Get caught up on all the global royals news you might have missed in February 2021 — from the Sussexes’ divorce from Britain’s royal family and an Emirati princess’s leaked videos from captivity to a few royal baby announcements, concluded court cases and more. Let’s start with this late night treat… A candid, relaxed and playful Prince Harry joined fellow Brit James Corden atop an open-air double-decker tourist bus, at the mansion at the center of the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and on a military-style training course on the Feb. 25 episode of the comedy star’s “The Late Late Show,” and the resulting 17-minute video was jam-packed with entertaining and informative moments. Among the revelations? Harry explained why he and wife Duchess Meghan moved to California with son Archie (who received a waffle maker from great-granny Queen Elizabeth II for Christmas, and whose first word was “crocodile,” Harry revealed) last year. “It was never walking away, it was stepping back rather than stepping down,” he explained of leaving as senior royals. “It was a really difficult environment as I think a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like. It was destroying my mental health. This is toxic, so I did what any husband and what any father would do which is ‘I need to get my family out of here,’ but we never walked away.” Harry added, “My life is public service so wherever I am in the world it’s going to be the same thing.” A FaceTime call to Meghan revealed her nickname for the Duke of Sussex — Haz — and Harry revealed he’s watched “The Crown” and shared his thoughts. Watch the whole video here for his interesting take on the hit show…
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Luxembourg princes are getting a half-sibling
The former Princess Tessy of Luxembourg is expecting her first child with her Swiss businessman fiancé, financier and CEO Frank Floessel, she announced on Instagram on Feb. 24. She’s also a mom to sons Prince Gabriel of Nassau, 14, and Prince Noah of Nassau, 12, with ex-husband Prince Louis of Luxembourg, whom she divorced in 2019.
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Royals fans mark 40 years since Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s engagement announcement
Feb. 24 marked the 40th anniversary of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s engagement announcement. After six months of dating, the couple – she was 19, he was 32 – shared the news in a statement released by the Lord Chancellor that read, “It is with greatest pleasure that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kydd.” They gave an engagement interview to the BBC at Buckingham Palace during which Charles uttered a phrase that would haunt their failed marriage. Asked if they were in love, the future Princess Diana responded, “Of course,” while Charles said, “Whatever in love means,” and looked away.
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Sweden’s future queen turns 9
Sweden’s future queen, Princess Estelle, turned 9 on Feb. 23. To mark the occasion, the palace released four new portraits of Crown Princess Victoria and Price Daniel’s eldest child including this one. Keep reading to see another sweet snapshot also featuring her brother and their family dog…
Princess Estelle of Sweden poses with her brother and dog for a birthday portrait
To celebrate Princess Estelle of Sweden’s 9th birthday on Feb. 23, the palace also released this sweet photo of the future monarch and her little brother, Prince Oscar, with their family dog, Rio. The photo was taken at their home, Haga Castle, outside Stockholm.
The Sussexes’ divorce from Britain’s royal family is finalized
With more than a month remaining on their one-year review period after leaving as senior British royals in 2020, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan made their final exit from the royal family official on Feb. 17. “Following conversations with The Duke [of Sussex], The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement posted on BAZAAR.com. “The honorary military appointments and Royal patronages held by The Duke and Duchess will therefore be returned to Her Majesty, before being redistributed among working members of The Royal Family. While all are saddened by their decision, The Duke and Duchess remain much loved members of the family.” This means the couple are no longer president and vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. Meghan’s patronages with The Association of Commonwealth Universities and The Royal National Theatre are also over, as are Harry’s with The Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League. The British army vet also had to give up his beloved honorary military appointments with the Royal Air Force, the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy, which will soon be reassigned. Meghan and Harry, however, can keep their private patronages (Mayhew animal charity and Smart Works for her; the Invictus Foundation and the children’s charity WellChild for him). The Sussexes’ office responded with a statement of its own: “As evidenced by their work over the past year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex remain committed to their duty and service to the U.K. and around the world, and have offered their continued support to the organizations they have represented regardless of official role. We can all live a life of service. Service is universal.”
Prince Philip hospitalized in London
Prince Philip — whose 100th birthday is in June — was admitted to London’s private King Edward VII Hospital on Feb. 17. Initially, a royal spokesperson said the Duke of Edinburgh was driven there from Windsor Castle, which is about an hour away, as a “precautionary measure, on the advice of His Royal Highness’s Doctor, after feeling unwell” and that Philip, who walked in, was “expected to remain in hospital for a few days of observation and rest.” However, six days later, the palace announced he would remain longer. A statement from Buckingham Palace, as reported by ITV News, explained: “The Duke of Edinburgh remains at King Edward VII’s Hospital where he is receiving medical attention for an infection. He is comfortable and responding to treatment but is not expected to leave hospital for several days.”
In newly leaked videos, Emirati royal Princess Latifa says she’s being held captive
Three years ago, Princess Latifa of the United Arab Emirates — whose father is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the billionaire ruler of Dubai who’s also the vice president and prime minister of UAE — was captured by commandos on a boat after she fled Dubai. On Feb. 16, footage shared with “BBC Panorama” revealed that the missing Emirati royal is being held captive, she claimed. In a series of clips filmed in a bathroom, the show reported, Latifa tells the camera, “I’m in a villa. I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.” She said the windows were barred, she was not allowed to go outside and seven police officers guarded her. “Every day I am worried about my safety and my life. I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation,” she said. Latifa was previously caught trying to run away from her family as a teen in 2002 and, she said in a 2018 video, was imprisoned for more than three years that time. Her former stepmother, Princess Haya of Jordan, divorced the sheikh and sought a protective order for herself and their two young children (Latifa’s half-siblings) in 2019 after fleeing to London. The High Court judge that oversaw her case in late 2019 issued a series of fact-finding judgements that found the sheikh ordered and orchestrated the forcible return of Latifa in 2002 and 2018 and the unlawful abduction of her older sister, Princess Shamsa, in 2000 and “continues to maintain a regime whereby both these two young women are deprived of their liberty.” On Feb. 19, the U.N.’s human rights office said it has asked the UAE for evidence that Latifa is still alive.
The Sussexes are expecting a sibling for Archie
Duchess Meghan and husband Prince Harry announced some joyful news on Valentine’s Day: A spokesperson told People magazine and other outlets, “We can confirm that Archie is going to be a big brother. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are overjoyed to be expecting their second child.” The happy announcement comes six months after Meghan suffered a miscarriage — devastating news she revealed in November 2020. The couple also shared a pregnancy photo that was snapped remotely via iPad by photographer Misan Harriman (see it here). The timing of the pregnancy reveal was extra special: 37 years earlier on Valentine’s Day in 1984, it was announced that the Duke of Sussex’s late mother, Princess Diana, was expecting her second child — Harry. The couple’s first child, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, turns 2 in May.
Duchess Meghan wins private letter lawsuit
On Feb. 11 — more than a year after she filed the lawsuit — Duchess Meghan won her High Court privacy claim against Associated Newspapers, the publishers of the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, in a fight over the legality of of their publication of what a judge confirmed was “a personal and private” handwritten letter she sent to her estranged father, Thomas Markle, in 2018. The judge, who granted Meghan’s request for a summary judgement in her claim, said she had a “reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private” and that “there is no prospect that a different judgment would be reached after a trial.” The Duchess of Sussex said, in part, in a statement after the ruling, “For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.” Read her full comments here.
Princess Eugenie welcomes first child
Britain’s Princes Eugenie and husband Jack Brooksbank are parents! “Her Royal Highness Princess Eugenie was safely delivered of a son today, 9th February 2021, at 8:55 a.m. at The Portland Hospital [in London]. Jack Brooksbank was present,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of York, Sarah, Duchess of York, and Mr. and Mrs. George Brooksbank have been informed and are delighted with the news. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.” Eleven days later, they introduced their son — who reports indicated was born via C-section due to risks related to the royal’s previous spinal surgery — in an official photo and publicly announced his name: August Philip Hawke Brooksbank. Eugenie took to her Instagram Stories to share the inspiration behind his monikers. “He is named after his great grandfather and both of his great x5 grandfathers,” she told her followers. His first name honors Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert — Augustus was one of his middle names. Philip, of course, honors Eugenie’s grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Hawke, HELLO! reported, pays tribute to the Rev. Edward Hawke Brooksbank, one of Jack’s ancestors. August is 11th in line to the throne.
Queen Elizabeth II marks 69 years as Britain’s monarch on bittersweet anniversary of her father’s death
On Feb. 6, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II embarked on her 70th year as the nation’s monarch as she quietly and privately marked the day her father, King George VI, died 69 years ago in 1952 at Sandringham House, his — now her — private estate in England’s Norfolk region. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was unable to be at Sandringham, as is her custom, and instead marked the solemn occasion while on lockdown with husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle.
Sweden’s royal family to be subject of new “The Crown”-style drama series
Sweden’s royals family is getting the TV drama treatment. On Feb. 4, Variety reported that Swedish broadcaster TV4 and its C More streaming service are developing an untitled series that’s been compared to Netflix’s The Crown” that will explore the lives of the Swedish royal family with a focus on monarch King Carl XVI Gustaf, who became king at 27 in 1973. “It’s a little bit like ‘The King’s Speech’ in the way that it portrays someone who is being groomed to become someone he’s not, and is having people trying to change him,” Josefine Tengblad, head of drama at TV4 and C More, explained.
“The Crown” racks up awards season nominations
On Feb. 3, Netflix’s acclaimed series “The Crown” earned six Golden Globes nominations for its fourth season including best drama series, best actress nods for both Olivia Colman (as Queen Elizabeth II) and Emma Corrin (who made her debut a Princess Diana), a best actor nod for Josh O’Connor (who played Prince Charles), and best supporting actress nominations for both Gillian Anderson (as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) and Helena Bonham Carter (who played Princess Margaret). The next day on Feb. 4, the show tied “Schitt’s Creek” for the most nominations in the television categories for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, earning five nods: best ensemble cast in a drama series, best female actor in a drama series (for Olivia, Emma and Helena) and best male actor in a drama series (for Josh). The Globes air on Feb. 28. The SAG Awards air on April 4.
Prince Harry wins apology and damages from U.K. publisher for false claims about his military reputation
On Feb. 1, Prince Harry emerged the victor in a legal case against publisher Associated Newspapers after suing the company for false claims made in the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline in two October 2020 articles. He won an apology and what was described a “substantial damages,” which he’s donating to the Invictus Foundation. The outlets claimed Harry, a 10-year British army veteran, had “not been in touch” with the Royal Marines despite serving as their honorary captain general at the time and that leaders wanted him ousted from his role, in addition to other allegations. “The baseless, false and defamatory stories published in the Mail on Sunday and on the website MailOnline constituted not only a personal attack upon the Duke’s character but also wrongly brought into question his service to this country,” Harry’s lawyer, Jenny Afia, said during an online hearing at London’s High Court, as reported by Page Six.
Samantha Markle finally publishes her “Princess Pushy” book
After a few years of promising the world this book, Duchess Meghan’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, finally published “The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister Part 1” on Feb. 1. She told Us Weekly she didn’t write it “to put garbage into the universe” about the former Meghan Markle, from whom she’s been estranged for years. “My book has never been designed to attack my sister,” Samantha said. However, in highlights published online, she appears to do just that. Us Weekly has a roundup of the most significant claims, many of which are a rehash of what she’s previously said on Twitter and in interviews.
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