Was 2019 the Queen’s second annus horribilis?
The royal family’s past year proved a busy but controversial one.
It was meant to be a year of celebration with the arrival of another royal baby, but 2019 ended up being dubbed the Queen’s second annus horribilis.
The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor brought joy, but the Windsors also faced a host of controversies.
The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a serious car crash and royal life proved far from plain sailing for Harry and Meghan.
The duchess’ rift with her father Thomas Markle continued and the couple were criticised for using £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money to renovate their new home. They also came under fire over the privacy surrounding Archie’s christening, and for their use of private jets.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 6, 2019
Today, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son Archie was christened at Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.
�� Chris Allerton /©️SussexRoyal pic.twitter.com/hxMz8qeIV2
Reports of problems first between Meghan and the Duchess of Cambridge, and then Harry and his brother the Duke of Cambridge, refused to subside.
The Sussexes split their household from Kensington Palace, then left the Royal Foundation.
Their almost-successful tour to Southern Africa – funded by the taxpayer – was overshadowed when Meghan launched legal action against the press and Harry delivered a scathing attack on the tabloid press for its treatment of his wife.
— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) October 2, 2019
In a television documentary, they spoke of their struggles, with Harry saying he had “good days” and “bad days” in his relationship with William.
And then as the year drew to a close, the Duke of York was forced to step down from public duties amid the scandal surrounding his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew’s disastrous Newsnight interview sealed his fate when he was accused of lacking empathy for Epstein’s victims and of failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
He faces allegations, which he denies, by Virginia Giuffre that he had sex with her when she was 17 and had been trafficked by Epstein.
Royal author Penny Junor said: “I think the monarchy is going through very difficult times… I think it’s been a disastrous year.
“The hard-working members of the family – Prince Charles, Camilla, William and Kate and the Queen – have all done sterling work, but I think a lot of that has been overshadowed by other things.”
She described it as “absolutely unprecedented” that a relatively senior member of the royal family should be forced to retire from public life.
In 1992, the Princess Royal divorced, the Duke and Duchess of York separated, and the Prince and Princess of Wales were splitting up.
Then Windsor Castle went up in flames with public opinion turning against the royals amid fears that taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
The Queen, in an unusually personal address at a London Guildhall luncheon in November 1992 to mark her 40th year on the throne, told guests: “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.”
She added: “In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’.”
With her second son forced out of royal life and the Sussexes causing continued controversy, 2019 is also unlikely to be a year the Queen views with “undiluted pleasure”.
A look back at 2019:
A pregnant Duchess of Sussex carved out her royal role, announcing her first four patronages – the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Smart Works, which helps vulnerable women gain employment, and Mayhew, an animal welfare organisation.
Harry and Meghan visited Birkenhead in Merseyside for a day trip, with the duchess cradling her bump and saying she was six months pregnant and expecting her baby in late April or early May.
The 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh miraculously escaped serious injury after a car crash involving a mother and a baby.
The Land Rover Freelander he was driving was hit by another vehicle as he pulled out a driveway at Sandringham onto a busy A road, after apparently being dazzled by the low sun.
Philip’s car flipped over and he had to be rescued through the sun roof.
The other vehicle was carrying a nine-month old baby boy, his mother and another woman.
Both women had to be treated in hospital, and passenger Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist, called for Philip to be prosecuted if found to be at fault.
She branded him “highly insensitive and inconsiderate” after he was seen driving without a seatbelt just days after the incident.
Harry and Meghan visited Bristol amid winter snow storms, and the duchess wrote messages of empowerment on bananas in food parcels destined for street-sex workers during a trip to see the charity One25.
— PA Royal Reporters (@PARoyal) February 1, 2019
The Duchess of Cornwall became a Liver Bird on a visit to Liverpool when she stood between the wings of artist Paul Curtis’ mural.
Harry spent his first Valentines’s Day as a married man with the Royal Marines amid freezing conditions in the Arctic Circle before rushing home to join his wife for the evening.
The Duke of Cambridge visited a barbers in Paddington to see the work of the BarbersTalk scheme which is training hairdressers to recognise depression and mental health issues in men.
Philip escaped prosecution over his car crash after surrendering his licence.
Camilla took a front row seat at London Fashion Week, and Meghan headed to New York City for an exclusive baby shower, with friends said to have picked up the £330,000 bill for private flights and penthouse suite.
Soon after Meghan’s return, the Sussexes went to Morocco for a three-day official visit, which saw the duchess get a good luck henna tattoo and call on women “to challenge everywhere in the world”.
Kate pulled a pint behind the bar during a visit to the Belfast Empire Hall in Northern Ireland.
The royal family gathered at Buckingham Palace for a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the investiture of the Prince of Wales, with guests including the Welsh band the Stereophonics.
William and Kate visited Blackpool, where they were shown around a derelict property to learn about a renovation scheme.
The royals were out in force for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey as Meghan went on maternity leave.
Philip handed over his patronage of the Outward Bound Trust to his son the Duke of York.
There were changes afoot behind the scenes when it was announced Harry and Meghan were splitting from Kensington Palace and setting up their own household at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen and Kate went on a joint engagement to King’s College London.
Charles and Camilla began an official tour to the Caribbean, where they were photographed by the paparazzi relaxing on a beach in Barbados in their swimming costumes, with the prince winning praise for his lithe figure and his on-trend 12-year-old floral trunks.
They also made a historic trip to Cuba, becoming the first royals to visit the Communist state in an official capacity, where they were greeted by scores of tourists on a guided walk of old Havana.
The Queen fed carrots to racehorses at the stables of champion trainer Paul Nicholls during a visit to Somerset.
Harry and Meghan set up their own Instagram account @SussexRoyal, with the duke warning just one day later that social media was “more addictive than drugs and alcohol” at a roundtable discussion on young people’s mental health.
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A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on
Football fan Kevin Keiley who used the same @SussexRoyal handle on Twitter found his account name was changed without his permission, and then said he was quitting social media after receiving constant abuse.
In a speech warning of environmental catastrophe, the Prince of Wales paid tribute to broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, joining him, William and Harry at a screening of the Netflix documentary Our Planet.
Harry and Meghan moved into Frogmore Cottage in Windsor Great Park and the wait began for the arrival of their first born, with Kensington Palace saying the couple had made a personal decision to keep plans for the birth private.
It emerged William had spent three weeks working with MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, to better understand how the UK’s security and intelligence agencies operate.
Princess Eugenie made a rare appearance at an official event, joining the Queen at the Maundy Thursday service.
The Queen turned 93, and then the youngest of the Cambridge children, Prince Louis, celebrated his first birthday.
Father-to-be Harry appeared relaxed at an Anzac Day service as he awaited the birth of his first child, joining Kate at the event in Westminster Abbey.
William went to New Zealand to honour victims of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack.
Princess Charlotte turned four, and just days later came the news royals fans were waiting for – Meghan had given birth to a son, weighing 7lb 3oz, on May 6.
Harry announced the baby’s arrival to the world, saying his son “was to die for”, and two-day-old Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor made his debut at a Windsor Castle photocall.
Three days later, Harry was in The Hague to launch the Invictus Games in the Netherlands, where he received an Invictus babygro, and revealed his son was so far “very quiet”.
Meanwhile, Charles and Camilla went on a brief tour to Germany, where the prince emphasised the importance of an enduring relationship between the UK and Germany, and visited a beer hall in Munich.
The Cambridges and the Sussexes launched a major project – Shout – a mental health text messaging helpline.
Another royal wedding took place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, when the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, Lady Gabriella Windsor, married Tom Kingston.
Guests included the Queen, Harry and, in a rare outing, Philip.
Harry and Meghan celebrated their first wedding anniversary by sharing a compilation of behind-the-scenes wedding photos.
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Happy one year anniversary to Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex! Today marks the one year anniversary of the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Their Royal Highnesses exchanged vows at St George’s Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle on May 19th, 2018. The selected song “This Little Light of Mine” was chosen by the couple for their recessional. We hope you enjoy reliving this moment, and seeing some behind the scenes photos from this special day. A message from The Duke & Duchess: Thank you for all of the love and support from so many of you around the world. Each of you made this day even more meaningful. Photo credit: Chris Allerton/Joe Short (B&W); PA (color) ©️SussexRoyal (B&W images and video)
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William and Kate’s children explored the duchess’s co-creation at the Chelsea Flower Show, paddling in the stream and having a go on the rope swing in the woodland wilderness garden.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 20, 2019
This weekend, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took Prince George, Prince Charlotte and Prince Louis to visit the garden which includes a rope swing and a stream. pic.twitter.com/LksHaqONxO
Kate showed the Queen around the exhibit, having picked up stray leaves and twigs beforehand which she stuffed into her handbag and handed to an aide.
The Queen visited a pop-up replica of the first ever Sainsbury’s store in Covent Garden in London.
While being given a demonstration of a self-service till, the monarch asked if customers could fool the modern technology, saying: “You can’t cheat then?”
The Queen also visited the headquarters of British Airways at Heathrow Airport, London, to mark their centenary year, and was shown the ticket used for her first flight to the Commonwealth six months after her coronation.
In a nod to her many miles of globe-trotting, she remarked: “Having travelled so much they tend to get a bit muddled.”
Donald Trump paid a controversial state visit to the UK, when his handshake with the Queen looked like a fist bump.
He brought along four of his five children and was feted with an opulent state banquet at the palace.
He also sat next to the Queen at the D-Day 75th anniversary commemorations in Portsmouth.
Mr Trump later boasted about having “automatic chemistry” with the monarch, describing her as a “spectacular woman”.
Camilla received a kiss from veteran Arthur Jones during the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance in Bayeux, France, as part of the commemorations of the D-Day landings.
Meghan made her first post-birth appearance at an official royal event, joining her husband at the Trooping the Colour ceremony, where Louis also made his debut on the Palace balcony.
Philip turned 98, and the royal financial accounts revealed Harry and Meghan’s Frogmore Cottage was renovated with £2.4 million of taxpayers’ money.
Garter Day and Royal Ascot saw the Queen and other royals gather for the annual events, as the Earl and Countess of Wessex celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
Harry and Meghan formally split from their joint charity with William and Kate to set up their own foundation, as rumours of a rift between the couples continued.
William said it would be “absolutely fine by me” if in the future his children came out as gay or lesbian, as he visited the London headquarters of LGBT charity the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT).
The Queen hailed the “remarkable” Scottish Parliament as she addressed the chamber to mark its 20th anniversary.
Harry and Meghan went to see the Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees baseball game at the London Stadium.
On July 1, Charles marked the 50th anniversary of his investiture as the Prince of Wales.
The Queen was joined on a tour of a Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh by a duck named Olive, who strolled ahead of the monarch.
Archie was christened in Windsor Castle’s private chapel on July 6, wearing the royal baptism gown, and watched by Diana, Princess of Wales’s two sisters.
Harry and Meghan were criticised after deciding not to release the names of their son’s godparents, and for only using their own photographer.
But the pair did release images of their son afterwards.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 6, 2019
This second photograph of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Archie was taken in the Rose Garden at Windsor Castle on Archie’s christening day.
�� Chris Allerton /©️SussexRoyal pic.twitter.com/UZdOA83sHR
The Queen turned 93 in 2019, but insisted she was up to a key part of her duties when she visited the National Institute of Agricultural Botany near Cambridge.
Asked whether she would perform a tree planting on her own, she remarked: “No, no, I’m still perfectly capable of planting a tree.”
Charles wore a traditional Nepalese Mala garland as he marked 25 years of the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in Folkestone, Kent.
Baby Archie had a day out at the polo with Meghan, with Kate, Louis, George and Charlotte having a picnic from the boot of their car.
Meghan and Kate sat together for the women’s singles final at Wimbledon with the ex-Suits star rooting for her friend Serena Williams.
It followed an incident the week before when a royal bodyguard told a tennis fan not to take pictures of Meghan because she was there in a private capacity.
It turned out the man was actually taking a selfie and had not noticed the duchess.
Harry and Meghan met Beyonce and Jay-Z at the European premiere of Disney’s The Lion King.
American singer Pharrell Williams who was also in the line-up told the Sussexes their relationship was “significant” and “beautiful”, with the duchess appearing to add: “They don’t make it easy.”
Harry played with one-year-old Noah Nicholson during a visit to Sheffield Children’s Hospital to open a new wing.
George celebrated his sixth birthday on July 22, and was shown wearing an England football top in photos released by William and Kate.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) July 21, 2019
These two photographs were taken recently in the gardens at Kensington Palace by The Duchess of Cambridge.
Thank you everyone for your lovely messages on Prince George’s Birthday! �� pic.twitter.com/2LBr0wdzy1
Meghan guest-edited British Vogue, bringing together 15 women for the cover for the September edition entitled Forces for Change, while Harry told chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall he will only have two children for the sake of the planet.
Meghan celebrated her first birthday as a mother on August 4, with Harry posting on Instagram as the duchess turned 38: “Happy Birthday to my amazing wife. Thank you for joining me on this adventure! – Love, H.”
Charlotte was spotted poking her tongue out at King’s Cup yachting regatta on the Isle of Wight, where William and Kate raced against stars including adventurer Bear Grylls and comedian John Bishop.
The Duke of York was in the spotlight when his former friend convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in prison.
New footage emerged showing him inside the paedophile’s Manhattan mansion in 2010 after his release from prison.
In legal documents, Andrew was accused of touching the breast of a young woman at one of Epstein’s homes, which the duke categorically denied.
Harry and Meghan faced a row over their use of private jets after taking four flights in 11 days despite championing environmental causes.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 19, 2019
I am deeply distressed by today’s distorted and malicious account in the press surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s private stay at my home in Nice last week. pic.twitter.com/WjVRDSMX0z
Sir Elton John escalated the situation by stepping in to defend them, saying he provided them with a private flight to “maintain a high level of much-needed protection”.
An excited Charlotte started school in September, joining older brother Prince George at private school Thomas’s Battersea, with William and Kate there to see her off on her first day.
William visited the Fire Fighters Charity’s centre at Harcombe House in Chudleigh, South Devon, to mark Emergency Services Day.
Meghan launched her Smart Works high street clothing range in aid of charity, stepping out wearing some of the collection and adding: “I’ve got to get back to the baby – it’s feeding time.”
The Sussexes then went off on their 10-day tour to South Africa, taking four-month-old Archie with them.
The youngster received a welcome kiss from Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town, South Africa.
Harry also travelled to Angola, Malawi and Botswana, and was pictured walking through a minefield like his mother Diana.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in London ruled that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen to prorogue parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
There was joy for the royals when Princess Beatrice announced her engagement to property tycoon Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
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Beabea - wow! I'm so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo. It's been a long time coming and you two are meant to be. �� by me!! “We are extremely happy to be able to share the news of our recent engagement. We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together and can’t wait to actually be married. We share so many similar interests and values and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness”
A post shared by Princess Eugenie (@princesseugenie) on
Beatrice’s younger sister Princess Eugenie, who took the couple’s engagement photos, said on Instagram: “Beabea – wow! I’m so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo.”
The end of Harry and Meghan’s tour was overshadowed when the duchess launched legal action against a newspaper group over allegations it unlawfully published a letter she wrote to her father.
Harry, in a lengthy statement, accused the tabloid press of a “ruthless campaign” against his wife.
He then began separate legal action against two newspaper groups over accusations of phone hacking.
The Cambridges meanwhile went to Pakistan – their most complex tour to date – amid heightened security and political tensions.
They visited the Hindu Kush mountain range, a traditional Kalash village, the Badshahi Mosque, travelled in a tuk tuk, and had an unexpected extra night in Lahore after their plane was caught in a thunderstorm.
The Queen – wearing the lighter George IV diadem throughout instead of the heavy Imperial state crown – and the Prince of Wales attended the State Opening of Parliament, which was branded a sham ahead of the expected election.
Harry broke down as he paid tribute to inspirational children at the WellChild awards, citing how learning about those with serious illnesses during his own journey with fatherhood “pulls at my heartstrings”.
In an ITV documentary, the Sussexes spoke of their struggles with royal life, and Harry said he had “good days” and “bad days” in his relationship with William.
Meghan held a roundtable discussion at Windsor Castle on initiatives to improve gender equality, bringing Harry along and warning that female empowerment “can’t happen without men”.
Charles went to Japan to witness a ritual-laden, centuries-old ceremony as Japan’s Emperor Naruhito proclaimed his ascension to the throne.
The Queen’s senior dresser and confidante Angela Kelly wrote a book about her close working relationship with the monarch, revealing she wears in the sovereign’s shoes.
Meghan made her first visit to Westminster Abbey’s Field of Remembrance with Harry and hugged the families of veterans and joked with older soldiers.
It emerged the Sussexes and Archie would be spending Christmas with Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland and not with the Queen at Sandringham, and later Harry and Meghan began a six-week break from royal duties.
Charles took a ride in a rickshaw and flipped chapatis in a Sikh temple in Delhi on a busy two-day trip to India.
The prince and Camilla then began an official tour to New Zealand which including a haka greeting in Auckland.
Then came the royal family’s worst controversy of the year.
The Duke of York quit public life in November in an unprecedented move for a royal in modern times after staging a disastrous BBC Newsnight interview about his association with Epstein.
He was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
He denied an alleged sexual encounter with Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, saying he had no recollection of meeting her and had been at a Pizza Hut in Woking instead.
He also refuted claims he sweated heavily while reportedly dancing with Ms Giuffre in Tramp nightclub, saying he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.
Mounting pressure followed with firms including BT and Barclays cutting ties with Andrew’s charity work, forcing the duke to quit royal life.
Lawyers for Epstein’s alleged victims called on the duke to give a formal statement to the American authorities.
Andrew’s troubles did not end there.
Ms Giuffre gave her first UK television interview to BBC Panorama, saying she was left “horrified and ashamed” after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.
The programme said Andrew sent an email to Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of procuring girls for Epstein, in 2015, asking for her help in dealing with the claims by Ms Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts.
Elsewhere, William visited Kuwait and Oman, and the Queen hosted Donald Trump and other world leaders at a Nato reception at Buckingham Palace.
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) December 3, 2019
The Queen, with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, welcome Heads of State and Government of @NATO countries, and their spouses or partners, to Buckingham Palace. pic.twitter.com/ma0S5tPlzv
The Princess Royal trended on Twitter after it was reported the Queen had chastised her daughter for not greeting Mr Trump, and that the princess responded with a shrug.
But in fact, Anne was standing back as she was not part of the official welcoming party, and telling the Queen Mr Trump was the final politician to be greeted, she raised both her hands in the air, laughed and remarked: “It’s just me.”
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 30, 2019
��We invite you to join The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Mary Berry as they serve a festive feast to thank those who are spending their Christmas helping others. �� @mattporteous#ABerryRoyalChristmas | Monday 16th December | 8:30pm | @BBCOne pic.twitter.com/KfvQLIKDzS
William and Kate filmed a BBC festive special A Berry Royal Christmas with TV cook Mary Berry, with Kate revealing one of Louis’ first words was “Mary” because they have so many of her cookbooks.
At the end of a busy year, there was another state opening of parliament for the Queen as head of state – just nine weeks after the last – following the general election.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Edinburgh spent four nights in the King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London for treatment relating to a “pre-existing condition”.
He left on Christmas Eve morning after he was discharged by his doctor.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined the Queen at the royal family’s traditional Christmas Day church service on her Sandringham estate for the first time, while in her Christmas Day message the monarch said she had been “struck” by the “sense of purpose” younger generations have shown in tackling issues like climate change.
She also acknowledged the “bumpy” path her family and the country had faced during the previous 12 months.