The Royal Family had quite an eventful year. There were births, anniversaries, and that Oprah interview, as well as a few tragedies that changed the lives of the royals forever.
Read on for a timeline of some of the biggest royal moments from 2021:
February 9: Princess Eugenie gives birth to baby boy
Princess Eugenie had the honor of bringing the first royal baby of 2021 into the world—August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, born February 9 at London’s Portland Hospital. Baby boy August is the ninth great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth, and is currently 11th in line to the British throne.
February 14: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce their pregnancy
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they were expecting their second child together on February 14— exactly 37 years after Charles and Diana announced they were expecting Harry. It was a touching tribute to Harry's parents, as well as the most loving way imaginable to celebrate Valentine's Day.
February 19: Harry and Meghan lose their honorary titles
Just over a year after announcing their Royal Exit, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were stripped of their royal patronages and honorary titles. Patronages and appointments lost by Harry included the Rugby Football Union and the London Marathon Trust, as well as his honorary military titles.
March 7: Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah airs on CBS
In their first primetime interview since their engagement in 2017, Harry and Meghan sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss their time in the Royal Family before officially stepping down as senior royals in 2020. The interview (which we're still talking about, tbh) revealed information like the Palace's racist behaviors and Meghan's extreme depression during her first pregnancy, as well as the sex of their second baby.
March 8: A new photo from Meghan and Harry's maternity shoot is released
One day after Harry and Meghan's explosive interview (in which they revealed they were having a baby girl), photographer Missan Harriman revealed a gorgeous photo from the couple's maternity shoot. In the photo, Meghan is carrying baby Archie with Harry hugging her from behind in the backyard of their Santa Barbara home.
April 9: The death of Prince Philip
On April 9, Prince Philip passed away at 99 years old, following a 73-year marriage to Queen Elizabeth. Buckingham Palace confirmed the news with the following statement: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.”
April 17: The family gathers for Prince Philip's funeral
On Saturday, April 17, most of the senior members of the British royal family gathered at St. George's Chapel in Windsor for Prince Philip's funeral. The service was marked the first first face-to-face meeting between Prince Harry and the other royals since he and Meghan sat down for their tell-all interview with Oprah.
April 29: William and Kate celebrate their 10th anniversary
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on April 29. To mark the special occasion, the couple released two gorgeous new photos, which photographer Chris Floyd shared on Instagram.
May 2: Princess Charlotte turns 6
Princess Charlotte celebrated her sixth birthday in early May. A day before the occasion, Kensington Palace released a brand new portrait of the princess, which was taken by her mother, Kate Middleton, in Norfolk.
May 6: Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor turns 2
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s son turned two in 2021, prompting Kate Middleton and Prince William, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles to share their birthday wishes for Archie on social media. The cutest tribute was courtesy of Kate and William, who posted a family photo from Archie's christening in 2019 along with the caption, "Wishing Archie a very happy 2nd birthday today."
May 6: William and Kate post their first YouTube video
A day after announcing their new YouTube channel, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared their first full video: a conversation between Kate and some of the finalists in her Hold Still photography project. The video, titled "Shielding Mila—Hold Still," sees Kate speak to 4-year-old Mila Sneddon, who had to isolate away from her family (due to COVID) as she underwent chemotherapy for leukemia.
Mila's mother, Lynda, took a photo of Mila kissing the window as her dad stands outside. The shot ended up as a finalist in the Hold Still photography project, which saw people in the U.K. document their lives during lockdown.
May 8: Prince Harry speaks at Global Citizen's VAX Live concert
Prince Harry called for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world in a powerful speech delivered at the taping of Global Citizen's VAX Live concert. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were campaign chairs of the event, whose goal was to urge world leaders to make vaccines accessible to all people in all countries.
May 19: Princess Beatrice announces pregnancy
On May 19, the Royal Family announced that Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi were expecting their first child together. The Palace announced the news on Instagram with a photo of the couple on their wedding day, mentioning that "The Queen has been informed and both families are delighted with the news."
May 31: The family decides that Prince Andrew will never return to public life
Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein came under renewed scrutiny in 2019, and the scandal has continued well into 2021. On May 31, the Times of London reported that Andrew would never return to his official royal duties. Inside sources told the newspaper that the family has "no plans to review" Andrew's status, adding that he's now considered "toxic" to the royals.
June 4: Meghan gives birth to Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcomed their baby girl into the world on June 4. Royal reporter Rebecca English relayed the Royal Family's statement via Twitter: "In response to today’s happy news, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson says: The Queen, The Prince of Wales & The Duchess of Cornwall, and The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge have been informed & are delighted with the news of the birth of a daughter for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex."
June 8: Meghan Markle publishes her first children's book
Meghan Markle's children's book, The Bench, was published on June 8. The story is a tribute to the bond between fathers and sons, and it features the most precious dedication to Prince Harry and Archie: "For the man and the boy who make my heart go pump-pump."
June 10: The Queen honors what would have been Philip’s 100th birthday
Queen Elizabeth commemorated what would have been Prince Philip's centennial birthday with the planting of a rose in the gardens of Windsor Castle. The rose was a gift from the Royal Horticultural Society, who presented the newly-bred flower named after the Duke of Edinburgh a week prior.
July 1: William and Harry unveil Diana memorial statue
Royal fans watched intently as Prince William and Prince Harry stepped out for a rare joint appearance to unveil a new statue in honor of their late mother, Princess Diana. The memorial sits in Kensington Palace's Sunken Garden, which contains 4,000 flowers, including many of Diana's personal favorites, forget-me-nots.
July 12: Prince William condemns racism on Twitter
On July 12, Prince William tweeted a message to condemn the abuse aimed at several Team England footballers. The note reads: “I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night's match,” the tweet said. “It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.” People clearly resonated with the sentiment, as this ended up being the Kensington Royal account's most-liked tweet of 2021.
July 22: Prince George turns 8
The Royal Family released a new official portrait of Prince George to mark Kate Middleton and Prince William's oldest child's eighth birthday. "Turning eight(!) tomorrow," the couple captioned the photo on Instagram. Like many of the portraits released in honor of the Cambridge children's birthdays, the photo was taken by Kate herself.
August 3: William and Kate enjoy a secret staycation in Cornwall
Travel restrictions made faraway summer vacations tricky in 2021, but Kate Middleton and Prince William used this as an opportunity to explore a beautiful destination closer to home. The royal couple reportedly whisked George, Charlotte and Louis away for a low-key family trip to the Isles of Scilly, in Cornwall.
August 12: A 40-year-old slice of Charles and Diana’s wedding cake sells for $2,565
This might be the strangest big of royal news from 2021: A fan bought a slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake for $2,565 at an auction, more than 40 years after the couple tied the knot. “It appears to be in exactly the same good condition as when originally sold,″ the auctioneer said. “But we advise against eating it.”
September 15: Prince Harry celebrates a low-key 37th birthday
Harry celebrated his 37th birthday this year, and he decided to keep things simple. He and Meghan reportedly opted for a small, family-focused birthday celebration—and the carrot cake for the event was baked by 2-year-old Archie himself (with a little help from his mother, we're assuming).
September 18: Princess Beatrice gives birth to baby girl
Princess Beatrice announced on Twitter: "So delighted to share the news of the safe arrival of our daughter on Saturday 18th September 2021, at 23.42, at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London." She added: "Thank you to the Midwife team and everyone at the hospital for their wonderful care." A couple weeks later, Beatrice announced the name of her daughter: Sienna Elizabeth.
September 23: Harry and Megan visit New York City
The Sussexes took a NYC trip in September to discuss vaccine equity, ahead of the Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park. Their tour included a visit to the One World Observatory alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul.
September 28: Kate Middleton dazzles at No Time to Die premiere
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an appearance at London's Royal Albert Hall on September 28, to attend the premiere of the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die. Kate's gorgeous gold Jenny Packham sequined gown ended up stealing the show.
October 20: Queen Elizabeth spends the night in a hospital
The Queen gave everyone a scare when she spent the night at the hospital in October, but Her Majesty apparently went straight back to work after returning home the following morning. A statement from the Palace read: "Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today and remains in good spirits."
November 13: Prince William and Kate attend the Festival of Remembrance
The Royal Family made many appearances leading up to Remembrance Sunday, a holiday celebrated after Remembrance Day on November 11 to commemorate the British soldiers who fought in conflicts throughout England’s history. One such appearance was Prince William and Kate Middleton's attendance of the Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall in London, where they wore black and donned red poppy pins.
November 18: Meghan Markle shows her silly side to Ellen Degeneres
Meghan Markle made an appearance on the Ellen Show on November 18, during which time the talk show host fed the Duchess goofy instructions through an earpiece. One direction was to walk up to a crystals vendor in the studio parking lot and say, "I have healing powers. Can you feel my powers?" The whole segment lasted for about seven minutes, and Meghan definitely showed off her acting chops—and rarely-seen silly side.
December 10: William and Kate release their 2021 Christmas card
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared their 2021 Christmas card on Instagram, writing: "Delighted to share a new image of the family, which features on this year’s Christmas card." The photo shows the whole family—Kate, William, Prince Louis, Prince George, and Princess Charlotte—sitting closely together on a fluffy rug and cozy seats.
December 10: Prince Charles and Camilla share a cheeky Christmas card
Prince Charles and Camilla also released their own Christmas card on Instagram, writing, "As the countdown to Christmas begins, today we’re sharing this year’s official Christmas card from The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall." The photo shows the couple dressed for the Royal Ascot, with Charles helping Camilla put on a polka-dot mask that coordinates with her dress. It's definitely an image that could only be released in 2021.
December 23: Meghan and Harry share first photo of Lilbet Diana
Six months after the birth of Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, Meghan and Harry shared a sweet family holiday photo that included the first-ever glimpse of their daughter. On the card, the Sussex's wrote, "This year, 2021, we welcomed our daughter, Lilibet, to the world. Archie made us a 'Mama' and 'Papa,' and Lili made us a family. As we look forward to 2022, we have made donations on your behalf to several organizations that honor and protect families - from those being relocated from Afghanistan, to American families in need of paid parental leave."
December 24: Kate Middleton performs a piano solo at Westminster Abbey
This Christmas, Kate Middleton hosted a concert called Royal Carols: Together at Christmas, which served as a thank you to the people who have given back to their communities during the pandemic. The Duchess surprised concert-goers with a fabulous piano solo, accompanying pop star Tom Walker as he sang his melancholy new Christmas tune, “For Those Who Can’t Be Here.”
December 25: Intruder with crossbow breaks into Windsor Castle
Police arrested a man who broke onto the private grounds of Windsor on Christmas morning, reportedly wielding a crossbow and scaling the fence of the outer perimeter. The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and breach or trespass of a protected site around 8:30 a.m., as the Queen was inside celebrating Christmas with Prince Charles and Camilla.
Caitlin Morton is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, with more than eight years of experience covering travel, pop culture, and fashion. Her byline has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Architectural Digest, AFAR, Real Simple, Thrillist, and many more publications.
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