British Royal Family

A royal year in review: The Monarchy's best moments from 2016

Once again, the royals have had a resplendent year filled with new love, landmark celebrations and incredible milestones.

By Chloe Lal and Bella Brennan
Looking back at 2015, many of us thought there was no way the new year could top the arrival of Princess Charlotte... But it turns out, the one-year-old has a thing or two to learn from the original Queen, Her Majesty, or as she's know to Charlotte, her Royal Gan-Gan.
2016 was without a doubt the year of Queen Elizabeth! The inspirational leader rung in her milestone 90th birthday with non-stop celebrations and so many official portraits and parties, it's little wonder the family managed to get anything else done.
This year, we also saw Prince William and Prince Harry throw out the royal rule book as they broke down some long-withstanding barriers.
Prince Harry became the first royal to have an HIV test and broadcast it on Facebook live, while Prince William made history by being the first future King of England to pose on the cover of LGBT publication Attitude magazine.
And with another royal baby on the way and Prince Harry madly in love, we can't wait to see what 2017 brings!
So, sit back and relax as we recap the monarchy's amazing year that was!
Look who's become a big boy!
The third-in-line-to-the-throne embarked on a truly special milestone, starting nursery school.
The curly-haired youngster joined Westacre Montessori School near the Cambridge's Anmer Hall estate in Sandringham. To mark the exciting occasion, shutterbug Catherine released two snaps of her little boy as he embarked on the next chapter.
Quill in hand, the Duchess is reporting to duty!
Dipping her toes into the world of journalism, the Duchess of Cambridge made a royally inspiring editing debut, taking the reins as the Huffington Post's Guest Editor in February in a bid to raise awareness and understanding around children's mental health issues.
The mother-of-two was praised for her eloquent and personal approach to parenting. "Like most parents today, William and I would not hesitate to seek help for our children if they needed it," she explained.
"We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older. We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness."
Look at our favourite snow bunnies!
Snow bunnies
In March, The Cambridges delighted the world after giving royal well-wishers a sneak peek into their first holiday as a family of four.
Catherine and William took their two little ones to the French Alps, where they frolicked and enjoyed their snowy surroundings.
The holiday gave everyone the chance to see how much little Charlotte had grown.
Charlotte showed off her sweet smile.
India was a ball.
In the tropical subcontinent for just one week, the couple, who wed in 2011, had a jam-packed schedule. From meeting Bollywood superstars, sporting legends and seeing the Taj Mahal – Catherine and William shone best when they were mingling with the locals.
The royal tour also gave the 34-year-old mum the chance to mix up her looks and show off her love of colour and international fashion labels.
The mum-of-two oozed glamour.
Her Majesty rung in her 90th birthday in style.
Happy birthday, your Majesty
Queen Elizabeth may publicly celebrate her birthday on June 12, but privately, with her nearest and dearest, Her Majesty celebrates her big day on her actual birthday - April 21. If two birth dates weren't enough, The Queen's celebrations rolled on for months.
To commemorate her 90th, new historical royal stamps and portraits were released.
The Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George posed for a stunning family photo, which was released in April as a special collector's edition stamp.
Look at the birthday gal's smile!
Say cheese!
Buckingham Palace were seriously snap happy and also released three stunning portraits of Her Majesty, taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. The beautiful images were taken at Windsor Castle in late March and were released on the day of her 90th birthday - April 21.
The first portrait shows Her Majesty with her five great-grandchildren and her two youngest grandchildren, sitting in the Green Drawing Room of Windsor Castle.
The second portrait is of The Queen and her only daughter Anne, The Princess Royal, while the third shows the longest-ruling Monarch doing what she loves best - spending time outdoors with her beloved corgis and dorgies Willow, Vulcan, Candy and Holly.
Look who's a big girl!
On May 2, to mark her first birthday, Duchess Catherine released four precious snaps of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. The perfectly poised royal was as sweet as can be, with many noting that she’s a carbon copy of her Gan-Gan, Queen Elizabeth!
Charlotte makes her Trooping the Colour debut
June saw the timeless tradition of Trooping the Colour return to officially mark Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch's 90th.
The day, filled with fanfare and glory, was made extra special as she was joined by her youngest great-grandchild, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge, who made her first official public appearance since her birth last May. Fans were delighted to see the one-year-old had already mastered the royal wave.
Of course, right by her side was big brother Prince George, who once again charmed the crowds with his adorable antics.
Prince George returned to the Buckingham Palace balcony for the second time, while his little sister made her debut.
That is how you do a royal wave!
An admirable Attitude
June also saw Prince William break down barriers as the first royal who has ever appeared on the cover of a gay publication.
The father-of-two is well versed in voicing his opinion in what he’s passionate about, and the Duke did just that as he became the cover star of Attitude magazine, an LGBT lifestyle publication.
“No one should be bullied for their sexuality,” he said, before urging anyone facing hardship over their sexuality to not be afraid to seek help.
Prince William made history as the first royal cover star of Attitude magazine, an LGBT lifestyle publication.
Prince George flies high at the air tattoo
According to his parents he’s mad for all things trains, planes and automobiles so it was only fitting that Prince George’s first official engagement of the year was for the Royal International Air Tattoo’s 75th anniversary in Gloucestershire in June.
The curious three-year-old had an absolute ball as he perused all the helicopters with mum and dad right by his side.
And judging by George's utter delight when he clapped eyes on the planes, something tells us he'll be following in his father's footsteps with a potential career in the aviation field.
Taking after dad? Prince William and Duchess Catherine were thrilled to introduce George to aviation world.
Prince Harry’s ground-breaking HIV tests
This year, Prince Harry took two HIV tests to help awareness on the importance of knowing your sexual health status. In July, Harry broadcast the experience from Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Facebook live.
"So whether you're a man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, whatever – even ginger – why wouldn't you come and have a test," he said at the time.
Four months later, he teamed up with popstar Rihanna in her motherland of Barbados for another pin-prick test to coincide with World AIDS day. "We are all sexual beings… It is also normalising testing - it is the responsible, cool thing to do to know your status," Harry explained.
Harry and Rihanna joined forces to raise awareness for HIV.
By George! The Prince turns three
To commemorate Prince George’s third birthday, the Cambridges released a series of stunning portraits shot by Matt Porteous. Our hearts melted at the sight of naughty George feeding Lupo his ice cream, but it was the image of the future King of England standing proudly on a swing with his mum and dad’s names engraved on it that made us tear up.
"The Duke and Duchess hope that people will enjoy seeing these new photographs. They would like to thank everyone for all the lovely messages they have received as Prince George celebrates his third birthday," the official statement explained.
To commemorate his third birthday the royal family released these stunning new shots, taken by Matt Porteous. (Image/Matt Porteous)
Another (kind of) royal wedding!
The world’s most famous bridesmaid is set to walk down the aisle for her very own wedding!
Pippa Middleton might have started the year off single but by July, her engagement to on-again-off-again boyfriend James Matthews was confirmed after he popped the question during a weekend escape to the Lake District. "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are absolutely delighted with the news,” a spokesperson for the Cambridges said.
According to the latest reports, the pair will wed in a high society wedding on May 20 at St Marks’ Church, with the reception held at the Middleton’s Bucklebury family home. And even though the guest list is still yet to be confirmed, Prince George is pegged to play pageboy on the day, while Princess Charlotte is tipped to be the happy couple’s flower girl.
It's Pippa's turn! In July, it was confirmed Kate's younger sister is engaged to James Matthews.
The Cambridges charm their way through Canada
Dubbed their most successful royal tour yet and we have no doubt it was all thanks to the two tiny VIPs Prince William and Duchess Catherine brought with them. Despite attending only one official event, a children’s party at Government House in Victoria in September, Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s made a lasting impression on their host country.
Watching Prince William’s close bond with his son as they shared a warm hug and hearing Princess Charlotte say her first words (“dada”, no less) will be memories the family will treasure for years to come. And who could forget when one-year-old Charlotte nonchalantly sat on Moose the dog?
But Prince George stole the show yet again as the family left Canada for London, famously pressing his face up against the plan looking decidedly unimpressed.
In September, Wills and Kate brought along their children for the royal tour of Canada.
George looked very unimpressed about leaving Canada.
The world’s most eligible bachelor falls in love
It was always going to take a special person to win over Prince Harry and in October, it was revealed the 32-year-old had fallen for Suits actress and passionate human rights activist, Meghan Markle.
“He’s happier than he’s been in many years. He’s in a very relaxed period of his life and Meghan has come along at the right time,” a source close to the Prince told the The Express.
As the news of his romance spread across the globe, Harry broke royal protocol and released a swoon-worthy statement asking for Meghan’s privacy to be respected. His words clearly indicated how strongly he felt for his new partner and the gesture swiftly became one of the most romantic A-list moments of the year.
The stunning actress has our favourite Prince smitten.
69 years and more in love than ever
November 20, 2016, marked Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's 69th wedding anniversary. Their love story is more relevant than ever and has even been re-imagined by the smash hit Netflix show The Crown.
So, what is there secret? “You can take it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance in abundance," the 95-year-old Duke has said. Joking aside, it is clear that it is the Prince’s utter devotion to his wife that has been a backbone to their incredible partnership. "My job first, second and last is never to let the Queen down," he has sweetly said.
Laughing their way into 69 years of marriage!
Prince Harry wins over the Caribbean
Representing his grandmother, The Queen, Prince Harry embarked on an incredible two-week tour of the Caribbean.
Putting his trademark charm to work, Harry won hearts with the locals everywhere he went. Giving perhaps his most candid interview yet, the 32-year-old let a group of kids from the Joshua House Children's Home in Guyana interview him for a spontaneous Q&A.
When a little girl asked him what it was like being a prince who ruled England, he sweetly responded: "Firstly, I definitely don’t rule the country. What’s it like being a prince? Good and bad. There’s lots of privilege of course, but with privilege comes a lot of responsibility. Being a prince means you’ve got to harness all the positivity, try and encourage people to see good stuff about life," Harry mused, giving a fascinating insight into his world.
Harry proved to be a natural with children during his royal tour of the Caribbean.
Baby joy!
What better way to end the year than with amazing baby news!
At the start of December, The Queen's granddaughter, Zara Tindall, confirmed her second pregnancy with husband Mike Tindall. “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and members of the Royal family are delighted with the news,” the palace's official statement read. According to the BBC, the new addition to the family is due to arrive in the European spring of next year.
"So far, things seem to be on track. I feel great and Mia was such a good baby — we have got our fingers crossed for the second time around," the mother of two-year-old Mia has said.
Zara and Mike Tindall are expecting their second child together!

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