Get caught up on all the royals news you might have missed in February 2020 — from birthday celebrations and new "Megxit" details to controversies and divorces… Let's start with some Prince Harry news… The final run has begun! After taking a commercial airline flight from his new home base in Canada, the Duke of Sussex boarded a train and headed to Edinburgh, Scotland, on Feb. 25, one day before he attended a working summit in support of Travalyst, his environmental tourism initiative, on Feb. 26. The event marked the first in what's set to be his and Duchess Meghan's final run of events before they formally exit as senior members of Britain's royal family at the end of March (more on that in a minute). On Feb. 28, Harry stepped out again, this time at London's Abbey Road Studios with rocker Jon Bon Jovi to watch the Invictus Games Choir record Jon's 2019 single "Unbroken" for this year's event. During a Feb. 26 interview on "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show," the Bon Jovi frontman joked that he was going to "hand [Harry] a tambourine and see what he's got going." He also quipped that he's going to call him "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince." Keep reading for more February global royals news…
Duchess Kate shows off her sporty side after significant foreign visit announcement
Duchess Kate showed off her sporty side in the starting block (watch the fun video here) at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during an event for SportsAid — she's its patron — on Feb. 26. The fun outing came two days after Kensington Palace announced details of Kate and husband Prince William's official visit to Ireland that's slated for March 3 to 5 — which is, remarkably, the first time the Cambridges have ever made an official visit to their neighboring nation, Town & Country reported. It will also be the first time a British royal has paid an official visit to Ireland post-Brexit. Further, the Ireland trip overlaps with Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's final run of events in the U.K., which has royal watchers eager to see how coverage competition plays out.
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Queen Elizabeth II makes surprise visit to MI5 headquarters
Queen Elizabeth II made headlines when she paid a surprise visit to the headquarters of Britain's Security Service — better known as MI5 — which is the U.K.'s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency (in many ways their version of America's FBI) on Feb. 25. People magazine reported that the monarch was given a personal tour of the spy center by MI5 Director General Sir Andrew Parker. She later delivered a speech thanking the agency for "the tireless work you do to keep our country safe." She continued, "There will no doubt continue to be significant threats and challenges ahead. But on each of my visits to MI5, I have been impressed by the way that you have adapted to the changing threats to our nation. Whether responding to the threats from the Nazis or the Cold War, domestic terrorism or the cybersphere, you have always demonstrated the utmost commitment to your motto: Regnum Defende [Defence of the Realm]." The queen also acknowledged that few will ever know the truth of what those who work there for Britain's citizens. "Because of the nature of your work, it is without public recognition," she added, "so it is on behalf of the country that I say to you all, thank you."
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New portraits released to celebrate a Swedish princess's birthday
The Swedish royal family released new photos of Princess Estelle and her family on Feb. 10 and again on Feb. 23 in honor of her 8th birthday on Feb. 23. The new images — which include this beautiful family picture of Estelle with brother Prince Oscar and their parents, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel — came out after the family announced the formation of a new organization, Princess Estelle's Cultural Foundation, early in the month. "The purpose of the foundation is to promote cultural activities in Sweden," read a statement on the royal family's Instagram account, as translated into English. "With the initiative, [Victoria and Daniel want] to emphasize the importance of art and culture to an open and modern society." The foundation will be privately funded. Keep reading to see Estelle's beautiful birthday solo portrait…
New birthday portraits released for Princess Estelle of Sweden's birthday
Photographer Linda Broström took this beautiful new portrait of Princess Estelle, which was released by Sweden's Royal Court on Feb. 23 to mark the future queen's 8th birthday. Many social media users commented on how much she looks like her mother, Crown Princess Victoria.
The latest news concerning what the British press has dubbed "Megxit" started coming out on Feb. 18, which is the day Britain's Daily Mail newspaper published a story claiming that Queen Elizabeth II had decided that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan would not be allowed to use the word "royal" in their branding when they officially leave as senior members of the royal family this spring. Three days later on Feb. 21, the news was confirmed by the couple themselves, who wrote on their soon-to-be-renamed website, SussexRoyal.com, that "given the specific UK government rules surrounding use of the word 'Royal,' it has been therefore agreed that their non-profit organisation will not utilise the name 'Sussex Royal' or any other iteration of 'Royal.'" In a move that some interpreted as the couple throwing shade, Harry and Meghan further explained that "While there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word 'Royal' overseas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use 'Sussex Royal' or any iteration of the word 'Royal' in any territory (either within the UK or otherwise) when the transition occurs Spring 2020." The decision has certainly created new complications for the pair, as they'd trademarked their Sussex Royal brand (which they've now withdrawn) and had already named their new charitable foundation Sussex Royal The Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Instead of a foundation, they'll soon launch a to-be-named nonprofit.
Japan's new emperor marks 60th birthday
Two days before he turned 60 on Feb. 23, Japan's Emperor Naruhito delivered his first birthday address following his ascension to the chrysanthemum throne in 2019 and in it pledged to support the Japanese people amid modern challenges such as climate change and the novel coronavirus outbreak. "In this rapidly changing society, I am contemplating measures in our official duties that would be complementary with such societal changes," Naruhito said during a news conference in commemoration of his birthday, as reported by The Japan Times. "I believe the imperial family bears a share of the responsibility [to address such challenges]."
Norway's king turns 83
King Harald V of Norway marked his 83rd birthday on Feb. 21. He has the distinction of being the first Norwegian prince born on Norwegian soil in 567 years.
Further "Megxit" updates released
On Feb. 19, royals reporters were given new information on the terms of "Megxit" including when it officially begins. "Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's Spring transition period will take effect on March 31," Harper's Bazaar Royal Editor Omid Scobie tweeted, adding that, "The Royal Family and Sussexes have agreed to an initial 12-month review to ensure the arrangement works for all parties." Further, "From April 1, the Sussexes will no longer have an office at Buckingham Palace but will continue to repped in the UK through their foundation team. It's confirmed that the couple will retain their other titles of The Earl & Countess of Dumbarton and The Baron & Baroness Kilkeel." As for Harry's military titles? He will, Omid explained, "retain ranks of Major, Lieutenant Commander, and Squadron Leader, however, during this 12-month period his honorary military positions will not be used. No new appointments will be made to fill these roles before the review is completed." The palace also revealed a slew of events that Harry and Meghan will be attending either solo or together between late February and May — including some related to the Invictus Games, the Endeavor Fund Awards, a motor racing museum opening, the Mountbatten Festival of Music, International Women's Day, Commonwealth Day and the London Marathon. A palace source further told Omid that, moving forward, the Sussexes plan to be in Britain "regularly."
Prince Andrew turns 60
Prince Andrew marked his 60th birthday on Feb. 19. "On this day in 1960, Prince Andrew was born at Buckingham Palace, the first child born to a reigning monarch for 103 years. Happy Birthday to The Duke of York," the queen's official Twitter account wrote alongside photos of the duke as a baby and now. According to reports in the British media, Andrew, who's been tainted by a scandal involving his friendship with deceased pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, celebrated with a small private lunch at Royal Lodge, the home he shares with his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, in Windsor, England. MailOnline reported that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport decided that government buildings would not be required to fly the Union Jack flag to mark Andrew's 60th birthday, as they normally would be, because of his late-2019 decision to step back from public duties in the wake of a devastating interview about his scandal-plagued life. Also gone? An expected military promotion. MailOnline reported that Andrew was set to be raised to the rank of admiral on his 60th birthday, which is now not happening.
Princess Margaret's son, the Earl of Snowdon, is divorcing
A week after news broke about one royal split (more on that later) came news of another. "The Earl and Countess of Snowdon have amicably agreed that their marriage has come to an end and that they shall be divorced," a spokesman for the couple confirmed in a statement to the BBC on Feb. 17. The Earl of Snowdon, who's 21st in the line of succession, is also known as David Armstrong-Jones — he's Queen Elizabeth II's nephew and the son of the late Princess Margaret and photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. He married Serena Stanhope in 1993. They share two children: Viscount Linley (Charles Armstrong-Jones) and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones.
Duchess Kate opens up about motherhood during first podcast appearance
On the heels of launching her "5 Big Questions on the Under Fives" survey about early childhood, Britain's Duchess Kate sat down for an unprecedented interview on Giovanna Fletcher's Feb. 15 "Happy Mum, Happy Baby" podcast during which she spoke frankly for 30 minutes about motherhood, her own childhood, raising Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, using hypnobirthing techniques that made her feel "hugely powerful," how she's constantly racked with mom guilt, dealing with severe morning sickness during her pregnancies, the "terrifying" experience of appearing on the hospital steps in front of photographers after giving birth for the first time and more. The host was floored by how open Kate was. "I don't think I expected to hear any of it," she said. "I love hearing her very honest answers, how articulate and intelligent she is about early years… and how playful she is as well when she's talking about her own kids."
The results of Duchess Meghan's stint guest-editing British Vogue are in
In the summer of 2019, Duchess Meghan made headlines when she became the first person ever to guest-edit an issue of British Vogue. On Feb. 13, the magazine publicly revealed how the issues did — and it's pretty major. "The newsstand sales numbers are in for 2019, and #BritishVogue's September 2019 #ForcesForChange issue, guest edited by The Duchess of Sussex @SussexRoyal with Editor-in-Chief @Edward_Enninful, was the fastest-selling issue in the magazine's 104-year history, selling out in 10 days," the magazine shared on its Instagram account. "It was also the biggest-selling issue of the decade. In celebration, the magazine is releasing a previously unseen film the #DuchessofSussex made at the time with Edward and the Forces For Change cover stars. Thank you to all our loyal readers — here's to 2020." Watch the video here.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan lay off place staffers as official exit plan continues
Sussexit continues! On Feb. 13, the Daily Mail broke the news that Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan were, as it wrote, "axing 15 staff and closing their Buckingham Palace office." Other outlets also confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had no choice but to lay off their London employees since they're stepping back as senior members of the royal family and won't be based in Britain any longer. Among those losing their jobs? Private secretary Fiona Mcilwham, communications chief Sara Latham and assistant communications secretary Marnie Gaffney, reported the Daily Mail, which added that workers were told in person in January. Some employees will, however, be rehired by the royal family in other roles.
Spain releases new photos of the royal family
Spain's royal family dropped a series of stunning new portraits on Feb. 11 in celebration of 2020. King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia and daughters Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia posed for a series of images that were snapped by photographer Estela de Castro at the Royal Palace in Madrid. In this formal photo — just one of many — the monarch wore the uniform of a captain-general in the Spanish army while his wife dazzled in a floral-embroidered pink Carolina Herrera gown paired with the Fleur de Lys tiara and the blue-and-white sash of the Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III, People magazine reported. Keep reading to see a pic of the king and queen with their daughters in less formal attire…
More from the Spanish royal family's new official photoshoot
In this pic — one of many new photos released by Spain's royal family on Feb. 11 — King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are seen posing with their daughters, Princess Leonor — the country's future queen — and Infanta Sofia. See more of the images here.
The new "Fab Four"?
Prince Charles and wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall teamed up with Prince William and wife Duchess Kate on Feb. 11 to visit the new Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall in Loughborough, England. It was a significant appearance as it's rare that the future kings and their spouses do joint events together. According to the Daily Mail , it's their first official outing together as a foursome since a charity concert back in 2011!
A royal couple is ending their 12-year marriage
On Feb. 10, The Sun broke the news that Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips — the son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips — and wife Autumn were splitting. The next day, the couple confirmed the report that their 12-year marriage is over. "They had reached the conclusion that this was the best course of action for their two children and ongoing friendship," a spokesman for the couple told People magazine. "The decision to divorce and share custody came about after many months of discussions and although sad, is an amicable one." The statement continued, "The couple's first priority will remain the continued well being and upbringing of their wonderful daughters Savannah and Isla. Both families were naturally sad at the announcement, but fully supportive of Peter and Autumn in the joint decision to co-parent their children." It was further confirmed that Peter, who's the first of his generation of British royals to divorce, and Autumn, who's Canadian by birth but will reportedly remain in the U.K., quietly separated in 2019 and informed the queen and their families of their split at the time.
A questionable move by Prince Andrew?
In November 2019, Prince Andrew stepped back from royal duties in the wake of a disastrous interview concerning his friendship with dead pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein and denials that he'd been intimate with one of Epstein's victims. However, on Feb. 7, the realities of Andrew's reduced role were called into question when Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the U.K. (right), took to Twitter to share photos of himself with Andrew and the Duke of York's ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, as well as daughter Princess Beatrice and her fiancé, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, visiting him — and bringing him a message from the queen. "Her Majesty The Queen sent an encouraging message to President Xi and Chinese people: At the critical time of fighting #coronavirus, I express my sincere sympathy for Chinese people, and pray for the speedy control and victory over the virus. It was conveyed by Duke of York," the diplomat tweeted, adding, "My wife and I invited Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year. Their enthusiasm for China and contribution to China-UK relation is highly appreciated." The visit, and Andrew's message, raised eyebrows, especially as Buckingham Palace did not comment on Andrew's visit with the ambassador. As Lainey Gossip put it, "Some are wondering if this is a gentle toe-dip to test the waters ahead of a gradual return" to public life for Andrew.
An engagement anniversary — and a big change
Feb. 10 marked 15 years since Prince Charles and his now-wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall — who was then known as Camilla Parker Bowles — announced their engagement. (The couple, see here that same day, wed two months later in a civil ceremony on April 9, 2005.) On their engagement anniversary, Twitter account Gert's Royals pointed out, as covered by People magazine, that at the time of their engagement, a palace press release noted 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." In other words, she wouldn't be Queen Camilla, just as she's not known as the Princess of Wales now, which many felt was offensive to the memory of Charles' late ex-wife, Diana, Princess of Wales. But it's now believed that that is no longer the case and that Charles intends to make Camilla his queen consort when he's king: The question of whether or not Camilla will be queen, it turns out, was removed from the FAQ section on Charles's official website years ago. Still, the palace has neither confirmed nor denied this speculation.
The Sussexes hit Miami and California for non-royal public appearances
Four weeks after announcing plans to leave as senior members Britain's royal family and forge a new path in North America marked by financial independence, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan made news when they flew from Canada, where they've been living, to Miami for an unpublicized event: The couple were at the beachfront five-star 1Hotel South Beach on Feb. 6 for the private Alternative Investment Summit sponsored by financial behemoth JPMorgan. Harry delivered a speech in front of 425 guests including bankers, dignitaries and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez in which he, according to a Page Six source, "talked a lot about his and Meghan's decision to step down as senior royals, because of the trauma he suffered and how he doesn't want the same to happen to his family. He said despite how difficult the separation with the British royal family has been, he does not regret their decision, saying that he and Meghan are optimistic about their future, optimistic about being able to be financially independent while still working on projects that mean a lot to them and supporting the charities they believe in." Reports speculated that the couple were paid between $500,000 and $1 million to make an appearance, though the palace would not confirm if they were compensated. "Something like this is absolutely groundbreaking," a source told People magazine as speculation about the pair's future plans continued. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made headlines again a few days later when they made another private trip, this time to California's Stanford University, on Feb. 11 where they, as confirmed by People, met with professors about the new charitable foundation they're launching.
Princess Beatrice's wedding day details released
On Feb. 7, Queen Elizabeth II announced the date and location of granddaughter Princess Beatrice of York's wedding following her September 2019 engagement — and it's set to be a far more low-key affair than other British royal weddings of late. "The wedding of HRH Princess Beatrice of York and Mr. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi will take place on Friday 29 May 2020," a palace statement began. "Her Majesty The Queen has kindly given permission for the ceremony to take place at The Chapel Royal, St James's Palace. The ceremony will be followed by a private reception, given by The Queen, in the gardens of Buckingham Palace." The Chapel Royal has famously hosted royal christenings (Prince George and Prince Louis were both baptized here) as well as other notable royal weddings: It's where bride-to-be Princess Beatrice's great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840, and where Beatrice's great-great-grandfather King George V (who was at the time, like her father is now, the Duke of York) wed the future Queen Mary in 1893. Also worth noting: Many royals — including bride-to-be Beatrice as well as Princess Anne — live in apartments at St. James's Palace, which was built by the Tudors in 1531 on the order of King Henry VIII. Prince Charles also used to live there with Prince William and Prince Harry when they were boys. It's also been confirmed that, despite stepping back as a senior royal in late 2019 in the wake of a sex trafficking scandal concerning his old friend, late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, Beatrice's father, Prince Andrew, will still be walking his oldest daughter down the aisle come May.
On Feb. 6, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II marked a bittersweet anniversary: 68 years since she ascended the throne upon the death of her father, King George VI, at his Sandringham estate in 1952. She reportedly spent the day, as always, in quiet reflection at Sandringham, which she inherited. Five days later, as ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reported, she returned to London to get back to work (she's seen here at the King's Lynn railway station in Norfolk, England). "Accession Day marked. Sandringham stay over. This morning the Queen boarded a train at Kings Lynn station in Norfolk. She is returning to Buckingham Palace after completing her 68th year as Monarch," he tweeted.
Bhutan's crown prince turns 4 and king turns 40
On Feb. 5, Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan turned 4. He's the first-born child of Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife, Queen Jetsun Pema, who are expecting their second baby later in 2020. On Feb. 21, the king celebrated a milestone birthday himself: He turned 40.
Denmark's crown princess celebrates a birthday
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark turned 48 on Feb. 5. To mark the mother of four's happy day, the Danish Royal House released a beautiful new portrait of the royal, taken by photographer Daniel Stjerne, on Instagram. (See it here.)
A royal good time at the BAFTAs
Prince William and Duchess Kate dazzled at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards at London's Royal Albert Hall on Feb. 2 where Kate, in keeping with organizers' request that attendees support sustainable fashion, wore a beautiful white and gold-embroidered Alexander McQueen gown that she'd previously donned during a 2012 state dinner in Malaysia. All eyes were on the pair — especially when a few of the stars in attendance made jokes at the royal family's expense. Presenter Rebel Wilson kicked off a humorous speech by telling the audience, "It's really great to be here at the royal Andrew… uh, uh, royal Harry… no, royal… at this royal palace place," referencing Prince Andrew and Prince Harry's recent pullbacks from royal life. After an absent Brad Pitt won the best supporting actor award, his "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" co-star Margot Robbie read his speech, which included not only a Brexit joke ("Hey, Britain, heard you just became single, welcome to the club") but a Harry joke: "Oh and he says that he is gonna name this [award] Harry 'cause he is really excited about bringing it back to the States with him," Margot said, quipping of Brad, "His words, not mine." William got in a joke of his own on stage, telling the audience, "I am particularly proud to stand here tonight having served as BAFTA's president for the last 10 years. However, I must admit I don't know whether I should be proud, or slightly alarmed, about the number of [BAFTA] winners over the last decade who have portrayed members of my own family" — a reference to, as Town & Country explained, Olivia Colman playing Queen Elizabeth II on "The Crown" and Queen Anne in "The Favourite" and Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Colin Firth as King George VI in 2010's lauded "The King's Speech." William also used his platform to call for more diversity in the British film industry.
A Monegasque princess turns 55
Princess Stephanie of Monaco, the youngest child of the late Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace, celebrated her 55th birthday on Feb. 1.