For those of you who went to high school and read a book while you were there, you’ll likely remember F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby — that iconic Jazz Age tale of greed, unrequited love, and the futility of the American Dream. It’s a peculiar choice to be read at a wedding, particularly the royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank. But on Friday morning, Princess Beatrice, the bride’s sister and maid of honor, took to the podium to read aloud an excerpt from the novel, in which narrator Nick Carraway describes the allure of con artist Jay Gatsby’s smile:
“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. Precisely at that point it vanished — and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.”
While the choice of excerpt likely raised some eyebrows, a flier handed out at the wedding provided an explanation. Apparently, Eugenie first read The Great Gatsby soon after meeting Jack, and this passage reminded her of him. “The words that particularly reminded her of Jack concern Gatsby’s smile,” the note reads, referencing Fitzgerald’s description of “one of those rare smiles” that “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 the promise of an “irresistible prejudice” in each other’s favour,” it continues.
Let’s just hope their fate is better than that of Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.