published March 23, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)

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