Where would the world be without the British royals, led by Queen Elizabeth II, 93, to entertain us, surprise and delight us, and sometimes move us?
Here’s a look at some of the most memorable royal stories of the decade.
April 2011: Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding
Prince William and Kate Middleton, both 28, announce their engagement in November 2010 after nearly a decade of dating and eventually living together. Speaking at a brief news conference at St. James’s Palace on Nov. 16, William, second in line to the throne, presented his intended to the British people as a future queen.
William and Kate wed April 29 in Westminster Abbey in an extravagant wedding, the most eagerly anticipated royal wedding since his mother, the former Lady Diana Spencer, married his father, Prince Charles, in 1981.
May 2011: Queen Elizabeth II visits Ireland
The queen makes a state visit to the Republic of Ireland, the first by a reigning British monarch since her grandfather, George V, toured Ireland in 1911, when it was still a restive part of the United Kingdom.
The visit, underscoring normalization of relations between the U.K. and the Irish Republic with the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, was an unqualified success. That was largely due to the queen, who movingly traced the long, fraught history of relations between the Irish and English in a keynote speech May 18 in Dublin.
“To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy,” she said. “With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”
June 2012: Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee
The queen came to the throne in February 1952 on the death of her father, George VI, so 2012 was her Diamond Jubilee year of 60 years on the throne. Only Queen Victoria, her great-great grandmother, reigned long enough to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, in 1897.
Britain paid tribute to their 41st monarch with a five-day extravaganza of parties, concerts, exhibits and religious services in early June.
The highlight was the June 3 Thames River Pageant, a flotilla of 1,000 ships, from kayaks to antique tall ships, sailing down the Thames behind the queen and her heirs on a Royal Barge to Tower Bridge, as hundreds of thousands lined the riverbank cheering and waving flags despite a cold rain.
July 2012: London Olympics royal spoof
The queen opened the London Olympic Games on July 28 in a way that stunned and delighted millions, playing herself in a show-stealing spoof with James Bond (Daniel Craig) in which the two parachute (not really) into the stadium at the start of the Opening Ceremony.
The 4.5-minute video, conceived and directed by Opening Ceremony maestro Danny Boyle, shows 007 arriving at Buckingham Palace, greeted by scampering royal corgis, to collect the queen, who turns from her writing desk and greets him: “Good evening, Mr. Bond.” Then they stalk down a palace corridor, accompanied by corgis, and “board” a helicopter.
In the packed stadium, the crowd was stunned as they watched the video of a pair parachuting out of a helicopter (it was two stuntmen, one in the same peach dress as the queen). At the last moment, the actual queen appeared to take her seat to wild cheering, laughter and applause. Even Prince Charles and his sons, watching from their seats, were gobsmacked when they realized it really was her and her dogs in the film and not an impersonator.
It was a rare glimpse of a side of the queen rarely seen in public – her well-honed sense of humor – and her ability to remain regal while also spoofing herself.
July 2013: Prince George is born
Prince George of Cambridge is born at St. Mary’s Hospital in London on July 22. He is third in line to the throne behind his father, Prince William, and his grandfather, Prince Charles.
At the time, he was the queen’s third great-grandchild. As a future king, he later poses (standing on a pile of books and grinning) for historic photos with the queen, Charles and Will. Only once before has a reigning British monarch been in the same room with three generations of her heirs and future monarchs: When Queen Victoria posed with her son , grandson and great-grandson in 1894 .
So the anticipation and excitement over this royal baby was just as high as when Prince William was born in 1982, but with the added reach of cellphones and social media. Reporters camped out for days outside the hospital, along with die-hard royal fans.
April 2014: Will, Kate and baby George tour Australia
Prince William and Duchess Kate took 9-month-old Prince George on their three-week tour Down Under tour of Australia and New Zealand, where the baby prince made his public debut as a royal in the most watched play date ever, and the trio were greeted everywhere by cheering fans.
But the awww moment may have been at Sydney’s harbor-side Taronga Zoo on Easter Sunday, where George met a cute little critter – a bilby – named for him.
The family got up close and personal with Bilby George at the new enclosure, as baby George wriggled vigorously and squealed with delight on spotting the marsupial with the big ears and long snout.
May 2015: Princess Charlotte arrives
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge is born at St. Mary’s Hospital in London on May 2, 2015. She is a historic royal baby because, under changed succession rules to allow birth order to trump gender, she will be the first female heir ever to keep her place in the succession even if her parents later have another boy. She is fourth in line to the throne.
April 2016: Queen Elizabeth II turns 90
The queen turned 90 on April 21, becoming the longest-living British monarch in history. Did she put her feet up in her castle? She did not. She was working, as she has on most of her birthdays since becoming sovereign, greeting well-wishers on walkabout outside Windsor Castle after unveiling a plaque marking the Queen’s Walkway, a four-mile walking trail in Windsor.
She tried to downplay the significance of her birthday, but the rest of the country, led by Prince Charles and then-Prime Minister David Cameron, carried on with the tributes.
August 2017: Prince Philip calls it quits
Prince Philip finally retired, after nearly 70 years by his wife’s side supporting her in her royal duties. On Aug. 2, at the age of 96, he carried out his 22,219th – and final – solo public engagement, meeting at Buckingham Palace with Royal Marines who completed a 1,664-mile trek to raise money for charity.
It rained, of course. The Duke of Edinburgh, wearing a raincoat and a bowler hat, bowed out of public life to cheers and a rousing rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” by the Royal Marines band. With a tip of his hat and a wave of acknowledgement, he walked off the palace forecourt and into retirement.
He has not been seen much since except for family events such as the weddings of his grandchildren.
August 2017: 20 years since Princess Diana’s death
The world marks the 20th anniversary on Aug. 31 of the death in a Paris car wreck of Diana, the beloved Princess of Wales. The mother of William and Harry was just 36. The shock left her family, her country and her millions of admirers around the world bereft, shutting down London for a week that culminated in a funeral ceremony as magnificent as it was poignant.
November 2017: Prince Harry settles down
Prince Harry and his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, are officially photographed together for the first time since they met in the summer of 2016. Holding hands and looking cozy, they made their romance official at Harry’s Invictus Games in Toronto on Sept. 26.
They follow that with an interview with the BBC, sitting side by side on a couch while holding hands, discussing how he proposed, details about the engagement ring (including diamonds from Princess Diana’s personal collection), how the queen’s corgis took to Meghan, and how Diana would be “over the moon” about the news.
April 2018: Prince Louis makes his debt
Prince Louis of Cambridge, Will and Kate’s third child, was born April 23 at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, like his two siblings. He is fifth in line to the throne, behind his sister Charlotte and brother George.
May 2018: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wed
Harry and Meghan married May 19 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in a spectacular and gospel music-inflected ceremony watched by billions around the world. The former Meghan Markle, dressed in a Givenchy wedding gown with Queen Mary’s diamond bandeau tiara pinning her lengthy veil to her hair, glowed, and Harry, dressed in a Blues and Royals military uniform, beamed.
The wedding went off without a hitch under brilliant skies at the ancient castle amid moving scenes of grace and unfettered joy and the pageantry that only the British royals can conjure.
The ceremony and two receptions followed months of hype and hope, plus no end of Markle family drama in the final few weeks over whether her father, Thomas Markle, would show up to give her away. He didn’t, and Prince Charles proudly walked her down the aisle instead.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte served as pageboy and bridesmaid, again.
October 2018: Princess Eugenie ties the knot
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Princess Eugenie of York, younger daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and one of the queen’s eight grandchildren, married her boyfriend, Jack Brooksbank, in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Oct. 12.
She wore a stunning Peter Pilotto gown and a 99-year-old royal Russian-style tiara of diamonds and emeralds lent to her by her grandmother the queen. Her gown featured a low back at the request of Eugenie, who had surgery at 12 to correct scoliosis.
May 2019: Royal baby Archie is born
Harry and Meghan’s baby, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in Portland Hospital in London on May 6, although some of these details, including his name, are not released until days later.
Archie, seventh in line to the throne, is unlike any previous royal baby: He’s half-American, as the child of the former Meghan Markle, the biracial ex-actress born and raised in Los Angeles. He’s also the first royal baby from the Sussex line born in hundreds of years and the first baby born into the royal family ever to be acknowledged to have part African descent.
Harry, Meghan and Archie travel to southern Africa on Sept. 23 for a 10-day tour of the region, which includes Archie’s official debut at a public engagement on Sept. 25 in South Africa.
The tour’s success is somewhat overshadowed by the announcement a day before it ended Oct. 1 that Harry and Meghan were suing three British tabloids for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy and phone hacking.
After their return Oct. 2, a documentary about the tour aired on ITV, featuring interviews in which both of them talked about their unhappiness about and struggle to cope with intense media scrutiny.
November 2019: Prince Andrew steps back from royal duties.
In January 2015, Prince Andrew’s friendship with American convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein hit headlines again after one of Epstein’s alleged “sex slaves” claims she was compelled to have sex with the queen’s second son when she was 17 decades earlier. Buckingham Palace emphatically denied her claims.
Fast-forward to 2019, and when Epstein later died in prison, Andrew was the focus of news headlines once more and ultimately gave an ill-received BBC interview about his past friendship with the convicted sex offender. Following the interview, he stepped down from his royal duties.
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