As Queen Elizabeth‘s granddaughters, the sisters have been in the spotlight since their births — and the public didn’t always treat them kindly. They were mocked for their style choices — most famously their whimsical fascinators at Kate Middleton and Prince William‘s 2011 royal wedding — and ridiculed for balancing their royal duties with their everyday careers. (Eugenie is an art gallery director in London, while Beatrice is vice president of a data and software firm in New York City.)
“Being role models has always been a hard one for them to deal with, and being criticized for their weight, fashion and work lives has always been hard for them to swallow,” an insider tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “But in the last couple of years both girls have come around to the fact they’re women now, and they can do a lot of good with their status.”
Despite glamorous appearances at events like Trooping the Colour and Royal Ascot, the royal sisters want to make the most of their unique positions while maintaining normal lives.
“Yes, their grandmother is Queen, and they ride in carriages and live in this bubble,” a friend says of the princesses. “But they’re human beings who want to fall in love, have a good time, make a difference and just live.”
Princess Eugenie, 29, is settling into newlywed life after marrying Jack Brooksbank — a brand ambassador for Casamigos, the tequila brand founded by George Clooney and Rande Gerber — in October. In addition to her job, she frequently joins her family for special events, like assisting the Queen at the annual Maundy Service ahead of Easter. She’s even blended her personal life and royal duties, bringing Jack on his first royal engagement while accompanying her father to open the new Stanmore Building at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in March.
Eugenie also co-founded The Anti-Slavery Collective, an organization dedicated to abolishing modern slavery by supporting vulnerable women and children.
Princess Beatrice, 30, has a new love of her own: boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. The couple have recently been spending a lot of time with Beatrice’s parents, even supporting an event for Prince Andrew‘s Pitch@Palace campaign.
Beatrice focuses the majority of her charitable work around children’s welfare and education, with a particular interest in organizations involved in learning difficulties due to her own dyslexia.
“They are independent, working women but are also aware of their position and where they can help,” says the family friend.
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The girls’ mother, Sarah Ferguson, previously told PEOPLE that she couldn’t be more proud of her children.
“Their actions show their commitment and dedication to their grandmother and this country,” Fergie said. “It’s so great to see them shining.”