Get caught up on all the major royals news you might have missed in 2019 — from big birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and splits to abdications, exciting international tours and the arrival of baby Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, plus much more… Prince Philip made headlines on Jan. 17 when he caused a car accident and flipped his Land Rover while driving near his home on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. Though the 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, the driver of the other car, a Kia, and a 9-month-old baby in the other vehicle were miraculously OK despite the impact, a female passenger in the other car broke her wrist in the accident. Philip — who blamed the crash on being blinded by the sun and wrote a letter of apology to the other driver — was cautioned by police and voluntarily gave up his driver license three weeks later, though he made headlines again in April when he was photographed behind the wheel of a new Land Rover on his Windsor estate.
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Duchess Meghan’s friends come to her defense
People magazine made headlines on Feb. 6 when it published a bombshell cover story in which women “who form an essential part of [Duchess] Meghan’s inner circle” spoke to the weekly anonymously to defend their friend against years of “global bullying” and untruths perpetuated in royal circles and the media. Inside the magazine, which featured the coverline, “Exclusive! Her best friends break their silence: The Truth About Meghan,” pals opened up about everything from Meghan’s work ethic and private life with Prince Harry to the realities of her estrangement from her father, Thomas Markle Sr., and half-siblings. “They have been made to appear as siblings who had this falling out, and that’s not the truth at all,” a longtime friend told People of Samantha and Thomas Jr. “They were not a part of her life.” As for her dad, who’s sold photos and interviews about Meghan, friends denied Thomas’s claim that he can’t reach his daughter. “He knows how to get in touch with her,” said another longtime friend. “He’s never called; he’s never texted. It’s super-painful.”
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Thomas Markle Sr. releases private letter from Duchess Meghan that later sparks a lawsuit
Thomas Markle Sr. reacted to the bombshell People magazine cover story featuring interviews with his daughter’s friends by doing what most people would consider unthinkable: On Feb. 9, he shared portions of a five-page private handwritten letter that Duchess Meghan sent him in August 2018 — after he repeatedly spoke out about her and husband Prince Harry in the media, often trashing the royal family — with Britain’s Mail on Sunday. Eight months later, with Prince Harry’s full support, Meghan sued the outlet for publishing select portions of the private letter, and on Oct. 1, Harry explained, writing in an unprecedented statement, in part, “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences — a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son.” Harry went on to explain, “I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been” and said he’s been “a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. Days later on Oct. 4, Byline Investigates broke the news that Harry too was taking legal action by suing the owners of UK tabloid newspapers the Sun, the defunct News of the World and the Mirror related to alleged phone-hacking activities. And in November, Meghan’s lawyers filed new court documents that extensively detail what Byline Investigates called a “three-year fake news campaign against her.” Read the big breakdown here.
RELATED: Every outfit the Duchess of Cambridge wore in 2019
Duchess Meghan is feted by celebrity pals at NYC baby shower
Duchess Meghan’s friends — including tennis champ Serena Williams, attorney Amal Clooney, CBS morning show host Gayle King, “Suits” co-star Abigail Spencer, Misha Nonoo, Jessica Mulroney, Markus Anderson, college pal Lindsay Roth and more — helped her celebrate her pregnancy when they attended a very posh and very private baby shower in New York City on Feb. 20. The party — which was held in the two-story, $75,000-a-night penthouse at Manhattan’s The Mark hotel — was personally paid for by Serena Williams, multiple reports claimed, and included a “desert-tasting experience,” Vanity Fair reported, that was overseen by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Afterward, Meghan hitched a ride back to Britain with Amal on the barrister’s private jet. The cost? A cool $163,000, the Sun reported, though Amal footed the bill.
The Duke and (pregnant) Duchess of Sussex head to Morocco
Prince Harry and a pregnant Duchess Meghan headed to Morocco for a high-profile three-day royal visit in February. There, they met with the country’s royals, took in cooking school demonstrations and visited with teachers, students and locals. Meghan also had a henna design painted on her hand during a visit to a boarding house for girls in the town of Asni on Feb. 24.
Northern Ireland hosts the Cambridges during official royal visit
Duchess Kate and Prince William also made an official royal trip in February. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Belfast on Feb. 27 for a surprise two-day official royal visit to Northern Ireland (where they’re known as Baron and Lady Carrickfergus) to learn more about some of the programs for and issues affecting this part of the U.K.’s young people. There, they played soccer with children, competed in a canoe race (William’s boat won!), tackled archery and an obstacle course and even pulled pints during a visit to Belfast’s Empire Music Hall.
The Fab Four split up
On March 14 — amid rumblings that Prince William and Prince Harry or their wives were privately feuding — the palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II had “agreed to the creation of a new Household for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, following their marriage in May last year.” In other words, the Fab Four were splitting up. Harry and Duchess Meghan were formally separating their “court” from William and Duchess Kate’s in order to make their own way. The brothers’ offices had previously been combined, and both couples lived at Kensington Palace. The move meant that Harry and Meghan would hire their own staff (in a royal first, all of their senior staffers were women) to work out of Buckingham Palace; they also moved an hour away to Windsor. The split — said to be necessary with William set to one day become king and Harry, who’s sixth in line to the throne, on a different path — continued in June when it was announced that the Sussexes were also leaving the Royal Foundation, the charitable organization they shared with the Cambridges, and starting one of their own.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla make history on 12-day Caribbean tour
Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, kicked off a 12-day royal tour of the Caribbean on March 17 that included stops on St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, the Cayman Islands and — in a history-making move — Cuba. When the future king and his wife stepped off their Royal Air Force plane in Havana on March 24, they became the first members of the British royal family to ever make an official visit to the island nation.
A royal cheating scandal quashed?
Sparked by a March report from the Sun alleging that Duchess Kate had a mysterious falling out with married country neighbor Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, reports emerged suggesting that something untoward happened between Prince William and the former model back when Kate was pregnant with son Prince Louis (Refinery29 breaks it down). There was also unsubstantiated speculation that Prince Harry was upset with his brother over the claims and that his anger was one reason the brothers were allegedly feuding. The Daily Beast and other outlets reported that William’s lawyer’s sent letters to British media outlets warning them off the rumors, branding the allegations untrue and claiming that false speculation violated William’s privacy — successfully shutting down any further reporting suggesting there was an affair. However, even though British tabloids backed off the story, American media outlets and social media — the hashtag #PrinceWilliamAffair popped up on Twitter — covered the unfounded allegations for months.
Frogmore Cottage becomes home sweet home
During the first week of April, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan finally moved into their new home — Frogmore Cottage on the queen’s Windsor estate, multiple outlets reported. The five-bedroom mid-1800s property located about 25 miles outside of London — where the couple had been living in Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace since late 2017 — underwent five months of extensive renovations. On June 24, The Royal Household’s latest financial report was released, revealing the cost of the refurbishment: £2.4 million, or about $3 million, which was paid for from the queen’s annual $63 million Sovereign Grant, which is funded by British taxpayers.
The Sussexes win Instagram
This is how a royal court separates in the modern age: On April 2, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan launched their own Instagram account, @SussexRoyal — furthering their separation from Prince William and Duchess Kate, who continue to use the @KensingtonRoyal account both couples had previously shared. People magazine reported that Meghan and Harry hit 1 million followers within the first five hours and 45 minutes of their account’s debut — a milestone that scored them a spot in the Guinness World Records book (which Jennifer Aniston beat by 29 minutes after she joined Instagram in October). After just one day, the couple had 3 million followers. By November, they had 9.8 million — just half a million fewer than the Cambridges’ count of 10.3 million.
“The Crown” casts its Lady Diana Spencer
On April 9, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Netflix’s “The Crown” had cast newcomer Emma Corrin to play Lady Diana Spencer, the future Princess Diana. The character will debut on the award-winning series during season 4 (season 3 debuted to acclaim — and with new stars — on Nov. 17). On Oct. 2, People magazine and other outlets published photos (see them here) of Emma in full hair, makeup and wardrobe as Princess Diana while shooting season 4.
Prince Harry teams up with Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey became colleagues in 2019. The pair have teamed up to produce a new project for Apple+, the brand’s upcoming streaming service. “We are excited to announce that The Duke of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey are partners, co-creators and executive producers on their forthcoming mental health series launching on Apple in 2020,” the @SussexRoyal Instagram account revealed on April 10. “The pair have been developing the series for several months and are looking forward to sharing such an important project on this global platform.” During an appearance on “CBS This Morning,” Oprah — who attended his wedding — revealed how they came together. She asked him, “‘What do you think are the most important issues facing the world right now?’ and he said, ‘There are two: climate change and he said mental wellness, mental fitness…’ It’s a passion of his,” she explained. “I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to be doing this thing with Apple. It’s a big concern of mine too, I want to try to erase the stigma.’ … At the end of the conversation [he said], ‘Oh if there’s anything I can do to help… and I go ‘Ahhhhh. As a matter of fact…'”
Prince Philip sets a record ahead of 98th birthday
On April 19 — less than two months before his 98th birthday on June 10 — Prince Philip made history: He became the oldest ever male British royal and the third oldest royal in British history, ITV reported. The Duke of Edinburgh has a few years to go to catch up with the women ahead of him: Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester lived to 102, and Philip’s late mother-in-law — Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — lived to be 101.
A family feud simmers
Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 93rd birthday on April 21 — Easter Sunday. But it didn’t appear to be a happy occasion for certain members of her family. Rumors of a rift between grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry ramped up following their behavior during Easter church services. People magazine reported that the brothers kept their distance — they didn’t speak to each other on their way in or out of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle or once they were inside. Months later in the October ITV and ABC documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey,” Harry refused to deny reports of a rift with William, telling journalist Tom Bradby, “Part of this role and part of this job, and this family being under the pressure that it’s under, inevitably stuff happens. But we’re brothers, we’ll always be brothers. We’re certainly on different paths at the moment. But I will always be there for him and as I know, he’ll always be there for me. We don’t see each other as much as we used to because we’re so busy but I love him dearly and the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. As brothers, you have good days, you have bad days.”
Prince Louis turns 1
He’s growing so fast! To mark Prince Louis of Cambridge’s first birthday on April 23, Prince William and Duchess Kate released three new photos of their youngest child. “The photographs were taken earlier this month by The Duchess at their home in Norfolk,” the couple revealed on Instagram.
A sad visit to New Zealand
Prince William spent April 25 and 26 in New Zealand on behalf of the queen meeting survivors of the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack, first responders, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Muslim community leaders, whom he thanked for their work bringing people together again following the senseless March 15 shooting that killed 50 people and injured 50 more.
Duchess Kate is honored by the queen
The queen bestowed a significant honor on Duchess Kate on April 29, which happened to be the former Kate Middleton’s eighth wedding anniversary with Prince William: a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, which is the highest rank in the dynastic order — the equivalent of a knight and one made personally by the monarch herself for services to the sovereign. In June, Kate debuted an accessory denoting her new status as she arrived at Buckingham Palace for a state banquet welcoming President Donald Trump to Britain — a blue, red and white sash that she wore with her white lace Alexander McQueen gown. As People magazine pointed out, the order is also represented by a Maltese cross, which Kate wore near the bottom of her new sash.
Japan gets a new emperor
On April 30, Japan’s Emperor Akihito, 85, became that country’s first monarch to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne in 200 years. A day later on May 1, his son, Crown Prince Naruhito, 59, was inaugurated as the 126th emperor, marking the beginning of the Reiwa era. Later in the month, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump landed in Tokyo to kick off visits with Emperor Naruhito and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The constitutional monarch and his Harvard-educated wife, Empress Masako, hosted Trump — the first foreign leader to meet the new emperor — for a state banquet at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 27. Later in the year on Oct. 22, royals, heads of state and diplomats from 183 countries traveled to Tokyo’s Imperial Palace to watch Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony.
Thailand celebrates a royal wedding and a coronation before a royal consort scandal erupts
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66, married Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya, 40, a former Thai Airways flight attendant, at the Ampornsathan Throne Hall in Bangkok’s Dusit Palace on May 1. A statement released by the palace announced that the monarch “has decided to promote Gen. Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, his royal consort, to become Queen Suthida and she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family,” CNN reported. A few days later, the constitutional monarch and his new bride celebrated his official coronation with a three-day celebration. Five months later, the Thai king made headlines again when he stripped 34-year-old Major General Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi — the former army nurse who’d served in his royal bodyguard unit who he named as his new royal consort in July — of her titles, status and military rank, branding her guilty of “disloyalty” and claiming her “ambition” got out of hand as she wanted to be “equivalent with [the queen], a two-page Oct. 21 statement from the Thai Royal Household explained.
Princess Charlotte turns 4
Princess Charlotte celebrated her 4th birthday on May 2. Parents Prince William and Duchess Kate released three new photographs of their daughter, which were snapped by Kate, on social media.
Duchess Meghan gives birth to son Archie with Prince Harry by her side
It’s the biggest baby news of the year: Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry welcomed their first child — a son they named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, they revealed two days later — at 5:26 a.m. on May 6, just a few weeks before their one-year wedding anniversary. And they did it their way. The couple had previously, in an unprecedented move, announced to the public that unlike other royals — such as Prince William and Duchess Kate — they wouldn’t be posing on the steps of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London with their newborn (or any other hospital for that matter) and would instead share their news and photos of their baby in due time. Which is exactly what happened: Harry spoke to just one reporter hours after Meghan, who went past her due date, delivered their baby boy. “It’s been the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine,” Harry gushed. “How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension.” They waited until May 8 to introduce Archie — who’s seventh in line to the British throne but will not have a royal title, per his parents’ wishes — to the world when they stepped in front of just a few cameras at Windsor Castle. There, Meghan gushed of motherhood, “It’s magic, it’s pretty amazing. I have the two best guys in the world so I’m really happy.”
A monarch meets her new great-grandson
The same day they introduced their son to the world, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan introduced him to his great-grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The couple along with Buckingham Palace shared an incredible photo of the moment the monarch met her eighth great-grandchild as Prince Philip and Meghan’s mom, social worker and yoga instructor Doria Ragland, looked on. More than a week later, British media finally learned — after acquiring Archie’s birth certificate, which is public record — that Meghan delivered her 7-pound, 3-ounce son not at home as had been rumored but at the private Portland Hospital in Westminster near Buckingham Palace (where Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were born).
There was another royal wedding at St. George’s Chapel
Lady Gabriella Windsor — who’s the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin Prince Michael of Kent — married financier Thomas Kingston at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 18 wearing a custom Luisa Beccaria wedding dress. It was the third royal wedding to take place at the historic venue in a year (following Prince Harry’s nuptials in May 2018 and Princess Eugenie’s in October 2018). Dozens of of royal and famous guests attended the celebrations. Gabriella, who works in public relations, is 52nd in the line of succession to the British throne.
The Prince of Wales visits the Emerald Isle
On May 20, Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall kicked off two separate official royal trips to the Emerald Isle — first heading to the Republic of Ireland, then hopping over the border to Britain’s Northern Ireland. Photos reveal they had a great time watching Irish dancers and weavers at work, planting trees, cutting cakes, petting dogs and exploring ruins.
Princess Grace’s granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi weds in Monaco
On June 1 in a civil ceremony at Monaco’s Prince’s Palace, Charlotte Casiraghi (the daughter of Princess Caroline of Hanover) married film producer Dimitri Rassam (the son of actress-model Carole Bouquet). Afterward the couple, who had a 6-month-old son, Balthazar, at the time (Charlotte is also a mom to 5-year-old Raphael with comedian ex Gad Elmaleh; Dimitri has a daughter from a previous relationship), celebrated at a garden party followed by a reception at the Villa La Vigie, a palatial residence overlooking the Mediterranean. People magazine reported that Charlotte wore the Cartier diamond tiara necklace that her grandmother, Hollywood actress Grace Kelly — the late Princess Grace of Monaco — received as a wedding gift in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier III.
The queen welcomes the president for an official state visit
President Donald Trump kicked off a three-day state visit to Britain on June 3. He and first lady Melania Trump spent time with senior royals including the queen, Prince Charles and wife Duchess Camilla, Prince Andrew, Prince Harry and more. The most glamorous part of the visit was a white-tie state dinner attended by the president’s family, advisers and key royals including Prince William and Duchess Kate. Another headline-making moment during President Trump’s visit was his conversation with Prince Charles about climate change. Trump, who’s previously called climate change a “hoax,” revealed on “Good Morning Britain” that the Prince of Wales — a longtime supporter of environmental responsibility — spoke to him about it. “He did most of the talking, and he was really into climate change and I think that’s great,” Trump said. “He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate as opposed to a disaster and I agree.”
Queen Elizabeth II honors soldiers on 75th D-Day anniversary
Queen Elizabeth II and other world leaders including then-British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump headed to Portsmouth, England, on June 5 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings during World War II. The British monarch — the only female member of Britain’s royal family ever to have entered the armed forces — remembers the horrors of WWII first hand: She convinced her father, King George VI, to let her join the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during the war (she was known as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor and trained as a mechanic and military truck driver). According to History.com, she’s the only living head of state who served in World War II. In remarks at the historic event, she called her generation “resilient” and thanked the hundreds of thousands who “left these shores in the cause of freedom” on behalf of “the whole free world.”
Trooping the Colour 2019 highlights
On June 8, Queen Elizabeth II’s annual official birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour, brought out dozens of royals — including Duchess Meghan, who took a break from maternity leave to honor the monarch. Other notable appearances this year included 1-year-old Prince Louis, who made his Trooping the Colour and Buckingham Palace balcony debuts, and Princess Eugenie’s new husband, Jack Brooksbank, who made his Trooping the Colour and Buckingham Palace balcony debuts too. A few weeks after the celebration, eagle-eyed royal watchers noticed that photos from Trooping the Colour revealed that Meghan’s three-stone engagement ring from Prince Harry had been upgraded. According to BAZAAR.com, Harry had its original plain yellow gold band replaced with a micropave diamond band. Meghan also wore her Welsh gold wedding band as well as a new bit of bling — a diamond eternity ring that was a first anniversary gift from Harry, who collaborated with American jeweler Lorraine Schwartz on the piece, which includes birthstones for Meghan (an olive green peridot), Harry (a blue sapphire) and son Archie (a green emerald) on its underside.
A milestone wedding anniversary
June was a big month for Sophie, Countess of Wessex. Not only did she become the first British royal to ever visit Lebanon, but she and Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest child, Prince Edward, celebrated 20 years of marriage on June 19 — a significant milestone as Edward is the only one of the monarch’s four children who’s not divorced. The couple is seen here on the big day taking in the Royal Ascot horse races.
June 18 marked the first day of Britain’s annual thoroughbred horse races known as Royal Ascot, and all your favorite royals came out to England’s Berkshire region over the course of five days. Duchess Kate impressed fashion critics with her her smart look on day one — a blue Elie Saab dress and a matching floral-embellished Philip Treacy hat — as she arrived in a carriage with husband Prince William then mingled with other royals including Princess Eugenie, Zara Tindall and Princess Anne.
Prince William turns 37
Prince William celebrated his 37th birthday on June 21. It’s a significant and bittersweet year, as the Duke of Cambridge is now older than mother Princess Diana was when she lost her life in a Paris car crash at age 36 in 1997.
Prince William shares how he’d feel if kids are gay
On June 26 while visiting akt, the Albert Kennedy Trust — a charity that helps young and homeless LBGTQ+ people — Prince William was asked by a gay young man, “If your child one day in the future said, ‘Oh, I’m gay, oh, I’m lesbian,’ whatever, how would you react?” The father of three had a loving reply: “Do you know what, I’ve been giving that some thought recently because a couple of other parents said that to me as well. I think you really don’t start thinking about that until you are a parent, and I think — obviously absolutely fine by me,” the Duke of Cambridge said, as reported by the Evening Standard. He added, “The one thing I’d be worried about is how they — particularly the roles my children fill — is how that is going to be interpreted and seen. So Catherine and I have been doing a lot of talking about it to make sure they were prepared. I think communication is so important with everything, in order to help understand it you’ve got to talk a lot about stuff and make sure how to support each other and how to go through the process. It worries me — not because of them being gay. It worries me as to how everyone else will react and perceive it and then the pressure is then on them.”
Prince Charles hits major anniversary
July 1 is a significant day for British royals. It’s Canada Day — the day the British Commonwealth nation celebrates the union of three colonies joining into a single dominion within the British Empire. It’s Princess Diana’s birthday. And this year, July 1 marked the 50-year anniversary of Prince Charles’s investiture as the Prince of Wales. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, formalized his title in a ceremony filmed at Caernarfon Castle in Wales on July 1, 1969, as family members including Charles’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, father Prince Philip and sister Princess Anne looked on.
The Dutch royal family celebrates at annual photoshoot
The royal family of The Netherlands posed up a storm at their annual family photoshoot on July 19. King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and daughters Princess Catharina-Amalia (who’s next in line to the Dutch throne), Princess Alexia and Princess Ariane smiled for the cameras outside royal residence Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague.
Malaysia’s king splits from Russian wife, makes headlines with messy divorce and paternity drama
Things got messy for this Malaysian royal in 2019. First, a little background: In 2018, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan — who was elected king of Malaysia in 2016 — married former Miss Moscow Rihana Oksana Voevodina in both a secret Islamic ceremony in Malaysia in June 2018 following her conversion to his faith, then in her native Russia in November 2018. In January 2019, he stepped down as the country’ 15th king (the title is rotated every five years among the nine Malaysian royal houses), reportedly to devote himself to his bride, whose past as a reality show contestant and bikini model offended some conservative Malaysians, becoming the first monarch ever to abdicate. In May, his wife gave birth to son Tengku Ismail Leon Petra Tengku Muhammad V Faris Petra. In July, it emerged that the sultan had quietly divorced his bride in June after just a year of marriage by uttering the word “talaq” three times, which is the most severe and irreversible form of divorce in Islam, the Straits Times reported. New drama erupted when baby Leon’s paternity was questioned, though Oksana has insisted the baby is the former king’s child. On Nov. 7, MailOnline reported that Sultan Muhammad V had proposed a split settlement to Oksana insisting that the boy — whom he has not claimed as his own — must be raised a Muslim and must never contact him as a condition of his establishing a £195,000 trust fund for the baby.
Belgium royals celebrate National Day ahead of Crown Princess Elisabeth’s 18th birthday
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium along with their four children — Crown Princess Elisabeth, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eleonore — stepped out in Brussels to celebrate Belgian National Day on July 21. They’re seen here descending the steps of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula following church services on the holiday that commemorates the 1831 investiture of the country’s first monarch, King Leopold I, following the Belgian Revolution. Three months later, Elisabeth — who attends boarding school in Britain — was back in her native country on Oct. 25 to mark her 18th birthday with a televised celebration of the milestone, which means that she’s now old enough to rule without the help of a regent should anything happen to her father.
Prince George turns 6
Future British king Prince George turned 6 on July 22. To celebrate, Kensington Palace released three adorable photos taken by mom Duchess Kate, including these two snapped in their garden at Kensington Palace.
Monaco celebrates another royal wedding
In late July, Princess Stephanie of Monaco’s eldest child, Louis Ducruet — whose dad is the princess’s ex-husband and former bodyguard Daniel Ducruet — married college girlfriend Marie Chevalier in two ceremonies in Monaco. On July 26, Marie wore a white silk crepe jumpsuit by designer Rosa Clara for a civil ceremony at Prince’s Palace. One day later, the pair had a religious ceremony attended by family members (including the groom’s parents, uncle Prince Albert II of Monaco and wife Princess Charlene, aunt Princess Caroline of Hanover and many royal cousins) at the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate, which is where Louis’ grandparents, Prince Rainier II and American actress Grace Kelly, exchanged vows in 1956. Louis is 15th in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne.
Duchess Meghan guest edits British Vogue
Duchess Meghan guest edited British Vogue’s September issue in 2019. On July 28, details emerged on the issue, which featured the theme “Forces for Change,” that Meghan worked on with editor-in-chief Edward Enninful for seven months. The cover featured “a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness,” explained the Duchess of Sussex — seen here (in a photo that appears in British Vogue) in the London workroom of Smart Works, a charity of which she’s patron. According to Meghan, “the sixteenth space on the cover, a mirror, was included so that when you hold the issue in your hands, you see yourself as part of this collective.” Though Meghan didn’t appear on the cover, she did participate in an interview with former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama that appeared inside the mag, as did a candid conversation between Prince Harry and famed chimpanzee expert Dr. Jane Goodall (in which he said he and Meghan planned to have no more than two kids) plus inspirational articles from changemakers.
A scandal envelops Prince Andrew, disastrous interview leads him to step back from royal duties
Early August marked the beginning of the end for Prince Andrew. That’s when he was named in a trove of unsealed legal documents concerning his old friend, disgraced American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The following day, the pedophile was found dead in the Manhattan jail cell where he was being held on federal sex trafficking charges. Andrew and the palace again denied resurfaced claims that the Duke of York was intimate with a then-underage Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who’s since 2005 alleged that Epstein “trafficked” her to Andrew starting when she was 17 in 2001. But the denials didn’t stop scrutiny of the royal, who was also under fire because he’d continued to spend time with Epstein earlier in the decade even after the sex offender served jail time for soliciting a prostitute and procuring a girl under 18 for prostitution. After months of criticism, Andrew sat down with Emily Maitlis from the BBC’s “Newsnight” for an interview that aired on Nov. 16 in which he discussed his friendship with the pedophile and claimed he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia; he even implied that a photo of them together in 2001 had been doctored. Many were offended when he failed to show a real lack of remorse concerning his friendship with the dead pedophile and failed to explicitly sympathize with Epstein’s victims. In the wake of the interview, companies began to cut ties with the prince and calls were made for the queen to intervene. On Nov. 20, Andrew announced that he was taking a “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.” (Read his whole statement here.)
Spain’s royal family poses for annual summer vacation snapshots ahead of princess’s 14th birthday
King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain posed with their daughters Leonor, Princess of Asturias (right) — the heir to the throne who in October turned 14 on Halloween — and Infanta Sofia for a family portrait in the Marivent Palace gardens on Aug. 4 as they kicked off their annual vacation at their summer residence in Palma de Mallorca.
Royals attend funeral of Princess Christina of The Netherlands
The Netherlands’ Princess Christina — the maternal aunt of King Willem-Alexander and the youngest sister of former Queen Beatrix, who abdicated in 2013 — passed away at Noordeinde Palace in The Hague on Aug. 16. The 72-year-old royal fought bone cancer in recent years. The Dutch royal family including the king (center) as well as Christina’s three children with her Cuba-born ex-husband were in attendance at her funeral service on Aug. 22 where mourners wore bright colors and flowers instead of traditional black attire. Christina’s casket was covered in bright yellow sunflowers during the procession. HOLA! magazine reported that Christina, a talented dancer and singer who was born partially blind, was the first Dutch royal to be cremated.
Princess Charlotte starts school with big brother Prince George
On Sept. 5, Princess Charlotte followed in big brother Prince George’s footsteps and started at Thomas’s Battersea school in London. The posh school, which teaches 560 children, costs the Cambridges about $24,000 a year in tuition and fees for Charlotte — roughly $500 less than it costs them to send George there, as they’re entitled to a sibling discount, Town & Country reported. Sources told “Entertainment Tonight” that at school, there’s no “Your Royal Highness” salutations, as the youngsters go by the names George Cambridge and Charlotte Cambridge.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan tour Southern Africa
Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan and son Archie kicked off a 10-day, 35-engagement royal tour of Southern Africa on Sept. 23. The couple started in Cape Town, South Africa, where they spoke out against gender violence, praised local mental health initiatives for young people, visited the country’s oldest mosque, danced, ate local cuisine, met with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and more during the first few days of the visit. Meghan got personal at their first stop, telling locals, “…while I am here with my husband as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me, I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister…”
Prince Harry follows in late mother’s footsteps
On the fifth day of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s 10-day, 35-engagement royal tour of Southern Africa, the Duke of Sussex walked through an Angolan minefield on Sept. 27 while seeing the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust. The images of Harry brought back memories of his late mother, Princess Diana, who championed the Halo Trust’s work in the same country 22 years earlier when she, too, boldly walked through a minefield just months before her tragic death in a Paris car crash.
Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi announce engagement
Buckingham Palace announced on Sept. 26 the engagement of Britain’s Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend of nearly a year, British-Italian property developer (and single dad!) Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. The couple showed off her bespoke diamond ring in a series of photos taken in Italy earlier in the month by the royal’s sister, Princess Eugenie. The pair plan to wed in 2020. Edo’s former fiancée, Chinese-American architect Dara Huang — with whom he shares a toddler son, Christopher Woolf — told MailOnline: “I wish the best for Edo and Beatrice and look forward to uniting our families.”
Gillian Anderson cast as Margaret Thatcher on “The Crown”
In September, Netflix announced that “The Crown” — the award-winning series about the lives, loves and dramas of Britain’s royal family — had cast Gillian Anderson, who’s been dating “The Crown” creator-writer Peter Morgan since 2016, to play the U.K.’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, on season 4. On Oct. 19, The Mail on Sunday published the first photos of the former “X Files” star — whose resemblance to the controversial politician is remarkable — in costume. (See the pics here.)
Sweden’s royal family scales back
Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf announced on Oct. 7 that five of the grandchildren he shares with Queen Silvia will no longer be considered members of The Royal House, though they’ll retain their “Prince” and “Princess” titles for personal use. This affects the three children of Princess Madeleine and husband Chris O’Neill and the two sons of Prince Carl Philip and wife Princess Sofia. Crown Princess Victoria’s two children are not affected by the decision. Both Madeleine and Carl Philip issued statements in support of the decision. “Earlier today, the court announced that [my children] Leonore, Nicolas and Adrienne will no longer belong to the royal house. This change has been planned for a long time,” Madeleine wrote on Instagram. “Chris and I think it’s good that our children are now getting a greater opportunity to shape their own lives as private individuals in the future.” Carl Philip also took to Instagram to write in part, “[Sofia and I] see this as positive as [our boys] Alexander and Gabriel will have freer choices in life.”
Fergie reveals cosmetic procedures
A royal first! On Oct. 9, The Daily Mail published an interview with Britain’s Sarah, Duchess of York — who turned 60 the same month — and her friend and doctor, Gabriela Mercik, in which the royal confessed the many cosmetic procedures she’s had over the years to help her feel and look more youthful. “I had Botox a long time ago when there was nothing else available,” Fergie admitted, noting that she wasn’t a fan of looking frozen. To prepare for daughter Princess Eugenie’s wedding in 2018, she had a laser treatment on her face. “I’m really happy to be open about what I’ve had done,” Fergie said, going on to share that she’s also a fan of mesotherapy — injections of vitamins, minerals and amino acids under the mesodermal layer of the face to help plump up skin — as well as organic fillers and threadlift procedures. In March 2019, she went to the Bahamas to have regenerative stem cell therapy on her feet. “They shaved the bone [near my big toe] and implanted stem cells — 20 million of them taken from my midriff — into my feet to make new cartilage,” she explained.
Prince William and Duchess Kate tour Pakistan
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kicked off a five-day royal tour of Pakistan on Oct. 14. There, Prince William and Duchess Kate visited the Chiatibo glacier in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Northern Pakistan to learn about how climate change has impacted glacial landscapes there, met with Prime Minister Imran Khan (a friend of WIlliam’s late mother, Princess Diana), read to kids at an SOS Children’s Village, showed off their cricket skills, visited an historic mosque, played with dogs at an Army Canine Centre near Islamabad where animals are trained to identify explosive devices and much more.
Duchess Meghan opens up in documentary about scrutiny and criticism
In late October, Duchess Meghan made headlines with her comments in the ITV and ABC documentary “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey” about the intense scrutiny and criticism she’s endured since joining Britain’s royal family. Meghan said that British friends warned her not to marry Harry “‘because the British tabloids will destroy your life'” she explained, adding, “I never thought this would be easy but I thought it would be fair.” She also admitted that she’s struggled as a new mother and as a tabloid target. “I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a ‘stiff upper lip.’ I really tried, but I think that what that does internally is probably really damaging,” she said.
Spanish royals make history with Cuba visit
Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia made history on Nov. 11 when they arrived in Cuba to kick off a three-day trip — the first state visit to the island nation by a Spanish royal. The couple made the journey to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana. See all the best photos from the trip here.
Sussexes confirm they won’t be at the queen’s estate for Christmas
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Nov. 13 that amid a challenging year, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan wouldn’t be spending Christmas with the queen this year and instead would celebrate son Archie’s first holiday season with Meghan’s mom. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month,” a palace statement said. “Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland.” Though some British media outlets called the couple’s decision a snub to the queen, the statement included this line shooting that down: “This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.” It’s been pointed out that Prince William and Duchess Kate have also skipped holidays with the monarch in favor of spending them with Kate’s parents, the Middletons.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla tour New Zealand
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, kicked off a week-long tour of New Zealand on Nov. 17. The trip marked their third joint visit to the country and first in four years. See the best photos from the trip here.
More fallout from Prince Andrew’s Jeffrey Epstein scandal revealed
In the days and weeks following Prince Andrew’s disastrous BBC interview about his relationship with dead pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein and subsequent step back from royal duties, media reports revealed more about the fallout behind the scenes. According to the Sunday Times, Queen Elizabeth II canceled the Duke of York’s planned 60th birthday party set for February 2020 and decided that instead, just a “small family dinner” would take place. Per a report in The Telegraph, Andrew was made to drive 140 miles to the queen’s Sandringham estate to meet with his father, Prince Philip, about the scandal. “It was a tense meeting and Philip told his son he had to take his punishment,” a source told the newspaper. “There was no screaming or shouting but Philip told him in no uncertain terms that he had to step down for the sake of the monarchy. Philip doesn’t like trial by the media but he is realistic enough to realize that Andrew’s actions were a danger to the very fabric of the royal family.” Widespread reports also revealed that future king Prince Charles had been instrumental in convincing and supporting his mother in pressuring Andrew to step back. “Charles calmly read him the riot act and told him there was no way back for him in the near future,” a source told The Telegraph. Royal correspondents for various British news outlets have widely reported that it’s unlikely Andrew will have a public role as a royal ever again, especially once Charles is crowned, as the Prince of Wales favors a slimmed-down monarchy.
Prince William makes historic visit to Kuwait and Oman
On Dec. 1, Britain’s Prince William kicked off an historic four-day tour of Kuwait and Oman — his first official visit to the Persian Gulf nations. During the trip, the Duke of Cambridge paid tribute to the historic ties Britain shares with Kuwait and Oman and sought to highlight the countries’ strong links and cooperation in areas including education, the environment and defense.
Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit apologizes for Jeffrey Epstein association
In the wake of a sex trafficking scandal focused on Britain’s Prince Andrew and his long friendship with the convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, another royal family was linked to the dead financier. On Dec. 2, Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit issued a statement, following pressure from the Dagens Næringsliv newspaper, confirming she’d met with the wealthy criminal between 2011 and 2013 — which is notable because this was after he’d been convicted of sex offences including soliciting a child for prostitution. (Andrew was also criticized for maintaining a friendship with Epstein after he was convicted.) “I never would have associated with Mr. Epstein if I had been aware of the seriousness of the crimes he committed. I should have investigated his past more thoroughly, and I am sorry that I didn’t,” the princess said, as reported by MailOnline, which explained that the meetings were in social settings. It’s implied they could have been related to philanthropy Epstein did involving an organization run by a former Norwegian diplomat. Mette-Marit apologized and expressed regret over the association and sympathy and solidarity with his victims. The Norwegian Royal palace’s communications chief further explained that the princess, who reportedly cut off communications with the pedophile in 2013, ended the contact “because she had the impression among other things that Epstein tried to use the connection he’d had with the crown princess in regards to other people.”
Queen Elizabeth II hosts NATO 70th anniversary reception for world leaders
On Dec. 3, Queen Elizabeth II hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for world leaders who were in town to mark the 70th anniversary of the NATO alliance. Members of Britain’s royal family including Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, Duchess Kate and Princess Anne were there to schmooze with everyone from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to American President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump… but much of the media coverage of the historic gathering was focused on snippets of audio that were seemingly critical of Trump made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that were caught on video during the reception.
The Sussexes spend the holiday season in Canada
Where in the world are the Sussexes? On Dec. 20 following speculation concerning their whereabouts amid a six week personal family break, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan — who in November announced they would not be spending Christmas with the queen but with Meghan’s mother — were holed up in Canada with son Archie. “As has been reported, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are spending private family time in Canada. The decision to base themselves in Canada reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both,” read a statement. “The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years [when she was an actress on ‘Suits’] before she became a member of the Royal Family. They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.” The same day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to acknowledge their visit. “Prince Harry, Meghan, and Archie, we’re all wishing you a quiet and blessed stay in Canada. You’re among friends, and always welcome here,” he wrote.
Young Cambridges join parents for traditional public walk to church on Christmas Day for first time
For the first time ever, Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined their parents on the walk to the Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church on the queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. Afterward, the young Cambridges also joined in the royal tradition of greeting local well-wishers on the walk back to their great-grandmother’s home for Christmas lunch. Charlotte stayed close to her mother, Duchess Kate, as she accepted gifts including an inflatable pink flamingo and a doll from the crowd, while Prince George remained by dad Prince William’s side.
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