The Royal A-Z of 2016....part one, A to H

A whole royal year has been and is about to go. As 2016 says its final farewells and 2017 warms up round the corner, it's time to look back, reflect and remember. To sum up twelve months of royal fabulousness (April did a whole year's worth all by itself), here's the royal A-Z of 2016, starting with A-H...

A is for Alexander, the second of the two princes born to the Swedish Royal Family this year. The first child of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia arrived on April 19th 2016 and was christened Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil on September 9th. His proud grandfather, Carl XVI Gustaf, made the new fifth in line to the Swedish throne Duke of Sodermanland.

B is for Bhutan which hosted two royal visits this year. The King and Queen of Sweden headed to the mountain kingdom just weeks after the birth of Prince Alexander for a three day State Visit - the first ever made from their country to Bhutan. They were hot on the heels of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who spent two days there in April. Both royal couples were greeted by King and Queen of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Jetsun Pema, who began their year by welcoming a son. 

C is for Canada, which starred in two royal tours this autumn with William and Kate again part of the events. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Canada in September with their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, stealing the show in a series of appearances. In November, the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway paid a visit and shared a cosy supper with Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie.

D is for debuts and we got plenty of those in 2016. As well as several royal babies (keep reading the A-Z for a name check for all of them), we had some other debuts as well. Leonor and Sofia of Spain attended the opening of their country's parliament for the first time in November while the Duchess of Cambridge made her first solo overseas visit, to the Netherlands, in October. The Duchess of Cornwall represented the Queen for the first time at the Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst in December. And just weeks after his arrival, Prince Oscar of Sweden made his royal balcony debut when he stole the show at the birthday celebrations for his grandfather, King Carl XVI Gustaf in April.

E is for equality, one of the values celebrated in a speech by King Harald of Norway which went viral. The Norwegian monarch was addressing a garden party and his kind and heartfelt words made headlines as he said ''my greatest hope for Norway is that we are to take care of each other....that we shall know that we - despite our differences - are one people. That Norway is one.'  His words, in support of refugees, religious tolerance and respect for all, got 3 million views on Facebook in just a few days and was covered in newspapers across the world.

F is for finance, in particular inclusive finance, the passion of Queen Maxima of the Netherlands which this year saw her travel around the world on behalf of the UN Secretary General and end up being named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people of the year.  Maxima was included in the list for her work to bring financial opportunities to some of the poorest people in the world. The Queen of the Netherlands is a special envoy for the UN Secretary General in this area and during 2016 she visited several nations, including Indonesia and her home country, Argentina, in that role.

G is for great grandparents as Albert and Paola of Belgium joined that royal club with the arrival of Anna Astrid, daughter of Prince Amadeo and his wife, Lili. Anna Astrid, who was born on May 17th 2016, is their first great grandchild and a first granddaughter for Princess Astrid. The littlest royal in Belgium is seventh in line to that country's throne.

H is for Heads Together, the campaign to change the conversation on mental health which was launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry earlier this year. The initiative involves several charities and organisations with which the royals are involved and since the campaign was announced in April, Kate, William and Harry have taken part in events raising its profile and that of the charities involved in it. The Heads Together campaign will be the official charity of the 2017 London Marathon...expect this royal story to run and run into the coming year... 

The next part of the royal A-Z of 2016 is coming soon...