Royally locked down: A look back at the biggest royal headlines of the past year

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Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth
Photo: Dan Kitwood - WPA Pool /Getty Images
  • Royal Editor, Bashiera Parker, takes a look at some of the biggest royal headlines of the past year.
  • A whirlwind year for the queen started with Harry and Meghan's decision to exit the firm and culminated in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.
  • After one year in lockdown, take a closer look at the royal family and why critics are saying the monarchy is facing its biggest crisis since Diana's death.

It's been a whirlwind year for everyone. For the world's most famous family, it began in January 2020 with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's decision to exit the firm, and, a whole pandemic and several lockdowns later, culminated in their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.

"I think [Harry] saved all of us. He ultimately called it. He made a decision that saved my life and saved all of us. But you need to want to be saved," Meghan told Oprah, after revealing she struggled with her mental health with no intervention from the firm, dealt with microaggressions constantly while members of the institution brought up concerns about Archie's skin colour, and Harry got candid about his father cutting him off and his estranged relationship with his brother.

Following the tell-all, critics called the fallout a crisis not seen by the monarchy since the time of Diana's death, only for the palace to release a statement that seemed cold and calculated, even detached.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak to Oprah Winfrey.

It's been a whirlwind year for the British monarchy. Shortly after Harry and Meghan's exit and move to the US, Prince Charles contracted the coronavirus. Months later, Prince William revealed he too was "struggling to breathe" at one point, after testing positive.

"There were important things going on, and I didn't want to worry anyone," William reportedly said of his decision not to reveal his diagnosis, even though sources said he was "hit pretty hard".

Amid all this, however, the royals did have a few things to celebrate as Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi tied the knot in a secret ceremony, while her sister Princess Eugenie welcomed her first child with Jack Brooksbank. Zara Tindall, the daughter of the Princess Royal, also welcomed a baby boy, while Harry and Meghan have shared they too are expecting their second child after having a miscarriage last year.

The couple's interview with Oprah, they've said, however, would not have broadcast as planned had Prince Philip, who was hospitalised in February for an infection and had a procedure done for his heart condition, taken a bad turn. Thankfully, after four weeks, he returned home to Windsor and the queen.

As your royal reporter, I can tell you, it's been a whirlwind year for the queen, who turns 95 this April but will have to skip her annual birthday parade yet again due to the pandemic. But, just like the rest of us, as she continues to carry out her engagements indefinitely via Zoom, one thing remains: her resilience.

'Keep Calm and Carry On'
The motivational 'Keep Calm and Carry On was created as a poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II. Since, evocative of the Victorian belief in British stoicism – the "stiff upper lip", self-discipline, fortitude, and remaining calm in adversity – it has become widely recognised around the world.

A very specific quote from my interview last year with Being the Queen filmmaker Tom Jennings, who followed the queen and the rest of the royal family for years, comes to mind.

"From what I know of her from going through her entire life, I'm sure she's greatly pained," he said specifically of Harry and Meghan's January 2020 decision, "but at the same time, she's suffered through a lot. And, she carried on." 

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