Get caught up on all the royals news you might have missed in August 2020 — from notable birthdays and a juicy new book to major "The Crown" casting news, a former king's exile amid an escalating scandal and much more… Let's start with a milestone royal birthday: Queen Rania of Jordan turned 50 on Aug. 31. The Royal Hashemite Court released two new portraits of the wife of Jordan's King Abdullah II to mark the occasion. "Throughout her public life, Queen Rania has strived to contribute to the achievement of His Majesty's royal vision for a thriving and prosperous Jordan, channeling her humanitarian spirit and commitment to youth into national efforts to uplift the Jordanian people," the queen's office said in a statement about the two portraits, as reported by HELLO! See the other photo next…
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Queen Rania of Jordan appears in new portraits to mark her 50th birthday
To celebrate Queen Rania of Jordan's 50th birthday on Aug. 31, the Royal Hashemite Court released two new photos of the royal, including this one in which she's wearing a long-sleeved white crepe gown by Ashi Studio. "I am very honoured Her Majesty Queen Rania chose to wear this regal dress, which was designed to radiate power," designer Mohammed Ashi said in a statement, as reported by HELLO!
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Prince William and Prince Harry come together for rare joint statement ahead of Princess Diana's death anniversary
Despite an ongoing rift, on Aug. 28, Prince William and Prince Harry came together to issue a joint statement about their mother, the late Princess Diana, who died 23 years ago on Aug. 31 in Paris. Kensington Palace issued a message on behalf of the siblings about a statue honoring Diana that's been in the works for a few years now. "The statue that Prince William and Prince Harry have commissioned to commemorate their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, will be installed next year on what would have been her 60th Birthday," the statement began. "The statue was commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of her death and recognize her positive impact in the UK and around the world. The statue will be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on 1st July 2021, marking the Princess's 60th birthday. The Princes hope that the statue will help all those who visit Kensington Palace to reflect on their mother's life and her legacy." In 2017, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex revealed they'd chosen Ian Rank-Broadley to create the piece. He's the artist behind the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II that's appears on British and Commonwealth coins since 1998, BBC reported.
Duchess Meghan gets political
Duchess Meghan made headlines all August long for comments she made in interviews and online appearances that she wouldn't likely have been permitted to say if she was still a senior working member of Britain's royal family, whose members have long followed a policy of remaining neutral when it comes to politics. Meghan, of course, is still an American citizen and has made it pretty clear that she plans to vote in the 2020 presidential election in November. During the Aug. 20 When All Women Vote Couch Party, a virtual livestream event encouraging women to register and to vote, the Duchess of Sussex told viewers, as reported by Harper's Bazaar, "If [women] aren't part of the solution, we are part of the problem. If you aren't going out there and voting, then you're complicit. If you're complacent, you're complicit. We can make the difference in this election and we will make the difference in this election." Then in a "Makers" video interview with feminist legend Gloria Steinem on the subject of voting, which was released on Aug. 26, Meghan weighed in on Senator Kamala Harris — the Democratic Party's nominee for vice president alongside Joe Biden — making history as the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. "I'm so excited to see that kind of representation. You know, for me, being biracial, growing up, whether it was a doll or a person in office, you need to see someone who looks like you in some capacity," she told Gloria. "As many of us believe, you can only be what you can see. And in the absence of that, how can you aspire to something greater than what you see in your own world? I think maybe now we're starting to break through in a different way."
"The Crown" season 4 trailer drops
In just a few short months, "The Crown" will be back. On Aug. 20, Netflix dropped a teaser trailer for the award-winning series' fourth season. "The monarchy. Above all else. @GillianA [Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher] and Emma Corrin [as a young Princess Diana] join Olivia Colman [as Queen Elizabeth II] in Season Four of The Crown, arriving 15th November," Netflix captioned the trailer on Twitter.
Norway's crown princess turns 47
Norway's royal family marked Crown Princess Mette-Marit's 47th birthday on Aug. 19 by posting new portraits of the future queen consort on Instagram. The mother of three is married to Crown Prince Haakon, who turned 47 in July and released some new photos of his own. She's seen here with her family's dogs, Milly Kakao and Muffins Krakebolle, in an outtake from the new official snapshots.
"The Crown" casts its next Princess Diana
"The Crown" has cast a new Princess Diana: On Aug. 16, Netflix announced that Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki will play the late Princess of Wales on the final two seasons of the hit show. She'll take over from newcomer Emma Corrin, who stars as a younger Diana on the show's fourth season, which the streaming service has confirmed will debut on Nov. 15.
Britain's Princess Royal turns 70
Britain's Princess Anne celebrated her 70th birthday on Aug. 15. To mark the occasion, the palace released three new official portraits of the Princess Royal taken by photographer John Swannell at her home, Gatcombe Park, in February 2020 in anticipation of her big day. Keep reading to see the other two shots…
Princess Anne poses for official 70th birthday photos
Queen Elizabeth II's only daughter, Princess Anne, posed for photographer John Swannell at her home to mark her milestone 70th birthday: She was born on Aug. 15, 1950. John has also worked with the monarch on her official Golden and Diamond Jubilee portraits and shot the Princess Royal for portraits to mark her 40th, 50th and 60th birthdays, Harper's Bazaar reported. Keep reading to see the final image that was released…
Princess Anne marks milestone birthday with new official portraits
Princess Anne also posed outdoors at her home, Gatcombe Park, for one of her three official 70th birthday portraits. Queen Elizabeth II purchased the country estate in Gloucestershire, England, for her daughter in 1976.
"The Crown" casts its next Prince Philip
On Aug. 13, Netflix announced that 2020 Oscar nominee Jonathan Pryce will play Prince Phillip on the final two seasons of "The Crown." The Welsh actor will star opposite Imelda Staunton, who's playing Queen Elizabeth II on seasons 5 and 6. Jonathan is taking over as the Duke of Edinburgh from Tobias Menzies (seasons 3 and 4) and Matt Smith (season 1 and 2).
The Sussexes put down roots with a pricey new home purchase
On Aug. 12, a spokesperson for Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan confirmed reports that they'd purchased a new family home. The news comes after the couple spent four months living in Tyler Perry's Mediterranean-style mansion in the Hollywood Hills as they looked for a more permanent residence. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex moved into their family home in July of this year. They have settled into the quiet privacy of their community since their arrival and hope that this will be respected for their neighbors, as well as for them as a family," the rep told media outlets. DailyMail.com has photos of the new property — a 5.4-acre estate in Montecito, California — which is about 90 minutes north of Meghan's native Los Angeles. 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.
"Finding Freedom" becomes a bestseller
On Aug. 11, the hotly anticipated book "Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family" was released and it instantly became a best seller. Its authors, veteran royal journalists Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, packed the book chock-full of juicy and fascinating details about Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan and other members of Britain's royal family after speaking with more than 100 sources including friends of the couple as well as former palace aides. Omid denied speculation that the Sussexes were involved with the book, and Harry and Meghan's spokesperson insisted they did not cooperate. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were not interviewed and did not contribute to 'Finding Freedom.' This book is based on the authors' own experiences as members of the royal press corps and their own independent reporting." Keep reading for some of the many stories drawn from the book that made headlines for days…
First date details
"Finding Freedom" details Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's first date at Soho House's Dean Street Townhouse in London in 2016, revealing they talked over drinks (a martini for her, a beer for him) for nearly three hours and that Harry then texted her that same night when she was back in her hotel room (the authors also reveal he used a lot of ghost emojis instead of smiley faces) — making it clear he was very interested. They met up again the next night. "Almost immediately they were almost obsessed with each other," a friend told the authors, as reported by People magazine. "It was as if Harry was in a trance." The royal was the first to say "I love you," telling the "Suits" actress those three little words three months into their romance.
A growing rift between brothers
According to "Finding Freedom," Prince Harry was upset when brother Prince William cautioned him against moving too fast with Meghan. "Don't feel like you need to rush this," William told Harry, as reported by the book's authors. "Take as much time as you need to get to know this girl." Harry was said to be offended and angry that William — who he reportedly felt was being a snob — called the woman he loved "this girl." According to another source, "Some felt it was an overreaction. But then, this totally sums them up as people — William the calm and rational one, and Harry, who can't help but take things far too personally." People magazine summed up more juicy tidbits too including why a photo shoot for Prince Charles's 70th birthday was reportedly a nightmare, why Meghan only attended the reception portion of Pippa Middleton's wedding, what really went down with "Tiaragate" ahead of Harry and Meghan's nuptials and much, much more.
A nonexistent friendship between the duchesses
"Finding Freedom" reports that Duchess Kate was "indifferent" about meeting Meghan, but only because the Duchess of Cambridge is "an extremely guarded person," a friend told the authors, as reported by E! News. Meghan brought Kate a leather journal as a gift for their first meeting, which took place a little over six months after Meghan started seeing Harry. But the women never became close or even friends, as Meghan had hoped they would. Kate felt "they didn't have much in common," the book explains. According to the authors, they "were not at war with each other," they "just didn't know each other that well." As reported by the Express, the book also mentions some awkward moments, "such as the day the women happened to cross paths at Kensington Palace [in early 2017] and although both were heading out to go shopping — in the same street — Kate went in her own Range Rover," leaving Meghan behind, the authors wrote.
Newlywed Princess Beatrice turns 32
Queen Elizabeth II's fifth grandchild, newlywed Princess Beatrice, celebrated her 32nd birthday on Aug. 8. The royal family sent public well-wishes, as did her little sister, Princess Eugenie. "Happy happy Birthday dear Beabea 🐝," Eugenie captioned an Instagram slideshow showing the two posing for a selfie taken the night before Beatrice's July nuptials and a throwback photo with their mom, Sarah, Duchess of York. "Here we are on the eve of your wedding. Still rocking a scrunchie or hair accessory (since the 90s) and huge smiles on our faces. #happybirthday 🥳🎉🥳🎉," Eugenie added.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip head to Balmoral for their annual summer holidays
On Aug. 4, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, left Windsor Castle in rural England — where they've been living since mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic — and flew to Scotland for their annual summer break at her private Balmoral estate in the Highlands. They're expected to remain there with a reduced staff — their royal bubble — until early October. Reports later in the month indicated that they will return to Windsor afterward — not to Buckingham Palace in London — amid concerns for their health.
Duchess Meghan turns 39
On Aug. 4, Duchess Meghan celebrated her 39th birthday. Her grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, sent public well-wishes on the official Royal Family Twitter account: "🎂🎈Wishing The Duchess of Sussex a very happy birthday!" In-laws Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla as well as Prince William and Duchess Kate also shared public birthday message on social media.
Spain's former king begins self-imposed exile in the UAE amid corruption scandal
King Juan Carlos I — who in 2014 abdicated the throne to his son, the current King Felipe VI — on Aug. 3 announced in a letter posted to the Spanish royal family's official website that he was leaving 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 follows months of controversy and an ongoing investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing. As speculation mounted about the former monarch's whereabouts, the palace finally confirmed on Aug. 17 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 — around $77 million — to her. Like the king emeritus, she's also under investigation.