Despite fashion faux pas and their parents' very public indiscretions, fun-loving Beatrice and Eugenie have come of age and are now more popular than ever, writes Katie Nicholl.
Keeping up with the newest, brightest, most glamorous member of the royal family is no easy task, but Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie seem to be doing a pretty good job holding their own alongside the new Duchess of Cambridge.
At the recent wedding of their cousin, Zara Phillips, in Edinburgh, the royal sisters dazzled in elegant dresses by Angela Kelly, the Queen's dresser.
The chic frocks were a marked contrast to the dowdy, ill-fitting outfits they wore to Prince William and Catherine's wedding, where Beatrice caused a sensation in her Philip Treacy hat.
The 23-year-old was lambasted by fashionistas who likened her headwear to a toilet seat, but instead of taking things personally as she once might have done, Beatrice laughed off the criticism and cleverly auctioned the hat on eBay, raising around $127,000 for charity.
The canny move showed just how much the shy young royal had grown up.
For all her faults, their mother, Sarah, the Duchess of York, must be given some credit for this surge of confidence in both her daughters.
In June, she hired Charlie Anderson, one of Hollywood's leading stylists, to help reinvent the princesses. Anderson dressed them in upcoming British designers like Aruna Seth, and put them firmly on the fashion map.
Royal observers have certainly noted a transition of late and it's not just the royal wardrobe. Beatrice and Eugenie, always popular for their sense of fun and their garish fashion sense, have suddenly become the nation's favourite royals.
Once a slightly podgy pair of teenagers who loved partying with their mother in St Tropez, the princesses have shaped up (Bea has hired a personal trainer, Nadya Fairwather, and dropped two dress sizes) and are carving identities of their own.
Beatrice was just eight when her parents divorced, and since then there have been many embarrassing debacles surrounding the Duke and Duchess of York.
Fergie's toe-sucking fiasco still sends shivers up the spine and one can only imagine what the princesses make of their beloved father's moniker "Airmiles Andy" — a reference to his penchant for private jets — and the stories about his love of partying.
Bea and Eugenie have always remained loyal to the Duke and Duchess.
They were understandably "rocked" when their mother was secretly filmed selling access to Prince Andrew in return for cash to an undercover reporter last May, and devastated when the spotlight turned on Andrew, who was forced to step down as the UK trade envoy shortly after the newspapers uncovered his friendship with US billionaire and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The revelations sent ripples through the royal family to the highest level. But, while the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were deeply embarrassed by the incidents, they remain devoted to Beatrice and Eugenie.
Although their mother has been ostracised, the princesses are at every key royal event including Christmas at Sandringham.
Their parents have instilled a sense of duty in their daughters, who manage to balance royal obligations with a girl-next-door approach to life. It's an attitude which has won them a legion of fans.
As far as Beatrice and Eugenie are concerned, they are modern princesses who don't want to rest on their HRH laurels; instead, they want to work hard and put their titles to good use.
Their parents may not be everyone's favourite royals but Beatrice and Eugenie have won the hearts of the nation.
Katie Nicholl is author of The Making Of A Royal Romance, Arrow, $24.95.
Read more of this story in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.
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