In 2021, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, had their best year yet as working royals. From celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary to Catherine’s surprise turn on the piano during her Christmas charity concert “Together at Christmas” and Prince William’s Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony, the couple have truly gone from strength to strength.
They have settled into their royals as the future King and Queen of the United Kingdom, despite the continued chaos and accusations from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in California and the devastating loss of Prince Philip, the family’s patriarch.
At the beginning of the year, news broke that the Cambridge family welcomed a new puppy into their home in 2020 before the loss of their beloved dog Lupo. Though we don’t know what the dog’s name yet, but she is a girl and was bred by Catherine’s brother James.
Throughout the next several months, as the pandemic and its restrictions continued, the couple mostly stayed at home performed their various royal duties through video calls.
The slow though invigorating start to the year was dramatically disrupted after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gave an interview to Oprah Winfrey where they alleged that a member or members of the royal family made racist comments about Archie’s skin tone. Meghan also claims that Catherine had made her cry during a bridesmaid fitting, rather than widely circulated reports that it was Meghan who made the postpartum Catherine cry.
Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, had an engagement days after the interview aired at an East London primary school. To help protect his wife against an unexpectedly large press corps aimed at challenging a member of the royal family about the allegations, Prince William attended with his wife.
In response to Harry and Meghan’s allegations, the future king said, “We are very much not a racist family.”
It was a strong though succinct response to the growing criticism against the royal family. In addition, Catherine and William showed the world that regardless of what was happening in California, the show must and will go on.
The couple, only days later, went on with business and released a cute St. Patrick’s video showing Catherine in a bright, almost neon, green blazer. William even delivered some of their lines in Irish.
Their next public joint engagement in March occurred at the Newham Ambulance Station where they spoke with ambulance staff and paramedics about working on the pandemic.
The couple then visited a vaccination station at Westminster Abbey for the National Day of Reflection, where the country remembered all of those lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Catherine wore a gorgeous white and embroidered white coat by staple royal brand Catherine Walker. This visit occurred shortly before the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary. No doubt the visit was somewhat emotional considering all that they went through during their marriage.
But in April, the family was hit by tragedy as Prince Philip died.
The family patriarch, who was months shy of his 100th birthday, passed away in Windsor Castle with his wife by his side.
As the couple and the rest of the royal family remembered Prince Philip, the Cambridges released a couple private pictures that showed the Queen and Prince Philip interacting with their great-grandchildren.
In one particularly cute shot, George was copilot with Prince Philip on one of his horse driving carriages.
At the funeral, Catherine was regal and appropriate in a black Catherine Walker coat dress with a bow detail and hat with a light black lace that covered her eyes, wearing a pearl necklace belonging to the Queen. The duchess looked every inch the future Princess of Wales and future Queen. A photo of Catherine taken by royal Getty photographer Chris Jackson has become rather iconic.
William was somber as he walked with his cousin Peter Phillips and brother Prince Harry, though the warring princes did not walk to the chapel at Windsor together.
Post-funeral, there were a couple of engagement in-between, but then the anniversary photos and video landed, and the public collectively lost their minds.
The video was much beloved by people across the world, showing the love, affection and closeness the Cambridge family shares. It was a short video with music playing over any dialogue, but it was abundantly clear that outside the glare of the media spotlight, the Cambridge’s are like any other family. The video showed the family at the beach and at their Norfolk property, wondering through their land playing while spending time outdoors.
It was a triumph of marketing for the world’s most famous young family.
Since foreign tours are currently not really an option, the couple completed another tour of Scotland like they did in 2020. While welcoming National Health System workers to a drive-in showing of the new movie “Cruella” Catherine debuted a new tartan trench coat and a pair of sapphire earrings loaded from the Queen, showing how the Duchess of Cambridge has really been welcomed into the family.
During the visit, Prince William also took on the incredibly important role as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
As part of a lengthy speech, Prince William said, “Her Majesty The Queen has asked me to come here in person to reassure you of Her pledge to preserve and uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of Scotland.
The couple continued to step up as senior royals, attending the G7 Summit with the Queen, Prince Charles, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and other senior world leaders.
In a reflection of their growing social media prowess, the Cambridge’s shared a couple of family pictures to commemorate Father’s Day. Probably the sweetest is the one with Prince William and his children, with Prince George enthusiastically wrapping himself around his father’s leg.
This year also marked the first time that Prince George and Princess Charlotte appeared at a royal engagement with their father. The two young royals were quite nervous as they helped their father count off the start of a race.
Prince George also officially attended the Euro2020 match between the England and Italy with his parents, looking smart in a blazer and tie. Unfortunately, England did lose but it was exciting to see little George so excited to see his home team play.
In July, on what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday, Prince William and Prince Harry unveiled a statue at Kensington Palace’s sunken garden. There were no signs that the brothers have amended their fractured relationship post-Oprah, but the brothers were able to more or less put on a united front in memory of their mother.
As the Patron of Wimbledon, the Duchess of Cambridge also spent plenty of time enjoying one of her favorite sports, tennis. On one particular day, Catherine’s father Michael attended one day with her. As the Middleton family is incredibly close, the family has previously attended in the royal box, but this was the first time her father attended with her on a royal engagement.
The couple carried out other various engagements, but it was at the premier of the James Bond premier that Catherine clearly stole the show. In an eye-catching gold dress with a cape, the future Princess of Wales was utterly stunning and even left James Bond actor Daniel Craig speechless.
This year was also the first year of the Earthshot Prize ceremony, which is Prince William’s climate change organization. Needless to say, it was a rousing success. In an effort to capture an American audience, the event was exclusively covered by People Magazine. The couple looked fantastic, with Prince William in a green velvet blazer and Catherine in a lilac Alexander McQueen dress she famously wore during her first year of marriage to a BAFTA event in LA.
Again, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended an event with world leader, this time the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. While there the couple represented the Earthshot Prize and the crown, showing again how they are stepping into their roles as the future king and queen.
Ending the year on a high note, the couple shared a new family picture taken during a trip to Jordan, where Catherine spent part of her childhood. It was a surprise that the couple were able to travel to the country, and it was lovely to see how all the children are growing up.
Of course, one of the biggest surprises of the year is Catherine taking to a piano bench to provide accompaniment to Tom Walker during her “Together at Christmas” concert. The royal flexing her musical skills was entirely unexpected, and the world was utterly charmed by the Duchess’ skills.
All of this together shows how the Cambridge’s are not just going through the motions, but really putting their stamp on the monarchy. It’s incredible and encouraging to see, despite a year of challenges and fractured family relationships.
No doubt, 2022 will be even better as the couple take the Earthshot Prize to the United States, we see more of the Cambridge children and hopefully they are finally able to undertake a new international tour or Catherine is once again in a tiara.