Four babies and a funeral: What the Royal Family were doing in 2021

·8-min read
Prince William and Prince Harry during the funeral procession at Prince Philip's funeral at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021. (Getty Images)
Prince William and Prince Harry during the funeral procession at Prince Philip's funeral at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on 17 April 2021. (Getty Images)

Births, a death, controversial court cases and one explosive interview… the Royal Family have had what they might call an ‘annus memorabilis’ as they continued to fascinate us throughout 2021.

The Queen may well be head of the family but Harry and Meghan were the most searched-for royals on Yahoo Search this year. 

Despite leaving the regal rollercoaster to live a more ‘private life’ in the US, they have barely been out of the headlines, not least thanks to their unprecedented interview with Oprah Winfrey in March.

The death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in April at the age of 99 made him the third most searched for royal while Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – always a favourite – came fourth.

But who else appears in the list and what have been the biggest royal events of the year?

January

The Duchess of Cambridge turned 39 on 9 January and Kensington Palace shared a stunning photograph to thank royal fans for their ‘kind wishes’. Later that month, the duchess admitted that she – like millions of other parents – had found parenting during lockdown ‘exhausting’.

February

On Valentine’s Day, Harry and Meghan announced that they were expecting their second child, having suffered a miscarriage in 2020. They chose to announce the news by sharing a black and white photograph of themselves under a tree, with Harry resting his hand on his wife’s head as she lay in his lap cradling her bump. It was also the month that the Queen welcomed another great-grandchild, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank – the first child of Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank.

March

Possibly the most jaw-dropping royal moment of the year was in early Spring when Harry and Meghan gave a two-hour interview with TV chat show legend Oprah Winfrey. In it, they made a number of claims including that Meghan had been suicidal while being a member of the Royal Family, that her in-laws were concerned how dark Archie’s skin would be, and that the Duchess of Cambridge had made her cry. The interview received a mix of reactions with millions supporting the couple, but many were also critical.

Watch: Queen makes it deliberately clear Palace may not agree with Oprah interview

This was also the month that possibly put Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall on tenth place on the ‘most search for royals’ list. She gave birth to her third child — a boy, Lucas – on the bathroom floor of her family home on Princess Anne’s estate.

April

After many months of ill-health, it was announced on April 9 that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had died at the age of 99. At his funeral at Windsor later that month, the Queen cut a lonely figure as she sat by herself due to social distancing rules. Only 30 people were allowed to attend the ceremony as the UK was under strict lockdown rules. Prince Harry attended without Meghan but it was noticeable that during the funeral procession that he did not walk with his brother, Prince William.

Queen Elizabeth II takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. (Getty Images)
The Queen takes her seat during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. (Getty Images)
Peter Phillips, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and  Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during the Ceremonial Procession during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. (Getty Images)
Peter Phillips, Prince William and Prince Harry in the Ceremonial Procession during the funeral of their grandfather, Prince Philip. (Getty Images)

May

Princess Diana made headlines again, more than two decades after her death. The BBC apologised to the family over the infamous Panorama interview when it became clear – after an independent investigation – that ‘securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect.’ Both William and Harry made statements with Harry saying: ‘Our mother lost her life because of this, and nothing has changed. By protecting her legacy, we protect everyone, and uphold the dignity with which she lived her life.’ Harry also took part in a podcast in the US criticising his father’s parenting. He claimed that Prince Charles ‘suffered’ due to his upbringing by the Queen and Philip and that Harry moved to California to ‘break the cycle’ of pain for wife Meghan and their children.

An arrangement of UK daily newspapers shows front page headlines reporting Prince William and his brother Prince Harry's accusations towards BBC in London, United Kingdom on May 21, 2021. (Getty Images)
An arrangement of UK daily newspapers shows front page headlines reporting Prince William and his brother Prince Harry's accusations towards BBC over the infamous Panorama interview. (Getty Images)

June

Happier news arrived in June when Harry and Meghan announced the birth of their second child. Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor was born in California on 4 June weighing 7lb 11oz. She was the Queen’s 11th great-grandchild and became eighth in line to the throne. Lilibet was the Queen’s nickname when she was a child. However, even this news was tainted with controversy when a source at Buckingham Palace ‘never asked’ the Queen for permission to use her childhood nickname. A spokesman for the couple insisted they had.

July

The Windsor brothers looked on friendlier terms at the unveiling of a statue to their late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales on what would have been her 60th birthday.

Review of the Year 2021. File photo dated 01/07/21 of the Duke of Cambridge (left) and the Duke of Sussex unveiling a statue they commissioned of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London, on what would have been her 60th birthday. Issue date: Tuesday December 21, 2021.
William and Harry unveil a statue they commissioned of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace. (PA)

August

On August 10, Virginia Giuffre – nee Roberts – launched a legal battle against Prince Andrew, accusing him of sexually abusing her at Jeffrey’ Epstein’s mansion. Andrew has always denied her claim that he had sex with her but Giuffre, who was a teenager at the time, said it was "past the time for him to be held to account".

September

Another royal great grandchild for the Queen when Princess Beatrice and husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi had a daughter – Sienna Elizabeth – on 18 September. Later that month, the Duchess of Cambridge sparkled in gold at the premiere of the latest James Bond film No Time To Die.

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the No Time To Die world premiere at Royal Albert Hall. (Getty Images)

October

The first Earthshot Prize – which aims to find solutions to protect the planet, were awarded in London with the the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attending. The Duke was involved in creating the prize. Guests were asked to “consider the environment when choosing their outfit” so the Duchess wore a 10-year-old evening gown and the couple arrived in an electric vehicle.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Earthshot Prize 2021 at Alexandra Palace on October 17, 2021 in London, England. (Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Earthshot Prize 2021 at Alexandra Palace. (Getty Images)

November

The environment was in the headlines again when the Queen delivered a video message to world leaders attending the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. She had already warned them that she would not be attending after a spell in hospital in late October. But later this month, doctors gave her permission to leave Windsor Castle and spend the weekend at Sandringham House.

Queen Elizabeth II records a video message that was broadcast to attendees during an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) on November 1, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Getty Images)
The Queen records a video message that was broadcast to attendees during an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. (Getty Images)

Other members of the Royal Family attended various Remembrance Day events, including Harry and Meghan who walked their first red carpet of the year at the annual Salute to Freedom gala in NYC.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City. (Getty Images)
Harry and Meghan attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. (Getty Images)

December

The Cambridges shared a photo used on their annual Christmas card on their social media accounts, featuring the five of them on holiday in Jordan earlier this year. 

Due to the COVID situation, the Queen decided to remain at Windsor rather than travel to Sandringham for Christmas. Worryingly, it emerged that on Christmas Day, a 19-year-old man was arrested in the grounds armed with a crossbow, but he did not come within 500m of the royal family.

Later that day, the Queen’s speech to the nation was one of her most personal, paying tribute to her beloved husband Prince Philip and to her new great grandchildren. "For me and my family, even with one familiar laugh missing this year, there will be joy in Christmas, as we have the chance to reminisce, and see anew the wonder of the festive season through the eyes of our young children, of whom we were delighted to welcome four more this year.’

Watch: Queen pays tribute to Prince Philip in Christmas Day message

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