Prince Andrew pays $16 million settlement to his sexual abuse accuser
2022 has been another terrible year for Britain's Prince Andrew. In January, it was announced that his military titles and royal patronages would be returned to Queen Elizabeth II and he would cease using the title His Royal Highness in an official capacity. In February — despite his denials of any wrongdoing — he reached a settlement with sexual abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre, who in 2021 sued the Duke of York in U.S. civil court alleging that his old friend Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted pedophile who died by suicide in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, had trafficked her and forced her to have sex with his friends, including Andrew, when she was underage. In March, Giuffre's attorney confirmed the settlement — which reports pegged at about $16 million — had been paid by the disgraced royal. Adding to the prince's woes? On July 14, Deadline reported that a movie to be titled "Scoop" is in the works about how the BBC obtained its headline-making 2019 "Newsnight" interview with Andrew — the one in which he addressed his relationship with Epstein and also insisted he'd never met Giuffre despite the existence of a photo of them together on the same night she's long claimed he abused her. Days after his hugely tone-deaf sit-down, which was widely described as a train wreck, a reluctant Andrew was forced to step back as a senior working royal.
Prince Charles' charity accepts money from Osama bin Laden's family, plus more eyebrow-raising scandals
At the end of July, Prince Charles faced allegations that he accepted a $1.2 million payment from the family of Osama bin Laden — the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. The Sunday Times reported that Osama's half-brothers Bakr bin Laden, the patriarch of the wealthy Saudi family, and Shafiq made the generous donation and that Charles met with Bakr at Clarence House in London in 2013 — two years after U.S. special forces killed Osama. According to The Sunday Times, Charles agreed to accept the money "despite the initial objections of advisers at Clarence House and the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund (PWCF), where the offering was donated," the newspaper wrote. A spokesperson for Clarence House confirmed that the charity did accepted the money but disputed some of the newspaper's reporting, telling Fox News Digital in a statement: "The Prince of Wales' Charitable Fund has assured us that thorough due diligence was undertaken in accepting this donation. The decision to accept was taken by the charity's Trustees alone and any attempt to characterize it otherwise is false." But that's not the only charity donation scandal the Prince of Wales faced in 2022…
Prince Charles's charities scrutinized after eyebrow-raising donations revealed
The hits came all year long for Queen Elizabeth II's sons. Just one day after Prince Andrew settled his sexual assault lawsuit with Virginia Giuffre in February, London's Metropolitan Police announced that it was launching an investigation into allegations that came to light in 2021 concerning a cash-for-honors scandal — that a charity led by Prince Charles helped secure a knighthood and British citizenship for a wealthy Saudi businessman in exchange for some hefty donations. (Aside from ethical implications for the future king — who's denied any knowledge of the alleged deal, though the head of The Prince's Foundation resigned amid the drama — there's a 1925 law that prohibits the sale of peerages and other royal honors.) Then in June, eyebrows were raised again when it was revealed that the Prince of Wales accepted literal bags of cash as charity donations from the former prime minister of Qatar in private meetings between 2011 and 2015. The Sunday Times reported that Charles was given a total of $3.2 million. Reports revealed the money was handed over on separate occasions in a suitcase, a holdall and in shopping bags from London's Fortnum & Mason department store, then deposited into the accounts of The Prince of Wales's Charitable Fund. Clarence House said in a statement that the donations "were passed immediately to one of the prince's charities who carried out the appropriate governance and have assured us that all the correct processes were followed." Though there's no suggestion the donations were illegal, the story is still pretty crazy!
Is Prince Albert II of Monaco paying his wife to stay?
A wild story concerning Monaco's ruling royals emerged in May when French outlet Voici reported, per DailyMail.com, that Prince Albert II had signed an "ultra-confidential contract" that requires him to pay wife Princess Charlene — who was absent from Monaco and her duties for nearly a year as she faced health issues and recovered in South Africa then Switzerland — about $12 million a year to fulfill her royal duties be by his side. Rival publication Paris Match Belgium reported a similar story. "Of course the princess enjoys huge perks [as a royal], but ready cash is not guaranteed. She's been through a very difficult time, so it would make sense for Charlene to try and secure her own guaranteed income," a royal insider based in Monte Carlo told DailyMail.com. But friends of the couple dismissed the reports, telling Page Six that Albert isn't paying Charlene millions to remain as his wife. "Of course she has a generous prenup, but Albert doesn't have to pay her to stay," a source close to Charlene told Page Six. "After being away for so long during her illness, Charlene is so happy to be back with Albert and the kids. They spend every weekend at their country place. Albert is fully supportive of Charlene and is also helping her with her charities."
Palace refuses to reveal findings in bullying probe
Remember when, in early 2021, Duchess Meghan was accused in a Times of London story — which was published right before her bombshell-filled Oprah Winfrey interview with Prince Harry aired — of bullying staffers? And when the palace announced it was launching a probe into the allegations? Well, the results of the privately funded investigation are in — but the palace won't say what they are. In June, a palace official revealed to the media that the results would not be shared publicly, though claimed that "lessons have been learned" and that the palace's human resource policies had been changed "wherever appropriate," The Washington Post reported. Meghan has long denied bullying anyone, with her lawyers calling the Times report a "calculated smear campaign" and accusing the newspaper of being "used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative." The palace said it was keeping its findings confidential to protect the privacy of those who gave testimony in the probe, which reportedly looked at how the palace handled the complaints rather than the specifics of the allegations made against Meghan. For a time in June after the story broke, the hashtag #RoyalFamilyLied trended on Twitter.
Four future European queens (and a future grand duke) celebrate one princess's milestone 18th birthday in Norway
Four future queens of Europe — and a future grand duke — gathered with their families and posed for this portrait in June during a gala dinner celebration in Oslo, Norway, marking the milestone 18th birthday of Norway's Princess Ingrid Alexandra (front center). (Her January birthday celebrations were postponed until June due to the coronavirus pandemic.) Norway's future queen was flanked by Sweden's future queen, Princess Estelle (front left), Luxembourg's future grand duke, Prince Charles (front right), and The Netherlands' future queen, Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange (back left), and Belgium's future queen, Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant (back right). People magazine reported that this marked the first time the three older princesses have publicly worn tiaras.
Queen Elizabeth II marks her Platinum Jubilee — 70 years on the throne — with four days of festivities
For four days in June, Britain's royals attended various events in London and beyond — from Trooping the Colour to a Royal Air Force flypast to a celebrity-filled Platinum Pageant on The Mall — to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee marking her 70 years on the throne. Here, the core and most senior members of the royal family — the queen; her heir Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; his heir Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate, plus their three kids including heir Prince George — are seen gathered on the balcony at Buckingham Palace as the weekend festivities concluded, giving Her Majesty's subjects a strong visual of the slimmed-down monarchy Charles wants to enforce as his own reign approaches.
Prince Louis steals the show
Queen Elizabeth II might have been the focus of four days of Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June, but it was her great-grandson Prince Louis who stole the show. The 4-year-old royal — the youngest son of Prince William and Duchess Kate — grabbed all the headlines as he pulled faces, goofed around, talked back to his mother, pulled his cousin's hair, got shushed by sister Princess Charlotte, sat on grandfather Prince Charles's lap and animatedly reacted during the long weekend of festivities.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan return to Britain
The other big news that nominated headlines during Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June? Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's return to Britain. Though the Duke of Sussex has been back a few times since he and his wife left as senior working royals and moved to America in early 2020, Megan has not. During the low-key visit — the couple did not pose with family members on the Buckingham Palace balcony, for example, and only attended a handful of events, including a National Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral in London (pictured) — Harry and Meghan privately introduced the queen to their daughter, Lilibet Diana (whose first name is the monarch's childhood nickname) and threw a first birthday party for their little girl at their U.K. home, Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor, England. Reports later revealed that Prince Charles also met his granddaughter for the first time amid ongoing tensions with Harry, while Prince William and Duchess Kate allegedly did not spend any private time with the Sussexes.
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70th anniversary of her accession to the British throne
In February, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II celebrated the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne at 25. The monarch said that 70 years later, the day is one she remembers "as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign." She remains Britain's longest reigning monarch. Buckingham Palace released this image of Her Majesty on her big day showing her smiling as she worked on papers from her iconic red box inside Sandringham House in Norfolk, England, in early February.
Queen Elizabeth II's health issues make headlines
In February, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 — another health setback for the monarch in 2022. Though the then-95-year-old royal got through it, she was left "very tired and exhausted," she later revealed. Her Majesty also continued to face mobility issues in 2022, which led her to cancel appearances at multiple events including a few big ones including the Service of Thanksgiving and the Party At the Palace concert, which were tentpoles of her Platinum Jubilee festivities in June, as well as the State Opening of Parliament in May, marking only the third time she's been absent in 70 years (she was pregnant the first two times). But in May, she debuted a new form of transportation to get her around in comfort — a luxury chauffeured six-person electric golf cart from the Danish firm Garia that cost the palace about $77,000 (it's been dubbed the "Queenmobile") — when she made a surprise appearance at the Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show.
Prince Andrew presses his luck
Despite all the unsavory headlines, the loss of his military titles and use of His Royal Highness and his sexual abuse lawsuit settlement on top of all his alleged bad behavior, Prince Andrew continued to attempt to reenter the spotlight early in 2022. In March, he stole all the headlines and distracted from the focus of the day when he escorted his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, inside Westminster Abbey and saw by her side for her late husband Prince Philip's memorial service. Royal commentator Robert Jobson told People magazine there was uneasiness among senior members of the royal family "but [the queen] insisted," he said, adding, "It shows she wholeheartedly loves and believes her son."
Duchess Kate's 40th birthday portraits
Britain's Duchess Kate and Prince William both celebrated milestone birthdays in 2022: She turned 40 in January and he marked the same milestone in June. This is one of three new portraits released by Kensington Palace to mark the Duchess of Cambridge's 40th birthday on Jan. 9, 2022. She was photographed by Paolo Roversi at Kew Gardens in London in November 2021 wearing a red Alexander McQueen gown. The portraits will enter the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery, of which the duchess is patron.
Keep reading to see Kate's two other 40th birthday portraits…
Duchess Kate's 40th birthday portraits
This is the second of three portraits released by Kensington Palace of Duchess Kate, again wearing Alexander McQueen, to mark her 40th birthday on Jan. 9, 2022.
Keep reading to see the last of Kate's 40th birthday portraits…
Duchess Kate's 40th birthday portraits
This is the third of three portraits of Duchess Kate released by Kensington Palace to mark her 40th birthday on Jan. 9, 2022. The Duchess of Cambridge also wore an ethereal Alexander McQueen gown in this shot, which was snapped by Paolo Roversi at Kew Gardens in London in November 2021.
A Norwegian princess gets engaged to an American shaman
Three years after confirming their relationship, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her American love, Shaman Durek — a Los Angeles-based spiritual guide and healer whose celebrity fans include Gwyneth Paltrow — got engaged, they announced on June 7. "She said YES!" he captioned a photo with his bride-to-be on Instagram, revealing her engagement ring and adding in his lengthy post, "When you know you know. There is nothing better than having clarity as a man that the woman that stands in front of you is the one. I'm overjoyed with tears that I get to spend the rest of my life with the most pure hearted, angelic, wise, powerhouse woman who represents all levels of a goddess in my eyes." Märtha Louise shared the news in a post of her own, calling her fiancé "the one who makes my heart skip, the one who sees me and acknowledges me from my highest potential, who makes me laugh and who I can be vulnerable with." She also thanked "all my friends and family who have stood steadfast by our side." The divorced princess's parents, Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and brother and sister-in-law, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, released statements congratulating the couple.
Caribbean royal tour controversy
The world is changing, but is the British monarchy? Prince William and Duchess Kate's $275,000 royal tour of the Caribbean — they visited the Commonwealth nations of Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas in March in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee — was riddled with controversy, protests and calls for slavery reparations as well as dropping the monarch as their head of state. While in Jamaica, William attempted to acknowledge mounting tensions by expressing his "profound sorrow" concerning Britain's role in the slave trade. "Slavery was abhorrent. And it should never have happened," he said in part. Many didn't think he took his remarks far enough. In April, the queen youngest son, Prince Edward, and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, also faced controversy over the monarchy's colonial past when they visited Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda to mark the monarch's Platinum Jubilee.
Queen Elizabeth II delivers huge news about Duchess Camilla's future title
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II dropped some major news into her remarks acknowledging the beginning of her Platinum Jubilee year in February: She wants her son and heir Prince Charles's wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, to be known as queen consort when Charles takes the throne. "When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service," Elizabeth said in a message released on the eve of her 70th anniversary as monarch. The news is significant as it reverses what Charles said in a press release shared on the day his engagement to the former Camilla Parker Bowles was confirmed in 2005, which said that "It is intended that Mrs. Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne." That had been the plan because Camilla had a lengthy affair with Charles while he was married to first wife Princess Diana. In the wake of ongoing negative public sentiment, upon her marriage to Charles, Camilla took the Duchess of Cornwall title instead of Princess of Wales, which continues to be associated with Diana, who died in 1997 just months after her divorce from Charles was finalized.
Denmark's future queen consort turns 50
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark marked a milestone birthday in February: She turned 50. The Royal House of Denmark released this stunning official birthday portrait for the occasion.
Prince Harry legal war with the U.K. government moves forward
In July, a U.K. court granted Prince Harry the right to challenge the British government and the security arrangements — or lack thereof — that cover him and his family after they were changed in 2020 when he and Duchess Meghan stepped back as senior working royals. It marked a victory in his legal war with the government that came to light in January, though quietly began in 2021. Harry's legal team has argued that the decision to deny him and his family protection was unfair because, it turns out, Queen Elizabeth II's most senior aide and private secretary, Edward Young — with whom the Duke of Sussex has experienced tensions in the past — was involved despite Harry being told that an independent committee would decide their fate. It also emerged that Harry had previously offered to personally pay for police protection during visits to his home country, where he, Meghan and their kids, Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, face myriad heinous threats — and where their personal security team is at a disadvantage as they don't have access to government intelligence and cannot carry weapons. Though this offer was shared with the queen's aide and Prince Charles's private secretary, Clive Alderton, they did not pass it on to the decision-making committee, the prince's legal team has claimed. Grazia reported that this is believed to be the first occasion in modern times when a member of the royal family has gone to court with the government. "As is widely known, others who have left public office and have an inherent threat risk receive police protection at no cost to them," Harry's spokesperson has said (It's been reported that disgraced Prince Andrew, despite stepping back from official duties, still gets taxpayer-funded security). "The goal for Prince Harry has been simple — to ensure the safety of himself and his family while in the U.K. so his children can know his home country."
New book delves into friction between the Sussexes and the Windsors
Another year, another unauthorized royal tell-all. In July, author Tom Bower released "Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors," which is full of bombshell claims — though the writer admitted on "Good Morning Britain" that his sources aren't fans of the Duchess of Sussex, who "made it pretty clear to all her friends and people who work for her not to talk to me, so it was quite an uphill struggle but I got enough people to speak to me … about 80 people." Tom reported new details about that old story concerning Meghan and Duchess Kate clashing over the young bridesmaids' dresses before Meghan's 2018 royal wedding, explaining that he was told the women disagreed over the fit of Princess Charlotte's dress and the length of her hemline and whether the girls should wear tights or not. (Kate said yes while the bride said no.) As the gossip hit the internet, #DuchessofTights trended on Twitter on July 22. Tom also reported that Kate was "tired" following the birth of son Prince Louis less than a month before the wedding and "irritated by complaints of Meghan bullying her staff." The author also claimed Meghan "thought the royal family would be like Hollywood" and once she realized it was "lots of work and little reward," she no longer like it, DailyMail.com reported. As for the rift between the Windsors and the Sussexes, Tom teased that his book explains what happened. "Both sides are to blame but I believe the blame lies mostly with Meghan, who I don't think understood the monarchy," he said.
A Jordanian princess gets engaged to a New York-based financier
On July 6, Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court announced the engagement of Princess Iman bint Abdullah II — the Georgetown University-educated eldest daughter of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan — to New York financier Jameel Alexander Thermiotis, whom The National reported is from Venezuela and of Greek descent. "The Royal Hashemite Court extends its sincere congratulations to Her Royal Highness Princess Iman and Mr. Thermiotis on this occasion and wishes them a lifetime of happiness," the court said in a statement.
The Invictus Games returns
Following two years of postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prince Harry's beloved Invictus Games — the multinational sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women — returned to the world stage in 2022. Harry and wife Duchess Meghan attended this year's event, which was held in The Hague, Netherlands, in April where they and others were followed around by camera crews shooting the upcoming series "Heart of Invictus," which is the first Netflix series to come from the couple's Archewell Productions. The next competition will be held in Düsseldorf, Germany, in September 2023.
Princess Charlotte turns 7
Britain's Princess Charlotte posed with her family's pet cocker spaniel, Orla, in a portrait taken by her mother, Duchess Kate, in a field of bluebells near their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk, England, to mark her 7th birthday on May 2.
Prince George turns 9
Britain's future king, Prince George, posed for a portrait taken by his mother, Duchess Kate, while on holiday in the U.K., to mark his 9th birthday on July 22.
Jordan's king turns 60
King Abdullah II of Jordan marked a milestone in January: The ruler turned 60!