The Best And Worst Royals Moments Of 2021

We all have ups and downs each year, but for the royal family, 2021 was a time of extreme highs and gut-wrenching lows. Of course, Queen Elizabeth losing Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, was a huge blow to the royals, and the queen celebrated what would have been her 74th wedding anniversary alone. While his April death might have set the stage for a sad rest of the year for Her Majesty and the rest of the family, we saw some wonderful moments, too.

After being in isolation for most of 2020 and part of 2021, it was wonderful for royal fans to see the queen and her family return to in-person events again. Many of the royals stepped up their charity work in 2021, especially in the fight against climate change, and there was even a royal baby boom. Here, we're taking a look at some of the best and worst royal moments from 2021.

Best: Four new royal babies were born in 2021

Babies are a great reason for celebration, and 2021 was a wonderful one when four new children joined the royal family. First was August Philip Hawke Brooksbank, born to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on February 9 (via Hello!). There might've even been a royal reason for his name, as Hello! noted Augustus was one of the middle names of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband. On March 21, Zara and Mike Tindall welcomed their third child, Lucas Philip Tindall, the second royal baby of the year with a Prince Philip tribute in his middle name (via BBC News). Mike Tindall shared on his podcast that they weren't able to make it to the hospital fast enough and Lucas was actually born on the bathroom floor.

Next up was Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child (via The New York Times). The couple released a statement, saying, "Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet," and that she was given Diana as a middle name in memory of her late grandmother. Last up was Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi's first child together, Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi, who was born on September 18 (via Harper's Bazaar). The princess tweeted a sweet photo of Sienna's footprints, writing, "We are all doing well and [stepson] Wolfie is the best big brother to Sienna."

Worst: Prince Philip's death changed the royal family forever

June 2021 was supposed to mark a fantastic milestone for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as the royal family made preparations for his 100th birthday. However, fears about Philip's health were raised when the duke was hospitalized from February 16 through March 16, according to The Guardian. The duke had undergone a heart procedure and had also been treated for an infection. Royal watchers hoped that Philip had recovered and would make it to his 100th, but sadly, those celebrations would not take place.

The queen released a somber announcement on April 9, telling the world that her husband had died at the age of 99 (via BBC News). Tributes to the duke poured in, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he "earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world." Due to COVID restrictions, only a small number of guests attended — including Prince Harry, who flew from California for the funeral (via the royal family website). Members of the royal family walked behind the custom-built Land Rover hearse designed by Philip himself into St. George's Chapel — a fitting sendoff for the Land Rover aficionado (via USA Today). Later in 2021, a BBC documentary aired with various members of the royal family sharing their fond memories of the duke, praising his life of humor, heart, and innovation.

Best: The queen celebrated her 95th birthday

While Prince Philip sadly didn't make it to celebrate his 100th, Queen Elizabeth II had her own milestone birthday in spring 2021 when she turned 95 years old. Born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, the queen was then known as Princess Elizabeth and was named after her mother (via Marie Claire). Of course, the young princess eventually became queen and was crowned just after her 27th birthday (via To honor her special 95th birthday, the Royal Collection Trust released a special range of china and souvenirs, including a pretty pink teacup and a corgi Christmas ornament with balloons (via Hello!).

The timing of her big birthday wasn't ideal, as her husband had died just weeks before (via Us Weekly). According to the magazine, a source said the queen celebrated her birthday privately with her beloved corgis. In a message Her Majesty released for the big day, she said, "I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate."

Worst: COVID-19 impacted the way the royals communicated

Like the rest of us, the royal family still felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic long into 2021. With Britain under tight lockdown restrictions, royal events were mainly online for the early part of the year, like the February chat Prince William and Kate Middleton had about the COVID-19 vaccine (via Hola!). Zoom meetings were a change for the royals, but the queen managed to adapt to the new technology, even when there were technical difficulties (via the Daily Express). 

While online events in themselves aren't a bad thing, not being able to shake hands or interact on a more personal level with the British people had to have been difficult for the royal family. After all, the queen once said she had "to be seen to be believed" (via The New York Times).

When the royals finally were able to get out and meet with charities and the British public face-to-face, it came with new challenges like face masks, distancing, and criticism on social media about COVID rules. ro's son Peter Phillips made headlines for allegedly breaking COVID restrictions by traveling to Scotland (via Newsweek), for example. 

Best: Camilla delivered a groundbreaking speech about sexual violence

Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, has always been a supporter of charities that speak out on violence against women, including serving as royal patron of the organization SafeLives (via Hello!). While she has remained actively involved in helping women suffering from domestic abuse over the years, the duchess had a standout moment in autumn 2021.

In October, Camilla took part in the Women of the World's Shameless! Festival to take action on sexual violence and delivered what was called a landmark speech for the royal's career, as reported by Sky News. "How many more women must be harassed, raped or murdered?" Camilla asked, saying that while she didn't blame all men for violence against women, everyone needs men to get involved in the issue. She mentioned her anguish over the violent deaths of five British women in 2021, and according to Sky, was the first member of the royal family to do so publicly. The speech was a major moment for the duchess, showing her willingness to speak up on uncomfortable topics and be an advocate for women in Britain and around the world.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Worst: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed sad and shocking details to Oprah

When Oprah Winfrey sat down to speak to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in March 2021, no one really knew what to expect from the interview. Although previews from CBS showed there would be some revelations from the couple, it turned out much more shocking news would be revealed. One of the most troubling moments came when Meghan revealed she'd had suicidal thoughts during her time living in the U.K. (via CNN).

In the interview, Meghan said that she "just didn't want to be alive anymore" at one point due to the stress of royal life, per CNN, and that she did not receive mental health support from anyone in the family. The media outlet also noted that she and Harry raised serious questions about racism in the royal family, sharing that comments were allegedly made by a family member regarding their child's skin color. The interview made headlines around the globe and caused many members of the public to question what was going on in the royal family, with the Daily Mirror running the front page headline: "Worst Royal Crisis in 85 Years." In fact, a YouGov poll found that only 27% of Americans questioned expressed any sympathy for the royal family after watching the interview. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Best: Prince William awarded the first Earthshot Prizes

In 2020, Prince William announced he was launching a major prize to help fight climate change, according to BBC News. The Earthshot Prize was created by William to fund climate change solutions and plans on awarding 50 winners over 10 years with £1 million each, per the media outlet. In an interview, the prince shared that he hoped the prize would impact "the way we deal and tackle the environmental challenges."

Environmental innovators from around the globe stepped up to the plate and in October 2021, Prince William recognized the first-ever Earthshot Prize winners (via USA Today). The awards ceremony, held at Alexandra Palace in London, honored winners like the government of Costa Rica and the city of Milan. Other winners, per the official Earthshot Prize website, included Coral Vita, which is working to revive coral reefs in our oceans. The event gave the world a glimpse of the issues a future King William might focus on down on the road, and gained praise from his father, Prince Charles, in a touching Instagram post ahead of the event. 

Worst: Prince Andrew's court case continued to make headlines

The ongoing legal issues surrounding Prince Andrew's involvement with the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have been a constant source of negative headlines for the royal family, especially since his poorly received 2019 BBC interview. While Andrew said in the interview he had not behaved as a member of the royal family should, he maintained his stance that there was never any sexual misconduct with Virginia Giuffre, who had claimed Epstein forced her to have sex with the prince on multiple occasions. Due to the negative attention surrounding the case, Andrew stepped down from public royal duties and was removed from his role with almost 50 patronages, according to the Daily Mail, marking one of the worst royal moments of 2021.

But in August 2021, a new development in the case emerged when Giuffre sued Andrew, filing a civil complaint against him in a New York court (via The New York Times). In October, Andrew's lawyers spoke out about the lawsuit, saying that "he unequivocally denies Giuffre's false allegations against him" and no sexual abuse or assault took place (via Reuters). While the case is ongoing, public opinion of the royal is so low that Express reported Andrew made the hashtag #abolishthemonarchy trend on Twitter in the U.K.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Best: Kate Middleton focused her work on children's early years

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has always showed a love of children through her work in the royal family, whether it's interacting with Scouts on an outdoor excursion or visiting a baby bank to help during the pandemic. Her work with early intervention resulted in the 5 Big Questions on the Under 5s survey in 2020, the largest-ever study of its kind in the U.K. (via Hello! Canada). 

In 2021, Kate came forward with an even bigger initiative which would focus her attention on the early years as a major part of her charity work: The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood (via Harper's Bazaar). The new center will fund research and raise awareness on how problems in the early years tie into later issues such as addiction and mental health struggles. She also released a report on the subject, noting how important the first five years of life are in overall development and lifelong outcomes. Kate said these years are "when we first learn to manage our emotions and impulses, to care and to empathize, and thus ultimately to establish healthy relationships with ourselves and others."

Worst: Prince Charles's aide resigned after allegedly promising a knighthood for a donation

Staffers are an integral part of helping members of the royal family run their busy lives, so to lose a trusted employee is a huge blow for any royal. Unfortunately, Prince Charles went through a scandal in 2021 when his longtime aide was accused of assuring a wealthy Saudi businessman he'd get a knighthood in exchange for a large donation (via ABC News). Michael Fawcett, who served the Prince of Wales since 1981, per the Sunday Times, worked as his valet for years before transitioning to chief executive of the Prince's Foundation. The royal staffer was so indispensable, according to the newspaper, that Charles once said, "I can manage without just about anyone except Michael." 

The Sunday Times initially broke the story about the allegations Fawcett had helped Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz gain an honorary knighthood and would assist with his bid for U.K. citizenship in return for monetary support of the Prince's Foundation. Fawcett stepped back from his role while an investigation happened in September 2021, according to ABC News, and he permanently resigned from his post in November. But later that month, The Guardian reported that an investigation had been launched into the Prince's Foundation by The Charity Commission. Allegations had been made that donations which were intended for the Prince's Foundation went instead to the Mahfouz Foundation, raising further questions about Fawcett's involvement with the businessman, per the publication. 

Best: The queen and her family returned to Royal Ascot

The queen has been a lifelong horse aficionado and racing fan, so it's no wonder Royal Ascot is a fixture on her calendar. The premier horse racing event attracts many members of the royal family every year, with crowds enjoying a carriage procession with the royals as they enter the racing grounds. In 2020, Her Majesty was forced to miss Royal Ascot for the first time in her entire reign due to COVID-19 restrictions (via USA Today). After a disappointing year, it was surely exciting for the queen to be able to make her return to the races in 2021 — and she had lots of familial support, too (via People). 

Per the magazine, the queen missed the first day of Ascot due to a previously scheduled engagement, but Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, Princess Anne, Zara and Mike Tindall, Prince Edward, and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, all attended Ascot on her behalf. The queen was unable to attend subsequent days of Royal Ascot as well, but loud cheers broke out as the queen made her triumphant return to the race on its last day. She was all smiles at the event, which she attended with her racing manager, John Warren, per Us Weekly

Worst: Meghan Markle found herself in a court battle

Aside from the pandemic, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had an especially momentous 2020 when they departed royal life. The duke and duchess might have settled into a more low-key existence in 2021, but their troubles from the U.K. didn't go away. Meghan started off the year on a high note in February, with a British court ruling in her favor after she sued the Mail on Sunday for publishing a private letter she sent to her father in 2018 (via CBS News). However, the newspaper filed an appeal, and in November, some surprising evidence was released from Jason Knauf, the Sussexes' former communications chief (via Reuters). 

Knauf released texts and emails from Harry and Meghan which discussed their alleged involvement in the biography "Finding Freedom," per the media outlet. Meghan's lawyers denied that the couple had participated in the book during their original trial, but Knauf's messages showed conversations between him and the couple discussing information they wanted Knauf to brief the authors about. Meghan issued an apology to the court, saying she "had not remembered these exchanges at the time" (via Royal Central). Reuters also reported that Meghan allegedly told Knauf she realized the letter to her father might be leaked and had chosen her words carefully for that reason. The outcome of the appeal is still to be decided as of the time of this article, but Meghan could eventually testify if the case goes to trial, per Reuters.

Best: Prince Charles spoke out against climate change on the world stage

Climate change is a hot topic in today's world, but Prince Charles was speaking out on being green well before it was popular to do so. He even told a BBC Radio program that people thought he was odd for discussing environmental issues in the 1970s (via the Daily Mail). In 2021, Charles used his platform to help influence policies on climate change when he attended two high-profile events. In November, the prince traveled to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit where he gave an impassioned speech to start the event (via NBC News). Charles said the world needs "a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector" in order to help turn the tide on climate change.

Shortly after COP26, the prince flew to Italy for the G20 summit in Rome, delivering another powerful address on climate change, as reported by Sky News. Speaking to the group of world leaders at the event, Charles shared how countries around the world must unite to fix the planet for future generations. His invitation to the G20 was an extremely rare opportunity for a royal, showing the influence Charles has as an environmental leader.

Worst: The queen's health worried royal fans in late 2021

Even in her 90s, Queen Elizabeth II has been active, but concerns about her health arose in 2021 when she was hospitalized and later forced to back out of several major events (via CNN). The questions started when the queen used a walking stick for an event on October 12, as noted by The Guardian. Later, fears were raised when the palace announced Her Majesty wouldn't make a planned visit to Northern Ireland and was resting at home, per CNN, but it turned out she had actually been briefly hospitalized. She next had to pull out of the COP26 summit she was due to attend with Prince Charles and other members of her family, instead speaking via a pre-recorded video (via BBC News).

Her Majesty gave the public further cause for worry when she didn't attend November's annual Remembrance Day event due to a sprained back, according to the Daily Mail. The queen expressed her disappointment at missing the ceremony, which the Daily Mail noted had only happened on six other occasions in her entire reign. Of course, it's not unusual for a woman in her mid-90s to experience some health issues, but it was still worrisome and certainly one of the worst royal moments of 2021.