ANALYSIS


Life for Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie has not been easy.

Their earliest years were marred by their parents' divorce and then their mother, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York's attempts to pull herself out of financial turmoil via Weight Watchers' ad campaigns and slapping her name on Wedgwood china.

In 2010, they endured her ignominious attempt to extract $890,000 from a "businessman" who was actually an undercover reporter in return for access to the Duke of York, who at that stage was an official British trade envoy.

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In 2011, Princess Beatrice opted for a dubious Philip Treacey monstrosity to the royal wedding, making the sisters the butt of global derision.

While Beatrice and Eugenie might be Princesses of the Realm and HRHs, the two sisters were booted off the Sovereign Grant when they graduated university and as part of a new "slimmed down" vision of the monarchy, lost their 24-hour protection details.

Essentially, it's been a bumpy ride.

Yet by and large the two women have comported themselves with impressive dignity, grace and good humour. They have gone to university, found jobs and gotten nice boyfriends, one of whom recently turned into a nice husband.

However, over the last week, Princess Eugenie has found herself subjected to an extraordinary outpouring of anger and hate, with her Instagram account flooded with abuse in the wake of the growing scandal enveloping her father, Prince Andrew.

The youngest York sister is a particular target because of her charity endeavours.

In 2017, Eugenie teamed up with longtime friend Julia de Boinville to launch The Anti-Slavery Collective.

According to their website, "we set off for Kolkata and were shocked to discover the extent to which slavery still exists. In fact, there are more enslaved people today than at any other point in history, and at any one time someone is being trafficked within a mile of where you live".

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Only weeks ago, Eugenie announced that they were launching a podcast called Freedom United and had a speaker series named Tech Tackles Trafficking in the offing.

The timing could not have been worse.

In July financier and convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges and on August 10 was found dead in his cell in a New York City jail, after reportedly having committed suicide.

Earlier this month, a judge in the United States unsealed documents related to a defamation case brought by Virginia Giuffre (formerly Roberts) who had alleged that she had been Epstein's 'sex slave' and that the millionaire's ex-girlfriend and friend Ghislaine Maxwell had allegedly helped procure girls.

The documents contained the allegation that Prince Andrew had touched a woman's breast during a visit to Epstein's Manhattan mansion in 2001. The royal family has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement put out over the weekend, the Prince said: "The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent."

Andrew has faced growing scrutiny over his friendship with Epstein, with a video published over the weekend showing the royal inside Epstein's New York home in 2010, two years after the financier had been placed on the sex offender's register in 2008.

Andrew is reported to have ended his friendship with Epstein in 2011.

However, the contrast could not have been worse: A young woman fighting to help rescue women from servitude while at the same time there is renewed focus on her father's association with a man accused of sex trafficking.

Eugenie's Instagram account has subsequently been bombarded with angry comments and condemnation.

This is not the first time the York girls have suffered as a result of their parents' headline-making ways.

After their mother's humiliating fall from grace in 2010 after being caught on camera trying to arranged a six-figure payday in return for access to Andrew, Vanity Fair reports that Beatrice was deeply affected.

"A friend went to Royal Lodge to comfort Beatrice, who wouldn't leave the house because she was so ashamed and didn't want to have to deal with the press. The friend spent two nights with her while she cried," an insider told the magazine.

Currently, the Duke and Duchess of York are said to be holed up in the Spanish resort town of Sotogrande as the storm clouds continue to gather.

For Beatrice and Eugenie, in adulthood as in childhood, the women are paying a heavy price for their parents' choices.

This article was first published on news.com.au.