A royal year to remember!

By admin
17 December 2013

2013 was a bonus year for royal watchers – we met Prince George and the European royals were also very busy.

2013 was a bonus year for royal watchers –  we met Prince George and the European royals were also very busy.

A lot has happened in the royal arena this year: Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 60th year on the throne (a far quieter affair than the jubilee festivities of 2012), there was the birth of Prince George, Prince Harry found a new love, and last but not least, the the Cambridges were promoted to senior royalty.

The pitter-patter of tiny feet

I’m not sure if I should single out Prince George’s arrival or his christening as the highlight of my royal year . . . But what a joy to see that chubby face at his christening and speculate on whom he most resembles.

To add to the excitement there’s Zara Philips’ pregnancy (Princess Anne’s daughter and one of George’s godmothers) and we wait for her baby to arrive early in the new year.

Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall on their wedding day.

There’s no indication of the stork’s imminent visit to Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco but Princess Caroline, Prince Albert’s older sister, became a grandmother this year. Son Andrea Casiraghi and his wife Tatiana were married after the arrival of their first child, and on 17 December his sister Charlotte gave birth to Raphael, her son with boyfriend Gad Elmaleh, a French actor and comedian.

The stork has also been busy in Sweden. Princess Madeleine, younger sister of the heir to the throne princess Victoria, was blessed with a honeymoon pregnancy. She and her husband live in New York but royal watchers are being kept up to date on her pregnancy by quick, sharp-eyed photographers.

Princess Madeleine. Photo: Pan Media

Departures and arrivals

In the Netherlands, 2013 was a year of both heartache and joy. Prince Friso, one of Queen Beatrix’s three sons, passed away after sustaining serious brain damage in a skiing accident last year.

And Beatrix decided to abdicate in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. I think he and his Argentinian-born wife, Maxima, are currently the most glamorous couple on the royal stage.

Willem-Alexander and Maxima. Photo: Pan Media

Not much was seen of Prince Frederik, heir to the throne of Denmark, and his wife Princess Mary. It’s a pity as they are one of my favourite royal couples, but I suspect their four children are keeping them very busy!

Frederik and Mary.  Photo: Pan Media

Holland wasn’t the only European country where a monarch abdicated this year. In July, the king of Belgium, Albert II, abdicated as a result of ill health in favour of his son, Philippe. Both Philippe and his queen, Mathilde, impress me as a couple with their feet planted squarely on the ground.

Philippe and Mathilde. Photo: Pan Media

The news that their 12-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, could be the target of a possible abduction, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth as we approach the end of the year 2013. Safety measures have been increased and one can only hope that this Neo-Nazi threat remains just a threat.

The abdications in the Netherlands and Belgium have people once again speculating on whether Queen Elizabeth would possibly consider the same.

Charles, Camilla and the Cambridges take on more responsibilities

The queen is downsizing her responsibilities and for the first time didn’t attend the Commonwealth Conference – Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, represented her there.

The 65-year-old Charles is the longest-living heir to the throne in 1 000 years and when he one day becomes King Charles III he will be the oldest monarch to ever be crowned king of England.

Not that he’s in a hurry, as he said in an interview. How can he look forward to being king as that would imply the death of his mother?

The year has seen both Charles and Camilla becoming more popular with the public, thanks to tireless efforts by royal spin doctors. Camilla looks really well and is no longer persona non grata. Both she and Charles look very comfortable in their roles and at the Commonwealth banquet Camilla was seen sporting one of the queen-mom’s most-loved tiaras.

Camilla at the Commonwealth banquet. Photo: Inpra

My greatest wish for 2014 is that Catherine will also grace the red carpet in a gorgeous tiara. Tiaras are reserved for state banquets, occasions which William and Kate have so far largely avoided by simply stating that these banquets are for senior royals.

The Cambridges did put in an appearance at their first state banquet in December, and as required Catherine wore a tiara, but a less glamorous one which used to belong to the queen mother, who in turn loaned it to her daughter Princess Margaret. Hopefully 2014 will see Catherine appearing in a tiara such as the one in which Diana was regularly seen.

Christmas at Sandringham

This year there will be a full house, or should I say full palace, at Sandringham. Apart from the usual royals, the queen also invited Lady Sarah Chatto, daughter of her late sister Margaret, and her family for the Christmas holidays.

It is, of course, Georgie’s first royal Christmas but I don’t expect him to be spoilt rotten. The royal family is known for competing to see who can give the least expensive gift.

Finally, Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas card will hopefully sport a photograph of her and George. When George’s christening photographs were sent out, many people asked why they didn’t include a picture of the present queen and the youngest heir to the throne. The answer from a (nameless) palace official was that there was always the queen’s Christmas card . . .

Arlene Prinsloo- Arlene Prinsloo

Arlene Prinsloo is an ardent royalist, national content coordinator at Digital News: Media24 News and YOU’s royal blogger

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