Beatrice was born on 8 August 1988, at 8:18 pm at the Portland Hospital, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, and fifth grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She was baptised in the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace on 20 December 1988, her godparents being: Viscount Linley (her father's cousin, now the 2nd Earl of Snowdon); the Duchess of Roxburghe (now Lady Jane Dawnay); Peter Palumbo; Gabrielle Greenall; and Carolyn Cotterell. Her name, an unexpected choice, was not announced until almost two weeks after her birth.
Beatrice began her early education at the independent Upton House School in Windsor, in 1991. From there, she and her sister both attended the independent Coworth Park School from 1995. Beatrice continued her education at the independent St George's School in Ascot, where she was a pupil from 2000 to 2007. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, she delayed sitting her GCSE exams for one year. She remained at St George's to take her A-Levels, gaining a grade A in drama, and B grades in history and film studies. She was elected Head Girl in her final year.
In September 2008, she started a three-year course studying for a BA in History and History of Ideas at Goldsmiths College, London. Princess Beatrice graduated in 2011 with a 2:1 degree.
In an interview to mark her 18th birthday, Princess Beatrice said that she wanted to use her position to assist others through charity work; she had already undertaken charitable duties alongside her mother through the various organisations the Duchess supported. In 2002, Beatrice visited children living with HIV in Russia, and, in Britain, she supported Springboard for Children (a literacy project for primary-school children with learning difficulties) and the Teenage Cancer Trust. During the summer of 2008, Beatrice volunteered as a sales assistant at Selfridges, and it was reported Beatrice and a friend had plans to found a fashion label. In April 2010, running to raise money for Children in Crisis, she became the first member of the royal family to complete the London Marathon. Princess Beatrice is the patron of Forget Me Not Children's Hospice, which supports children with life-shortening conditions in West Yorkshire and North Manchester.
Beatrice was the first member of the family to appear in a non-documentary film when she had a small, non-speaking role as an extra in The Young Victoria (2009), based on the accession and early reign of her ancestor, Queen Victoria.
For ten years, until July 2016, Beatrice was in a relationship with Virgin Galactic businessman Dave Clark.
According to a tabloid press report, Beatrice accidentally cut Ed Sheeran's cheek in November 2016 with a ceremonial sword during a mock knighting of James Blunt. Blunt later claimed that the story had been fabricated.
At the wedding of her cousin Prince William, Beatrice's fascinator designed by Philip Treacy was remarked upon by some as an odd choice of fashion. In May 2011, the hat was offered for sale on the internet auction site eBay with the proceeds going to charity: it was sold for £81,000 with the money split between UNICEF and Children in Crisis.
Princess Beatrice accompanied her grandmother, the Queen, to the traditional Royal Maundy services on 5 April 2012 in York. She and the Duke of Edinburgh were the sole members of the royal family to attend the Maundy Thursday services at York Minster with the Queen. There, Beatrice interacted with parishioners, received flowers from the public, and assisted the Queen as she passed out the official Maundy money to the pensioners. In the lead up to the 2012 Summer Olympics Princess Beatrice welcomed the Olympic flame on the steps of Harewood House near Leeds. In 2013, Beatrice and her sister promoted Britain overseas in Germany. She also visited the Isle of Wight in 2014.
After the birth of her first cousin once removed, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge in 2015, Beatrice moved from sixth to seventh in the line of succession.
In November 2012, Beatrice became a patron of the York Musical Society. In April 2013, she became royal patron of The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, a charity that she credits with helping her overcome her own academic challenges resulting from dyslexia. She accompanied her father during an official engagement in the United Arab Emirates on 24 November 2014.
In 2016, Beatrice along with her mother Sarah, Duchess of York, and sister Eugenie collaborated with British contemporary artist Teddy M to create the first ever royal graffiti. The painting on canvas, titled Royal Love, was painted at Royal Lodge and exhibited in London prior to being sold for a five figure sum. Proceeds from the sale of the painting were donated to Children in Crisis.
While the announcement of her name was made some two weeks after her birth, Beatrice was, from birth, a British princess entitled to the style of Royal Highness. Her style and title in full is: Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice Elizabeth Mary of York.