The princess, who is set to move to New York City, "is a strong character but a little sensitive," a source tells PEOPLE

By Simon Perry
Updated June 03, 2015 04:45 PM
Credit: David M. Benett/Getty

Princess Beatrice has been dating her boyfriend, American-born Dave Clark, for more than seven years – and rumors have long swirled that not everyone in the royal family approves.

Beatrice, 26 – who was spotted eating out at The Ivy in London on Wednesday – is “very steely under everything – she is a strong character but a little bit more sensitive,” a family friend tells PEOPLE, adding that questions about her romance “must be difficult for her.”

The buzz picked up again after the birth of her royal cousin Princess Charlotte, whose arrival pushed Beatrice’s spot in line to the British throne down to No. 7. According to succession rules, only the first six in line must ask permission from Queen Elizabeth to marry.

But Bea’s mother, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, 55, has given her endorsement, telling PEOPLE that she loves “Mr. Smiley,” as she refers to him.

“She calls him that because he is constantly smiling,” the source tells PEOPLE. “Dave is absolutely charming.”

The U.S.-born, U.K.-raised Clark is famous among the couple’s inner circle “for his cheeseburgers,” says a friend. “In fact, it’s a joint effort, as Bea helps too.”

Clark, who left Virgin Galactic to work at car service Uber, lives in New York City – where Beatrice is expected to soon join him.

She is still on schedule to start a new role at a private equity firm in the city following the short finance course that she took on the West Coast earlier this year, a source close to her confirms to PEOPLE.

It was thought that she would start in Manhattan at some point in the summer, but the timing has yet to be firmed up, the source adds.

The elder daughter of Fergie and Prince Andrew hasn’t worked since leaving her job at Sony Europe last December. In the meantime, she has been enjoying some high-glam downtime on various luxe getaways.

Last weekend she attended the glamorous wedding of London friends Joseph Getty and Sabine Ghanem in Rome, where she looked pretty in pale pink.

She and her sister Princess Eugenie, 25, live a jet-set life, mixing with international billionaires, vacationing in St. Tropez and partying with their close friend, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, and his family.

“It’s a different lifestyle to most members of the royal family,” says a source who has met the princess several times.

When she settles in Manhattan, Beatrice will be alongside her younger sister, who has worked there for online auction house Paddle8 for about two years.

With reporting by MONIQUE JESSEN

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