May is almost done leaving a long list of royal memories. Many of them are your everyday, routine, is that a ribbon you're cutting or a plaque you're unveiling kind of thing that pass into a mass of similar events dotted throughout the year. But others are stand out regal moments that have left their mark and then some, becoming landmarks in the royal 2017 that will linger long and take on a meaning all of their own. Here are five royal reasons to remember May 2017.
The Duke of Edinburgh retires
On May 4th 2017, the UK woke up to a media frenzy centred on Buckingham Palace. News that staff from royal estates across the UK had been called to London for a special announcement had been transformed on Twitter into all kinds of speculation that a senior royal had died (quite why that would mean the butler from Balmoral heading to Buckingham Palace still hasn't been made clear). Once the sun was fully up, a short statement confirmed that the Duke of Edinburgh had decided to retire from official royal engagements as of August 2017 although in true Philip style, he'll still be turning up to big events if he wants to. Let's face it, no one is going to argue with him. There was a huge outpouring of support for the decision - the Duke of Edinburgh is 96 in just a few weeks time - and as morning turned to afternoon, speculation turned to who might now accompany the Queen on her continuing rota of engagements. Watch this space.
A birthday bash with real sparkle
May was very much about the senior royals of the continent with plenty more love and support flowing the way of King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway as they held a glittering two days of celebrations in Oslo to mark their 80th birthdays this year. You know you've got this royal thing sorted when you can march many of Europe's royals out on to a balcony on a chilly May evening and find a massive crowd ready to sing and dance to celebrate your special day. The glittering gala evening on May 9th 2017 was followed by a river cruise and black tie event on May 10th. Not even Crown Prince Haakon Magnus pulling his own party stunt and shaving off his beard mid dinner could detract from the birthday love for Harald and Sonja. A truly happy celebration that will linger long in the royal memory.
A royal encounter of the sibling kind
Much more dramatic and unexpected was the moment that King Felipe VI of Spain came face to face in public with his sister, Infanta Cristina, for the first time since she was acquitted of tax fraud charges earlier this year. As family and friends gathered for the memorial service for Infanta Alicia, aunt of King Juan Carlos, in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Madrid, Cristina took her seat in the front row next to her sister, Infanta Elena. Her parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, were clearly surprised to see her there, breaking away from the entrance procession to greet her warmly with kisses and hugs. Her brother and his wife, Queen Letizia, were more circumspect but as he walked to his own seat Felipe appeared to turn and acknowledge his sibling. Their public relationship has been fraught in recent times with a row breaking out in 2015 over Cristina's former title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca. This first meeting before the cameras is a turning point in a difficult time for Spain's royals. What happens next remains to be seen.
Stephanie steals the show
Stephanie of Luxembourg, isn't exactly what you'd call high profile but this month she sparkled. In fact, in May, Stephanie stole the show. It all began at the Norwegian birthday bash where Stephanie was easily among the best dressed and most glittering of the royals present. Next came the Duchess of Cambridge's high profile day visit to Luxembourg. Stephanie and her husband, Guillaume, accompanied Kate for the afternoon and the Hereditary Grand Duchess matched Cambridge's Duchess all the way with her rather elegant and interested hosting performance. But it was in Cannes that Stephanie really sparkled. Just days after finishing a visit to Venice. Stephanie was in Cannes to support Luxembourg's arts scene and wowed on the red carpet. She then headed home to knock everyone sideways, again, during the Portuguese State Visit as the month came to an end. May was all about Stephanie.
Harry and Meghan step out
We're used to royal wedding rumours about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle but May seemed to mark a move to a much more serious level in their relationship. At the start of the month, Meghan accompanied Harry to the Audi Polo Challenge where she watched her prince play from the VIP box, enough to ensure bunting was dusted down across the country. When The Sun published a photo of them kissing by their car at the same event, hats were brought down from the top of the wardrobe and diaries checked for possible wedding clash. The much hyped marriage of Pippa Middleton and James Matthews on May 20th 2017 sent the Harry loves Meghan rumour mill into overdrive with plenty of eyes trained on St Mark's Church in Englefield Green to see if Ms Markle arrived on the arm of the fifth in line to the throne. She didn't but later appeared at his side for the evening reception. Her attendance confirmed the importance of their relationship but was all rather discreet and just so. Very royal indeed. Don't put the bunting away just yet.