Get caught up on all the biggest global royals news you might have missed in May 2021, starting with this royal show of gratitude… Britain's Duchess Kate took to her official Instagram account on May 28 to reveal that she'd received her first coronavirus vaccine jab and share her thanks. "Yesterday I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at London's Science Museum," she wrote alongside a photo of herself getting the shot. "I'm hugely grateful to everyone who is playing a part in the rollout — thank you for everything you are doing." (Her husband, Prince William, got his first shot a week earlier.)
Keep reading for more of the biggest global royals headlines from May 2021…
Spain's future queen is confirmed in the Catholic Church
On May 28, Spain's Leonor, Princess of Asturias (second from left) — the country's future queen — was confirmed in the Catholic faith at Madrid's Nuestra Señora de la Asunción church alongside her classmates. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only her immediate family — father King Felipe VI, mother Queen Letizia and sister Princess Sofia — were able to be there with her. As reported by Royal Central, the crown princess's confirmation comes weeks before the 15-year-old is due to fly to Wales to attend high school at UWC Atlantic College, from which another future European queen — Belgium's Princess Elisabeth — graduated in 2020.
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The Duke of Cambridge embroiled in new political drama
Controversy erupted after it emerged that Prince William and Duchess Kate had a private and previously unpublicized meeting with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown — who's launched a new campaign to keep Scotland in the U.K. amid growing support for another independence referendum — at the queen's official residence in Edinburgh on May 27, the final day of the couple's week-long official trip to Scotland. The move raised eyebrows as royals have long maintained that they have a policy of staying politically neutral. The drama erupted further when C4 News's Krishnan Guru-Murthy tweeted, "Gordon Brown, who's just launched a campaign to save the Union, just had unpublicised meeting with Prince William. Only politician save @NicolaSturgeon [the current leader of Scotland] met on Royal visit to Scotland. So sensitive #C4News prevented from airing footage shot from outside palace gates! Kensington Palace have said we were stopped from airing the footage we filmed of Mr Brown in the grounds of Holyrood Palace – not because of sensitivities – but because they claim #C4News was trespassing. Our team were in public place outside gates." The BBC reported that the meeting at the Palace of Holyroodhouse was not publicized "but was later mentioned in the court circular — which details official engagements undertaken by the royals." A Kensington Palace spokesperson told the BBC, "During his time in Scotland Prince William has spoken to a broad range of people from different communities, including politicians from across the political spectrum."
The Cambridges return to where they met
On May 26, Prince William and Duchess Kate returned to the place they met nearly 20 years ago — the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where both enrolled as students in 2001 — for the first time in a decade, Scotland's Radio Tay News reported. There, royals reporter Omid Scobie tweeted, on a rainy day, they met with "Geography and History of Art students (the subjects they majored in, respectively) about how they coped and supported each other during the pandemic." The couple — who were in the midst of a week-long official royal visit to Scotland — also painted love hearts with rollers, sat down with a faith group, watched a dance presentation and planted a tree on the grounds of their alma mater.
Missing Emirati Princess seen in public for first time in years
On May 22, multiple international outlets reported that a photo of Princess Latifa of the United Arab Emirates — whose father is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the billionaire ruler of Dubai who's also the vice president and prime minister of UAE — had appeared on Instagram. It showed her sitting at a table inside the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai with two other women. The image made headlines as it marked the first time she'd been photographed in public in years (reportedly since her failed attempt to flee Dubai in March 2018) — and the first time she'd been seen since claiming in video messages leaked to the BBC in February that she was being held hostage in a "villa prison" by her father in the UAE. In the following days, two more images popped up on Instagram, The Guardian reported. The newspaper noted that the UN human rights office had been working for months to secure proof of life from the UAE government as well as "meaningful information" concerning Latifa's circumstances. According to a report from Mail Online, Latifa is no longer living under armed guard, though details remain unclear. David Haigh, a co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign group, said in a statement, "We confirm that there have been several potentially significant and positive developments in the campaign. We do not intend to comment further at this stage, a further statement will be issued at the appropriate time."
Prince Harry opens up about his mental health, mother's death and much more in powerful new docuseries
On May 21, Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey's long-in-the-making docuseries about mental health, "The Me You Can't See," debuted on Apple TV+. Harry didn't just executive produce it — he also appeared on multiple episodes to speak in detail about his own mental health journey (and even underwent PTSD therapy on camera). Among his headline-making comments? "Family members have said just play the game and your life will be easier. But I have a hell of a lot of my mum in me," Harry said. "I feel as though I am outside of the system but I'm still stuck there. The only way to free yourself and break out is to tell the truth." He spoke about the memory of his late mother, Princess Diana, that still haunts him, what he felt and remembered walking in her 1997 funeral procession when he was 12 and explained why returning to London is a "trigger" for him. Harry also opened up about how an argument with Meghan early in their relationship is what made him realize he needed therapy — and how he used drinking and drugs to cope with his unresolved grief as a young man. Keep reading for more highlights from Harry on the powerful docuseries…
More highlights from Prince Harry's appearance on "The Me You Can't See"
Prince Harry also made headlines for comments he made on "The Me You Can't See" that were perceived as critical of the royals. Referencing wife Duchess Meghan's mental health struggles (she revealed in March that she was suicidal in 2019), and the reasons they felt they had to leave, he explained, "I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever, it is just got met with total silence, total neglect. We spent four years trying to make it work. We did everything that we possibly could to stay there and carry on doing the role and doing the job. But Meghan was struggling." Harry also explained why he wants to be better for his children. "My father [Prince Charles] used to say to me, when I was younger, he used to say to both [my brother Prince] William and I, 'Well, it was like that for me. So it's going to be like that for you.' That doesn't make sense — just because you suffered it doesn't mean that your kids have to suffer. In fact, quite the opposite. If you suffered, do everything you can to make sure that whatever negative experiences that you had, that you can make it right for your kids. We chose to put our mental health first." People.com has more highlights.
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Two future kings get COVID-19 vaccine shots
Britain's Prince William — who had COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 — shared this photo of himself getting vaccinated against the coronavirus on Instagram on May 21. "On Tuesday I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. To all those working on the vaccine rollout — thank you for everything you've done and continue to do," he captioned the snapshot. The same day, Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik also shared a photo of himself getting the jab on Instagram, captioning it (as translated to English), "Today I got my first shot. Thank you to all of you who help us on our way to a normal everyday life again."
Princes William and Harry react to inquiry that found BBC journalist used "deceitful methods" to land bombshell 1995 interview with Princess Diana
On May 20, the results were released from an official inquiry into how BBC journalist Martin Bashir secured a headline-making interview with Princess Diana — the one in which she famously said, "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," speaking of estranged husband Prince Charles and his then-mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles (who's now his wife). The findings were devastating to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who lost her less than two years after the interview aired. The inquiry determined that Martin, who recently resigned from the BBC for health reasons, used "deceitful methods" to land his sit-down with Diana and breached the BBC's editorial guidelines by creating two false bank statements, which were meant to prove to her that security staff were being paid to share her private information, in order to manipulate her into speaking on camera. Both William and Harry issued statements condemning the BBC's failings, though their words and approaches — Harry in part called his mother "resilient, brave and unquestionably honest"; William said he believed the way the interview was obtained "substantially influenced what my mother said" and claimed it contributed "to making my parents' relationship worse" and "contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation" — also made headlines for their disparate tones and conclusions. Read Harry's reaction statement here and William's here.
Newlywed Princess Beatrice is expecting a baby
On May 19, Buckingham Palace announced that newlywed Princess Beatrice — who married property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in July 2020 — is pregnant with her first child. "Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice and Mr Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi are very pleased to announce that they are expecting a baby in autumn of this year," read the announcement. "The Queen has been informed and both families are delighted with the news." The new baby will join half-brother Christopher Woolf, Edo's son with architect ex Dara Huang who was born in 2016.
The Sussexes celebrate third wedding anniversary with new Archewell Foundation project in India
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan marked their third wedding anniversary on May 19 and used the special occasion to announce a new project from their Archewell Foundation: With India in the midst of a devastating second wave of COVID-19, the couple are building a Community Relief Center in Mumbai, India (which is also home to Myna Mahila, an Indian organization focused on women's health and employment opportunities that the Duchess of Sussex has long supported) as part of their philanthropic partnership with World Central Kitchen. "The Mumbai location will be the third in a series of four Community Relief Centers that our organizations have committed to develop in regions of the world disproportionately affected by natural disaster. (Construction has already been completed on a relief center in the Commonwealth of Dominica; development of a relief center in Puerto Rico is underway)," they said in a statement. "The purpose of these centers is to provide relief and resilience (as well as healing and strength) for the communities in which they're based. During future crises, these centers can be quickly activated as emergency response kitchens — or vaccination sites — and through calmer times they can serve as food distribution hubs, schools, clinics, or community gathering spaces for families."
The Netherlands' queen turns 50
The Netherlands' Queen Maxima — King Willem-Alexander's wife of nearly 20 years — celebrated her 50th birthday on May 17. The palace marked the occasion by sharing three new photos of the queen that were "taken at the beginning of this month by the King in the garden of Huis ten Bosch Palace" in The Hague, read a photo slideshow caption on the couple's official Instagram account.
Norway's royal family celebrates Constitution Day
Norway's royal family marked the country's annual National Day, or Constitution Day, on May 17 — which commemorates the signing of the constitution on that date in 1814 — with a scaled back celebration due to the coronavirus pandemic. The most senior royal family members — King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and their children, Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus — are seen here greeting well-wishers from the balcony of the Royal Palace at Slottsplassen in Oslo, Norway, on the national holiday.
Zara Tindall turns 40
Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter, Zara Tindall — who's the only daughter of Princess Anne — marked a milestone birthday on May 15: She turned 40. The Olympic silver medal-winning equestrian's big birthday comes weeks after she welcomed her third child, son Lucas Philip, in March.
Prince Andrew dropped from nearly 50 patronages
On May 15, The Telegraph reported that despite his hopes to return to royal life after being forced to step back in late 2019, Britain's Prince Andrew has quietly been dropped as patron of almost 50 organizations and charities in the wake of renewed attention over his friendship with convicted pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. As The Telegraph wrote, "Many, particularly those working with children, felt it was 'no longer appropriate' to continue their associations with him. Others said they were determined to find a representative 'better suited' to their aims and values." Andrew has also denied claims he had sex with one of Epstein's alleged victims, who was underage at the time.
Prince Harry makes headlines with "Armchair Expert" podcast appearance
Prince Harry was in the news for days after appearing on the May 13 episode of Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast. He was there to promote the new docuseries about mental health that he executive produced with Oprah Winfrey, "The Me You Can't See," and spent most of his time talking about mental health — as did Dax — but a few quotes from the interview in particular are what dominated headlines, particularly when Harry spoke about the royal family, starting therapy and an early date with wife Duchess Meghan (he shared a story about how at the start of their romance, they met up "in a supermarket in London, pretending that we didn't know each other" and were "texting each other from the other side of the aisles" as they picked out ingredients for a meal). Harry called growing up royal "a mix between 'The Truman Show' and being in a zoo." He said he wanted to leave royal life as a young man as he struggled to cope with the aftermath of mother Princess Diana's death when he was 12. "It's the job, right? Grin and bear it. Get on with it. I was in my early 20s and I was thinking I don't want this job, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be doing this. Look what it did to my mum. How am I ever going to settle down and have a wife and family, when I know it's going to happen again?" he said. Harry also explained why he and Meghan left Britain and his family in 2020. "When it comes to parenting, if I've experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I'm going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don't pass it on," Harry said, adding that "…we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, 'You know what, that happened to me, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you.'" Harry explained that he believes father Prince Charles "treated me the way he was treated," so the Duke of Sussex asked himself, "'How can I change that for my own kids?'" Moving his family out of the place they felt attacked was the answer. "Sometimes," Harry said, "you've got to make decisions and put your family first…"
Danish prince (and future king) celebrates his confirmation
Denmark's future king, 15-year-old Prince Christian — the eldest child of Crown Prince Frederik and wife Princess Mary — was confirmed in the Royal Chapel of Fredensborg Palace on May 15, the same place his father was confirmed 40 years earlier. The ceremony, which had been postponed form 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, was attended by family members including grandmother Queen Margrethe, siblings Princess Isabella, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine and his paternal royal cousins. Royal Central reported that many of Christian's godparents — including Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Prince Joachim of Denmark as well as relatives from his mother's native Australia — were not able to attend the event due to COVID-19 restrictions. Denmark's royals are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, which is also known as the Church of Denmark, and the sovereign is the church's supreme secular authority.
Queen Elizabeth II opens Parliament in first major engagement after husband's death
Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall joined Queen Elizabeth II at the State Opening of Parliament in London on May 11 — the monarch's first official engagement outside of Windsor Castle since the death of husband Prince Philip a month earlier.
Duchess Kate's "Hold Still" lockdown portrait book becomes Amazon bestseller
The photo book "Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation" — which features the top 100 images from a coronavirus lockdown photo competition spearheaded by Duchess Kate, who wrote its forward — was released on May 6, and it instantly emerged as an Amazon bestseller. The proceeds are being split to support the work of Britain's National Portrait Gallery as well as the mental health charity Mind. Kate also worked with Book Fairies to hide copies of the project around Britain and urge people to look for them. She's seen here viewing a photo of the late Captain Tom Moore, who raised money for COVID-19 relief, during a visit to the gallery on May 7 to mark the book's release.
The Cambridges get a social media glow-up
Prince William and Duchess Kate upped their social media game on May 5, not only debuting their own YouTube channel — kicking things off with a blooper and recap reel — but changing their Instagram handle from the @KensingtonRoyal name they've had for years to @DukeandDuchessofCambridge.
Prince Philip's official cause of death revealed
On May 4, Britain's The Telegraph reported that the official cause of death for Prince Philip — who passed away at Windsor Castle on April 9 at 99 — was listed on his death certificate as "old age." His death was certified by Sir Huw Thomas, the head of the royal medical household. According to the newspaper, "old age" is "an accepted description if the patient is over 80 and if the doctor has personally cared for them for a long period, observing a gradual decline." The death certificate apparently did not make mention of the Duke of Edinburgh's lengthy hospitalization this spring during which he underwent a heart procedure.
Duchess Meghan announces June children's book release inspired by Prince Harry and son Archie's relationship
On May 4, Penguin Random House announced that Duchess Meghan had written her first children's book, "The Bench," which focuses on the special bond between father and son as seen through a mother's eyes. The project, which is illustrated by Caldecott-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson, is set for a June 8 release. "The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father's Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story," the Duchess of Sussex said in a statement. "Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolor illustrations that capture the warmth, joy and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life. This representation was particularly important to me and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens. My hope is that 'The Bench' resonates with every family, no matter the make up, as much as it does with me."
The Sussexes chair "Vax Live," raise money for global vaccine equity in honor of son Archie's 2nd birthday
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan served as campaign chairs of Global Citizen's "Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite The World" — Harry appeared in person at the star-studded May 2 taping at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles ahead of the May 8 air date where he received a standing ovation from the audience of fully vaccinated frontline healthcare and essential workers and spoke about the importance of vaccine equity. The couple helped raise funds to get as many people globally vaccinated as possible not only on "Vax Live" but in honor of son Archie turning 2 on May 6. To mark their toddler's birthday, they encouraged followers of their Archewell Foundation who wished to honor him to donate to Gavi, the vaccine alliance that's working to get coronavirus vaccines distributed among low-income countries. Shortly before the couple's third wedding anniversary on May 19, they confirmed that once matched donations were accounted for, more than $3 million was raised, Yahoo! reported.
Princess Charlotte turns 6
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge celebrated her 6th birthday on May 2. Her parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate, released this new portrait of their only daughter — which her mom snapped in Norfolk, England — to mark the joyful occasion.