The Royals’ rollercoaster year: The marriages, babies and losses of 2020

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The Queen’s message to the nation on Christmas Day marked the end of one of the most challenging years of her 68-year reign. However, it seems 2020 could surpass that.

Her Majesty’s promise for the return of “better days” in her TV broadcast in April during the first lockdown, was a reassuring touch. But while weddings, pregnancy announcements and shows of royal resilience must have lifted her spirits, drama, lies and loss have also played their part.

Here are some of the big events that have caused happiness and heartache for the royal household over the past 12 months…

Leading the applause

The nation came together to clap our carers in gratitude to NHS frontline workers and it was heartwarming to witness the Cambridge family joining in outside Anmer Hall in Norfolk, where they were isolating during the early days of the pandemic.

The family of five, including Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, were perfectly coordinated in different shades of blue, which is the official colour of the UK’s National Health Service. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall also joined in the applause from Birkhall in Scotland, Camilla taking the crown as the unofficial Duchess of Denim in her smart jeans!

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Princess Beatrice gets married

In July, the marriage of the Queen’s granddaughter Princess Beatrice no doubt gave her a lift, even if it was a scaled-back ceremony. The original wedding plan was for Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi to get hitched at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace, but coronavirus restrictions put a stop to that.

Instead it was an intimate affair at All Saints Chapel at Royal Lodge, Windsor, attended by family members including the Duke of Edinburgh and “Granny”, as Beatrice calls the Queen. The bride looked beautiful in a vintage Norman Hartnell gown borrowed from the Queen.

The Crown drama causes 'frustration'

The latest series of Netflix’s The Crown caused quite a stir regarding the blurring of truth and fiction. Season four tells the story of Princess Diana and the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, along with the events that led to her death.

A cousin of the Queen claimed the show has caused “frustration” in the royal family and a senior palace courtier said that Her Majesty “was upset" by the way Prince Philip is depicted as being a father insensitive to his son's wellbeing.

Harry and Meghan bow out

In January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were said to have “blindsided” the Queen by announcing their decision to step back as senior royals.

The Queen voiced her support for their wish to lead a more “independent life”, but there was talk of tensions in the household, which seemed apparent when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their final public appearance at Westminster Abbey two months later alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton. When the couple signed a deal with Netflix, their entry into Hollywood left critics urging the Queen to revoke their titles.

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  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle unveil adorable Christmas card with son Archie taking centre stage

Two heirs contract Coronavirus

The Queen was naturally worried when her heirs Prince Charles and Prince William both tested positive for Covid-19.

Claiming he “got away with it quite lightly”, Charles, 72, had mild symptoms in March and self-isolated at his Scottish home Birkhall. William, 38, was hit by the virus in April, but the news was only made public in October because he didn’t want to alarm the nation.

Baby news from Zara and Eugenie

The news that her tally of great-grandchildren is set to go into double digits has delighted the Queen, who is known as “Gan Gan” by the youngest generation of royals.

Zara Tindall’s husband Mike announced on 9 December that they’re expecting their third child next year. They already have two daughters, Mia, six, and Lena, two, and Mike joked, “I’ll love it whether a boy or a girl – but please be a boy!”

Princess Eugenie, who married husband Jack Brooksbank in 2018, confirmed that their first child will be arriving in early 2021.

The family mourn their lost pets

She’s renowned for her love of horses, but the Queen has always been fond of the canine members of her family, too. And she will have empathised greatly with the Cambridges who revealed in November that they were grieving for their English cocker spaniel, Lupo – “the heart of our family”.

He was a wedding gift in 2011 and featured in the first official photos of Prince George. But for Her Majesty, the loss last month of loyal companion Vulcan, a 13-year-old Dorgi, will have hit her especially hard. She now has one remaining dog, another Dorgi named Candy.

The Panorama interview resurfaces

The Queen allegedly referred to Princess Diana’s infamous Panorama interview as a “frightful thing” to have done. She herself adopts a “never complain, never explain” approach, so news that the BBC was launching an independent investigation over the actions which helped secure Martin Bashir’s interview may have been hard to stomach.

Prince William broke his silence, saying the investigation was “a step in the right direction” to “help establish the truth”.

Philip celebrates his 99th birthday

Turning 99 is an incredible achievement, although not one that the Duke of Edinburgh apparently cares to dwell on. But in an image shared by Buckingham Palace to mark his birthday on 10 June, the Queen appeared tickled pink to have her husband of 73 years by her side.

The couple were still in isolation at Windsor Castle and it was the first public image of the Duke since he was seen leaving a private hospital following a four-day stay the previous Christmas Eve.

The Queen adopts the Zoom craze

Her Majesty led the royals in a series of video calls to mark Carers Week in June. In a preview of an ITV documentary to mark Princess Anne’s 70th birthday, she was seen asking her mother, who was at a different location, “Can you see everybody? You should have six people on your screen.”

When the Queen responded saying she could only see four, Anne laughed, “Actually, you don’t need me, you know what I look like!”

Meghan suffers devastating miscarriage

In November, Meghan revealed she had lost what would have been the Queen’s ninth greatgrandchild in July. Writing in The New York Times, she said she “dropped to the floor” in pain as she changed Archie’s nappy, adding, “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child that I was losing my second.”

She said that “watching her husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine” helped her to realise that the only way to start to heal “is to first ask – ‘Are you OK?’”

Royal books stir up trouble

Three explosive books on the royals were published during 2020. Finding Freedom, detailing the so-called deepening rift between Harry, Meghan and The Firm, threatened to “open old wounds” and “horrified” the Queen, according to insiders.

Battle Of Brothers, by The Crown’s consultant Robert Lacey, focused on the fractured relations between the siblings, while Lady Colin Campbell’s Meghan And Harry: The Real Story, covered how the couple tried and failed to change the royal system.

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