One part of Princess Eugenie’s royal wedding on Friday left some people scratching their heads.
The bride’s sister, Princess Beatrice, gave an enthusiastic reading of a passage from “The Great Gatsby” during the ceremony inside St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
The passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel describes Jay Gatsby’s smile, “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it.”
The Dean of Windsor, David Conner, who presided, explained that Princess Eugenie had just read the iconic American novel when she and her new husband, Jack Brooksbank, first met.
People magazine published the excerpt Princess Beatrice read. It begins like this:
“He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.
“It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
During the live broadcast, Conner explained that the passage immediately reminded Princess Eugenie of Jack.
“She decided that she wanted eventually to let Jack know how much those words ... brought him to mind. That’s why they had a special place as our second reading in today’s wedding service,” Conner said.
“The words that particularly reminded her of Jack concerned Gatsby’s smile. 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 favor.
“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 promise of an irresistible prejudice in each other’s favor.
“In doing so, they understand that marriage is something far more profound than any kind of contract as we usually understand it.”
But Conner’s explanation didn’t banish the confusion on social media, where fans who know the book wondered why it would pop up as a wedding reading.
“The choice of a reading from The Great Gatsby describing Jay Gatsby’s smile left some observers wondering just how much Eugenie had understood it,” noted The Daily Beast.
Town & Country magazine called it “an unusual choice for a marriage ceremony.”
“Of course, Gatsby didn’t get the same fairy tale ending as Jack,” People pointed out. “After falling hopelessly in love with the married Daisy Buchanan, it’s revealed that Gatsby built his fortune on corruption, and he’s ultimately murdered by a man who believed he was having an affair with his wife.”
One Twitter user got “the impression that the Princesses may not actually have read the Great Gatsby, seeing as they just read a passage about the smile of a conman about to massively defraud you.” Others wondered the same.
Some people, however, found romance in the reading.
Tweeted one royal wedding fan: “I think Eugenie is acknowledging that he is her Great Gatsby, she is his Daisy, and they changed the end of the tragedy and now they are going to have a happy ending.”
Eugenie is the younger daughter of Prince Andrew and the former Sarah Ferguson.