Saturday, 31 December 2016

The Royal A-Z...part three, Q to Z

The old year is almost done but as it prepares to take its final bow, there's one more chance to look back at the royal highlights of 2016. There are moments that will linger long in the memory and which have made their mark in regal history. To complete the Royal A-Z of 2016, here's Q to Z.

Q is for Queen at 90 as Elizabeth II set yet another royal record and became the first British monarch to reach that landmark birthday. The actual day, April 21st, saw her cheered through the streets of Windsor while there were 72 hours of celebrations on her official birthday in June including a church service and the Patron's Lunch on the Mall. Portraits, photos, stamps and coins all marked this major event which was also a celebration of her epic reign, the longest ever in British royal history and becoming more golden by the day.

R is for Ruby Anniversary, celebrated by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia in June this year. It also marked forty years of Silvia as a consort. The royal couple married on June 19th 1976 in Sotckholm and just days before the 40th anniversary attended a concert with their family which ended with King Carl XVI Gustaf leading them all out dancing. Later in the year, Queen Silvia opened an exhibition of royal wedding dresses held to mark this special anniversary.

S is for Saga, the Swedish word for fairytale which is just what Princess Madeleine created when she invited a dozen children with serious illnesses to the Royal Palace in Stockholm for a tea party to make their dreams come true.  It was part of her work with the charity, My Big Day, of which she is patron and to make it an extra special moment to remember, Madeleine came in a princess gown and tiara. The event, on February 22nd 2016, also involved Madeleine's daughter, Princess Leonore, and really did turn into a fairytale.

T is for Taj Mahal, the monument to love where the Duke of Cambridge walked in the footsteps of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, this year. At the end of his tour of India, William took Kate to the world famous building where Diana had sat for one of the most famous royal photos of the 20th century, alone. In 2016, her eldest son and his wife sat on the same bench for poignant but ultimately happy photos.

U is for UN special ambassador, a role held by more royals this year than ever before. In January, Queen Mathilde of the Belgians and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden were named as special ambassadors for Sustainable Development Goals. Queen Maxima continued her work as a special ambassador for inclusive finance and Crown Princess Mary carried out work as the patron of the UN Population Fund. Queen Letizia of Spain attended several events linked to her role as an ambassador for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. She was among many royals at the UN General Assembly in September which her husband, King Felipe, addressed.

V is for Vogue, the fashion bible whose British edition marked its centenary this year with the Duchess of Cambridge as its cover star. Kate posed for the magazine in a series of images which were also part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The photographs were taken by Josh Olins. Kate wasn't the only member of the House of Windsor to pose for a magazine this year - Princess Eugenie was a cover girl for Harper's Bazaar.

W is for Women Deliver, the high profile conference on female equality of which Crown Princess Mary was patron.  The meeting, which focuses on health and rights of women and girls around the world was also attended by Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Mabel. Mary called on world leaders to do more to ensure equality for women and to protect and improve health rights. 

X is for X-ray with several royals needing hospital treatment this year. They included Crown Prince Frederik who damaged a cervical vertebrae in a trampolining accident. Princess Alexia of the Netherlands broke her leg while on a ski-ing holiday and needed operations to recover. Her sister, Princess Catharina-Amalia, suffered a lighter injury when she hurt her leg in the summer. Queen Paola of Belgium ended the year in hospital after suffering a vertebral fracture.

Y is for Youth Olympics Games for Winter held in Lillehammer in February 2016 and which got under way when Princess Ingrid Alexandra lit the Olympic flame. Her father, Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, was a volunteer throughout the Games which counted on royal support at just about every event. Another successful moment in Norway's royal year of triumphs.

Z is for whole royal year, done and dusted. From babies to record breaking birthdays, from State Visits to informal smiles, from hats and tiaras to blue soled shoes and everything in between, the royals of Europe have sparkled and smiled their way through twelve months. That was the year that was, here's to the one to come. May it be royally happy for everyone.  Happy New Year!

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