THE waiter at Da Adolfo, a small but frightfully fashionable beach club in the romantic cove of Positano, was impressed by the command of Italian displayed by the red-headed English girl as she ordered her choice of citrus octopus salad followed by pumpkin and clam ravioli.
He was even more impressed when Sergio, the restaurant manager, told him later that the girl was a member of the English royal family, and that following the supper she had breathlessly accepted a proposal of marriage from her handsome boyfriend.
For that was the night, two weeks ago, that Princess Beatrice of York, 31, who is ninth in line to the throne, became engaged to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, a London-based property developer who has a fortune of £6million.
The couple have been dating since last autumn but while its a whirlwind romance, the count’s son is firmly in the royal crowd, is pals with Harry and Sarah Ferguson is godmother to his half-brother.
“Learning to speak Italian really well is just one of the benefits that Bea has gained from Edo [as he is known],” says one of the princess’s friends.
“But what she has really gained is the confidence and happiness she lost after her last big relationship with Dave Clark broke up.
“She’s now glowing with the sort of aura you only get when you’re really in love.”
But it’s not always been smooth sailing for the pair.
It was last October, at the Windsor wedding of Bea’s younger sister Eguenie to Jack Brooksbank that the pair’s friendship grew into something stronger.
Until then the charming and wealthy Edo had always been around — but Beatrice had not, according to her friend, looked on him as a future boyfriend.
One of the reasons for Bea’s reluctance to become involved may have been that Edo was engaged to architect Dara Huang, 37.
He only ended this relationship with Chinese-American Dara — mother of his two-year-old son, Christopher Woolf (known as Woolfy) — just a few weeks after he had been romancing Beatrice.
“It was a very awkward crossover of romances,” admits one of the property developer’s circle.
“They were still living together when Edo realised after Eugenie’s wedding, that he was falling for Bea. Dara did not take the news well, although she has come to terms with the situation now.
“But initially she felt very let-down.”
As well she might, because Edoardo is quite a catch, even for a granddaughter of the Queen.
Real love at last following chequered past
So this, according to Bea’s friend, is real love.
Which is a real bonus for the princess, whose romantic life has been chequered to say the least.
In 2006 she became involved with her first serious boyfriend, Paolo Liuzzo, who caused headlines when it was revealed he faced assault charges.
Liuzzo left her devastated when he revealed details of their relationship when it ended a year later.
Bea then spent ten years with Dave Clark, a long-time employee of Sir Richard Branson, who now works as an executive for Uber.
They broke up three years ago amid rumours that she had demanded that he make a commitment to marry — and he refused.
Embarrassingly for Bea, Clark moved on quickly, falling for New York advertising executive Lynn Anderson, whom he married six months ago.
Stepdad died at Glastonbury
Although he is a member of the Italian aristocracy — his father is Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi — he cuts a very English figure, thanks to a traditional education at the Oxfordshire public school Radley, followed by a Masters in politics at Edinburgh University.
For the last decade Edo has moved smoothly between the commercial world of property development and a highly social circle that includes Prince Harry and Harry’s ex-girlfriend, actress Cressida Bonas.
He first met Bea as a child; his mother, Nikki, and stepfather, Christopher Shale, were part of the Duke of York’s circle for decades.
Indeed Fergie was on hand to comfort Edo eight years ago when the body of Christopher Shale was discovered inside a portaloo in the VIP area at the Glastonbury Festival.
He was 56 and had suffered a heart attack.
Through Mr Shale, who had been the chairman of his local Conservative association, Edo had links with David Cameron — shortly after graduating from Edinburgh the future Prime Minister employed Edo as a political researcher.
But it was the property world where Edo really began to flourish.
Flogging £9m flats
He started his own company aged 23, calling it Banda (which means big house in Swahili, the main language in Kenya, where his family have a coastal estate on the island of Lamu).
His latest project, which launched two weeks ago, is a development of 18 flats in Notting Hill, which are on sale from £5.9million to £9million.
His creative flare (one of his competitors on the London property market concedes that Edo has “a brilliant eye for the smallest detail of a development”) makes him a good match for Bea, a History of Art graduate who, after trying her hand at a number of different jobs, now works full-time for Afiniti, an American software company.
Like Beatrice, he was the child of divorced parents and moved between homes in France and England growing up.
“We lived in old mill houses, that kind of thing — I like trying to work out how to make an old building function for modern life.”
Edo’s own homes in London so far have included a terrace house in Fulham, a converted night club in Earls Court, and a studio in Notting Hill.
For the last two months he has been sharing Beatrice’s four-bedroom apartment in St James’s Palace (for which she pays rent to the landlady, her grandmother, the Queen).
So popular is Edo’s style among his wealthy patrons that he’s launched a new company, Banda Design Studio, which has so far designed the interiors of a New York loft, a Croatian villa and a ski chalet in Switzerland and he is now working on producing his own range of bespoke furniture.
Edo’s a keen sportsman with an active social conscience, something which would have appealed to Bea (she was the first member of the Royal family to complete the London Marathon in 2010 and she also founded The Big Change charity which aims to improve the lives of young people).
Edo has taken part in bike rides and marathons to raise money for the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, a charity he founded with his half-brother Alby in memory of Christopher Shale.
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But what really must have clinched it for Beatrice is the approval of her parents, the beleaguered Duke of York and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, with whom she has a very close bond.
“Both Prince Andrew and Fergie adore Edo,” says Bea’s chum.
“He’s everything you could want in a son-in-law — successful, generous, kind and witty — and Sarah would add, with one of her giggles — eminently fanciable.”
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