The Biggest Royal Family Moments Of 2021

Every year is filled with ups and downs — and some years are better than others. However, for the royal family, 2021 was filled with extreme highs and agonizing lows. From a royal baby boom to the death of Prince Philip, it's been a monumental year for Queen Elizabeth and her family. But before moving into 2022, when attention turns to marking the Platinum Jubilee to honor Queen Elizabeth II's 70 years as monarch, let's take a look at some of the biggest royal family moments of 2021.

There is little doubt that the single most impactful moment on the royal family came on April 9, 2021, when Prince Philip died. The Duke of Edinburgh's death came just two months shy of his 100th birthday. "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," Buckingham Palace wrote in a statement (via Reuters). "His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle." Prince Philip was the longest-serving royal consort in history. Because of COVID protocols, his funeral — which was held on April 17, 2021, at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle — was limited to the royal family. Moving images of Queen Elizabeth captured by the BBC showed her wearing a black face mask and sitting alone to protect her during the pandemic at an emotional moment as she said goodbye to her husband of nearly 74 years.

Queen Elizabeth turned 95

Less than two weeks after Prince Philip fell short of his 100th birthday, Queen Elizabeth reached her own milestone, turning 95 years old on April 21, 2021. In honor of her 95th birthday, the Royal Collection Trust released a special collection of souvenirs, including a limited edition music box and a teacup and saucer set. Given COVID protocols, the queen celebrated privately with her prized corgis at Windsor Castle. "I have, on the occasion of my 95th birthday today, received many messages of good wishes, which I very much appreciate," Queen Elizabeth said in a statement (via USA Today).

Still, the day was somewhat overshadowed by a sense of loss. "While as a family we are in a period of great sadness, it has been a comfort to us all to see and to hear the tributes paid to my husband, from those within the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and around the world," she said. "My family and I would like to thank you for all the support and kindness shown to us in recent days. We have been deeply touched, and continue to be reminded that Philip had such an extraordinary impact on countless people throughout his life."

On October 20, 2021, the monarch had a bit of a health scare and canceled a trip to Northern Ireland at the last minute. Doctors suggested she rest after spending one night in the hospital for undisclosed reasons, but was reported to be "in good spirits," per Insider.

Sexual assault allegations against Prince Andrew continued

Throughout 2021, Prince Andrew and his involvement with the deceased billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein continued to be a source of negative headlines for the royal family. Allegations made by Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) against the Duke of York include claims that she was sexually abused by the royal while she was still a teenager, per The New York Times. Giuffre says she was sexually assaulted by Prince Andrew at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, as well as at Epstein's homes in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Time.

The allegations first surfaced in November 2019, essentially forcing Prince Andrew's decision to step back from public royal duties. However, the allegations took on new life in August 2021 as Giuffre filed a civil suit in New York under the Child Victims Act, seeking unspecified compensation and punitive damages. For his part, Andrew admitted in a BBC interview that he had behaved in a way that is not "becoming of a member of the royal family," but continues to insist that he had broken no laws and there was no misconduct with Giuffre. Prince Andrew has declined to speak about the lawsuit, but his lawyers have said that "he unequivocally denies Giuffre's false allegations against him," according to Reuters. The lawyers have repeatedly tried to have the case thrown out of court, per The Sun, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

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).

The Oprah interview heard around the world

When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced in early 2020 that they would be stepping away from duties as senior members of the royal family, many people thought that would be the end of that. Boy, were they wrong. When the two sat down with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021, nobody (perhaps even Oprah) knew the shocking news that the couple would reveal. In the lengthy CBS prime-time special, Meghan disclosed her struggle with suicidal thoughts while living inside the strict rules of the royal family. "Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he has suffered, but I knew that if I didn't say it, then I would do it," Meghan said, according to NBC News. "I just didn't want to be alive anymore."

The couple also raised issues of alleged racism within the royal family that had been directed at their son, Archie. Markle and Harry said there were "concerns and conversations" about how dark their son's skin would be. For the royal family's part, Buckingham Palace responded to the interview in a statement, saying that "the whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan" (via the BBC). "While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately."

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

Princess Diana memorial statue unveiled

On July 1, 2021 — what would have been Princess Diana's 60th birthday — Prince William and Prince Harry unveiled a statue of their mother at Kensington Palace. The brothers chose to place the sculpture at the Sunken Garden, their mother's favorite spot on the grounds of the palace. In 2017, on the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death, the garden had been transformed to feature her favorite flowers in a color scheme to reflect her love of white and cream-colored flowers.

The statue, created by British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, depicts Diana surrounded by children — a reminder of her lifelong commitment to the well-being of youth around the world. "Today, on what would have been our mother's 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength, and character — qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better," William and Harry said at the unveiling, per ABC News. "Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy."

The significance of the day went beyond the commemoration, however. It marked a moment of normalcy in 2021 — a particularly emotional year for the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Cambridge, who had reportedly struggled through family friction following Harry and Meghan's Oprah interview, per the LA Times.


No doubt, as far as the royal family is concerned, a mini royal baby boom throughout 2021 is cause for celebration. First up, on February 9, 2021, August Philip Hawke Brooksbank was born to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank (pictured above), making him the queen's ninth great-grandchild and 11th in line to the throne (he has since been bumped to 13th), People reported. Just weeks later, on March 21, 2021, Eugenie's first cousin, Zara Tindall, gave birth to Lucas Philip Tindall — the middle name a tribute to his great-grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh. Her husband, former rugby player Mike Tindall, said on his podcast they weren't able to get to the hospital in time and delivered the newborn on their bathroom floor (via the New York Post). He is 24th in line.

On June 4, 2021, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced the birth of Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. "Lili is named after her great-grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, whose family nickname is Lilibet," the couple said in a statement, noting that her middle name is in memory of her late grandmother (via Town & Country). She is currently eighth in the line of succession. And, in the last of the royal babies for 2021, Princess Beatrice gave birth to her first child with husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi was born on September 18, 2021 — the name a tribute to her Italian heritage and her great-grandmother. Per the BBC, she's currently 11th in line to the throne.