The queen leaves Windsor Castle for the first time in nearly five months
Get caught up on all the global royals news you might have missed in March 2021 — from two new royal babies and a sweet young prince's birthday to a crown princess's COVID-19 diagnosis and, of course, the shocking, heartbreaking and incredibly riveting sit-down interview that Oprah Winfrey did with Britain's Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, as well as the dramatic fallout. Keep reading to recap the biggest royals news from March, starting with this rare outing… Queen Elizabeth II was all smiles as she made her first public appearance of the year on March 31 to mark the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force at the CWGC Air Forces Memorial in Englefield Green, Surrey, England, which is just a 20-minute drive from the castle she's been calling home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her presence at the outdoor, socially distanced ceremony is noteworthy as it's the first time the nearly 95-year-old monarch has left Windsor Castle in nearly five months, Harper's Bazaar royals editor Omid Scobie pointed out on Twitter, and is "only her third engagement outside of palace walls since the start of the pandemic" in early 2020, he added. Now keep reading to get caught up on the biggest global royals news of March 2021…
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Dominic West is confirmed as the final actor to play Prince Charles on "The Crown"
Josh O'Connor — who in February won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Prince Charles on "The Crown" — inadvertently revealed who's taking over for him on season 5 and 6 of the hit Netflix show. In a GQ Hype cover story that hit the internet on March 29, Josh — who played the Prince of Wales on seasons 3 and 4 — said of moving on from the role, "It's lovely to come away and go, 'Great. Now hand it over to Dominic West.'" In October 2020, Variety reported that the star of "The Wire" and "The Affair" was in late-stage negotiations for the part — but Netflix had yet to confirm Dominic's casting news. The implosion of Charles's first marriage — and it's tragic aftermath — will play out with Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki taking over the part of Princess Diana from Globe winner Emma Corrin.
RELATED: Best photos from Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla's official 2021 royal visit to Greece
Duchess of Cambridge announces coffee table book project
Duchess Kate is turning her passion for photography into a new pandemic-themed art project that's raising money for charity. On March 27, she and Britain's National Portrait Gallery announced the release of "Hold Still," a coffee table book set to debut on May 7. As Kate explained alongside an unboxing video on Instagram, "This new book will bring together the final 100 Hold Still portraits that provided a unique record of our shared and individual experiences of the first UK lockdown. Funds raised from the sale of the book will be split between leading mental health charity, Mind, and the National Portrait Gallery." In another @KensingtonRoyal Instagram post, she added, "When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced — the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers. But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal. Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing — to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic."
RELATED: Celebs who welcomed babies in 2021
Sweden welcomes a new royal baby
On March 26, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden's wife, Princess Sofia, gave birth to their third child — and third son — at Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm. The newborn joins big brothers Prince Alexander, 4, and Prince Gabriel, 3. Two days later, the couple announced his name: Prince Julian Herbert Folke of Sweden, Duke of Halland. The birth also made history as Julian is the couple's first child and the monarch's first grandchild to be born without a "His Royal Highness" title, following changes made by King Carl XVI Gustaf in 2019 that effectively slimmed down the number of relatives who are officially members of the royal house and who will be expected to serve the crown in the future. So while Julian is a member of Sweden's royal family, he's not a member of the country's royal house. Keep reading to see the first official photo of the new baby, which was taken by his father…
First photo of Sweden's newest royal is released
Proud papa Prince Carl Philip of Sweden snapped this first official photo of his third son, Prince Julian Herbert Folke of Sweden, Duke of Halland, that was released by the Royal Court on March 28.
Prince William is king when it comes to sexy bald men, claims new study
Who's the world's sexiest bald man? According to a new informal study, Britain's Prince William takes the crown. As reported by The Sun on March 26, medical and plastic surgery tourism facilitator Longevita asked researchers to investigate — and they found that the Duke of Cambridge, as Entertainment Weekly explained, "had been described as 'sexy' 17.6 million times in blogs, reports, and pages found via Google search." Second place went to American boxer Mike Tyson, with 8.8 million mentions of being "sexy," "hot" or "attractive," and third place was taken by English action star Jason Statham, who racked up 7.4 million mentions. EW's story featured a great headline — "Prince William named 'world's sexiest bald man,' internet demands justice for Stanley Tucci" — and sure enough, the Tooch took to Instagram to weigh in, sharing a collage of (mostly) bald stars that he captioned, "Whose crown should wear this crown? So many wonderful choices." Dwayne Johnson also shared his thoughts, tweeting, "How in the cinnamon toast f*** does this happen – when Larry David clearly has a pulse?!?! #demandingrecount."
"Poldark" star cast as Prince Charles opposite Kristen Stewart's Princess Diana in upcoming film "Spencer"
More major casting news has been announced for Pablo Larraín's "Spencer," which stars Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana and focuses on a key weekend in the late royal's life as she spends the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the queen's Sandringham Estate in England's Norfolk region. Jack Farthing — who brought the villainous George Warleggan to life on the period drama series "Poldark" – is playing Di's then-husband, Prince Charles, producers announced on March 25. The news came the same day that producers of the film released a new photo of Kristen as Diana — and in this one, she's wearing her famous sapphire engagement ring.
Monaco's Prince Albert II weighs in on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's Oprah Winfrey interview
A royal critic? A high-profile head of state has shared his thoughts on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's bombshell-filled CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on March 7 (there's more on the interview later in this gallery). In a BBC World News interview that aired on March 25, upon being asked what he thought of what the couple said, Monaco's Prince Albert II responded, "It's very difficult to be in someone's place. I can understand the pressures that they were under, but I think that this type of public display of dissatisfaction, to say the least, these types of conversations should be held within the intimate quarters of the family. It doesn't really have to be laid out in the public sphere like that. It did bother me a little bit. I can understand where they're coming from in a certain way, but it wasn't the appropriate forum to be able to have these kind of discussions." Journalist Yalda Hakim then asked Albert if he had any advice for Harry in his independent life away from Britain's royal family. "I wish him the best," Albert said, "but it's a difficult world out there and I hope that he can have the judgement and wisdom to make the right choices."
Spain's future queen makes first ever solo royal outing
On March 24, Spain's future queen — 15-year-old Princess Leonor — made her first ever solo royal outing. The teenager visited the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid to help celebrate its 30th anniversary, People magazine reported, depositing a copy of Spain's constitution in a secure facility at the Institute alongside 60 other priceless Spanish cultural items.
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla pay official royal visit to Greece
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, made an official royal visit to Greece on March 24 and 25, marking the British royals' first major overseas visit since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago. Their trip to Athens was in celebration of the bicentenary of Greek Independence Day but it also had some extra-special significance: Charles's father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born in Greece — into both the Greek and Danish royal families — nearly 100 years ago. See the best photos from their two-day official visit here.
Prince Harry lands a job as a tech executive — and joins new disinformation commission
Silicon Valley startup BetterUp Inc. — which provides employee coaching and mental health services to its clients — has hired Prince Harry as its chief impact officer, The Wall Street Journal reported on March 23. "I intend to help create impact in people's lives," Harry told the newspaper via email. "Proactive coaching provides endless possibilities for personal development, increased awareness, and an all-round better life." The WSJ explained that Harry "is expected to have input into initiatives including product strategy decisions and charitable contributions, and advocate publicly on topics related to mental health." But that's not his only new role in his post-royal life: The following day, it was announced that Harry was joining the Aspen Institute's new Commission on Information Disorder as a commissioner alongside 14 other high-profile commissioners and three co-chairs. As CNN Business reported, the group "will conduct a six-month study on the state of American misinformation and disinformation."
Zara Tindall welcomed third child, first boy — and the queen's 10th great-grandchild
Zara Tindall — Queen Elizabeth's eldest granddaughter, whose mother is Princess Anne — and husband Mike Tindall welcomed their third child and first son on March 21, the retired rugby star announced on his "The Good, The Bad and The Rugby" podcast three days later. "A little baby boy arrived at my house!" he said, explaining that things happened so quickly, Zara delivered at home on the bathroom floor. "So, it was run into the gym, get a mat, get into the bathroom, get a mat on the floor, towels down, 'brace-brace-brace,'" Mike shared, adding that their midwives arrived in time to help with the unexpected home birth. They named their son Lucas Philip. His middle name is a nod to great-grandfather Prince Philip as well as grandfather Philip Tindall). He joins big sisters Mia, 7, and Lena, 2. Lucas is 22nd in line to the British throne and is the queen and the Duke of Edinburgh's 10th great-grandchild.
P.I. hired by british tabloid admits he illegally mined private information on Meghan Markle
On March 18, Byline Investigates published an interview with a U.S. private investigator who said that after The Sun learned Prince Harry was dating "Suits" actress Meghan Markle, the U.K. tabloid hired him to mine private information on the "Suits" actress, her parents and other family members, her ex-husband — producer Trevor Engelson — and others who knew her. Los Angeles-based P.I. Dan "Danno" Hanks claimed The Sun must have known that he used illegal methods to get his information, which included Meghan and others' social security numbers. (A spokesperson for The Sun denied knowing the newspaper was commissioning unlawful activity.) Danno also apologized to Duchess Meghan, Prince Harry and Queen Elizabeth II for his actions, telling Byline Investigates, "I'm sorry to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry for targeting her family, particularly her dad, on behalf of The Sun. I never wanted to cause Meghan Markle harm, and wouldn't have done the job if I'd have known it would lead to all these problems. I also wanted to take this opportunity to apologize to The Queen, because I realize the harm of what I did for The Sun has affected the whole family." The revelation made headlines as it speaks to the extraordinary press intrusion that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been alleging for years.
Prince Philip released from hospital after four weeks
On March 16 — after 28 days in two London hospitals — Britain's Prince Philip, 99, returned home to continue his recovery following a heart procedure and an unspecified infection. "The Duke of Edinburgh has today been discharged from King Edward VII's Hospital and has returned to Windsor Castle, following treatment for an infection and a successful procedure for a pre-existing condition," the palace said in a statement. "His Royal Highness wishes to thank all the medical staff who looked after him at both King Edward VII's Hospital and St Bartholomew's Hospital, and everyone who has sent their good wishes."
Sweden's crown princess and husband test positive for the coronavirus
On March 11, the Royal Court of Sweden announced that Crown Princess Victoria and her husband, Prince Daniel, had tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating with their children, Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar. At the time, they were "showing slight symptoms, but feeling well according to circumstances," a palace statement explained.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's incredible Oprah Winfrey sit-down interview airs on CBS
It was the interview everyone was waiting for: On March 7, CBS aired Oprah Winfrey's sit-down with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who delivered bombshell after heartbreaking bombshell about the royal family they left in 2020. The two-hour special was watched by a huge audience — more than 17 million households in America, and more than 11 million in Britain, where it aired the following day. We'll briefly recap their most attention-grabbing claims and revelations — including those concerning racism, lack of protection, a disregard for Meghan's mental health concerns and more plus the aftermath — in the slides that follow…
Bombshell claim: The Duchess of Cambridge made the Duchess of Sussex cry — not the other way around
When Oprah Winfrey asked Duchess Meghan about stories claiming she made Duchess Kate cry ahead of Meghan's 2018 royal wedding over some issue involving the young bridesmaids in the wedding party, Meghan did what she said the palace refused to let her do: She corrected the narrative. "The reverse happened," Meghan told Oprah. "And I don't say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding, and she was upset about something. But she owned it, and she apologized and she brought me flowers and a note apologizing." Meghan called Kate a "good person" and blamed the palace for refusing to correct the hurtful story. She also made it clear she was devastated by reports pitting her against her sister-in-law, explaining, "If you love me, you don't have to hate her. And if you love her, you don't have to hate me," she said.
Bombshell claim: The royal family silenced the Sussexes
In a teaser preview for the March 7 interview, Oprah Winfrey asked Meghan, "Were you silent, or were you silenced?" Once it aired, viewers got to hear Meghan's answer: "The latter," she said, explaining she was told she and her family would be protected by the palace if they did as they were told and didn't speak out. "That was really hard to reconcile because it was only once we were married and everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected, but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family," Meghan claimed. "They weren't willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband." She later said believing that promise was her biggest regret. "I regret believing that because I think had I really seen that that wasn't happening, I would have been able to do more, but I think I wasn't supposed to see it. I wasn't supposed to know and now because we're actually on the other side, we've actually not just survived but are thriving."
Bombshell claim: The royal family made racially charged comments about Archie
The most shocking and troubling claim of all to emerge from the Sussexes' Oprah Winfrey interview was that with the royal family, there was concern about how Duchess Meghan being of mixed race — her mother is Black, her father is white — might affect them. While discussing son Archie, she claimed Harry was told, "They didn't want him to be a prince … which would be different from protocol, and that he wasn't going to receive security," People magazine reported in its recap. Meghan added, "We have in tandem the conversation of, 'He won't be given security. He's not going to be given a title.' And also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born." Meghan declined to say which family member made the skin tone comments about her and Harry's future children, saying it would be too damaging to them. Later in the sit-down, Harry confirmed the troubling claim. "That conversation I'm never going to share," he said, refusing to name the family member. "It was awkward. I was a bit shocked."
Joyful revelation: Archie's getting a little sister!
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan, who in February announced her latest pregnancy, shared some happy news with Oprah Winfrey during their interview that aired March 7: The baby that Meghan — who suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage last July — is expecting is a girl, and she's due this summer. The couple also said they don't plan to have more children and are grateful they're able to have two.
Bombshell claim: Duchess Meghan's mental health crisis was dismissed by the palace
Duchess Meghan told Oprah Winfrey in their sit-down that she was so miserable after being isolated, silenced and disregarded that she had suicidal thoughts in January 2019 while pregnant with son Archie. "I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. I knew that if I didn't say it, I would do it. I just didn't want to be alive anymore," she confessed. She told Harry, who felt helpless. She said she also told palace staff that she needed in-patient treatment. "I went to the institution and I said that I needed to go somewhere to get help … And I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution."
Bombshell claim: Prince Charles stopped taking his son's calls and cut him off financially
Prince Harry told Oprah Winfrey in their sit-down interview that despite reports to the contrary, "I never blindsided my grandmother," Queen Elizabeth II, by suddenly announcing plans to leave the royal family with his wife and son in January 2020. "I have too much respect for her." In fact, he said, senior royals knew about it for a while and he had three conversations about it with the monarch plus two conversations with his father, Prince Charles "before he stopped taking my calls," Harry said, adding that he even put their plans in writing as Charles had requested. (Those plans were later leaked by a British tabloid.) "I feel really let down because he's been through something similar. He knows what pain is like," Harry said. "And Archie's his grandson. … Of course, I will always love him, but there's a lot of hurt that's happened. And I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship." Harry further claimed "my family literally cut me off financially" in the first quarter of 2020 and withdrew security even though threats to himself, Duchess Meghan and son Archie were ongoing. "I've got what my mum left me, and without that, we would not have been able to do this," he explained of moving away and living off his inheritance from the late Princess Diana. They also revealed that Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry not only gave them his own Los Angeles home to live in while they figured out their next moves in early 2020 but also provided them with a security team. Now, of course, the Sussexes are making millions on their own thanks largely to 2020 deals they inked with Spotify and Netflix.
The aftermath of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Oprah Winfrey interview plays out
The morning after the interview aired in America on CBS — and hours before it aired in the U.K. on ITV, Oprah Winfrey's best friend, journalist Gayle King, spoke to Oprah live on "CBS This Morning" where she revealed that Prince Harry had told her off-camera that the royal family member(s) who brought up his son Archie's skin tone were neither Queen Elizabeth II nor Prince Philip. CBS also aired additional previously unseen parts of the interview, which had been extensively edited down. Two days after the interview aired in America, Buckingham Palace finally responded with a March 13 statement that read: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members." Two days after that, Prince William responded to questions shouted out by Sky News correspondent Inzamam Rashid, revealing he had not yet spoken to his brother yet but "I will do" and, when asked, "Can you just let me know, is the royal family a racist family, sir?" replied, "We are very much not a racist family." There were widespread calls for the palace to initiate an independent investigation into the Sussexes' claims — which The Sun reported (in a story that's since been taken down) Prince Charles wanted to rebut, point by point — including by senior members of the U.K. government. Meghan's friend, "True Blood" actress Janina Gavankar, said in an interview with Britain's "This Morning" on March 10 that "there are many emails and texts" that back up the Sussexes' claims, People magazine reported.
So has anything changed?
A week after the bombshell interview with the Sussexes aired, journalist Gayle King — Oprah Winfrey's best friend — shared on her show, "CBS This Morning," that she'd checked in with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan over the weekend and learned that the situation remained fraught. "Harry has talked to his brother and he has talked to his father too. The word I was given was those conversations were not productive. But they are glad that they have at least started a conversation," Gayle told viewers, adding, "They want healing in this family. At the end of the day, that is Harry's family."
Duchess Meghan is accused of bullying palace staffers
A few days before Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's Oprah Winfrey interview aired, claims that Meghan had bullied and been emotionally cruel to palace staffers emerged in The Times of London, which is far from a tabloid. However, some outlets framed the report and its timing as a calculated strike against the Sussexes that was perhaps fed to the paper by someone eager to hurt them before they could make claims of their own on CBS. On March 3, the story revealed that back in 2018, a formal email complaint send to Buckingham Palace's human resources department by the Sussexes' then-press secretary, Jason Knauf, detailed her "unacceptable behaviour" toward staffers. He claimed the royal "was able to bully two PA's out of the [royal] household in the past year," "drove" two personal assistants out of the household and was "undermining the confidence" of a third employee. Jason reportedly left his position at Kensington Palace and has since taken a position working with Prince William and Duchess Kate at their charity foundation. Meghan's lawyers denied that she'd bullied or mistreated anyone and her rep told the newspaper, "Let's just call this what it is — a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation. We are disappointed to see this defamatory portrayal of the Duchess of Sussex given credibility by a media outlet. It's no coincidence that distorted several-year-old accusations aimed at undermining the duchess are being briefed to the British media shortly before she and the duke are due to speak openly and honestly about their experience of recent years."
Sweden's Prince Oscar turns 5
On March 2, Sweden's Prince Oscar, Duke of Skåne — the son of Crown Princess Victoria and husband Prince Daniel — turned 5. To celebrate the milestone birthday, the Royal Court released a series of new photos of the young royal, who is third in line to the throne behind his sister and mother — including this adorable shot of Oscar with the family dog, a cavoodle named Rio.