Princess Beatrice ‘had to marry in secret because of Prince Andrew’s “problems”‘

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Princess Beatrice married in secret in order to shield her disgraced father Prince Andrew from the public eye, the groom's cousin has claimed.

Beatrice, 31, married millionaire property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, 37, at All Saints Church on the Windsor estate on Friday morning.

The couple – who postponed their wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic – held an intimate ceremony tying the knot in front of 20 guests rather than the 150 initially invited.

Edoardo's cousin Dario Mapelli Mozzi, who is once removed, claims the couple may have slashed the guest list to avoid criticism.

He said: "We heard it was postponed to next year but that was clearly to keep it secret. Maybe they did it now to be sure that the Queen could be there.

“Or perhaps because of the problems with her father they didn’t want to go overboard with publicity in case anyone criticised them.”

Pressure mounted on Andrew, 60, after Ghislaine Maxwell, his close friend, was arrested.

Princess Beatrice 'had to marry in secret because of Prince Andrew's "problems"'

The couple held a small service with only twenty guests

Maxwell is accused of grooming girls as young as 14 for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 1997, a period when she was his girlfriend.

She has been charged with six criminal counts, including four related to transporting minors for illegal sexual acts and two for perjury.

The FBI want to speak with Prince Andrew over his friendship with convicted paedophile Epstein, who committed suicide while awaiting trial last year.

However, family friends denied the private ceremony is connected to Prince Andrew’s problems over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

Princess Beatrice 'had to marry in secret because of Prince Andrew's "problems"'

Beatrice organised the wedding after restrictions on weddings were eased

One friend told the Daily Mail the investigation into Prince Andrew and Epstein's friendship had been ‘tremendously difficult one for the family’.

They said: "Those children have been so devastated by it all, so it was really nice to have this wedding away from the public eye.

"They were all there and Sarah kept the show on the road. Very, very few people were given any information about it."

The royal family claim the dramatic changes in the wedding were to mirror the new government guidelines on marriage that state only groups of 30 can be present at a ceremony and social distancing rules must apply.

Princess Beatrice 'had to marry in secret because of Prince Andrew's "problems"'

Beatrice could have married privately to ensure Prince Andrew was out of the public eye

The Palace said in a statement: "The private wedding ceremony of Princess Beatrice and Mr Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi took place at 11am on Friday 17th July at The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor.

"The small ceremony was attended by The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and close family.

"The wedding took place in accordance with all relevant Government guidelines."

The bride and her mother Sarah Ferguson rushed to organise the wedding in two weeks after the government lifted restrictions at the end of June.

The scaled down event saw 130 family and friends cut from the event which was to be held at St James’s Palace in May.

The big day started with Beatrice walking from her father’s home, Royal Lodge, where she stayed the night before, to the church.

Prince Andrew walked his eldest daughter down the aisle.

Princess Beatrice 'had to marry in secret because of Prince Andrew's "problems"'

Beatrice wanted her grandmother, the Queen, to attend the service before her trip to Balmoral

Beatrice’s grandparents, the Queen, 94, and Duke of Edinburgh, 99, were the only royals to attend the wedding. It is the first time Queen Elizabeth II has met with Prince Andrew since before the arrest of Maxwell.

A friend of the bride and groom said the scaled down service was hastily organised to ensure the Queen could attend before travelling to Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

They said: "A massive wedding was out of the question because of coronavirus.

"They were obviously very keen for the Queen to come so the wedding had to happen before she goes up to Balmoral so this was a great opportunity.

"They needed to make the wedding Covid-secure and safe for the Queen so what better way than the All Saints Chapel with reception on site at the Royal Lodge.

"They are just like a normal family and had to make sacrifices like many others have up and down the country and looking forward to having a wonderful celebration when the time is right."

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