After seven years of dating, Princess Eugenie and her fiancé, Jack Brooksbank, are set to wed this Friday, October 12, making it a landmark year for royal weddings: The princess will walk down the same aisle, in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, that Meghan Markle did to marry Prince Harry this past May, just a few weeks after the first-ever gay royal wedding.
The 28-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, who’s ninth in line to the throne, first met 32-year-old Brooksbank, whose background is in the hospitality industry, while on a family ski trip to the Swiss village of Verbier. (Or, as the princess put it to the BBC this past January, “We met when I was 20 and Jack was 24 and fell in love.”) Still—reportedly in large part because Prince Harry and Meghan Markle beat them to the game—it was only this past January, while on a trip to Nicaragua, that they got engaged. As their wedding fast approaches, so too have more and more details been revealed, ranging from the minute (like the fact that their wedding cake will be appropriately autumnal, "covered with detailed sugar work including ivy"), to the rather revelatory (like the fact that they're distant cousins). Ahead of their official union this Friday, get acquainted with a few more of the couple's surprises, here.
The couple already share a special bond thanks to the fact that they’re actually blood relatives, sharing a connection to the 19th-century aristocrat the second Earl of Leicester Thomas William Coke that makes them third cousins once removed. (See this handy chart for more exact familial details.) While it’s been making headlines as of late, the news isn’t exactly a shocker: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are in fact even more closely related, with their shared connection to Queen Victoria making them third cousins.
He isn't the only Jack in the family.
While detailing a day in her life for Harper’s Bazaar in 2016, the princess mentioned in passing that her boyfriend and her “doggie” have the same name, which she described as a “total accident!” According to her mother, Fergie, though, the coincidence had led to instances like Brooksbank jumping up in alarm when her husband once yelled at the dog to get off of a chair.
They both hold down surprisingly normal jobs.
The princess recently spent two years working as a specialist at the online auction house Paddle8 in New York—and Skyping her then-long-distance boyfriend—before moving on to London, where she’s spent the past couple of years as first an associate director and now a director of the contemporary and modern art gallery Hauser & Wirth. Brooksbank, for his part, recently left his job as a waiter behind to become a manager of Mahiki, a tiki-themed nightclub in London beloved by royals like Prince William and Prince Harry (not to mention Paris Hilton and Rihanna). From there, his connection to Guy Pelly, a businessman who’s now the godfather of newborn Prince Louis, led him to help launch another London hot spot, the Mexican-themed club Tonteria.
In fact, according to an important family insider, they’re both perfectly “ordinary.”
“I would call him ordinary—I wouldn’t say there is anything special about him,” Brooksbank’s then 91-year-old grandmother, Joanna Newton, told the Sun shortly after news broke about the couple’s engagement, explaining why she “would never have thought” that her grandson, whom she also described as “a charming boy and all that but not the most intelligent,” would end up marrying a royal. “I think it says a lot about Eugenie that it’s him she wants, and it’s lovely,” Newton added of the princess, while taking care to note her plainness too: "I have just met her the once, when I went up to London with them for lunch, and she was just a very nice, ordinary girl—nothing pompous about her or even royal about her."
The princess has indeed proven surprisingly ordinary—at least for a royal. She joined Instagram, for example, this past May, and has since gotten “in trouble” for revealing a bit too much on her account. She’s also actually been logged on for quite a bit: In her first-ever media interview, which she gave when she was 18 and newly braces-free, the princess discussed her love of Facebook and her iPod, which she presumably used to listen to one of her favorite bands, Death Cab for Cutie. (In other Royals, they’re just like us! News: the princess, like her grandmother, the queen, has “no problems traveling by Tube” and once got into a “screaming argument” with her sister, Princess Beatrice, about who got to take ownership of a beloved pair of Converse.)
They'd both like to keep coverage of George Clooney out of this, please.
Brooksbank launched his own alcohol enterprise, Jack Brooksbank Ltd., last year, but his relationship to the industry goes back a bit further: Since 2016, he's also been the U.K. brand ambassador of Casamigos, the tequila company cofounded by George Clooney and Rande Gerber. Brooksbank has already promised that they'll be "serving Casamigos" at the wedding—and, practically in the same breath, added that he "can't say if George Clooney is coming."
As it turns out, the actor won't be able to attend, though the Beckhams, Elton John, and Ellie Goulding are still among the guests rumored to attend—and therefore among those who later this week may end up having to bring along not one but two forms of identification as well as surrender their cell phones and cameras in ordinance with the couple's strict set of rules for their wedding. At least one person, though, isn't likely to mind: "The good news is Jack also works as the European manager for Casamigos Tequila, so I am perfect," Fergie told the BBC over the summer. "He’ll just hand me the tequila and say, ‘Come on, mother-in-law, down it.’"