The next time you see the royal family in a newspaper or a magazine, don’t just check out everyone’s outfits – take a minute to reflect on the British monarchy. One of the few constitutional monarchies in the world (i.e. where the king or queen does not have the right to chop off peoples’ heads at a moment’s notice), the British Royal family is active and engaged with the country. Just as the world keeps changing, so too has the royal family had to weather some crises in recent times – from death to divorce and scandal – but they seem to be holding up just fine. Having united the country in times of uncertainty, from changing political landscapes to 9/11 and terrorism – since the millennium, the royal family has flourished.
The Queen: One Tough Cookie
The single longest reigning British monarch in history – essentially Queen Elizabeth II is a rock. Crowned at a young age after the death of her father George VI, she is the ruling monarch for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations – which includes 52 states worldwide!
Death of a Princess
After the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997, the Royal Family floundered for a moment – at a loss at how to handle such a crisis. Not only was Diana not officially a member of the family any more (following her separation from Prince Charles), but she went on to lead a fast-paced life which kept her in the public eye.
The national grief which followed was a shock to the royal family – as they learned how to navigate the death of someone who was essentially an outsider, while at the same time so indelibly part of them. She would be missed terribly by all.
Rocky Turn of the Millennium
By the year 2000, two scandalous divorces (both Prince Charles and Prince Andrew) and a death had rocked the family, a bloody war had broken out in the former Yugoslavia and Europe had seen the birth of the single currency. Moreover, the Queen Mother turned an incredible 100 years old! But those were small potatoes compared with what was about to happen…
Buckingham Palace’s Star Spangled Banner
Then the calendar showed the 11th of September 2001 – and the single largest terrorist attack in modern memory happened in New York. Thousands were killed and the world would never be the same. On September 13th 2001 the Queen completely broke with tradition and authorized the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It was an historic moment.
A Day of Mourning
Thousands of onlookers, including many Americans stood by, wept and held their hands over their hearts as the American National Anthem accompanied the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. All were touched by the Royal Family’s gesture.
A Hole in Britain’s Heart
2002 and tragically the Royal family loses two of its own, the Queen mother and Princess Margaret. The Queen Mother, born a commoner, grew to be one of the most beloved members of the royal family. She would be mourned by all.
A Glamorous Girl
Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister, died prematurely at the age of 71 in London. Although some scandal surrounded her life, due to various affairs and a divorce, she was known by all as glamorous and ‘the life of a party’.
War on the Horizon
Through weekly private meetings the Queen confers with each successive Prime Minister, discussing the pressing matters at hand. Rumor has it that in 2003 she pleaded with then Prime Minister Tony Blair to delay the invasion of Iraq – and instead seek a diplomatic solution…
Britain and the US at War
Officially the Queen is the head of the British Armed Forces, but she must first and foremost take advice from her government. War was declared as Britain and the US invaded Iraq and began to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein.
There’s Always a First Time
In 2005 Prince Charles’ and Camilla decided to formalize their long-standing relationship. This was the first time the Royal Family had absorbed the shock of an heir to the throne remarrying!
Fairytales Do Come True
In 2005 Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were wed. Camilla became HRH the Duchess of Cornwall. Apparently it was a ‘fairytale wedding’.
British Military on the Move
Surely a dramatic decade for the Royal Family and the United Kingdom, Sadaam Hussein is hanged in Baghdad after the joint American-British invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Iraq invasion and Saddam Hussein’s death would signal the beginning of a long period of British military action in the Middle East.
Never ignoring duty, Prince William and Prince Harry have served in the military. Prince William was a member of the RAF (Royal Air Force) and served briefly in the Falklands.
Prince Harry has served in the Army for a decade and has completed two tours of Afghanistan. He has spoken publicly about some of his experiences while on active duty.
Prince Harry of all the Royals, has been very outspoken about life’s problems. At times critical of the Royal Family, he has also opened up in recent years about the death of his mother and the profound emotional cloud it spread over his life. Recently he has sought relief in therapy.
Prince Charles: Conservation and Sustainability
All the royals have their interests, duties and projects, and Prince Charles is no exception. Conservation and sustainability have been his watchwords for decades, but in recent years his work has become more and more recognized. Through his foundation he has promoted his ideas for sustainability throughout the country and the world. In 2010 he established the International Sustainability Unit to help solve some of the key challenges facing the world today: food scarcity and ecosystem conservation to name two.
Nature and Harmony
Prince Charles also wrote a book called Harmony, published in 2010 – in which he eloquently expounds his ideas for the future of the planet. The book claims to develop a ‘new way of looking at our world’.
Quite a Sportswoman
Although less in the limelight, Princess Anne is also a force to be reckoned with. She is the only member of the Royal Family to have competed in the Olympics! A devoted equestrian, she was a medalist at two separate European Eventing Championships in the 70’s – quite an accomplishment.
Staying with the trend, Princess Anne also divorced in the late 90’s, and was quickly – and happily remarried. Always a bit on the serious side, different sources report that the princess has become happier and more relaxed since becoming a grandmother in recent years.
Baby of the Family
The youngest of 4 children, Prince Edward’s life is under much less scrutiny than his siblings. Earl of Wessex, he married Sophie Rhys-Jones (who became Countess of Wessex), a PR executive, in the mid-90’s and has been happily married ever since. They live in Surrey and have 2 children. In recent years the prince has taken on the roll of president of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Not to be outdone by any of his siblings, Prince Andrew Duke of York has his own rocky history. Apart from a very public divorce from his wife Sarah Ferguson in the late 90’s, Andrew served has had an illustrious military career and served as Britain’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment until 2011.
Since the disintegration of her marriage in the late 90’s, Sarah Ferguson has gone on to have a busy career as a speaker, writer and TV personality. Her sparkling personality and charisma found its outlet in her new-found work.
Sarah Ferguson: Thriving in Adversity
She had an endorsement deal with Weight Watchers for more than a decade, as well as promotional deals with Wedgwood and Avon. Her fame and popularity spread.
Princess Beatrice and her sister Princess Eugenie, children of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew – are both now in their twenties. Involved in numerous charitable endeavors, they also enjoy the arts. Princess Eugenie never thought of doing a graphic design degree, but she did recently became the associate director of
an art gallery in London.
Royal Graffiti Art
Recently Beatrice, her mother Sarah, Duchess of York, and sister Eugenie, collaborated with British contemporary artist Teddy M. They created the first ever royal graffiti! The painting, called Royal Love, was exhibited in London and then sold for a five figure sum – with all proceeds going to charity.
Horses, Dogs and Dancing
Apart from affairs of state, the Queen has always had too many interests to count, from sports and horsemanship to Scottish country dancing and dogs. Her Corgies are world famous!
Queen Elizabeth II is patron to more than 600 charities. She also has immense official and social obligations. Every year more than 8000 guests attend each garden party thrown at Buckingham Palace. (Several are held each year.)
The World Remembers
Always mindful of her immense obligations and responsibilities, the Queen often makes official appearances and speeches. On royal tour in 2010, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at Ground Zero in New York – where the World Trade Center once stood, to honor the victims of September 11.
The Royal Family: Good for a Laugh
In recent years the Royal Family is not media-shy. During the presidency of Barack Obama, the Queen and her grandson Prince Harry appeared on a promotional video for the Invictus Games, in which her response to the President is very funny. Prince Harry created the event in 2015 as a Paralympic-style sporting event for injured veterans.
Now Prince William, has of course made waves in recent years with his marriage to Kate Middleton in 2011. In many ways the hype and media excitement preceding the ceremony was similar to the run-up to William’s parents’ wedding in the 1980’s.
George and Charlotte: Royal Siblings
Prince William and Kate went on to quickly produce two lovely children, who are the sweethearts of Great Britain. Prince George and Princess Charlotte have had their picture taken quite frequently!
Stylish and Generous
Kate Middleton, presently the Duchess of Cambridge, has made a splash as a style icon in the world of fashion. Furthermore she also set up a charitable foundation before her marriage so guests could donate to charity instead of giving gifts.
The Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton – keeps herself busy these days with charitable causes, motherhood and royal appearances. Recently she was spotted at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. However she also goes much farther afield – as pictured here with a man in traditional dress!