This last year has been difficult though fulfilling for the House of Windsor. From the tragedy of Prince Philip’s death and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Oprah Winfrey Interview that fractured family bonds to Catherine’s successful charity Christmas concert and the births of three great-grandchildren for Her Majesty, this year has been full of ups and downs.
As the pandemic remains ongoing, the royal family was mostly quiet for the first part of the year, with family members performing various engagements in person and virtually. But behind the scenes the health of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, continued to decline.
The Duke said in a statement after his release: “His Royal Highness wishes to thank all the medical staff who looked after him at both King Edward VII’s Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and everyone who has sent their good wishes.”
As he returned to Windsor Castle to spend time with the Queen, it was well-known within royal and aristocratic circles that the Duke was on his death bed after 99 years.
Despite his dire health situation and the Queen’s heightened emotional state, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announcedboth their second pregnancy and an interview with Oprah Winfrey, where the couple would lift the curtain about their short time as a couple inside the royal family.
The interview, which aired in mid-March, became one of the most talked about stories around the world. During their conversation with Winfrey, Harry and Meghan made several damaging allegations against the monarchy, including that one or more members of the royal family made disparaging comments about Archie’s skin tone before his birth or before their marriage. The couple were unable to agree on exactly how the situation came to pass.
Meghan also said that she was suicidal, and no one helped her when she went to the palace HR office, which makes no sense as the HR department oversees staff, not royals. The former actress also claims that it was Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge who made her cry, despite widespread reports stating the opposite.
In response to the allegations, the Queen released this statement: “The following statement is issued by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan.
“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.
“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”
In addition, before the interview aired, several members of the royal household who worked with Harry and Meghan made allegations of bullying against the former actress, and by extension her husband. This raised questions about how royals are held to account for their actions if they are abusing staff members funded by the taxpayers.
Some of the claims about Meghan’s behavior included that she terrified the staff to such an extent that they were scared to give her certain types of information and that she made several cry.
While March was difficult, it was April that dealt the royal family it’s most critical blow.
Prince Philip, the family’s beloved patriarch, died on April 9, 2021, just a couple of months shy of his 100th birthday.
Though the family knew he was dying, his loss was inexplicably painful after an already challenging year.
The royal family gathered together just a week later for his funeral, where his sons, daughter Princess Anne and his grandsons, with the exception of the young James Viscount Severn, walked behind his casket at Windsor Castle.
As COVID protocols remained in place, the Queen sat by herself in St. George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle. The other royals sat in their respective family groups, with plenty of social distancing. It was a solemn day, and rather tense as well as it was the first time Prince Harry had seen his family since his and Meghan’s interview with Oprah.
At the end of the month, the royal family celebrated the 10th wedding anniversary of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. The couple released two pictures of them and a video featuring them and their children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
After a difficult two months, the cheer, love and warmth of the video was a welcome sight.
As the royal family was still recovering from the death of Prince Philip, it was becoming more and more apparent that Prince Charles and his son Prince William were taking a large role in the monarchy, to continue relieving the burden from Her Majesty. Prince Charles vision of a slimmed down working royal family is now beginning to really take shape.
Though working members of the royal family would continue to decrease, there were three new members welcomed this year.
Princess Eugenie gave birth to her first son August in February, Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Phillips Tindall had her third child and first son in March, shortly before Philip’s death. Later in the year, Princess Beatrice gave birth to her first child, daughter Sienna Elizabeth, in the fall.
In June, the senior members of the royal family welcomed world leaders to the G7 Summit in Cornwall. This included the Queen, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The royal family also released new details about the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which is scheduled for June 2022. The celebration to commemorate the Queen’s 70 glorious years on the throne will be several days long, and is an incredibly historic occasion. Her Majesty will be 96 years old next year, and it will likely be her last large jubilee celebration and the first ever in the history of Britain.
Some of the events scheduled includes Trooping of the Color, a service of Thanksgiving, a Platinum Party at Buckingham Palace broadcast by the BBC and other events. Several aspects of Her Majesty’s coronation attire will also be on display.
Though the monarchy is gearing up to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, in the latter half of 2021 Her Majesty was increasingly in ill health that took center stage.
She cancelled several engagements and brief trip to Northern Ireland. Most concerningly, she even missed all of the Remembrance Day events, which commemorates Britain’s service members and is an important part of the royal calendar. That she missed it was a shock and a sign of her frail health and age.
As a result, Princes Charles and William and their wives have stepped up.
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, undertook a visit to the country of Egypt and Jordan, where the two gathered some water from the River Jordan for future royal baptisms. It was the only foreign royal tour conducted this year.
As the holidays rolled around the Queen celebrated the joint baptisms of August and Lucas but was forced to cancel her planned family celebration at Sandringham House, which is a time-honored family tradition.
The loss of her family Christmas was disappointing, but the royal family ended the year on a high note as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, took to the stage in Westminster Abbey and played the piano accompaniment to Tom Walker’s song for her charity Christmas concert “Together at Christmas.”
Those royals who also came to support the Cambridge’s included Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, with Bea’s husband Eduardo, and Zara Phillips Tindall and husband Mike Tindall.
The event was an enormous success and shows how the Cambridge’s are continuing to step up into their senior royal roles.
For 2021, the British royal family went through a variety of changes, with the loss of Philip, the deterioration of the relationship between Prince Harry and the rest of his family, the Queen’s ill health and a strong year for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This year was a time of transition, as the Queen increasingly lets the next generation take the reins.
The next year will be incredibly interesting and could be the most difficult yet as Prince Harry is expected to release his defamatory memoir, Prince Andrew is still facing legal consequences for his relationship with Jeffery Epstein and the Queen could enter her last year. But it could also be another of joy as the family continues to grow and the younger generation of royals take center stage.