In town to open the $15-million WE Global Learning Centre, the princess told Hello! Canada she was thrilled to see the signs advertising her cousin’s Paralympic-style sporting event as she landed in Toronto (“I live in New York, so wonderfully no jet lag!” she said, smiling).
Manhattan has been home to the 29-year-old elder daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson for the past two years, and her time there has been marked by plenty of personal and professional milestones. While she continues to devote time to Big Change – the charity she cofounded with her friends Sam and Holly Branson in 2010 – Beatrice has also made strides in her professional life, starting work with a business consultancy firm.
On a personal note,she’s moved forward after the end of her 10-year relationship with Dave Clark in 2016. He got engaged earlier this year, but Beatrice hasn’t been publicly linked with anyone since the split, though she does reveal to us that her godmother gives her dating advice!
Typically on-trend in a black floral dress paired with velvet slippers, Beatrice chatted with Hello! about her charitable impulses, her mother’s optimistic outlook on life and why she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her beloved grandmother the Queen.
Princess Beatrice, welcome back to Toronto!
I’m so happy to be here and so happy to support the WE Day events, but I’m really even more excited that this event has come in partnership with the Invictus Games. I think what my cousin’s doing is phenomenal, and the Games have been incredibly well-received.
What do you love most about this city?
I have to say, I haven’t had that much time to explore it. However, I’m hoping to come back now that the centre’s open. Hopefully I can work with some of the school’s programs and bring some of them to the centre in Toronto. Also, we have an office here, so I’m hopeful to come with my day job, as well.
What do you hope local kids get out of their experience at the centre?
I want them to feel like this is a space for them to share and collaborate in, but also a space where there is no judgment. We live in a digital age, where young people need to be given the tools to know the right ways to communicate. Spaces like this are all in the spirit of education, [helping] young people feel like they can give back to their communities, I think that is what I’d love for them to know. Sometimes seeing is believing, and this allows you to do that.
You’ve come to many WE Days over the years. What made you want to get involved?
It happened quite organically. I got involved a few years ago through one of the biggest champions in the U.K., Lord Rumi Verjee, who sits on the advisory board of my foundation Big Change. We partnered to look at how we could engage with young people in the U.K. Being able to partner with WE on their school’s program was a huge learning opportunity for us, and very inspiring.
A lot of your patronages involve children. What makes you want to work with them so much?
I think a lot of the patronages I’ve been working with now are mostly [for children] because I feel like a child. [Laughs] I feel like that’s where my head lives. I think giving young people the tools to be listened to and [helping them to] realize that they can spread the word to make change is very powerful. I think that’s the best course of action for how you can really see long-standing sustainable change.
Through your work you inspire countless young people. Who is someone you look up to?
I have two role models, my mother and my grandmother. They are both formidable women. I think having female role models is incredibly important and I am very lucky that I happen to be related to these two incredible women. I find my grandmother inspiring every day because her overwhelming sense of duty is linked with an overwhelming curiosity. Every day she’s curious to learn something new, to do something new and I think that at 91 years old, she goes out into the community with a genuine curiosity as to how she can be a force for good in the world. She also looks for ways in which she can inspire communities, and I admire the way that she works so hard.
Plus, she has to set aside time to dedicate to so many different causes.
I’ve got 30 emails in my inbox! She doesn’t necessarily have email, but she’s got red boxes after red boxes. I admire her dedication greatly.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your mother?
I admire my mother so much because she’s probably one of the most misunderstood women in the world. She has taught me over the years that anything is possible, no matter where you think the world is going to put you next. Joy is still coming around the corner and the joy will be there. We’ve been through some incredibly stressful times together as a family and every single minute she created joy. I am so lucky that I get to learn from her every single day. I’m inspired by her ability to give, even when she’s going through something hard. Her grandmother always said, “When you feel bad about yourself, go out there and do something for somebody else.” That’s an incredible motto that my family has always lived by. My mother is just remarkable.
What do you think makes her such an amazing parent?
She’s incredibly real, and she’s my best friend. We talk about everything. Nothing is off the table. When I go up onstage, trying to think about how I’m going to make a speech, I [can hear my] mom’s voice in my head going, “Come on! Off we go!”
Based on her recent appearance for her work with the British Heart Foundation, it’s clear she embodies that positive attitude.
I’m so happy you saw that! That’s wonderful, she will be thrilled. She’s so excited to be working with the British Heart Foundation. It’s a cause very close to her heart, but it’s one of the biggest challenges for women and women of a certain age. She’s learned a lot over the years in her experience in the health and wellness space. Working with Weight Watchers especially in the United States, has inspired her to look at the biggest issues facing women now. I think her partnership with the British Heart Foundation will be great. I’m so proud of her.
Will you also be working with her to support the cause?
A few years ago we lost one of my dear friends from a genetic heart issue, Miles Frost, and together with his family we’re raising money through the British Heart Foundation for the Miles Frost Fund. [We want] to really do some research into his genetic condition and so it’s a wonderful, wonderful story.
Finally, as you continue to navigate your career, who is one of your mentors?
My wonderful godmother called Lynn Rothschild. She inspires me a lot because she’s a phenomenal business leader, but she is somebody that gives the most incredible life advice. From every minute of what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace to great dating advice!
I think we all need dating advice...
Oh gosh, yes!