IT WAS left to the Dean of Windsor, the Rt Revd David Conner, to explain why Princess Eugenie chose to liken her long-term partner Jack Brooksbank to the tragic hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby at their wedding in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, last Friday.
Eyebrows were raised in some quarters when the Princess read a passage that describes Jay Gatsby, a fictitious embodiment of America’s jazz age, whose glitzy life ended in disaster and death.
Dean Conner explained in his address, however, that it was simply the description of Gatsby’s smile which reminded the Princess of her groom, not his characteristics or eventual demise. She had read the book soon after meeting Mr Brooksbank on the ski slopes of Verbier, Switzerland, in 2010, and immediately thought of her newfound love.
The choice of reading, Dean Conner said, had been made because she wanted to let Mr Brooksbank know “how much those words had brought him to mind”.
He explained: “As we heard from the reading, ‘It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it. . . It concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.’
“Well, a few years have passed, and Eugenie and Jack come here today to smile on each other, and to offer each other something like ‘eternal reassurance’ and the promise of an ‘irresistible prejudice’ in each other’s favour.”
The service, five months after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s marriage at Windsor (News, 25 May), was a celebrity affair, reflecting the couple’s wide circle of friends. The pop singer Robbie Williams’s daughter Theodora, was one of the six bridemaids, and the 850 guests included the models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, and the actors Demi Moore and Stephen Fry.
At the Princess’s request, her ivory gown featured a low back, to show scars from surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to straighten her spine, after she was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 12. She is a patron of the hospital’s redevelopment appeal.
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, led prayers, including one that he had composed specially for the occasion: “God of our pilgrimage, thank you for your faithfulness and friendliness. May your steadfast and unfailing love be the fire leading Eugenie and Jack in their love for each other; be the star guiding them in all that lies ahead; be the Good Shepherd calling them again and again to walk into your promises of love that have no expiry date.
“May the Holy Spirit make them loyal, kind, and generous, ready to help and quick to forgive. May your angels surround them, watch, defend, and protect them against all evil. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, please keep them in the joy, simplicity, and compassion of your holy gospel. Amen.”
This week, the Prayer Book Society suggested that the couple’s choice of their order of service provided proof of the growing popularity of traditional church services among young people. They were married according to the Series 1 service, which is based on the 1928 Prayer Book, and was also used for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding service, however, used the order in Common Worship.
Prudence Dailey, who chairs the Society, said in a statement: “Some vicars don’t always mention that there is a traditional alternative to the modern-language version; so couples should be prepared to ask. . . Its recent use by two members of the royal family and their spouses underlines the way in which increasingly it is being appreciated by young adults.”
Royal baby expected. The announcement this week that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are expecting a child next spring was welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In a message on Twitter, he said: “Congratulations . . . on their happy news! Prayers for them in the months ahead.”
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, who gave the address at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May, posted on Twitter: “Congratulations . . . on the announcement that you are expecting your first child. May God bless and keep you.”
Read Andrew Brown on the press coverage of the wedding.