Get caught up on all the major global royals news you might have missed in 2020 — from big birthdays, anniversaries, pregnancies, weddings, deaths and splits — both romantic and familial — to cheating scandals, coronavirus infections, legal battles and more. Let's go back to January and start with the biggest royals news to emerge in years: the bittersweet goodbye the British press dubbed "Megxit." On Jan. 8, in the wake of intense scrutiny from inside and outside the palace, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced unprecedented plans to step back as senior working members of the British royal family and become financially independent. Negotiations and crisis talks followed at an unusually rapid pace and 10 days later, Queen Elizabeth II reluctantly approved their request to leave, though the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were ultimately unable to secure the half-in, half-out arrangement they wanted. Keep reading for the most significant takeaways as well as the biggest global royals news to make headlines in 2020…
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In Prince Harry's first public comments after revealing plans to step back as a senior working royal, he hit back at media claims that his exit was wife Duchess Meghan's doing, telling the audience at a Jan. 19 dinner for supporters of his Sentebale charity, "It brings me great sadness that it has come to this. The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly." He also lamented what they had to give up due to what Queen Elizabeth II, with input from heirs Prince Charles and Prince William, decided were insurmountable issues. "Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the Commonwealth, and my military associations, but without public funding. Unfortunately, that wasn't possible," Harry said, explaining that they hoped to live "a more peaceful life" based outside of Britain. Soon, the queen's terms were revealed: Though the Sussexes would continue to maintain their private patronages, they would no longer use their HRH (His/Her Royal Highness) titles. Harry, an army veteran, would have to give up his beloved honorary military titles and positions and the couple could no longer use the word "royal" in their branding.
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"The Crown" announces final seasons' casting changes
The hit Netflix series "The Crown" announced major casting news in 2020 concerning its final two seasons. In January, creator-showrunner Peter Morgan revealed that the hit Netflix drama series about the British royal family will star Imelda Staunton as its last Queen Elizabeth II "taking 'The Crown' into the 21st century," he said, replacing Olivia Colman (seasons 3-4), who took over for Claire Foy (seasons 1-2). In July, Netflix announced that Lesley Manville will play Princess Margaret beginning on season 5. The five-time BAFTA Award nominee and Oscar nominee will take over from Helena Bonham Carter (seasons 3-4) and Vanessa Kirby (seasons 1-2). In August, Netflix announced that Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki will play Princess Diana on the final two seasons, taking over for season 4 newcomer Emma Corrin, and that Oscar-nominated Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Philip on the final two seasons, replacing Tobias Menzies (seasons 3-4) and Matt Smith (season 1-2).
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Prince Andrew faces renewed scrutiny following Ghislaine Maxwell arrest concerning sex trafficking scandal
Prince Andrew's ties to old friend Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted pedophile financier who died in 2019, continued to make headlines all year long following the royal's announcement that he was stepping back from official duties in November 2019 amid fallout from a disastrous TV interview in which he was asked about his relationship with the accused sex trafficker. In January, a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said American authorities including the FBI had had contacted Andrew's attorneys and requested to interview the Duke of York — who turned 60 on Feb. 19 but didn't dare celebrate the milestone publicly due to the scandal — but that Andrew, despite public promises, "has provided zero cooperation." Andrew's lawyer later denied that and insisted the prince had offered to talk. Then in June, ABC News reported that U.S. federal prosecutors had formally requested help securing witness testimony from Andrew through a Mutual Legal Assistance treaty with the British Home Office — not Buckingham Palace — as part of a criminal investigation into alleged Epstein's co-conspirators. Andrew — who's been accused of sleeping with one of Epstein's underage victims, which he's repeatedly denied — then faced renewed scrutiny in July when his old pal, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured with him at Royal Ascot in 2000), was arrested by the FBI at her New Hampshire mansion on multiple criminal charges related to trafficking and sexual abuse of young women and girls. Her alleged crimes took place when she was in a relationship with Epstein.
Princess Martha Louise of Norway and daughters lead mourners at funeral for her former husband, Ari Behn
The New Year started off on a sad note for Norway's royals. Princess Martha Louise's ex-husband, author and visual artist Ari Behn, 47, was laid to rest in a funeral service at Oslo Cathedral on Jan. 3 after he took his own life on Christmas Day 2019. The princess mourned her ex, whom she divorced in 2016 after 14 years of marriage, along with their three daughters, Maud, 16, Leah, 14, and Emma, 11; her parents, King Harald and Queen Sonja; and her brother, Crown Prince Haakon, and his family. Sweden's Prince Daniel and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands also attended the funeral, as did Ari's grieving girlfriend, lawyer Ebba Rysst Heilman, as well as his parents and hundreds of mourners.
The sultan of Oman dies at 79
Oman's royal leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, died on Jan. 10 at 79. He'd been battling cancer. At the time of his passing, he was the Arab world's longest serving ruler — he'd spent nearly 50 years on the throne following a British-supported bloodless coup against his father. His cousin, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, was sworn in as his successor. World leaders, European royals including Britain's Prince Charles, Spain's King Felipe VI, Belgium's King Philippe, the Netherlands' King Willem-Alexander and more, plus royals from the Arab world including the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait and the kings of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, all traveled to Oman to pay their respects.
Britain's Prince Charles makes his first official visit to Israel on behalf of the crown
Prince Charles arrived in Israel on Jan. 23 for the World Holocaust Forum, which marked 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. His trip was significant: Even though he'd twice been in the country before — for the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres — this was the future British king's first ever official royal visit to the country. In 2019, Prince William became the first British royal ever to make an official visit to Israel. While there, Charles met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (pictured), visited with Holocaust survivors and delivered a powerful speech in which he said in part, "The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims."
Norway's future queen celebrates her Sweet 16
Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway — who will oneday be queen — celebrated her 16th birthday on Jan. 21. To mark the occasion, Norway's Royal Court released a beautiful new black-and-white photo of the teen, whose parents are Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit.
The former king of Belgium's illegitimate daughter wins legal battle, is now Princess Delphine
On Jan. 27, the former king of Belgium, Albert II, publicly confirmed that he is the biological father of artist Delphine Boël. In 2019, Albert — who abdicated in 2013 in favor of his son, the current King Philippe — finally agreed to take a DNA test after a seven-year legal war. In September, Delphine — who was conceived when the king had an affair with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps — asked a court to grant her royal status. On Oct. 1, the court revealed it had ruled in her favor. Princess Delphine is now eligible for a royal inheritance when Albert dies, plus she and her two children can take his last name, Saxe-Cobourg. The former monarch will also have to pay his daughter's legal fees, which total more than $4 million, according to the BBC. "A judicial victory will never replace a father's love, but it does offer a sense of justice," Delphine's lawyer, Marc Uyttendaele, told the BBC. "Many more children who have gone through similar ordeals may be able to find the strength to face them."
Queen Elizabeth's eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, confirms plans to divorce wife Autumn
On Feb. 11, Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips — the son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips — and wife Autumn confirmed that their 12-year marriage was over. "They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children [Savannah and Isla] and ongoing friendship," a spokesman for the couple told People magazine. "The decision to divorce and share custody came about after many months of discussions and although sad, is an amicable one." It was further confirmed that Peter, who's the first of his generation of British royals to divorce, and Autumn, who's Canadian by birth but will reportedly remain in the U.K., quietly separated in 2019 and informed the queen and their families of their split at the time.
Princess Margaret's son, the Earl of Snowdon, announces divorce
A spokesman for the son of Britain's late Princess Margaret on Feb. 17 confirmed the royal had split from his wife of 26 years. "The Earl and Countess of Snowdon have amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced," the spokesman told the BBC. The Earl of Snowdon — who's 21st in the line of succession — is also known as David Armstrong-Jones. He's Queen Elizabeth II's nephew and the son of Margaret and photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. He married Serena Stanhope in 1993. They share two children: Viscount Linley (Charles Armstrong-Jones) and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones.
Japan's new emperor celebrates his 60th birthday
Japan's Emperor Naruhito turned 60 on Feb. 23. Two days earlier, he delivered his first birthday address following his 2019 ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, pledging to support the Japanese people amid modern challenges such as climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bhutan royals family's special year
2020 was a very big year for Bhutan's royal family. On Feb. 21, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck celebrated his 40th birthday. A month later on March 19, the king's wife, Queen Jetsun Pema — who marked her milestone 30th birthday on June 4 — gave birth to their second child and second son, Jigme Ugyen Wangchuck. The king shared a series of photos of his beautiful family on his official Facebook account in May.
Princess Haya of Jordan's messy split from the ruler of Dubai sparks court judgements, headlines
On March 5, reports revealed that the High Court in London had issued a series of shocking judgments in a high-profile case involving the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and his former wife, Princess Haya of Jordan — a former Olympic equestrian and daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan who fled Dubai for the U.K. in April 2019 with her two kids amid claims she was afraid for her life and that the children would be abducted and forcibly returned to Dubai. She secured custody, but later in the year in November, new details emerged about her messy 2019 split. MailOnline reported that Haya had a two-year affair with one of her British bodyguards, Russell Flowers, and paid him $1.6 million to keep quiet about their relationship. A close friend of Russell's wife told MailOnline that the affair ended his four-year marriage and that Haya — who was the sixth wife of the billionaire ruler — gave Russell luxury gifts including a $16,000 watch, a humidor full of expensive cigars, cash and a vintage shotgun.
The Cambridges make their first ever official royal visit to Ireland
Britain's Prince William and Duchess Kate made their first ever official royal visit to the neighboring country of Ireland between March 3 and 5. The couple packed quite a bit into their three-day trip: They rang the famed Peace Bell and met with both the country's president, Michael D. Higgins, and his wife, Sabina Coyne (as well as Bród, one of the couple's Bernese mountain dogs) as well as Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar and his partner, Matthew Barrett, in Dublin. They drank Guinness at a reception, visited charities focused on youth mental health and took a romantic cliff walk with views of farmland and the Irish Sea (pictured). See all the best photos from their trip here.
The Sussexes say goodbye
In early March, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan attended their final run of U.K. events as senior members of Britain's royal family before formally exiting at the end of the month. See all the best photos from their final days representing Queen Elizabeth II here — including images from their very last public event, the frosty Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9.
Prince Albert II of Monaco becomes first reigning monarch or head of state to publicly announce a COVID-19 diagnosis
On March 19 — five days after his 62nd birthday — Prince Albert II of Monaco confirmed that he'd been infected with the coronavirus, making him the first reigning monarch or head of state to publicly announce a COVID-19 diagnosis. Albert's news came a few days after Karl von Habsburg, the Archduke of Austria, became the world's first royal to confirm a positive COVID-19 test result. Four months later on July 21, Jazmin Grimaldi — Albert's adult daughter with American ex Tamara Jean Rotolo — revealed that she was recovering from COVID-19.
Britain's future kings infected with the coronavirus early in pandemic
Britain's Prince Charles announced on March 25 that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Seven months later on Nov. 1, Britain's The Sun tabloid broke the news that Charles' son Prince William was diagnosed with COVID-19 back in April shortly after the Prince of Wales Charles and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed they had the illness. But unlike his father and the political leader, the Duke of Cambridge decided to keep his diagnosis a secret so as not to further alarm the nation, The Sun and other outlets learned. William's decision sparked widespread criticism. But the Brits weren't the only European royals who had COVID-19…
Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden test positive for COVID-19
Sweden's Prince Carl Philip and wife Princess Sofia tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing flu-like symptoms on Nov. 25, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported.
More European royals recover from COVID-19
On Nov. 21, a spokesman for Princess Michael of Kent — who's married to Queen Elizabeth II's first cousin Prince Michael of Kent — revealed she was the latest British royal to have COVID-19. "Princess Michael of Kent's housekeeper fell ill three weeks ago and HRH was immediately tested and was found to be positive for COVID," her spokesman told The Sun on Sunday adding, "She and her husband Prince Michael have remained in isolation at Kensington Palace ever since. Prince Michael did not test positive." Back in late May, another minor royal, Belgium's Prince Joachim — a nephew of King Philippe and the youngest son of Belgium's Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este — publicly apologized after it was revealed that he'd been diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending a party in Spain during lockdown.
Princess Eugenie announces pregnancy, marks more happy milestones
Despite the global pandemic — both her in-laws had severe cases of COVID-19 but, thankfully, eventually recovered — Britain's Princess Eugenie still found immense joy in 2020. She turned 30 on March 23 and a month later on April 24, she and husband Jack Brooksbank marked their 10-year anniversary as a couple (they later celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary in October). Then on Sept. 25, Eugenie and Jack announced that they're expecting their first child in 2021. In November, a report from The Sun revealed that the parents-to-be had acquired new digs too: They moved into Frogmore Cottage — the five-bedroom U.K. family home of her cousin, Prince Harry, his wife, Duchess Meghan, and their son, Archie, who aren't using it as they are now based in California.
The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall mark 15th wedding anniversary
Britain's Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary on April 9. To mark the milestone day, they shared a new photo of themselves posing with Camilla's dogs, Bluebell and Beth, that was taken at Birkhall, their residence in Scotland, which is where they isolated amid the coronavirus pandemic (it's also where Charles recovered after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in March).
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark celebrates 80th birthday
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark celebrated her milestone 80th birthday on April 16. The monarch, who's been on the throne since 1972, addressed her subjects from Fredensborg Palace on the occasion, as seen in this photo released by the palace. To further honor the queen, the palace shared three generational portraits taken by photographer Per Morten Abrahamsen in the fall and winter of 2019 featuring the monarch as well as her heirs, Crown Prince Frederik and his son, Prince Christian. See them on Instagram here. In September, Denmark's Royal House released the first new official portrait of Queen Margrethe II in eight years. See it here.
Belgium's King Philippe celebrates his 60th birthday
King Philippe of Belgium marked a milestone birthday in 2020, turning 60 on April 15: One day later, the youngest of his four children with Queen Mathilde — Princess Eléonore — turned 12. The king took to Instagram to mark his special day and also acknowledged the global coronavirus health crisis, writing alongside a new portrait, "I would like to thank you very much for the great messages and beautiful wishes for my 60th birthday. Today I am thinking of everyone who has a hard time and especially those who have lost a loved one. I am impressed by the numerous expressions of solidarity across the country. We will overcome this ordeal together!"
Britain's queen and her consort celebrate her 94th birthday, his 99th birthday and 73 years of marriage in 2020
On April 21, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 94th birthday with husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle. But for the first time in 68 years, the occasion was not marked with its traditional royal gun salute, which the monarch canceled because she felt it wouldn't be appropriate amid the global coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported. Less than two months later on June 10, her husband, Prince Philip, celebrated his 99th birthday. The palace released this photo of the Duke of Edinburgh and the monarch posing together days earlier in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle, where they been hunkered down with a reduced staff amid the pandemic. Later in the year on Nov. 20, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.
Belgium's future queen heads to military school after high school graduation
Belgium's future queen, Princess Elisabeth, graduated from high school — United World College of the Atlantic in Wales — in May at 18 and in the fall began military school at the Royal Military School in central Brussels, which her father, King Philippe, also attended. She's studying social and military sciences for a year in order to help prepare her for her future royal duties. On Oct. 8, Elisabeth was joined by her parents — Philippe and Queen Mathilde — at a ceremony marking the start of the military institution's academic year. She celebrated her 19th birthday a few weeks later.
Britain's Princess Charlotte turns 5
Prince William and Duchess Kate's middle child, Princess Charlotte, turned 5 on May 2. To mark the occasion, they followed tradition and released a series of photographs of their daughter taken by Kate (see all four photos here). "The images were taken by The Duchess as the family helped to pack up and deliver food packages for isolated pensioners in the local area," the Cambridges explained on Instagram.
Archie Mountbatten-Windsor turns 1, the Sussexes confirm Archewell nonprofit name
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan publicly celebrated son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor's first birthday on May 6 with a nearly three-minute-long video of Meghan reading "Duck! Rabbit!" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld to Archie — Harry served as the cameraman — for Save the Stories, a partnership between Save the Children and No Kid Hungry to raise money to get meals to children in need amid the coronavirus pandemic. (It was started by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams in March.) Watch Archie react as Meghan reads the book here. A month earlier, the couple confirmed the name of their new nonprofit — Archewell — and its inspiration after The Telegraph broke the news they'd filed for a trademark application. "Before [our former foundation] SussexRoyal came the idea of 'Arche' — the Greek word meaning 'source of action.' We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son's name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon," they said in a statement.
Britain's senior royals mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Britain's royals celebrated VE Day — Victory in Europe Day — on May 8 without fanfare, yet their solemn approach still resonated across the nation as they paid tribute to the World War II generation. Queen Elizabeth II delivered a speech that was recorded in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle and broadcast at 9 p.m. — the exact time her father, King George VI, announced the end of WWII in Europe three quarters of a century earlier — during the BBC's VE Day commemorations, and with several nostalgic objects in the background: a photo of her father in his Admiral of the Fleet uniform with RAF Wings; the cap she wore when she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Services during WWII (she's the only female member of the royal family ever to serve in Britain's armed forces as a full-time and active member); and a photograph of the royal family and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on VE Day in 1945, Town & Country reported. Prince Charles and wife Duchess Camilla marked the milestone anniversary with a socially distanced ceremony while isolating in Scotland. Charles read from grandfather King George VI's diary entry in which the monarch described the events of VE Day 75 years ago while Camilla read an excerpt from father Major Bruce Shand's account of his time in the army during WWII. The Germans held him as a prisoner of war, though he was later able to escape and return to Britain.
Kristen Stewart to play Princess Diana in new movie from "Jackie" filmmaker
On June 17, news broke revealing that actress Kristen Stewart will star as Princess Diana in "Spencer," a movie from director Pablo Larraín, who's perhaps best known for directing Natalie Portman in "Jackie," the 2016 biographical drama about former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It features a script by "Peaky Blinders" creator-writer Steven Knight and, as Deadline explained, "covers a critical weekend in the early '90s, when Diana decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn't working, and that she needed to veer from a path that put her in line to one day be queen." In an interview with InStyle published on Oct. 7, Kristen opened up about how she's preparing for the role and why she's feeling pressure to get it right when filming begins in January 2021. "It's one of the saddest stories to exist ever, and I don't want to just play Diana — I want to know her implicitly. I haven't been this excited about playing a part, by the way, in so long," she said.
Britain's annual Trooping the Colour birthday celebration for the queen dramatically scaled back amid pandemic
Britain's annual Trooping the Colour — the official birthday celebration of the U.K. sovereign — is usually a big, public spectacle held in London every June. It's traditionally marked by a grand military parade and a photo opp featuring dozens of royal family members gathered on the Buckingham Palace balcony. But in 2020, things looked much different due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated with a scaled back, socially distanced ceremony on June 13 featuring royal salutes from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, where she quarantined during the global health crisis.
Sweden's Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia celebrate five years of marriage
On June 13 Prince Carl Philip of Sweden and wife Princess Sofia shared a slideshow of personal and previously unseen photos from their 2015 nuptials to mark the five-year anniversary of their wedding at the chapel in Stockholm's Royal Palace. See all the gorgeous images the parents of two shared here. Carl Philip's siblings and parents also all married in June: Sister Crown Princess Victoria wed on June 19, 2010, while little sister Princess Madeleine married on June 8, 2013. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia tied the knot on June 19, 1976.
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel celebrate a decade of marriage
On June 19, Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, the Swedish Royal Court released several new portraits of the future queen and her husband, the former Daniel Westling, taken by photographer Elisabeth Toll — including this one snapped at Gustav III's Pavilion near the couple's home, Haga Palace. See more on the royal family's Instagram page here.
A Jordanian princess weds a literary icon's grandson
Princess Raiyah of Jordan — the youngest daughter of Jordan's Queen Noor and the late King Hussein — married British journalist Ned Donovan, who's the grandson of famed author Roald Dahl, in a tiny, socially distanced ceremony in Britain on July 7. The bride announced the news on Twitter and shared a few wedding photos. "Thank you all for your kind messages on our wedding! While it was originally planned for April in Jordan, the [coronavirus] pandemic derailed those plans and it was safer for my husband's family to hold it in the UK," she wrote. "God willing we look forward to celebrating in Jordan once the situation allows."
After postponing her wedding multiple times, Britain's Princess Beatrice of York quietly exchanged vows with property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, her love of nearly two years, in a small, private and socially distanced ceremony at The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge — which is the residence of her father, Prince Andrew, and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York — in Windsor, England on July 17. The bride's paternal grandparents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, were among the fewer than 20 guests as were the bride and groom's immediate families including Edo's son from a previous relationship with architect Dara Huang, Christopher Woolf. People magazine reported that the 5-year-old served as both a pageboy and best man. Beatrice wore a vintage gown with sentimental value instead of a new designer dress. Her ivory Peau De Soie taffeta gown by designer Norman Hartnell was borrowed from her grandmother, the queen, as was her Queen Mary Fringe Tiara — which is the same tiara that the monarch wore on her own wedding day in 1947. Beatrice's aunt, Princess Anne, also wore the tiara at her 1973 wedding.
The Archduchess of Austria and Royal Princess of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia marries race car driver in Monaco
Jewelry designer Eleonore Von Habsburg — who's also the Archduchess of Austria and Royal Princess of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia — married Belgian race car driver Jerome d'Ambrosio in a civil ceremony at a registry office in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on July 20. The couple's plans for a larger church wedding were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic so they opted for a small legal ceremony instead. The bride's father is Archduke Karl von Habsburg, the current head of the Austrian Imperial family House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and her mother is Baroness Francesca von Thyssen-Bornemisza. Her paternal great-grandparents — Charles I of Austria and Zita of Bourbon-Parma — were the last emperor and empress of Austria.
Royals from Luxembourg, Albania and Germany welcomed new babies in 2020
Guillaume, Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg and wife Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (both pictured) welcomed their first child, Prince Charles Jean Philippe Joseph Marie Guillaume — who is second in line to the throne — on May 10. Due to the global COVID-19 health crisis, Guillaume's parents, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Maria Teresa, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, had to meet their new grandson over a video call. Germany's royal House of Hanover also got a little bigger in 2020. On July 7, Prince Christian of Hanover and his wife, Peruvian attorney and fashion designer Alessandra de Osma, welcomed twins — Nicolas and Sofia Hannover de Osma — in Madrid. On Oct. 22, Crown Prince Leka II and Crown Princess Elia of Albania welcomed their first child, Princess Geraldine, in Tirana, Albania. Her name is a tribute to her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Geraldine, who died on Oct. 22, 2002 — exactly 18 years to the day before her birth.
Spain's former king begins self-imposed exile in the UAE amid corruption scandal
On Aug. 3, Spain's former King Juan Carlos I, who in 2014 abdicated the throne to his son, the current King Felipe VI, announced in a letter posted to the Spanish royal family's official website that he'd left the country in the midst of a corruption scandal (or, as he wrote, due to the "public repercussions of certain episodes of my past private life") in order to, as Town & Country put it, make it easier for his son to rule. Juan Carlos's self-imposed exile followed months of controversy and an ongoing investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing. As speculation mounted about the former monarch's whereabouts, the palace on Aug. 17 confirmed that he was living in the United Arab Emirates, France 24 reported. In the wake of his departure, one of Juan Carlos's former mistresses, Danish-born business consultant Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, spoke to the BBC about their lengthy affair as well as how the king transferred what was left of a $100 million payment he'd received from the late king of Saudi Arabia — about $77 million — to her. Like the king emeritus, she's also under investigation.
"Finding Freedom" book release delivers juicy bombshells
The Aug. 11 release of the bestselling book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family" by royals reporters Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand delivered bombshells that made headlines for weeks. The authors spoke to more than 100 sources including some of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's friends and aides for the book, delivering previously unknown details about everything from Harry and Meghan's first dates and first trip to Africa to Meghan and Duchess Kate's non-existent friendship. The book also claimed that despite reports to the contrary, the sisters-in-law were not feuding — the real issues were between Harry and brother Prince William, who, the book alleges, deeply upset Harry when he allegedly warned him not to move too fast with Meghan and to "take as much time as you need to get to know this girl," which Harry found condescending.
The Sussexes put down roots in California with expensive new home purchase
On Aug. 12, a spokesperson for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan confirmed reports that the couple had purchased a new family home and moved in in July. The news came after they spent four months living in Hollywood mogul and philanthropist Tyler Perry's Mediterranean-style mansion in the Hollywood Hills as they looked for a more permanent residence — which they found in a wealthy celebrity-favored enclave a few hours north of Meghan's native Los Angeles. DailyMail.com has photos of the new property — a 5.4-acre estate in Montecito, California. For $14.65 million, they got a 14,500-square-foot main house with nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, a billiards and game room, a home theater, spa facilities, an elevator and a gym. There's also a two-bedroom guesthouse, a teahouse, a tennis court, a pool and a private playground that's perfect for their toddler son, Archie. Speaking of their houses… On Sept. 7, the couple's rep confirmed to BAZAAR.com that they had fully repaid the $3.1 million it cost to update their U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage, into a livable family residence before they moved there in 2019, therefore achieving their goal of complete financial independence five months after officially exiting as senior working royals.
Britain's Princess Anne turns 70
Britain's Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II's second child and only daughter, celebrated her 70th birthday on Aug. 15. To mark the milestone, she was interviewed for the cover of the May issue of Vanity Fair and made headlines with some of her comments, including those calling herself "the boring old fuddy-duddy at the back saying, 'Don't forget the basics.'" The Princess Royal also posed for three new official portraits taken by photographer John Swannell — who also shot her for her 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays — at her home, Gatcombe Park. See them beginning here.
Jordan's queen turns 50
Queen Rania of Jordan celebrated her 50th birthday on Aug. 31. The Royal Hashemite Court released two new portraits of Rania, who's married to Jordan's King Abdullah II, to mark the occasion. See the second one here.
Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark gets engaged
On Sept. 1, Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark — the youngest child of King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie — announced his engagement to Nina Nastassja Flohr. Philippos, who works as a hedge fund analyst in New York City, proposed on the Greek island of Ithaca earlier in the summer, HELLO! magazine reported. His older brother, Prince Nikolaos, took the couple's official engagement photos (see them here). Nina is a creative director for VistaJet, a company founded by her father, Swiss businessman Thomas Flohr.
The Sussexes ink Netflix and Spotify deals
The New York Times announced on Sept. 2 that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan had signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix to produce documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children's programming for the streaming giant. "Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope. As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us," the couple — who are believed to be making millions from the deal — said in a statement, adding that Netflix's "unprecedented reach will help us share impactful content that unlocks action." In mid-December, they announced another major deal with Spotify to produce and host podcasts through a partnership with their production company, Archewell Audio.
Archduchess Gabriella of Austria marries Prince Henri of Bourbon-Parma
Archduchess Gabriella of Austria and Prince Henri of Bourbon-Parma married at Schloss Tratzberg in Jenbach, Austria, on Sept. 12. Tatler, which posted a few wedding photos, reported that the couple are distantly related: Both are great-grandchildren of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg and husband Prince Félix (né Bourbon-Parma). See more wedding photos here.
Barbados is dropping Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state
The government of Barbados announced on Sept. 15 that it will remove Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and become a republic by the end of 2021, making it the first country to drop the monarch in nearly 30 years. "The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," the Caribbean nation's Governor-General Sandra Mason said in a speech as reported by CNN. The queen is seen here inspecting an honor guard during a visit to the island nation — a former British colony — in 1977.
Arab world loses a respected emir, gains a new Kuwaiti monarch
On Sept. 29, officials announced that the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, had died at 91 following a 14-year reign over the Persian Gulf state. His 83-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed, was named his successor by the country's cabinet. Royals around the globe payed tribute to the late emir, whom CNN reported was widely respected for trying to mediate conflict in the region. "Today we lost a great brother and a wise leader who loves Jordan," Jordan's King Abdullah tweeted. "[He] did not hesitate in his benevolent endeavors to make every effort to unite the Arab ranks." Britain's Queen Elizabeth II said she was "saddened" by the news as she sent condolences to the Kuwaiti royal family. "I have deeply valued his friendship towards the United Kingdom," she said in part. "I offer Your Highness my sincere condolences. I offer also my sympathy to the people of Kuwait. May the long history of close companionship between our two families continue."
The Cambridge children reveal their speaking voices to the public
Prince William and Duchess Kate shared an Instagram video on Oct. 3 of their three children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis — posing questions about nature to famed conservationist Sir David Attenborough. It's the first time the public has really heard and seen the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's children speaking on camera. George asked David, "What animal do you think will become extinct next?" while Charlotte mused, "I like spiders, do you like spiders too?" Toddler Louis adorably mispronounced "animal" as he asked the environmentalist, "What amimal do you like?" Commenters loved the post, with one Instagram user noting, "I just realize that I never heard their voices," another adding, "It's so nice to hear their voices! Cuteness overload!!" and yet another noticing, "Charlotte sounds just like her mum!"
Juicy new book "Battle of Brothers" details Princes William and Harry's fractured relationship
Oct. 20 marked the release of the juicy new book "Battle of Brothers: William and Harry — The Inside Story of a Family in Tumult" by historian Robert Lacey, the royal consultant on Netflix's "The Crown." It explores the origins of the siblings' complicated relationship as well as their wives' roles in their ups and downs. "These two brothers — once inseparable and now separated by much more than mere distance — have been acting out the contradictions that go back into their childhoods and even before that: into their parents' ill-fated marriage. We have seen conflicts between heir and spare in every recent generation of the royal family — but nothing so profound as this," the author said in a press release. It also digs into Harry's reluctance to always play second to William and why an allegedly miffed William and his wife waited eight days to meet Harry and Duchess Meghan's newborn son, Archie, in 2019. Further, it shares new stories about William's disdain for father Prince Charles growing up (though it claims they're close and have a good relationship now), explains why Kate declined her first opportunity to spend Christmas with Queen Elizabeth II when she and William were still dating, and reveals how William further upset Harry when he turned to their uncle Charles Spencer for help when he thought Harry and Meghan were moving too fast. "What many people would like to see is those two brothers to come back together. But … they are not going to," the author told The Sun, adding that the deep resentment they share was "crystallized by Meghan."
The Sultan of Brunei's son Prince Azim dies at 38
On Oct. 26, the Kingdom of Brunei's government announced that Prince Azim — the son of Hassanal Bolkiah, 29th Sultan of Brunei — died at 38 on Oct. 24 in the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. The late film producer and philanthropist's younger brother, Prince Mateen, took to Instagram to reveal his sibling's cause of death, writing, "Earlier this year, my brother was diagnosed with severe systemic vasculitis, which is an autoimmune disease. … At the same time, he was also coping with bipolar disorder, which made the fight harder. Eventually, my brother succumbed to multiple organ failure caused by persistent infections due to the autoimmune disease." Mateen told followers that his brother would have wanted their family to be transparent about his illness, as Azim "was a big advocate of bringing awareness to different causes."
Princess Märtha Louise of Norway announces reality TV show
Princess Märtha Louise of Norway announced on Oct. 26 that she's filming "Märtha," a documentary fly-on-the-wall TV series — in other words, a reality show — she hopes will let the world see another side of her and help her set the record straight about her headline-making personal life. People magazine reported that the show "will detail the impact that the combination of the coronavirus [pandemic] and the tragic Christmas Day 2019 suicide of her ex-husband, Ari Behn, has had on the princess," who in 2019 confirmed she was in a relationship with American spiritual guide Shaman Durek.
Japan formally names Fumihito, Crown Prince Akishino, the emperor's heir
On Nov. 8, Japan formally proclaimed Fumihito, Prince Akishino — the crown prince of Japan — first in the line of succession. The move officially made him the heir of elder brother Emperor Naruhito, who became emperor in 2019 after their father abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne. The day's ceremonies, which were postponed from April due to the coronavirus pandemic, were scaled back significantly and attendees wore masks. In Japan, only males can inherit the throne, so Akishino is one of just three heirs who also include his teenage son, Prince Hisahito, and his uncle, Prince Hitachi, the younger brother of Emperor Emeritus Akihito.
Season 4 of "The Crown" sparks acclaim, controversy as it enters the Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher years
When season 4 of "The Crown" — which covers 1979 to 1990, taking viewers into the Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher years of Britain's royal family — debuted on Netflix on Nov. 15, it instantly sparked controversy. Critics praised it — it scored higher on reviews aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes than any other season — but politicians and others expressed fears that viewers would believe it was more documentary than costume drama, especially considering that many figures who are still alive today aren't exactly sympathetic. "It's a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that," U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden told the Mail on Sunday. "Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact." Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, told ITV the show should consider warning viewers. "I think it would help 'The Crown' an enormous amount if, at the beginning of each episode, it stated that: 'This isn't true but it is based around some real events,'" he said. As fans reacted to the fictionalized version of their real-life affair, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla turned off the comments on their official Twitter account amid a run of trolling.
Duchess Meghan shares devastating miscarriage news and a message of hope in powerful essay
Duchess Meghan revealed in an essay for The New York Times published on Nov. 25 that she suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage in July. In the piece titled "The Losses We Share," Meghan wrote about the moment she knew she and husband Prince Harry were in the throes of a pregnancy loss: After taking 1-year-old son Archie from his crib and changing his diaper, she felt a sudden, sharp cramp and dropped to the floor. "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second," she wrote. Later, "Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband's heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, 'Are you OK?'" She went on to reference a moment captured in a documentary she and Harry made while on a tour of southern Africa in 2019 when a journalist asked her if she was OK — a moment that meant a lot to her att he time as she was struggling on many fronts. Meghan went on to address how 2020 has brought so many people "to our breaking points" amid the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice, political divides, the questioning of science and more. Read her entire piece here.
Zara Tindall is expecting again
Olympic equestrian and British royal Zara Tindall — Princess Anne's daughter and Queen Elizabeth II's eldest granddaughter — is expecting another baby, her husband announced on Dec. 9. Retired rugby star Mike Tindall shared the happy news on his "The Good, The Bad & The Rugby" podcast, explaining, "It's been a good week for me, had a little scan last week — third Tindall on its way." Mike also confessed that after two girls — he and Zara, who's been open about suffering multiple miscarriages in the past, are parents to Mia Grace, 6, and Lena Elizabeth, 2 — he'd love a son. "I will love it whatever, whether it's a boy or a girl, but please be a boy!" he said.
Sweden's royal family prepares to welcome a new baby
Just a few weeks after they tested positive for COVID-19, Sweden's Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia announced on Instagram on Dec. 11 that they're expecting their third child, who's due in late March or early April 2021. The new baby will join big brothers Prince Gabriel, 3, and Prince Alexander, 4.
The Cambridge kids walk their first ever red carpet
Britain's young Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George walked their first red carpet when they attended a special pantomime performance of The National Lottery's Pantoland at London's Palladium Theatre on Dec. 11 with their parents, Prince William and Duchess Kate, to thank key workers and their families for their efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince Albert II of Monaco faces new paternity suit
Days after Prince Albert II of Monaco's wife, Princess Charlene, made headlines for a bold new hairstyle featuring a half-shaved head on Dec. 16, multiple outlets reported that the head of state has been hit with a new paternity lawsuit. Albert has long supported the two illegitimate children he had before he met his wife, but now a 34-year-old Brazilian woman has claimed that the prince got her pregnant during the period when he was dating Charlene — and that she gave birth to their daughter in 2005, the New York Post reported. The case is scheduled to be taken up by a court in Milan in February 2021.