There was no shortage of royal headlines last year.
What with Kate Middleton and Prince William producing another heir, Prince Charles turning 70 and reminding the world that he'd be the one to don the crown next and Meghan Markle marrying Prince Harry, getting pregnant with his baby and battling a soap opera-worthy cast of relatives through it all, the various members of The Firm tended to dominate the news cycle.
Of course there were some that managed to fly under the radar. Princess Beatrice, the eldest daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, now ninth in line to the throne thanks to Archie Harrison's May arrival, remained largely quiet. It wasn't until her younger sister Princess Eugenie wed longtime love Jack Brooksbank last October that royal watchers thought to ask, "Hey, what is she up to?"
The answer, it turned out, was falling in love. Sometime last September, the 31-year-old royal was acquainted, or, rather, reacquainted with Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, a 36-year-old millionaire property developer and son of an Italian count.
The relationship, while too new to debut at her sister's all-important Windsor Castle vows, first leaked out a year ago, when The Sun shared they were two-months deep into a laugh-filled romance, and was made officially official in March when Beatrice, vice president of partnerships and strategy at technology company Afiniti, arrived to a gala at The National Portrait Gallery in London with Mozzi on her arm.
As the move would suggest, she and the Edinburgh University grad had grown quite serious in those first six months together, with some in the royal's inner circle predicting she just might be the next princess bride. "They've been on holidays together and Beatrice introduced him to Fergie and her dad," an insider told British paper The Sun. "Things are moving very quickly and it wouldn't surprise anyone if they got engaged within a short period of time."
A year does not a fast-tracked engagement make. But Beatrice's decision to accept Mozzi's bespoke Shaun Lane round-cut diamond during a recent Italian getaway was downright speedy in comparison to her previous entanglements. Save for a brief teenage romance with Paolo Liuzzo that ultimately unraveled when a assault and battery charge stemming from his involvement in the 2002 death of a college student became public, Beatrice spent the whole of her late teens and twenties with former Uber executive Dave Clark.
A psychology student at Maine's Bowdoin College, and son of a well-off corporate lawyer, Clark's first royal connection was actually William, the duo becoming friends during a study abroad program through the University of Edinburgh. Years later, the future king would introduce his school chum to younger cousin Beatrice at a 2006 party thrown by Pierce Brosnan's now 36-year-old son Sean Brosnan and in a boon to the prince's matchmaking skills, the twosome hit it off immediately.
As Beatrice studied history at Goldsmiths, University of London, Clark served as head of astronaut relations at Virgin Atlantic and together they built up quite the circle of well-heeled friends, the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Ellie Goulding and Karlie Kloss (who inadvertently revealed Beatrice's private Instagram when sharing her own engagement news last year) assuming they would one day be dancing alongside Queen Elizabeth II at the couple's wedding.
Clark also became a fixture at such key events as the Royal Ascot and London's Chelsea Flower Show and even joined the philanthropic-minded Beatrice as she ran the London Marathon while tied to some 36 pals all wearing matching neon tutus to raise money for Children in Crisis.
His willingness to so completely attach himself to their eldest child earned Clark the approval of Beatrice's parents Andrew and Sarah, the latter of which is so close to her girls they often refer to themselves as "the tripod."
Sharing she had dubbed him "Mr. Smiley" due to his tendency to maintain a sunny disposition and, well, smile a lot, Sarah told People in 2008, "I love Dave. He's cool. I'm really proud that he's with Beatrice." The way she saw it, the author explained, "Beatrice is so special, it takes someone very nice to be with her—to appreciate how good she is."
Along with her intelligence, generosity of character and affinity for the arts, Beatrice also proved to be a devoted, loyal girlfriend. When aviation and aerospace specialist Clark scored a gig as head of external affairs at Uber in 2015, the royal, an international production analyst at Sony Pictures Entertainment followed him, first to San Francisco, where she enrolled in a business course, and then New York, gaining employment at investment banking firm Sandbridge Capital.
But just when tabloids began predicting an engagement was in the offing, speculating he was waiting until after Princess Charlotte's birth to propose because her May 2015 arrival knocked Beatrice down to seventh in the hierarchy, relieving Clark the responsibility of gaining the reigning monarch's permission to marry, they broke up instead.
Initial reports hinted the summer 2016 split would be temporary, akin to William and Kate taking a breather before they ultimately reunited and set about their course as England's future king and queen.
"It is very much a break. It is amicable and mutual," an insider insisted to People. "They both need space after a period of ten years to see what they both want."
While her family was said to be shocked by the turn of events, all involved parties remained hopeful that this would just be a blip en route to a happy ending. Says the insider, "They are both open-minded about what might happen in the future."
Except what happened was that Clark crossed paths with advertising executive Lynn Anderson and proposed within a matter of months, the couple marrying in an Italian extravaganza just months before Eugenie's vows at the same five-star resort where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel chose to marry.
Perhaps wisely, Beatrice, who splits her time between New York City and London, spent the weekend on holiday with her mom in the South of France.
Though the end of her decade-long romance was said to be on the best possible of terms considering how tough it is to unravel 10 years worth of shared experiences, Beatrice still found herself in the unique position of navigating the landmine-filled dating scene for the first time in her adult life. Not only was she forced to contend with the same trivialities that plague any twentysomething, she had to do go about the business of love knowing full well countless royal watchers would weigh in.
"Growing up in the media, it's...interesting," Beatrice shared in the September issue of British Vogue, the sisters choosing to grant a rare interview in light of a milestone year that saw Eugenie celebrate her wedding and Beatrice her 30th birthday. "We've had some serious grounding from our parents. They've had their fair share of terrible media interest and it makes us stronger. We believe very strongly in who we are, and the support system of our friends and our family is pretty incredible. There's no point being angry with anyone for beating us up—we just need to shine light and love in the world."
So when the press invented a relationship between her and personal trainer and business consultant James Williams last February, two friends choosing to have a meal together often all it takes for well-known names to reach confirmed couple status, she let it roll off her back. Williams' actual girlfriend, onetime Bachelor contestant Lucinda Aragon was actually the one to shut down the rumors explaining it was a simple case of a pal offering up a ride.
"They're just friends," Aragon, a self-described free spirit who competed for Juan Pablo Galavis' affections explained to The Sun. "They've known each other for a long time. They were at a group dinner and everyone else was like: 'We are not gonna get photographed.' So James was like: 'I'm not going to leave her by herself.' He's a very nice guy." In fact the rumors that had popped up after Williams was spotted piloting the princess in his six-figure Bentley had left her more amused than annoyed: "We're just having a really good laugh over all the comments."
Beatrice also didn't speak out when she was paired off with Wilfred Frost, the CNBC host and son of actor Sir David Frost later that month. While it remains unclear if the duo's outing to The British Heart Foundation's Beating Hearts Ball was an actual date or just a friend filling in as plus-one to a black tie affair, by this past fall Beatrice was decidedly single.
According to People she and Mozzi had run in the same social circle for years, Beatrice even attending the 2011 funeral for his step-father, lawmaker Christopher Shale. A close friend of both Beatrice's parents and former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Shale died quite unexpectedly of natural causes at the Glastonbury music festival.
So while Beatrice and Mozzi might not have necessarily needed an introduction (and the whole meet the parents process was likely more akin to, hey, remember this guy, considering Beatrice's mom is actually godmother to Edo's younger brother?) The Sun's source said they were reconnected "through a mutual chum," and that the two "hit it off instantly and have a real laugh together."
The duo, spotted strolling across a Kenyan beach in January, also have a shared connection to philanthropy. Along with Banda, a property and design business he founded in 2007 while still in his early twenties, Edo, as he's known to pals, also created Cricket Builds Hope, a charity that uses the British game as a tool for positive social change in Rwanda.
As a royal, naturally Beatrice is the patron to a handful of organizations, including the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, which helped her deal with the affliction in her teenage years. But she's also attached herself to the Be Cool, Be Nice campaign against cyberbullying—an area she's doubtlessly well-versed in, and co-founded Big Change, an organization aimed at promoting youth projects, with friends Sam Branson and Holly Branson (the offspring of billionaire business magnate Richard Branson).
Both halves of the couple are also a soft touch when it comes to their family. While Mossi shares his one-bedroom London flat (so innovative it was featured in House & Garden) with Christopher "Woolfie" Woolf, the toddler he shares with his architect ex-fiancée Dara Huang, Beatrice has dedicated a fair amount of her public remarks to gushing about her kin.
While in Toronto in October 2017 to support WE Day, held in connection with cousin Harry's beloved Invictus Games, she spoke to Hello! about the role her mom and grandmother have played in shaping her world.
"They are both formidable women," she said. "I think having female role models is incredibly important and I am very lucky that I happen to be related to these two incredible women. I find my grandmother inspiring every day because her overwhelming sense of duty is linked with an overwhelming curiosity. Every day she's curious to learn something new, to do something new and I think that at 91 years old, she goes out into the community with a genuine curiosity as to how she can be a force for good in the world. She also looks for ways in which she can inspire communities, and I admire the way that she works so hard."
As for her mother, "probably one of the most misunderstood women in the world," she's dealt with more than her fair share of stressors, noted Beatrice, "and every single minute she created joy. I am so lucky that I get to learn from her every single day. I'm inspired by her ability to give, even when she's going through something hard. Her grandmother always said, 'When you feel bad about yourself, go out there and do something for somebody else.' That's an incredible motto that my family has always lived by. My mother is just remarkable."
Fortunately for Mozzi she seems to approve of her daughter's suitor, showing her support by giving him a follow on Twitter.
And when it came time to announce the engagement, the statement she and her former spouse put out could best be described as laudatory. "We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride," the pair shared. "We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man."
She later called the news "extraordinary" in a chat with Hello!, revealing she's known Edo since he was four and found his mum quite lovely: "It's really, really good news. I'm really, really proud of them both."
Plans for the 2020 wedding are still to be announced. Which means there's no shortages of sources looking to fill in the details. While the mother of the bride was clear it will take place in Britain, those close to Beatrice insist Windsor Castle is out, having served as the backdrop for her three recent royal weddings.
"Beatrice has said she and Edo are looking at alternative venues because she wants something different," a friend told Britain's Mail on Sunday, adding that a backyard wedding is a possibility. Of course, that backyard would be at her parents' place, the Royal Lodge in Windsor, its 21 acres offering more than enough space to erect a pretty fantastic marquee.
As they work through the details, and do a little wedding research, the betrothed pair are already looking ahead to the union itself. "We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can't wait to be married," they proclaimed. "We share so many similar interests and values and we know this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness."