Get caught up on all the royals news you might have missed in April 2020 — from notable birthdays and legal bombshells to what global royals are doing to help amid the coronavirus pandemic and more. Let's start with this low-key celebration… King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and his wife, Queen Maxima, marked the monarch's 53rd birthday at Palace Huis ten Bosch in The Hague, Netherlands, on April 27. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the royal family had to cancel the annual Koningsdag, or King's Day, celebrations — Willem-Alexander's birthday is a national holiday — and instead took video calls with people around the country at the palace.
Princess Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank celebrate 10 years as a couple
Britain's Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank, the European commercial manager for Casamigos tequila, in October 2018. But on April 24, the pair marked their 10-year anniversary as a couple: They met on a skiing holiday in Verbier, Switzerland, when Eugenie was just 20. The royal took to Instagram to share two photos of herself with her husband (the snaps were taken by her mom, Sarah, Duchess of York) along with the message, "Jack and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary today…😍😍 and we are lucky enough to be together at this time. If anyone has an anniversary this week, if you are together or not because of this challenging time, if you are a frontline worker wishing to tell your person you love them, then please do send me a photo and message via DM of how you are celebrating and I will share your messages on my story over the next few days."
Duchess Meghan's lawsuit against U.K. tabloid and publisher kicks off with first court date
The first hearing in Duchess Meghan's lawsuit against The Mail on Sunday and publisher Associated Newspapers over their decision to print certain portions of a "deeply personal" and private letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle St., in 2018 — a move her lawyers argue violated her privacy, copyright and data protection rights in Britain — was held virtually in London on April 24. In The Daily Mail's own story on the hearing, it explained that its publisher — which has previously claimed "the contents of the letter were not private or confidential" — made an application to have parts of the Duchess of Sussex's claim thrown out. It also called it "curious" that the paper has been accused of "harassing, humiliating, manipulating and exploiting" Thomas — who gave the letter to the tabloid — because Meghan hasn't talked to him in two years. Sky News further reported that the tabloid's lawyer disagrees that the publisher "acted dishonestly" when choosing which parts of the letter to publish. Meghan's lawyer, meanwhile, per Sky, alleged that Associated Newspapers had "harassed" Thomas and "finally manipulated this vulnerable man into giving interviews" he later described as "lies." Her lawyer further explained that "It is the defendant's actions in stirring up, creating this dispute that they use as justification for publishing the contents of the letter" and argued that the tabloid's stories were "intended to portray [Meghan] in a false and damaging light… That is what we are talking about. The distress she feels at the realization that the defendant has an obvious agenda and that this is not a one-off." The judge's decision in this hearing, which precedes a trial, is expected at a later date. Keep reading to read text messages Meghan and husband Prince Harry sent Thomas that were made public in court documents…
Prince Louis of Cambridge celebrates 2nd birthday
On April 22, Prince William and Duchess Kate's third and youngest child, Prince Louis of Cambridge, turned 2. The couple released a series of photos of the adorable toddler — taken by his mother — on Instagram the evening before his big day. "Sharing a sneak peek of Prince Louis's handiwork ahead of his second birthday! 🎨," the couple's @KensingtonRoyal Instagram account captioned the slideshow of images, which includes rainbow handprint art made by the birthday boy.
Queen Elizabeth II turns 94
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 94th birthday on April 21 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, a source told CNN. Instead, reports revealed, she got video calls from family members including Prince William and Prince Harry and their families. (Harry and wife Duchess Meghan called his grandmother on her birthday from Los Angeles with son Archie on video; William told the BBC that he and wife Duchess Kate have, since lockdown began, "been talking to all the family online.") Elizabeth's official public birthday celebration, the annual Trooping the Colour parade that takes place every June, was also canceled as the health crisis continues to ravage Britain.
Private texts from Duchess Meghan to father Thomas Markle Sr. revealed in court documents
An April 20 legal filing in Duchess Meghan's ongoing court case against U.K. tabloid The Mail on Sunday and publishers Associated Newspapers — which in 2018 published portions of a "private and confidential" letter she'd written to her father, Thomas Markle Sr., after he secretly cooperated with paparazzi then had a heart attack and bowed out of her royal wedding — delivered some bombshells: texts that Meghan and husband Prince Harry sent to her father in the wake of his health crisis before their nuptials. Outlets including People magazine published the texts, which included one from Meghan early on in the saga that read, "I've called and texted but haven't heard back from you so hoping you're okay." She first learned about her father's heart attack when he told TMZ about it, papers reveal. "I've been reaching out to you all weekend but you're not taking any of our calls or replying to any texts…," she messaged her dad. "Very concerned about your health and safety and have taken every measure to protect you but not sure what more we can do if you don't respond…Do you need help? Can we send the security team down again? I'm very sorry to hear you're in the hospital but need you to please get in touch with us… What hospital are you at?" She further texted: "Harry and I made a decision earlier today and are dispatching the same security guys you turned away this weekend to be a presence on the ground to make sure you're safe… they will be there at your disposal as soon as you need them. Please please call as soon as you can… all of this is incredibly concerning but your health is most important." Keep reading to see what Harry texted his soon-to-be father-in-law days ahead of his wedding…
Prince Harry's texts to father-in-law Thomas Markle Sr. ahead of royal wedding made public
Per court documents filed on April 20, after calling Thomas Markle Sr. for about 30 minutes without an answer in the days before marrying Meghan Markle, Prince Harry texted his soon-to-be father-in-law, "Tom, it's Harry and I'm going to call you right now. Please pick up, thank you." Then again, "Tom, Harry again! Really need to speak to u. U do not need to apologize, we understand the circumstances but 'going public' will only make the situation worse. If u love Meg and want to make it right please call me as there are two other options which don't involve u having to speak to the media, who incidentally created this whole situation. So please call me so I can explain. Meg and I are not angry, we just need to speak to u. Thanks." Harry then added, "Oh any speaking to the press WILL backfire, trust me Tom. Only we can help u, as we have been trying from day 1."
Prince Frederik of Denmark goes viral with before-and-after isolation grooming photos
Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik posted these before-and-after photos of his lockdown hair transformation on Instagram on April 20 after restrictions on salons were lifted in his country. "I'm probably not the only one who has been [to] a hairdresser today. Fortunately, it is now possible for hairdressers and other smaller companies and stores to stay open on top of a long shutdown. I want to thank everyone for being so readily prepared and for helping keep the wheels going for a period that requires a lot of us all," he captioned the photos.
In unprecedented move, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan cut off four tabloids
On April 19, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan sent strongly worded letters to the editors of four British tabloids letting them know that they will no longer cooperate with them moving forward now that the couple are no longer working members of the royal family. The move is considered unprecedented. "There will be no corroboration and zero engagement," the Sussexes said in the lengthy letter addressed to the leadership of The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Express. "It is gravely concerning that an influential slice of the media, over many years, has sought to insulate themselves from taking accountability for what they say or print — even when they know it will be distorted, false or invasive beyond reason," the couple explained. "When power is enjoyed without responsibility, the trust we all place in this much-needed industry is degraded." They continued, "It's not about shutting down public conversation or censoring accurate reporting. Media have every right to report on and indeed have an opinion on The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, good or bad. But it can't be based on a lie. They also want to be very clear: This is not in any way a blanket policy for all media." Read more of their letter here, as reported by People magazine.
Prince William and Duchess Kate share stories about their kids in virtual BBC interview
Despite being in isolation at their country home in Norfolk, England, Prince William and Duchess Kate have continued to work for the royal family — they've just had to do it through video calls instead of in person. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chatted with schoolchildren and teachers, celebrated the frontline workers of Britain's National Health Service (William even opened a hospital virtually!) and have repeated stressed the importance of taking "better care of our mental wellbeing." On April 17, the couple were interviewed from home on the morning show "BBC Breakfast" via video call in which they advocated for the Every Mind Matters mental health initiative that strives to help people take simple steps to look after their wellbeing and support others. But during the interview, as reported by People magazine, they also shared some personal stories about home life right now with kids Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. "Don't tell the children, we've actually kept [homeschooling] going through the [Easter] holidays. I feel very mean," Kate confessed, adding, "The children have got such stamina, I don't know how. Honestly, you get to the end of the day and you write down the list of all the things that you've done in that day. So, you pitch a tent, take the tent down again, cook, bake. You get to the end of the day — they have had a lovely time — but it is amazing how much you can cram into one day, that's for sure." The pair also revealed that they've been doing video calls with family members including Prince Charles — but that Louis often hangs up on his grandfather! "I think [William's] father and my parents and our families … have really loved keeping in touch with the children because it's really hard. It gets a bit hectic, I am not going to lie, with a 2-year-old," said Kate. Added William: "For some reason [Louis] sees the red button and he always wants to press the red button."
Fans get first look at HBO Max's animated Prince George in action
Back in January, fans of The New York Times bestselling author Gary Janetti's Instagram page — which is famous for poking fun at Britain's royal family and their antics through the eyes of 6-year-old Prince George — were thrilled to learn that the former "Family Guy" writer and "Will & Grace" executive producer was working on an animated show for HBO Max, "The Prince," which is inspired by his royal social media persona and debuts in May. On April 17, Gary delivered a treat — a first taste of cartoon George delivering some sass. "Hey guys, it's me, Prince George. Thought I'd show you all I'm doing OK, sing 'Imagine' — just kidding, just kidding. So out of touch. Cringe! Am I right?" Gary (as George) says. "Anyway, I know self-isolating is difficult and we're all sick of being stuck in the same 775 rooms, or, you know, studio apartment, it's different for everyone." Watch the sneak peek of the character here.
Princess Beatrice postpones May wedding
Princess Beatrice of York and her fiancé, property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, have postponed their royal wedding — which was set to take place at The Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace in London on May 29 — due to the ongoing global coronavirus crisis, People magazine confirmed on April 16. The news came a month after the bride and groom were forced to cancel the reception portion of their wedding day, which was set to take place in the gardens at Buckingham Palace. "There are no plans to switch venues or hold a bigger wedding. They aren't even thinking about their wedding at this time. There will come a time to rearrange, but that's not yet," a spokesperson for the couple told People. A source further told the magazine that because of COVID-19 concerns, "the invitations were never actually sent out."
Denmark's Queen Margrethe II turns 80
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.
Sweden's Princess Sofia dons scrubs and sneakers to join trained hospital volunteer force amid pandemic
On April 15, Sweden's Princess Sophia, the wife of Prince Carl Philip, began working at her country's Sophiahemmet Hospital, of which she is honorary chair, to do her part to help ease the strain on the health care system there in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. People magazine reported that the royal completed an intensive training program online before she reported for her first day, during which she and others — 80 people a day are completing the program — assisted hospital staff with non-medical tasks (a spokeswoman for the medical center explained that rather than working with patients, these new volunteers are supporting doctors and nurses: "They can disinfect equipment, do shifts in the kitchen and cleaning"). The Royal Court said in a statement, "In the crisis we find ourselves in, the Princess wants to get involved and make a contribution as a voluntary worker to relieve the large workload of health care professionals." Added Sofia in an Instagram post showing her folded scrubs and nametag on a locker room bench, "To have the opportunity to help in this difficult time is extremely rewarding."
Princess Anne opens up in rare interview for Vanity Fair cover story ahead of 70th birthday
Britain's Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II's second child and only daughter, appears on the cover of the May issue of Vanity Fair, which was released on April 15, in the lead-up to her 70th birthday in August. Some of her comments in the accompanying rare interview made headlines, especially those referencing her family's younger generation and their approach to philanthropy. The Princess Royal — who's long had a reputation for being hardworking (for example, she carried out more than 500 engagements on behalf of the crown last year alone) and uninterested in drama — described herself to her profiler, Katie Nicholl, as "the boring old fuddy-duddy at the back saying, 'Don't forget the basics.' While speaking of her approach to duty and service, Anne explained, "I don't think this younger generation probably understands what I was doing in the past and it's often true, isn't it? You don't necessarily look at the previous generation and say, 'Oh, you did that?' Or, 'You went there?' Nowadays, they're much more looking for, 'Oh let's do it a new way.' And I'm already at the stage, 'Please do not reinvent that particular wheel. We've been there, done that. Some of these things don't work. You may need to go back to basics.'" Many also speculated that Anne — who did the interview about a month after nephew Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan, announced they'd no longer use their His/Her Royal Highness titles (they also chose not to give son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor a title upon his birth last year) — is supportive of their move as she also chose not to give her children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, titles. "I think it was probably easier for [my children], and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles," she said. "So I think that was probably the right thing to do."
Belgium's King Philippe turns 60
King Philippe of Belgium celebrated a big birthday on April 15: He turned 60. 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!"
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan deliver meals to chronically ill people in Los Angeles
On April 15, it was revealed that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan had arranged to donate $112,000 that was raised from the sale of their 2018 royal wedding footage, which was captured by the BBC, to Feeding Britain, an organization that's helping hungry children and their families amid the coronavirus pandemic. The charity's leader is Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who married the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The charity's national director, called the funds a "godsend." One day later, the world learned that the couple, who are now living in Meghan's native Los Angeles, had also been quietly — and personally — doing food deliveries for the L.A. nonprofit Project Angel Food, which prepares and drops off medically tailored meals to chronically ill people, to help ease the burden on the organization's overworked drivers amid the COVID-19 health crisis. Executive director Richard Ayoub told People magazine the idea came from a conversation Meghan had with her L.A.-based mother, Doria Ragland, who'd learned that Project Angel Food needed help. "What Meghan said is she wanted to show Harry Los Angeles through the eyes of philanthropy. It's just beautiful," Richard said. In the days that followed, paparazzi photos and building security camera videos of the casually dressed and masked Sussexes doing deliveries on Easter Sunday and April 15 emerged. (See some of the snaps here.)
Swedish royal family celebrates Easter week with virtual hangout
Sweden's royal family set an example of how to responsibly connect with loved ones during a holiday amid the global COVID-19 health crisis. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and their family made headlines after they took to Instagram to share a video of themselves speaking via online video chat with their three children — Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine, who lives in Florida — and the younger royals' families in what they called a "digital Easter celebration" on April 11. The royals acknowledged that "Easter celebrations look different in many places this year" and that "There are many who are not given the opportunity to meet loved ones." They said they were grateful for the chance to see each other online during Easter week. "Here is a short excerpt from the Royal Family's digital Easter celebration," they added. Watch it here.
Primatologist Jane Goodall says Prince Harry long ago made clear he wants a less royal life for son Archie
Britain's Prince Harry and wife Duchess Meghan formally exited as senior working royals at the end of March — they're now living in a rented home in Los Angeles — but in an interview published on April 11 in The Daily Mail's Weekend Magazine, Harry's friend Dr. Jane Goodall, inadvertently revealed that Harry's desire for a less royal life has been in the making for longer than many realize. The famed primatologist visited the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son Archie, who was then just a few months old, at their Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor, England, last summer where she spoke to Harry for a piece in British Vogue. "At the end [of the conversation] Meghan came in to listen with Archie," Jane recalled. "He was very tiny and very sleepy — not too pleased to be passed from his mummy." Jane then practiced Queen Elizabeth II's wave with Archie and told his parents "he'll have to learn this." Harry's response? "Harry said, 'No, he's not growing up like that,'" Jane shared. A few days later, Radio Times (via The Guardian) shared more that Jane had revealed about her friend while promoting her new documentary, The Hope, on National Geographic and National Geographic Wild, which marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Jane said that Harry and brother Prince William are champions of the natural world "except they hunt and shoot." However, she added, "I think Harry will stop because Meghan doesn't like hunting, so I suspect that is over for him."
Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla celebrate 15 years of marriage
One day ahead of their 15th wedding anniversary on April 9, Britain's Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla marked the occasion by sharing a new photo taken at Birkhall, their residence in Scotland, where they've been isolating amid the coronavirus pandemic (it's also where Charles recovered after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in March). "Ahead of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall's 15th wedding anniversary tomorrow, we are sharing this photo of Their Royal Highnesses with The Duchess's dogs Bluebell and Beth. The photo was taken earlier today at Birkhall," the official Clarence House Instagram account captioned the picture.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan confirm, explain their new nonprofit's name
On April 6, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed the name of their new nonprofit — Archewell — which, due to the ongoing world health crisis, they plan to launch "when the time is right." Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan didn't want to confirm the name yet, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, but felt they had to after The Telegraph broke the news that they'd filed a trademark application — which is in the public domain — with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on March 10. "Like you, our focus is on supporting efforts to tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic but faced with this information coming to light, we felt compelled to share the story of how this came to be," they said in a statement. "Before 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."
Queen Elizabeth II delivers rare televised address concerning the coronavirus health crisis
Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare address to the nation via television and social media on April 5 in which she praised Britain's frontline National Health Service workers who are treating patients with the coronavirus, acknowledged the financial and other difficulties her subjects are enduring amid lockdowns and thanked people for staying home as the pandemic rages toward its peak. Britain's monarch taped the four-minute speech with a single camera operator who wore gloves and a mask, People magazine reported, in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, where she's been living with husband Prince Philip since the middle of March. She concluded her well-received remarks with a brief story about delivering her first address in 1940 with the help of her late sister, Princess Margaret. "We, as children, spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety [during World War II]. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones. But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do." Her final sentiment? "We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again," said the queen. Previous televised addresses she's made during her nearly 70-year reign, aside from her annual Christmas message, include one on the eve of Princess Diana's 1997 funeral, one for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, one upon the 2002 death of her mother — Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother — and one during the Gulf War in 1991, People reported. Read and watch her full address here.
Princess Eugenie's father-in-law hospitalized with COVID-19, wife recovered at home
On the heels of Prince Charles's March coronavirus diagnosis and recovery came news that Princess Eugenie of York's in-laws, George and Nicola Brooksbank, were both battling the virus. According to an April 3 report in The Daily Mail, 71-year-old George was hospitalized and in intensive care. His condition at the time was described to the newspaper as "serious but stable." Meanwhile Jack Brooksbank's mother, who was also ill with COVID-19, was "recuperating at home." According to a source who spoke to the newspaper, it was "a traumatic time for Jack and Eugenie… George has been very sick but the whole family has been rallying round to help. They are hugely grateful for the excellent care that he has been receiving. They are thinking of all the other families who are being similarly affected at this time." It's unclear how the royal's in-laws were doing as the month went on.
Duchess Meghan scores mixed reviews for her narration work on Disney+'s "Elephant" documentary
On April 3, the Duchess Meghan-narrated Disneynature documentary "Elephant" — which follows the annual migration of an elephant herd — was released on Disney+. Reviews were mixed. Some critics were unimpressed with the Duchess of Sussex's voiceover performance (she donated her fee to the Elephants Without Borders conservation charity working in Botswana), with The Guardian commenting on her "spectacular torrents of schmaltz" and The Times lamenting, "boy does she lay it on thick." Variety was more on board, writing that Meghan "does an inviting version of the wholesome but amused Disney narrator singsong," while The Telegraph called her "a fine match for the tone of the piece, which vacillates between regal and cutesy-poo with occasional gusts of girl-power uplift." Later in the month, she appeared in a pre-taped interview about the project — it was recorded last summer — that aired on "Good Morning America" (pictured) on April 20.