Britian’s royal family has been the subject of intense public interest and media attention for decades. From Queen Elizabeth’s early years as the country’s monarch to Princess Diana’s iconic era to the modern age of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the royal family of Windsor has kept people on their toes for what seems like forever.
Like all families, the royals have had their fair share of drama, personal battles, and separations. But unlike the majority of us, the ins and outs of the family have been projected onto the international stage, drawing in scrutiny and judgment from just about every corner of the world.
It seemed like after the turbulent ’90s — marked by multiple divorces and the tragic death of Diana — the dust around the royal family was settling down. Prince William got married and had children, the Queen was just as adored as ever, and Prince Charles behaved (for the most part.) Still, 2020 was a dramatic, awkward, and tension filled year for the royals that many of us paid attention to. So here’s the scoop about all of it, because the royal family dramatically changed in 2020.
2020 started off rocky for the royals when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their exit
2020 started off with a bang, literally, because it seemed as if the royal family was exploding. In an announcement that shocked the world, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed that they would stepping back from the royal family — and yes, the drama was just as intense as you’d expect.
According to Vanity Fair, Queen Elizabeth was not notified about the decision before the public announcement was made (she found out just the same as we did, on social media and cable news). Ouch. A source told the publication that the Queen has been rather hurt by some of Harry’s actions, particularly around the time of his wedding. “She feels she has done everything to smooth the path for them but this could well be the last straw,” they explained.
At the time of the announcement, the Queen was at Sandringham House and was described by inside sources as “furious” over the news. She hadn’t seen her grandson or Markle since they’d returned from their trip to Canada — not the best way to start off the year.
New details emerged in 2020 about Prince William's falling out with Prince Harry
The years that followed Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan Markle were marked by rumors of tension between the prince and his brother, Prince William. 2020 stoked that flame when royal expert Robert Lacey released his tell all book Battle of Brothers, breathing new life into the siblings’ conflict.
As noted by Vanity Fair, the book highlighted the ways in which William tried to dissuade Harry from getting serious about Markle, as he was reportedly concerned about the quick pace of their relationship — reportedly, the princes’ uncle, Princess Diana’s brother, even got involved. “The result of the Spencer intervention was an even more bitter explosion. Once again Harry refused to slow down,” Lacey wrote. “[Harry] understood why Diana’s brother should want to help. Yet he was furious with his elder brother for dragging other family members into the row.”
The book also included details about William’s supposed frustration over Markle’s decision to guest edit an issue of Vogue, among other complaints. That’s not exactly a great change to highlight in a year that was already tough for the royals.
Will we see a Prince Harry cameo on The Crown? Probably not, but 2020 brought him a Netflix deal
Moving from one country to another often comes with a change of occupation, and although Prince Harry and royal family members typically don’t hold what normal people consider jobs, the change of venue did lead the prince to a new business venture.
According to Vanity Fair, Harry and Meghan Markle’s move to California was topped off in a big way when they announced their multi-million deal with Netflix. The couple revealed that they have plans to create programming that “informs but also gives hope,” and will focus on family-friendly content. That’s an interesting and a touch controversial development, given that Netflix is the creative mind behind The Crown — a show that focuses on the drama of the royal family, and a program that’s not at all beloved by the real royal family.
The Netflix deal could project Harry and Markle into new heights of stardom, as their biographer Omid Scobie, noted. “Think of a working model not too dissimilar to what the Obamas created after leaving the White House,” he explained. Not too shabby.
Prince William on Twitter? The senior royal made a surprising post in 2020
The social media accounts of the royal family members are highly curated, and highlight their humanitarian work and personal lives. But Prince William, in an unusual move, took to the official Kensington Palace Twitter account in 2019 to express his joy over a soccer match. While appearing on The Peter Crouch Podcast in July 2020, he talked about what prompted his changed social media behavior and his reaction to the good sporting news.
According to People, when William was asked about who helms that Twitter account, he quipped that his family tries to keep him away from it. However, when Liverpool beat Barcelona in a soccer game, William was overjoyed. “I went mental, I grabbed the Twitter thing and I just posted it,” he shared on the podcast. “It was one of the best games of football I’ve ever seen. And I got completely out of control and I just went, ‘Tweet that, get it out. Give it here!'”
We can just imagine like any sports fan, the prince’s excitement prompted his shift from social media politeness to all-around sports fanatic.
This tell-all book released in 2020 cracked open the bitterness between the royals
Talk about adding fuel to the fire. 2020 was already dealing the royal family change after change, but things took a turn for the dramatic when the tell all book Finding Freedom by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand was released.
As noted by Vanity Fair, the book largely dealt with subjects of royal family judgment and lack of inclusion from the perspective of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who by their accounts, were regularly attacked by royal family members. The premise of the book was rather simple: “After almost three years of regular attacks from the British press and a family they felt had not done enough to support them, things had to change.” But the fallout wasn’t so great.
Prince William and Kate Middleton came under serious fire in the tell all — Middleton was portrayed as “cold and aloof” and William as “snobbish and interfering.” Additionally, the veteran royal couple were reportedly “outraged” by the claims in the book — which included allegations of racism within the family. Yikes.
The Queen created a "firm of eight" royals, and some favorites didn't make the cut
It’s no wonder that Queen Elizabeth made some structural changes in 2020, and according to The Sun, she’s chosen a core group of royal family members to speak and act on behalf of the crown. Called the “firm of eight,” the Queen’s reformed group of royals is: Prince Edward, Sophie Countess of Wessex, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Anne, and herself (obviously). The group was put into place to amplify the Queen’s new mantra, “one must be seen to be believed.”
Of course, there are some notable exceptions. Unsurprisingly excluded from the group is Queen Elizabeth’s husband, who retired from royal duties in 2017 (Prince Philip is 99, after all). But other exclusions aren’t as cleanly explained. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle weren’t named a part of the group, nor was Prince Andrew (who’s been wrapped up in his Jeffrey Epstein related scandals) as well as his daughters, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice. Reportedly, the new group is reflective of the “slimmed down monarchy” that Prince Charles is pushing for. Interesting.
Meghan Markle revealed that she suffered a miscarriage in the summer of 2020
2020 was a dark year for a lot of reasons — from the coronavirus pandemic to the tragic deaths of figures like Ruth Bader Ginsburg to devastating natural disasters, it seems like everything was negatively impacted.
Additionally, in a moment of vulnerability, Meghan Markle revealed one of the most devastating changes that occurred in her life in 2020. In an opinion column for The New York Times, Markle disclosed that she’d suffered a miscarriage while holding onto her young son, Archie. “After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right,” she wrote. “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”
Markle then painted the picture as to what happened after. She wrote that she held onto Prince Harry’s hand tightly while in the hospital, his grip clammy and wet from tears. “Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she added.
Prince Charles' world was rocked in 2020 when The Crown's fourth season dropped
Perhaps a highlight of 2020 for television was the fourth season of The Crown, Netflix’s widely acclaimed hit drama series about the royal family. But the season was not at all celebrated by the IRL royals; according to the New York Daily News, Prince Charles’ world was significantly shaken in the fourth season’s aftermath. The season, released in November 2020, showed the courtship and early years of Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana, who even to this day years after her death, is still beloved by the world.
Charles and his second wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, went as far as turning off the comments section on their shared Twitter account due to the backlash they were receiving in The Crown’s aftermath (don’t forget, Camilla was the “other woman” in Charles’ marriage to Diana for a long time). Penny Junor, a royal biographer, told The Times that Charles would most likely be “incredibly upset” over the show, and called it “the most cruel and unfair and horrible portrayal of almost all of them.” Not a fun change to endure, warranted or not.
Prince William and Kate Middleton's precious dog, Lupo, passed away in 2020
This just sucks. In November 2020, Prince William and Kate Middleton announced that their sweet dog, Lupo, had passed away. Talk about a change that was not needed in 2020. “Very sadly last weekend our dear dog, Lupo, passed away,” the couple wrote on Instagram. “He has been at the heart of our family for the past nine years and we will miss him so much.”
Lupo, of course, made a splash in the news when he appeared alongside the couple when they were new parents to Prince George. Lupo’s importance to them as a family was revealed over time, and the couple divulged that he helped them through a difficult time when William was deployed. As noted by People, a guest who attended the 2018 Christmas party at Kensington Palace said, “when Prince William was away in the Falkland Islands, he went for dinner with some good friends of ours in the Air Force, and he was saying how difficult it was for Kate because he was leaving for six weeks. It was when they’d just got the Spaniel to help her with the time apart.” Ugh.
In an unprecedented change, the royals might not join the Queen for Christmas in 2020
Christmas in the United Kingdom is very much a royal affair. The plans are festive, royals gather together, and the Queen gives her annual Christmas address to the country. But given the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, the 2020 holidays will look extremely different for the royals.
As noted by Hello! magazine, the United Kingdom is only allowing a maximum of three households to interact over the Christmas holiday; as such, Prince William and Kate Middleton revealed that they’ve struggled over what the best decision is given the circumstances. “It is so difficult. We are still trying to make plans,” William said on a stop in Cardiff on his royal train tour of the country. “It’s difficult to know what to do for the best.”
The 2020 Christmas celebrations will be the first time in 30 years that Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, will be celebrating “quietly” at Windsor Castle. Typically, the couple spends the holiday at the Sandringham house with their family. Just another 2020 change that is hard to stomach.
Here's the inside scoop on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's new digs in Montecito
After Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s departure from the royal family in early 2020, many speculated as to where they would move. It was rumored that the family would settle in Los Angeles, but they ultimately decided on a property in Montecito, California. As noted by Page Six, Harry and Markle “quietly” moved into their new home in July 2020, surrounded by a community of neighbors including Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. “They intend to put down their roots in this house and the quiet community, which has considerable privacy,” a source shared. “This is where they want to bring Archie up, where they hope he can have as normal a life as possible.”
The insider added that the couple’s Montecito home was the first property that either of them had ever owned — as such, their move was a monumental occasion. Vanity Fair revealed that the home cost $14,650,000; it has nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, and is situated among roses and olive trees. The property also boasts a pool, tennis courts, and a guest house. We’ll patiently wait for our invitation.
He kept the news under wraps, but Prince William was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020
Talk about a year of unexpected curveballs. In November 2020, royal fans learned that Prince William had contracted the coronavirus in April, but decided not revealed his diagnosis in order to keep the public calm. As noted by The Sun, William and his father, Prince Charles, were both diagnosed with coronavirus, as was British Prime Minster Boris Johnson. However, William had a severe case of it. “William was hit pretty hard by the virus — it really knocked him for six,” an insider shared. “At one stage he was struggling to breathe, so obviously everyone around him was pretty panicked.”
The source later revealed that the diagnosis and severity of William’s illness came as a surprise, given his young age and his high levels of fitness and health. Nevertheless, he chose to muster through and fulfill his duties “There were important things going on and I didn’t want to worry anyone,” he shared during a royal engagement. Either way, hopefully no one let him within a mile of the Queen.
Prince Charles made a change to his career in 2020 and launched a fashion line
Finally, a change that wasn’t made in the royal family in part due to drama, tension, or worldwide illness. In November 2020, heir to the British throne Prince Charles announced the launch of his own sustainable clothing line. Yes, you read that correctly. According to People, Charles’ collection featured 10 items for women and eight for men, and was the result of a collaboration between his foundation and the Modern Artisan Project to promote “high-end textile skills among young craftsmen.”
Charles fulfilled the young craftsmen component, as the designs were made by students at the Politecnico di Milano design school, and the manufacturing was the work of graduates from Dumfries House. “For me, I have always tried to use my own wardrobe to highlight great craftsmanship, whether that is in the manufacture or, more often these days, the repair of an item,” Charles shared, as noted by The Telegraph. “I have always believed in the ‘Buy once, buy well’ philosophy, so the more I wear them, the more sustainable I hope I become!” We love to see it, honestly.
After a turbulent 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reunited (virtually) with Prince William and Kate Middleton
After a very dramatic and turbulent year, it appears as though the tensions between Prince Harry/Meghan Markle and Prince William/Kate Middleton might be easing up. A friend of the royals told Vanity Fair that “it’s been a big year for sure and one that has been a rollercoaster,” but that the two couples are finding common ground, much to the relief of other royal family members. The relationship between the brothers is reportedly “much better than it was,” and a close friend revealed that Harry and Meghan sent Christmas gifts to William and Kate. “I have no doubt they will be video calling each other over Christmas,” the friend shared.
After a rough year, it’s no wonder that the family is trying to mend some of the rifts, but the source added that Harry wouldn’t change the ways things worked out, even given the year’s difficulties. “There are certain things he misses, but nothing so much that he regrets moving,” they added. “He’s found a kindred spirit in Meghan, they are creating a new life. That’s so very exciting for them both.”
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