This was certainly a pivotal year for the House of Windsor, from retirements to anniversaries to new babies to engagements. It’s also yet another year in a pretty interesting time period because we’re certainly towards the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and there is more and more focus on the transition of the future and shifting responsibilities. In light of this, here on this site I pretty much focus only on the members of the Royal Family who will continue to play important roles. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the big moments from the past year.
The year opened up with speculation and then confirmation that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be spending more time in London by the end of the year. This marked a shift since the young family had spent most of their time between 2014 and 2016 at Anmer Hall in Norfolk. It was seen as an indication that they were ready to begin taking their place as more senior and active working members of the R.
This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the death of the late Princess of Wales, and while the height of that attention came later in the summer it was actually in January that her sons announced they were commissioning a statue of her at KP. The news was met positively as an appropriate way to remember such an important member of the House of Windsor – and a sentimental one since KP had once been her home.
The most notable royal event was a reception held at BP highlighting the UK-India year of culture. Senior royals turned up, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, for an evening that included mouth-watering food, gorgeous decorations and an impressive light display on the front facade of the Palace. In a nod to their well-received tour last year, William and Kate were in attendance, while the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall would make a quick stop to the country during their Southeast Asia tour later in the year.
The marquee engagement was almost certainly senior members of the RF convening in London for the unveiling of a memorial to those lost during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Queen and Prince Philip led Charles, Camilla, William, Kate and Harry, as well as the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl and Countess of Wessex for a solemn ceremony in the heart of capitol. Key political figures joined them in the audience, not least of whom was former PM Tony Blair.
Just a few days later the news took a turn when William was photographed skiing in Switzerland with friends. In addition to being photographed with young women at lunch, the Duke was reportedly so drunk at the top of a mountain he was asked to leave and photographed drunk [dad] dancing at a nightclub at 4 am. The real killer was that he missed Commonwealth Day, an event attended by every other senior royal except for him and Kate. Just a few days out from their highly anticipated visit to Paris, it wasn’t a good look.
Nevertheless, to Paris the Cambridges went and the mini-tour was a smashing success. Kate dazzled in a slew of new outfits, the couple visited some of the city’s major landmarks and there was a moment of levity when a choir of children sang “Happy,” the song which William was captured dancing too in Verbier.
Finally, in what became a series of “charm offensives” through Europe, Charles followed upon on their Paris trip with a visit to Bucharest. Prior to covering those three days, I hadn’t realized how involved with Romania he was, but those two posts were some of my favorite Charles-focused articles to write.
The first days of April were all about Charles and Camilla as the two moved through a jam-packed tour of Italy and Vienna. The photographs were beautiful and made me want to go back, but even more than that the couple were visibly in love and their engagements were perfectly chosen to complement their charity work in the UK.
This month also saw speculation about Harry and his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, heat up. Their frequent trips to visit one another and Meghan’s retreat from social media pushed newspapers and Twitter into overdrive as everyone began to get excited for a possible engagement announcement.
In the meantime, William, Kate and Harry orchestrated one of their most significant professional pushes in the lead up to the London Marathon. Championing a team of runners racing on behalf of the Heads Together campaign, the three carried out several engagements to publicize mental health issues. But even more, they offered some revealing and candid moments of their own, from the trio’s #okaytosay video to William’s video with Lady Gaga to Harry’s incredible interview for The Telegraph podcast. That last one, in fact, may go down as a historic moment for the RF and deservedly so.
May opened up with the surprising announcement that Prince Philip was planning on retiring this autumn. The news came after a tense 24 hours of online speculation when it was leaked that Palace staff had been summoned to BP in the middle of the night, sparking concern that health problems or worse were about to come out. In the end, the news was met with a mixture of relief, surprise and acknowledgement that this was very much deserved after several decades of unfailing dedication to the crown.
Soon after, Meghan was photographed attending one of Harry’s polo matches. Cameras captured her enjoying their mutual friends and sharing a kiss with the Prince. By then the rumor mill was in overdrive and August 4 was put forth as the date by which we could expect an engagement announcement. Meghan Mania even came close to overshadowing Pippa Middleton’s wedding at the end of the month when royals and celebrities alike flocked to Berkshire for her union with James Matthews.
The pictures to come out of the day, with Kate acting as Mother Goose to the pages and bridesmaids – including Prince George and Princess Charlotte – are some of my favorite from the year. Pippa looked beautiful, Kate was a proud sister and Meghan was pictured driving with Harry in time for the reception. It was a fun weekend and by all accounts the party that came after was a memorable one.
Finally, William sat for a cover and interview in GQ magazine. Speaking about his mother, fatherhood and his attitudes towards his position, it was a strong move in support of the Heads Together campaign’s mission.
By June, the RF was preparing for one of their busiest months of the year. Trooping the Colour saw the whole family out in all their ceremonial glory, from their progress through the city to their station on the BP balcony. George and Charlotte looked alternately bored and fascinated by all the fanfare, but it’s always fun to see everyone all together.
Just a few days later everyone convened for another pillar of the British calendar: Ascot. The women’s fashion was on point and the best moment had to have been Sophie almost falling on Kate as she entered the carriage. A close second goes to Zara Tindall horsing about (pun intended) with William prior to the races beginning.
Finally, there was the Queen’s speech before Parliament, a historical moment if ever there was one since Brexit has been top of mind for everyone in the past 18 months. I missed it at the time, but many eagle-eyed royal watchers noted that the Queen’s hat mimicked the EU flag, a nice touch considering the political climate. Certainly it is a similar thought process that has been driving the Windsors throughout Europe this year as they ensure their friends, well, remain their friends.
Last but not least, Harry gave another incredibly candid interview, this time to Newsweek. He spoke openly about how he and William see their roles within the family and offered up the controversial quote that no one particularly wanted to be king, but everyone was dedicated to doing their bit and using their platform for good. Naturally, the media nearly imploded and we certainly discussed it here.
This was perhaps the busiest month of the year. It opened with Charles and Camilla in Canada for its big 150 and a rather memorable trip that the Princess Royal made to China, which was quickly followed up by Holyrood Week, in which the Queen is in residence in Edinburgh.
From there the long-awaited Spanish State Visit finally took place, in which King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived in London for a whirlwind visit. The two met with Charles and Camilla, the Queen and Prince Philip and were given a private tour of Westminster Abbey by Harry. Personally, my favorite moment remains when Princess Anne went full on “royal” with them via an elaborate curtsy. Perhaps she can give Meghan some lessons(!)
Yet another summer tradition is Wimbledon, which is almost always a surefire way to see Kate … and her facial expressions. This year she turned up twice, once by herself and once with William. The second time came just before the two jetted off for their European tour with their children.
The tour of Poland and Germany might be one of my favorites that the Cambridges have ever taken. Kate’s clothes were on point, the children were adorable and the engagements were interesting. We got to see such a good glimpse of various Polish and German traditions – not to mention some gorgeous vistas – that it made me nostalgic for Berlin and eager to make it to Warsaw someday.
But before the month was over a documentary came out beginning the full swing of the Diana anniversary. This one, however, was produced with the input and direction of KP and included interviews with William and Harry who spoke with a level of candor about their childhood and mother we haven’t seen before – and are unlikely to see again. In a word, it was a tear-jerker.
The month began with Prince Philip’s final engagement. Appropriately, it was with the military, in the rain and in front of Buckingham Palace. I think we’ve found another picture for the dictionary next to the word, “British.”
A few days later, he and the Queen moved to Balmoral for their annual late summer/early autumn sojourn. The rest of the month was quite slow – with the exception of a handful of engagements, most of which were in Scotland, the RF was on holiday. We know that William and Kate completed their move to London, and that they fit in some time to join the Queen at Balmoral for a bit towards the end of the month.
The big news, however – in the midst of the Diana headlines – was that Harry and Meghan went on a trip to Botswana together. There was rampant speculation that if they weren’t engaged already then Harry might propose while they were abroad, mirroring William’s proposal to Kate in Kenya back in 2010.
August 30 saw William, Kate and Harry back at Kensington Palace for a tour of the Sunken Garden filled with Diana’s favorite flowers. When William and Harry took time to greet well-wishers outside KP, it called to mind a similar moment 20 years ago. It was bittersweet – painful to remember the day and yet heartwarming to know how well William and Harry are doing with their public roles and from within such happy personal relationships of their own.
The following day was the actual anniversary, which finally saw a close to the non-stop coverage. Polls taken around this time found that Charles’s popularity had reached a low not seen for years and there were more calls for William to succeed his grandmother. In other words, it was less than ideal. As I said at the time, I prefer to remember the documentary in which William and Harry participated and leave it at that.
Just a few days before the end of the month, KP issued a press release announcing a busy autumn for the younger trio, complete with two more tours and a slew of engagement. Little did we know…
On Monday, September 4, KP issued a follow up press release announcing that William and Kate were expecting their third child. But if you thought that was going to dominate the coverage that week, you would be wrong. Within 24 hours Vanity Fair released its October cover featuring none other than Meghan. The accompanying photo shoot was gorgeous and the interview was chock full of quotes about Harry. The engagement was all but signed, sealed and delivered.
Later that same week William escorted George to his first day of school, with Kate bowing out due to her illness with HG again. The photos and videos from the day are adorable and George looked both wary and nervous as he made his way through the doors of Thomas’s Battersea in his uniform.
The month ended with the Invictus Games in Toronto. It’s easily Harry’s biggest annual event and this year it featured speeches from the Prince, an appearance from former President Barack Obama and no less than three appearances from Meghan. One of those, of course, was her attendance at a tennis match on the first day of the games. Let us never forget the future duchess wore ripped jeans for her first official royal moment.
This month saw confirmation that the Scandinavian tour was officially bumped until the new year, but the happier news that the Queen had met Meghan. The media was full of stories that the actress was preparing to leave her television show in Canada and move to London by the end of the year, so we were on full engagement watch by this point. I think I wrote 20 posts here that included the words “any day now…”
Finally, Harry made his way to Copenhagen for a quick two-day jaunt for yet another installment of “Don’t hate us, Europe.” Last but certainly not least, Harry made his way to Chicago and spoke at the first summit of the Obama Foundation.
November saw Charles and Camilla in a long tour of Singapore, Brunei and India where the Duchess was very much feeling the heat. Personally, my favorite moment was Charles meeting orangutans in Malaysia. But as I said at the time, the photos that came out of this tour are some of my favorites from the year – just stunning.
The middle of November saw both the Remembrance events and the mini uproar over the Paradise Papers, the latter of which died down relatively quickly. This year, for the first time, the Queen declined to lay a remembrance wreath herself. Instead, Charles laid two – one for her and one for him. An equerry laid one for Philip, while at various points during the actual ceremony he did lean against the wall for support, which caused some concern. Never fear, he’s been seen riding horses since.
From there it was clear that Meghan had left her show in Toronto and joined Harry at Nottingham Cottage at KP. She was spotted shopping in London the same week as the Queen and Prince Philip hosted a dinner party at Windsor celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary.
And just one week after that, the news that Harry and Meghan were officially engaged was tweeted out by Clarence House (with a press release following, obvs). The next few days were a whirlwind with their television interview, photo-call and congratulations from around the world.
Just four days after the happy news, Harry and Meghan undertook their first formal engagement together with an away day to Nottingham. It was obviously quite the frenzy, but what I think I’ll always take away from it was that Meghan greeted people with, “Hi, I’m Meghan,” which is just amazing.
I’ll give an honorable mention to the Diplomatic Reception, but I think the last highlight is of course Christmas and Meghan’s inclusion in the festivities at Sandringham.
I’m giving this to Charles, William and Harry going to France in April to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. There were a number of nods to World War I this year as various milestones were met, but this one was quite the tour de force with all three Wales men, plus Trudeau. I don’t cover engagements that don’t feature Kate unless they’re particularly momentous and this one was certainly that. Also, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to look at Trudeau?
It has to be Prince Philip who finished out a commendable and much-appreciated career of public service. I hope he is spending his time with as much privacy and relaxation as he pleases and his last engagement was one for the books.
Rookie of the Year
Meghan, obviously. She’s doing things a bit differently than we’re used to and it’s been fun to watch. I can’t wait to see what she does with her role over the next year (and beyond) and I’m excited to see her and Harry’s wedding in the spring.
Honorable Mention 1
This goes to Cruachan IV, a Shetland pony who began a feud with the Queen over the summer. I adore this pony and I eagerly await the next time he and QEII square off.
Honorable Mention 2
Charlotte’s temper tantrum as the Cambridges were leaving Berlin was amazing. It was completely recognizable to parents everywhere and as for me, well, let’s just say I really miss the days when one could get away with hurling themselves on the ground in protest. Because same, Charlotte, same.
I’m giving another to Vimy Ridge with this one courtesy of Charles, William and Harry all sporting sunnies.
Last but not least, I want to thank everyone who has been reading this site for such an enjoyable 2017. Writing these posts and hearing from some of you has been the highlight of my year by a mile. Thank you to those who keep coming back and and to those of you who have taken the time to comment either here or on Instagram – it’s very much appreciated and I can’t wait to cover the next year with you guys.
In the meantime, I have seven (yes, seven!) historical posts lined up for next week since I know the last couple of months have been pretty heavy on the modern royals. Barring unforeseen announcements, let’s catch up with some Plantagenets and Hanoverians, shall we? 🙂