The Sussexes blame the palace for son Archie's birth certificate name change
Get caught up on all the global royals news you might have missed in January 2021– from some happy birthdays and a duchess's historical romance novel to a royal coronavirus lockdown travel scandal, the sovereigns who got their COVID-19 vaccines and more… Let's start with this rare rebuke… In late January, The Sun reported that it had discovered that a month after Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan welcomed son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in 2019, Meghan changed the way their names appear on his birth certificate. Meghan "secretly erase[d]" her first and middle names, Rachel Meghan, so that Archie's mother would be identified as simply "Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex." The father entry added Harry's "Prince" title to make it read, "His Royal Highness Prince Henry Charles Albert David Duke of Sussex." The Sun framed the change as potentially "a snub to the Cambridges who have included [Duchess] Kate's names on her children's certificates" or "Harry aligning his wife with mum [Princess Diana], who always used 'Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.'" But on Jan. 31, Meghan's spokesperson told media outlets that Buckingham Palace made the call to erase her names — not them. "The change of name on public documents in 2019 was dictated by The Palace, as confirmed by documents from senior Palace officials," her spokesperson said in a statement. "This was not requested by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex nor by The Duke of Sussex. To see this U.K. tabloid and their carnival of so-called 'experts' chose to deceptively whip this into a calculated family 'snub' and suggest that she would oddly want to be nameless on her child's birth certificate, or any other legal document, would be laughable were it not offensive. There's a lot going on in the world; let's focus on that rather than creating clickbait." Keep reading for more…
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British royal family reality show footage leaked on YouTube
On Jan. 28, it emerged that what was essentially a reality show featuring Britain's royal family — the 1969 BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary called, appropriately, "Royal Family" — had somehow been leaked on YouTube after being banned by Queen Elizabeth II in 1972 from ever being shown again because, MailOnline reported, it was thought to cheapen the family's reputation. The leak caused quite a stir as it not only showed the monarch, Prince Philip and their children in casual clothing and settings but captured some of their everyday conversations — things that would never happen today. Thousands of people viewed the leaked footage — the filming of which was a storyline on season 3 of "The Crown" — before it was taken down for copyright infringement claims, according to MailOnline.
First photo of Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in "Spencer" is released as filming begins
On Jan. 27, the production teams behind the upcoming film "Spencer" released the first photo of actress Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. The movie from filmmaker Pablo Larraín, who's perhaps best known for directing Natalie Portman in "Jackie," the 2016 biographical drama about former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, features a script by "Peaky Blinders" creator-writer Steven Knight and will focus on "one weekend in the life of Princess Diana, as she spends the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, and decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles," a press release explained. The movie, which is expected to be released in the fall of 2021, is filming in Germany and Britain. In an interview with InStyle published in 2020, Kristen opened up about how she was preparing to play the former Lady Diana Spencer and why she was feeling pressure to get it right. "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.
The Cambridges have a new puppy
In November 2020, Prince William and Duchess Kate were devastated when their 9-year-old cocker spaniel, Lupo — seen here with the couple and an infant Prince George in 2013 — unexpectedly passed away. On Jan. 24, The Sun reported that the couple and their three children were helped through their grief by another dog they'd quietly added to the family not long before Lupo's death — a black cocker spaniel puppy that was a gift from Kate's brother, James Middleton. The pup — Lupo's nephew — was among a litter born to James's dog Luna in May 2020 (see a photo of the puppies and his other dogs here). "The new puppy is adorable and the whole family are besotted," a friend of the Cambridges told The Mail on Sunday. "They were devastated when Lupo passed away, as any dog owner will understand, but got the new puppy before he died. It was hoped that a younger dog would give Lupo some company and give him a little more life and energy." The puppy's name has not yet been shared publicly.
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Prince Harry blames social media, in part, for U.S. Capitol riot
In an interview with Fast Company published online on Jan. 22, Prince Harry said he thinks social media platforms need to be held accountable for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the climate that led to it. In his headline-making Q&A, he also continued to make a case for why he and Duchess Meghan believe social media needs to be reformed. "To their own degree, everyone has been deeply affected by the current consequences of the digital space. It could be as individual as seeing a loved one go down the path of radicalization or as collective as seeing the science behind the climate crisis denied," the Duke of Sussex said. "We are all vulnerable to it, which is why I don't see it as a tech issue, or a political issue — it's a humanitarian issue." Read his interview in full here, and see what he had to say about "the mothership of all the harassment" he and Meghan — who are currently not on social media — have experienced and how it's influenced their evolving feelings about digital platforms.
Monaco's Princess Charlene talks about her surprising half-shaved haircut
In December, Monaco's Princess Charlene made headlines when she debuted a half-shaved hairstyle at a royal holiday event. In an interview with French magazine Point de Vue published on Jan. 20, she opened up about the wild hairstyle and why she's tuned out her critics. "This haircut was my decision. It seems that it has provoked all kinds of comments. But it turns out that I wanted it for a long time, the style pleases me. That's all," she told Point de Vue, as reported by People magazine. "Certainly, of all the members of royal families, I'm probably the one who has tried the most different hairstyles, and I'll continue. That's my choice." She understands that some people won't like it, but isn't bothered. "The remarks of 'But what is she doing?' and 'But it's not royal!' — I know these all too well. And I have nothing to say to them, except that we're in 2021 and that in these times which are so troubling, so difficult, there are other, much more important subjects which deserve our attention," she explained, adding of her children and husband, Prince Albert II, "What counts is that Jacques and Gabriella adore seeing their mother with her new style. And that after the initial surprise wore off, the prince understood and likes it now too."
Sweden's king and queen get vaccinated against COVID-19
The Swedish royal court announced on Jan. 15 that King Carl XVI Gustaf, 74, and Queen Silvia, 77, had received their first COVID-19 vaccine shots at Stenhammar Palace. "The great vaccination against COVID-19 is now underway around our country," the monarch — who was the first European royal to release a photo of him or herself getting inoculated — said in a statement. "It is my hope that everyone who has the opportunity to be vaccinated in these coming months chooses to do so, so that together and as soon as possible we can get through this difficult time. "
Duchess Camilla launches first royal book club
Do you love to read? So does Britain's future queen consort. Prince Charles's wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is an avid reader who found solace in books amid 2020's coronavirus lockdowns. On Dec. 31, 2020, she launched a new Instagram account, @duchessofcornwallsreadingroom, and a few weeks later on Jan. 15 revealed the first four books in her new royal book club, which followers will be discussing over eight weeks: "The Mirror & The Light" by Hilary Mantel; "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens; "Restless" by William Boyd; and "The Architect's Apprentice" by Elif Shafak. "To me, reading is a great adventure," Camilla said in a video posted on her Reading Room Instagram page. "I've loved it since I was very small and I'd love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do. You can escape, and you can travel, and you can laugh and you can cry. There's every type of emotion humans experience in a book."
Jordanian royals get vaccinated against COVID-19
On Jan. 14, three Jordanian royals — King Abdullah II, 58 (pictured), son Crown Prince Hussein, 26, and uncle Prince Hassan, 73 — received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the Royal Hashemite Court announced on Twitter alongside photos and video of the men receiving their shots as Jordan's vaccination campaign kicked off.
Norway's king and queen get vaccinated against COVID-19
On Jan. 13, Norway's King Harald V and Queen Sonja, both 83, both were vaccinated against COVID-19, the Royal Court announced. They were scheduled to receive their second dose three weeks later. The monarch's sister, Princess Astrid, 88, also received the vaccine.
Fergie announces she's written first historical romance novel — and it's inspired by an ancestor!
On Jan. 13, Britain's Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York announced that after decades of publishing books including a memoir and several children's series, she's written her first ever historical romance novel — and it will be published on Aug. 3, 2021, by the U.K.'s leading romantic fiction house, Mills & Boon, and in the States will be released by HarperCollins. The novel titled "Her Heart for a Compass" is a fictional account of a love story involving Fergie's great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, and will, according to the publisher, as reported by The Guardian, sweep "the reader from the drawing rooms of [Queen] Victoria's court and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland to the slums of London and the mercantile bustle of 1870s New York." Prince Andrew's ex-wife, who co-authored the book with popular romance novelist Marguerite Kaye, posted a fun teaser video — in which she's dressed up in a Victorian ensemble — on Twitter.
Britain's monarch and husband get vaccinated
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson announced on Jan. 9 that Queen Elizabeth II, 94, and husband Prince Philip, 99, had both received COVID-19 vaccinations, which were administered by a royal household doctor at Windsor Castle, where the couple have been living amid England's most recent lockdown.
Duchess Kate celebrates 39th birthday with a tea party at home amid lockdown
Britain's Duchess Kate turned 39 on Jan. 9 but due to coronavirus lockdowns in England, she wasn't able to host friends and family for a birthday weekend house party as she has in previous years. Instead, the Duchess of Cambridge this year "was treated to a tea party hosted by her husband and kids at their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk," People magazine reported. She and Prince William also thanked well-wishers and acknowledged the global pandemic with a post on their @KensingtonRoyal Instagram account, writing, "Thank you for your kind wishes on The Duchess' birthday. Birthdays have been very different in recent months, and our thoughts continue to be with all those working on the front line at this hugely challenging time."
Denmark's royals twins turn 10
Denmark's royal twins — Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine — celebrated a milestone birthday this month: They hit double digits when they turned 10 on Jan. 8. The youngest of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary's four children were born in 2011. To mark the occasion, the Danish royal house released new photos of the pair — including this adorable portrait.
Denmark's queen is first European sovereign to be vaccinated against COVID-19
On New Year's Day, the Danish royal house announced that Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, 80, "was vaccinated today against COVID-19. The Queen will be re-vaccinated in about three weeks' time." Margrethe was the first European sovereign to publicly confirm news of her coronavirus vaccination.
Royals criticized for ignoring Scottish government advice for train tour
Back in December 2020, Prince William and Duchess Kate embarked on a three-day train tour of England, Scotland and Wales in an effort to thank frontline workers and community members for their contributions amid the coronavirus pandemic. While many supported their decision, others were critical because they traveled at a time when the U.K. was in lockdown and people were told to remain at home. On Jan. 12, newspaper The National revealed that, according to documents it acquired through a freedom of information request, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn — as the couple are known in Scotland — ignored two Scottish government warnings not to travel there, making the journey north anyway.