It’s not everyday you turn the ripe old age of six, so to ensure she has a birthday fit for a princess, David and Victoria Beckham threw their only daughter Harper a party at Buckingham Palace, complete with a real-life royal, Princess Eugenie.
Not expecting anything less from a couple who sat on his-and-her gold thrones at their wedding, Harper dressed in a Cinderella dress and invited five school friends along to the princess tea party at the Queen’s official residence.
It’s not quite clear how Victoria, formerly of the Spice Girls and current fashion designer, and David, retired footballer, bagged the invitation, but it is believed that the party was hosted by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, in a private suite while the Queen and Prince Philip are in Scotland.
The Beckhams, whose former Hertfordshire mansion was nicknamed Beckingham Palace, took to their Instagram accounts to share Harper’s day with their combined 55 million followers and while the majority of people sent their well-wishes, there was some criticism.
“It is not like a wee girl from Glasgow would get the opportunity like this with her pals. He gets special treatment because he is rich. If you have enough money you can get what ever you want,” one commented on Instagram.
Another added: “Pass the sick bag. What about Grenfell victims who have nothing?”
While Dickie Arbiter, a former Buckingham Palace press secretary, said in an interview with The Times that the event was “tawdry”.
“What a nonsense. What are they doing there? What is Eugenie having a party there for? What is Sarah York doing, having organised it – allegedly? None of them has got a right to be there. Is it being opened up as a theme park? It devalues what the place is all about,” said Arbiter.
“Why can’t Joe Public, when they go in on the Buckingham Palace tour, why can’t there have their pictures taken in the quadrangle? That sets a precedent. They don’t allow cameras in the summer opening and people can’t just walk out in the quadrangle and pose for photographs. So why do the Beckhams get special treatment?”
In response to questions about the invitation, Beckham wrote: “Just to be clear this wasn’t the Palace opening the gates for Harper’s birthday party. This was a tea party where us and other guests were invited so it was a beautiful thing to do with my mum, Harper plus a few school friends … We were honoured to be able to [be] there.”
The Times added that royal sources are now trying to defuse the criticism by insisting that Prince Andrew would pay the bill for the afternoon tea party arranged by Sarah, aka Fergie.
It is believed that Fergie already has a tense relationship with the royal family, further strained in 2010 when she was found offering access to Prince Andrew for $850,000 in a sting by an undercover News of the World reporter.
A palace spokesman told The Sun: “From time to time members of the royal family who reside at royal residences invite guests to visit them privately.”
Victoria, who did not attend the princess tea party due to work commitments, was given an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) at the palace earlier this year.
Former English football captain, David, was granted an OBE in 2003. Leaked emails surfaced in February, dating back to 2015, of him allegedly being irked at being passed over for a knighthood.
The Beckhams have remained close to the royal family through the years, with Prince William inviting the couple to his 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton.