Hurrah and huzzah! It’s time to get the bunting out.
A bit of Royal news which doesn’t involve sex scandals, the lavish spending of our hard-earned taxes, or the unbelievably dull logistics of family members setting foot outside the palace (pick a palace, any palace).
Princess Beatrice married property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi last Friday, and has become the first member of the Queen’s immediate family to become a stepmother. Her four year old stepson, Christopher Woolf “Woolfie” (very cute), was both pageboy and best man, and everything about that fills this stepmother’s heart with joy.
This is Something to Celebrate!
Bear with me, it really is though – whether or not you’re a Royalist.
A Right Royal Blessing
The Queen bestowed on Beatrice (loaned, the media amusingly stresses) a vintage gown and a tiara; cue out-breath whistle. The royal commentators say that this “means she has also bestowed on her the Royal blessing”.
Now, stepfamily structures aren’t always easy to understand by extended families that are used to the nuclear set-up, and the blessing of such families isn’t therefore always forthcoming. I know of some stepmothers who were told outright by their bewildered parents that “it will never last” – I know of one poor woman who was told this as she was being walked down the aisle (!).
But now the most nuclear of all nuclear families (…at least for appearance’s sake), the Royal Family, which is famously conservative and, dare I say it, fanatic about tradition, has fully embraced a new stepfamily into its bejewelled bosom. If your family is equally as conservative, and also happens to keep a watchful eye on the fashions of the aristocracy, you can happily point out that if the Queen is okay with it, they should be too…
A Suspiciously Calm Media
One might well have expected a difficult reaction from the press to such a newfangled approach to happiness, but so far so good.
Even the Daily Mail, which I won’t link to for obvious reasons, has been quite complimentary of their set-up. Eduardo’s Ex, Dara Huang, is reported to be happy for the couple (no drama?! What’s even the point of the Daily Mail anyway), Town&Country has decided that “While Mozzi and Huang separated in the years following their son’s birth, they appear to have a good relationship”, and I’ve only seen one hint of a suggestion that the end of the previous relationship might have overlapped with the start of Beatrice’s, so even gossipy speculation is taking a break on this one. Dara Huang’s “stunning” physical attributes are picked up on occasion (the gorgeous Ex who got away?), but that’s the press for you and my weary feminist heart can’t quite bring itself to go there right now.
In summary, by usual pitchfork standards, Princess Beatrice the Stepmother has got off very lightly.
Could we be cautiously optimistic that popular opinion is shifting about the stepmother role? Maybe we’re no longer being seen as damaging, conniving banshees, and we can start to feel less like we’ve been caught in an undignified position simply by loving the person that we love.
Beatrice seems to be the darling of optimism, stepping into a role which the media is happy to leave well alone, and this can only be a step in the right direction.
Other Royal Stepfamilies
This is by no means the first Royal Stepfamily ever, I hasten to add.
The most obvious is Price Charles and Camilla, and my word has Camilla taken a public beating. It’s widely reported that she has a great relationship with Princes William and Harry these days, but she has had to overcome and/or ignore enormous vitriol to do so. She was not exactly welcomed into the family with open arms, and the constant reminders of how beloved Princess Diane was must take its toll – it’s impossible to win when you’re in competition with a memory, and annoyingly for Camilla it’s the British public deciding that it’s a competition on her behalf.
Let’s not forget that Prince Charles is also stepfather to Camilla’s two children; quite the Royal Blend, eat your heart out Fortum and Mason.
For a slightly more historical example, we could look at the train-wreck that was Henry VIII’s married life. Anne Boleyn became stepmother to Mary I, the daughter he shared with his first wife Catherine of Aragon. So did his four subsequent wives Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr, who were also stepmothers to Elizabeth I (Anne Boleyn’s daughter). The last three were also stepmothers to Henry VIII’s only son, Edward VI. Phew. Imagine being Mary I through all that… Family tree anyone?
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