Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Day royals

The Royal Family has attended Christmas Day service at Sandringham. And while all eyes were on Kate, there were notable absences with the Duchess of Cornwall unable to attend owing to a bad back and Prince George left at home in the warm of Amner Hall. Zara Phillips and her husband, Mike Tindall, were also missing - they had taken baby Mia to Australia for the holiday season. The Queen was in cerise pink, the brightest outfit of the day while others at the service - including Kate's mother Carole Middleton - opted for more muted winter shades. Here are the best images of the Royal Family at church on Christmas Day 2014.

The Queen leads her family to church on Christmas morning

Christmas Day 2014

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The royal photos of 2014

Nothing tells the story of a year better than its defining images. There have been so many special royal photos this year it's hard to pick the best. So I've decided to single out my most iconic image of each month for 2014. Put together they show a year filled with big events, moving moments and very special occasions. Here are my  royal images of 2014.

January 2014 - a diamond duchess

Following reports that the Queen had advised the Duchess of Cambridge to wear more dresses and jewellery, Kate appeared at her first engagement of the year in a full length evening gown and heirloom diamonds.

February 2014 - wading in

When torrential rain and strong winds battered parts of the UK, Prince William and Harry went undercover and waded into the rescue effort. They turned up in their wellies in Datchet to help build flood defences and when photographers snapped them in action, the support for the royal brothers also took off.

March 2014 - the Cambridges on tour

In March, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge began their first tour of New Zealand and Australia and the image of them stepping off a plane with Prince George in tow at the start of their visit quickly became one of the most famous royal images of the whole year.

April 2014 - a very special state visit

For the first time ever, a President of Ireland paid a State Visit to the United Kingdom. The three day visit by Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabrina, was filled with historic moments but this photo of the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their guests at Windsor Castle summed up the friendliness and success of the event to perfection.

May 2014 - moving memories    

Prince Harry visited Estonia and Italy in May 2014 but the most moving moment of the four day visits was when the royal soldier met old soldiers who had returned to Cassino to mark the 70th anniversary of the battles which raged there in the first months of 1944.

June 2014 - the last salute

There were more memories in June when the Queen joined other heads of state from around the world at commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings. With many of the veterans saying this will be the last time they will return to the beaches where they fought decades ago, the ceremonies were emotional. The Queen spent time with many of those who had come back and the reception given to the monarch was at times overwhelming.

July 2014 - an all time great

Her grandchildren had won a reputation for posing for selfies in the first part of 2014 but the Queen showed them just how social media is done when she stunned the world and photobombed a selfie being taken by two athletes at the Commonwealth Games. The image shared by Jayde Taylor went viral within minutes.

August 2014 - among the poppies, row on row

This royal year was all about remembrance as commemorations for the centenary of World War One took place across the twelve months. And the image of William, Kate and Harry at the poppies at the Tower of London was one of the most memorable images from 2014.

September 2014 - Harry's heroes

This really was Prince Harry's year and after successful tours of Chile, Brazil, Italy and Estonia as well as plenty of engagements at home he became a hero to many for organising the Invictus Games. The inaugural event, held in London in September, was for injured service personnel and was a huge success. Harry's involvement was praised far and wide and an emotional prince opened the games on a warm September evening with his proud father and brother looking on.

October 2014 - Kate's back

Royal watchers had spent all year speculating on when the Duchess of Cambridge would announce a second pregnancy and just when they'd stopped asking, she promptly let everyone know baby number two was on the way. The duchess was forced to retire from public engagements temporarily after developing hyperemesis gravidarum but she was well enough to return to duty in October when she and Prince William welcomed the President of Singapore and his wife to the UK at the start of their State Visit.

November 2014 - a new fields of remembrance

The Queen was joined by the King of the Belgians as she unveiled a new fields of remembrance in London in November.

December 2014  - George steals the show

Prince George was the star of the royal show for much of 2014 and the year ended with him stealing the show in three official photos released to mark Christmas. The prince, who will get a new brother or sister in April, won even more fans and the Cath Kidston top he wore sold out within days.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Modern Christmas Messages

Royal Christmas speeches have hit the 21st century and then some. All of the addresses made so far have also been broadcast on social media with the monarchs' messages available on their official You Tube channels. And that hasn't dented their popularity on mainstream media - King Felipe VI of Spain got over eight million viewers for his first speech while the Queen topped the viewing charts for Christmas Day 2014. With more and more people relying on social media for their information, broadcasting the royal speeches on these channels is a must. And it seems that the decision to embrace modern technology is only ensuring that more people than ever are sharing the Royal Christmas Speeches.

The Queen reigns Christmas TV

It's the spot everyone wants and it belongs to the Queen this year. In 2014, the most watched programme on Christmas TV was the Queen's Speech. It brought in 7.83 million viewers - hundreds of thousands more than its nearest rival, comedy show Mrs Brown's Boys. After a successful year and on the brink of history as she is just months away from becoming the longest reigning British monarch ever, the Queen's TV domination leaves her reigning supreme.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

On this special day, just a moment to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. So - Happy Christmas!

A noisy royal nursery

Things have got very noisy at the Prince's Palace in Monaco in the last 24 hours - the royal twins are now in the building. They arrived home on Christmas Eve, two weeks after their birth at the Princess Grace Hospital, and were driven into the palace by their dad while mum sat in the front next to him. Future sovereign Jacques and his big sister Gabriella now rule the palace.

The smiles say it all - a happy family at last and home in time for Christmas

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 24th 2014

Christmas is almost upon us. The last peaceful hours of Christmas Eve have a magic all of their own. The countdown is almost done, the ticking off of days all but complete. To end this special countdown, another image of the Queen on Christmas Day.

All the images from this year's Royal Christmas Countdown can be seen on the special page - click on the link.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Jacques and Gabriella's first photos

They will spend their whole lives being photographed but these first images are something special. Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella of Monaco have made their debut in front of the cameras in a series of special snaps with their mum and dad. And they are right royal portraits.

The photos are published in Paris Match magazine and also feature in Monaco Matin. They are the first chance to see the twins who were born on December 10th by Caesarean section. The images show a very festive looking Prince Albert, in a red shirt, and a very chic Princess Charlene in jeans and cream blouse. Gabriella wears pink, Jacques is in baby blue.  There's even a Christmas tree in some.

They look like a very happy little family and these photos are just the first. There will be plenty of chances for more images on January 7th 2015 when the twins are officially presented at the Prince's Palace in Monaco and after that, a lifetime of photos for Jacques and Gabriella. But these snaps will always have a special place in all their hearts.

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 23rd 2014

Christmas is just around the corner and the countdown is turning from anticipation to excitement about the big day. Today's photo is from a Christmas past and features the Queen at Sandringham. It was taken outside St Mary's Church where the Queen was presented with posies and Princess Beatrice helps her collect them.  And in just a few days' time there will be more images like this from 2014 to add to the history books.

And this photo, along with all the others from Royal Christmas Countdown, is on a special page - just click on the link above.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 22nd 2014

Just three days to go until Christmas and today's royal picture to help the countdown pass more quickly is all about the pantomime spirit. Everyone loves a good play at the festive season and to help us get in the party mood, here's a trip down memory lane. Prince Harry, at nursery school, dressed as an elf. Photographers got a super cute snap of Harry in his red and green outfit as he walked with his classmates ahead of their big performance at their London school in 1987. And the prince who grew up to be cheeky and fun loving was displaying plenty of his famous charm even then.

And this image, along with all the others from Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - just click on the link.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 21st 2014

The shortest day of the year is upon us, reminding us all that this season is cold and quiet and often white. And so Royal Christmas Countdown allows the snow to fall and the ancient symbol of the hope of the return of spring, evergreen, to take centre stage. In this archive image of Beatrix of the Netherlands, then still a queen, the monarch smiles while the snowflakes flutter in the background and the Christmas tree sparkles amongst them.

The photo, and all the other images from Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - click on the link above.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 20th 2014

Just five days to go until Christmas and today's festive countdown is a chance to start that other great tradition of this time of the year - looking back. As Christmas and New Year arrive we all tend to look back on the past twelve months and when they've been momentous then the reminiscing can start a bit early,. King Felipe VI has sent his first Christmas cards as a monarch and they are a reminder of the day in June when he took his country's throne. Posing alongside Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias and the Infanta Sofia, the king stars in the main photo and is seen looking out at all those who came to cheer him on the day of his accession in another.

It's an historic card and it, along with the other image on the greeting, can be seen on the special Royal Countdown to Christmas page - just click on the link.

Friday, 19 December 2014

A baby for Madeleine

There's plenty to celebrate in the Royal Palace in Stockholm at the moment. Prince Carl Philip is preparing for his wedding, Princess Estelle is stealing hearts in their latest festive photos and now Princess Madeleine has made it a really happy Christmas. She is expecting her second baby.

Three now, soon to be four - Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Chris O'Neill and Leonore Lilian Maris will welcome a new member to their family in the summer of 2015

The princess and her husband, Chris O'Neill, welcomed their first child in February this year. Princess Leonore was born in New York and christened in Stockholm on June 8th 2014, her parents' first wedding anniversary. And now she will welcome a baby brother or sister in the summer of 2015.

Princess Leonore of Sweden was born on February 20th 2014 in New York

The baby will be a third grandchild for King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and will be sixth in line to the throne.  And they will make their first appearance in an already busy and happy summer for Sweden's royals.  When Carl XVI Gustaf wishes his fellow citizens a Happy New Year, he has a lot of joy himself to look forward to.

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 19th 2014

Princess Estelle of Sweden has already given us several festive Christmas portraits and 2014 is no different. The little queen in waiting is the star of three snaps released by the Swedish Royal House to mark the holiday season and this year, Estelle is enjoying decorating the Christmas tree. The new images show the two and a half year old helping her parents get their home ready for the holidays.

All three photos, and the video also released by the Swedish Royals can be seen on the special Royal Countdown to Christmas page - just click on the link.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 18th 2014

The Queen is now at Sandringham ready for the Christmas break and so to mark the beginning of the royal festive season, today's Christmas Countdown photo features the Windsor's family home in Norfolk dusted with snow.

The image, along with all the others on Royal Christmas Countdown, cane be found on the special page - just click on the link above.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Harry's heroes

He said he felt like a 'proud dad' and Prince Harry's joy in presenting a special award to the hundreds of athletes who took part in the Invictus Games was clear to see. The men and women were given the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony on December 14th by Prince Harry. It is presented every year for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity and the success of the Invictus Games and the support they won meant this was a popular choice for a popular prize.

Prince Harry hands over the Helen Rollason Award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award 2014

The prince told thousands at the ceremony in Glasgow - and millions more watching on TV - that the 413 athletes who took home the prize were no longer defined by their injuries and that the power sport has to change lives should not be underestimated. And he said that the Helen Rollason Award was the 'icing on the cake' in the Invictus Games Adventure.

Harry is now working to make the games a regular event. But the presentation of this award, just months after the huge success of the inaugural event, shows just how much of an achievement the whole competition was. It inspired, excited and provided top class sport to watch. No wonder Prince Harry was so proud.

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 16th 2014

Less than ten days to go until Christmas which means a frantic writing of cards session to try and hit the last post that will ensure they get there in time. No such problems for royals around Europe who have the card chosen, written and ready to go ages in advance. The pictures chosen for 2014 are still being revealed one by one so today's Royal Christmas Countdown features the last card sent by Felipe of Spain before he became a monarch.

The card, sent in 2013, shows the still Prince and Princess of Asturias with their two daughters standing in front of famous Spanish art. It wasn't their most popular choice of Christmas card but provides a snapshot of a family on the brink of the throne. It can be seen, along with all the other images on this year's Royal Christmas Countdown, on the special page.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 15th 2014

It's time for a trip back to Christmas Past as we hit the final ten days in the Countdown. Today's image shows the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh admiring a Christmas tree from yesteryear.

Christmas Past - the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh get ready for the festive season 

This image, and all the others from the Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - click on the link above.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Letizia in the pink

It was a surprising outfit but no real surprise that it's become a firm favourite. A pale pink trouser suit worn by Queen Letizia of Spain on her introductory tour of Morocco just weeks after her husband's accession topped a recent poll to find the best outfit chosen by the consort for her hello visits in 2014.

Queen Letizia of Spain in the pink during her visit to Morocco

The outfit consisted of a pale pink trouser suit with matching jacket worn with co-ordinating shoes and a gold chain belt. The queen chose it for her final engagement on the two day tour when she visited a cancer treatement centre before being given an official farewell as the visit came to an end.

Letizia chose pale pink for her final day in Morocco

Since becoming queen, in June 2014, Letizia has become an international fashion icon with papers and magazines around the world taking a far greater interest in her clothes choices than before. And with this pink suit, she gave her new fashion followers plenty to talk about and one of the outfits of 2014.

Royal Christmas Countdown, December 14th 2014

Anyone else thinking of entering 'Cutest Christmas Photo 2014' might need a rethink. Future king, Prince George of Cambridge, has already conquered this contest. Three photos, each one producing more 'aahs' than the last. George is the prince who stole Christmas.

Prince George of Cambridge does Christmas
(photo The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released the three pictures to mark the festive season and as a thank you to the press for not taking unsolicited images of the little prince and allowing him to grow up away from the media spotlight.

Upping the cuteness factor, George of Cambridge

The pictures were taken in the courtyard of their Kensington Palace home in November when George was about sixteen months old. The three images show a happy, relaxed little boy with a very cheeky grin.

Prince George of Cambridge

The three photos have been well received and show a marked change in the little boy whose last official appearance came in July 2014 when he starred in three images released to celebrate his first birthday. Still blonde but looking more like his mum, this is George ready to take on the world. But when it comes to Christmas cuteness, he's already conquered it.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Royal Christmas Countdown: December 13th 2014

Just twelve days to Christmas which means it's time for trees to go up and presents to be wrapped. And today's festive photo features the Duchess of Cornwall putting up the decorations in Clarence House. Earlier this week, Camilla invited the Helen and Douglas House charity along to her London home to help trim the traditional tree.  The organisation helps children with life limiting illnesses and their families. The duchess was joined by youngsters, their loved ones and helpers to add some sparkle and glitz to the first tree at Clarence House.

More photos from the Christmas party, as well as all the other images from Royal Christmas Countdown, can be found on the special page - click on the link above.

Friday, 12 December 2014

One proud daddy

Listen carefully, Albert of Monaco might be about to cry. The sovereign prince of Monaco has released a special video message announcing the birth of his daughter and son and as he came to the end of it, the royal voice begins to wobble with emotion. It's a charming snapshot of a proud father and proud prince all rolled into one.

Speaking first in French and then in English, Prince Albert announces that Princess Charlene has given birth to a son and a daughter and then tells the world their names, confirming that Prince Jacques is now heir to the throne and Princess Gabriella is second in line.

The Prince's Palace in Monaco is lit up in red and white to celebrate the birth of Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella

But it is as the prince thanks the people of Monaco for their congratulations and support at this happy time that the emotion begins to show. As he celebrates the joy that has surrounded the family since the birth of the twins, Albert's voice wobbles just ever so slightly. It might be sleep deprivation - two new babies are a lot of work - but it might just be an overwhelming joy at the safe arrival of two healthy children. Albert's emotion shows what a proud daddy he is.

Royal Christmas Countdown: December 12th 2014

A Royal Christmas means a speech. Europe's royals share their thoughts with their fellow citizens at different times of the festive season but perhaps the most famous Christmas speech of all is the Queen's. Every Christmas Day at 3pm, Elizabeth II speaks to her nation.  Today is a chance to see the Queen's first televised Christmas speech, broadcast in 1957.

And the speech, along with all the images from Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - just click on the link above.


Today, Belgium will say farewell to Queen Fabiola. Her funeral takes place in Brussels this morning.  The consort of Baudouin died on December 5th 2014 at the age of 86. She was loved by her country and her family and the grief at her passing has been palpable and the tributes paid to her filled with joy and thanks. Fabiola loved her adopted country and her family and her affection for them has shone through as her life story as been written over and over again in obituaries this week. But above all, Fabiola loved Baudouin and no one loved her more than her husband. King Albert II once said that Baudouin and Fabiola were inseparable in people's minds and that is how they now remain as their story comes to an end.

And so into history - Baudouin and Fabiola, King and Queen of the Belgians

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Queen Fabiola, a life in pictures

On December 12th 2014, Belgium will bid farewell to Queen Fabiola at a state funeral in Brussels. As the country prepares to say goodbye, here's a chance to look back at an extraordinary royal life and career which saw a Madrid nurse become a queen and a national icon. Au revoir, Fabiola.

Royal Countdown to Christmas : December 11th 2014

As Belgium prepares to say farewell to its former queen, Royal Christmas Countdown remembers Queen Fabiola. The dowager was hugely popular with her family and here takes centre stage as they gather round the tree and crib for a traditional festive event. It's not clear whether the annual Christmas appearance will take place this year as the Royal Family mourn their beloved former queen. But on December 11th this image is a chance to remember Fabiola and her hugely important role in the monarchy of Belgium.

Fabiola, Queen of the Belgians with her family

And this image, along with all the others featured on Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - click on the link above.

Birth of a sovereign to be

His name is already forever linked to the history of his country so the way that Jacques of Monaco, future sovereign of the principality, was announced by the papers forms part of his story. And there was nothing but joy and smiles as Monaco Matin headlined the birth of the little prince and his big sister, Gabriella.

An heir for Monaco, joy for one couple and another chapter in royal history begins with a simple headline

The arrival of the heir of Albert II has been long awaited and provided plenty to talk about. Jacques Honore Rainier of Monaco, Marquis de Baux was born at 5.06pm local time on December 10th 2014 - two minutes after Princess Gabriella Therese Marie. But his country's succession laws mean that little Jacques is hereditary prince from birth and will, one day, become sovereign prince of Monaco.

Albert and Charlene of Monaco are now parents

In the meantime, he's getting ready to meet the press for the first time - he and Gabriella will be presented to the people of Monaco in the coming days. But for now they are both settling into their nursery at the Prince's Palace in Monaco. It is their home but succession laws mean that only one can inherit it - and that is Jacques.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

To Monaco, a son and a daughter

There are two new royals in Europe this evening. Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Gabriela of Monaco were born this afternoon at the Medical Centre which bears their grandmother's name. Princess Charlene gave birth after a day of speculation and her son and daughter are now making headlines around the world.

Gabriela and Jacques' mum and dad

Gabriela Teresa Marie, Countess of Carlades was born at 5.04pm local time and Jacques Honore Rainier, Marquis de Baux arrived at 5.06pm. But although Gabriela was first, she takes second place in the line of succession as her baby brother becomes Hereditary Prince and heir to his country's throne. Princess Charlene is said to be doing well.

The official announcement of the birth of the Countess of Carlades and the Marquis de Baux on December 10th 2014

Canons fired and church bells rang as the newest royal babies on the continent made their debut. There will be an official presentation in the next few days. But for now the latest heir to the throne and his spare are settling into their palace as the youngest royals in Europe.

Royal Christmas Countdown: December 10th 2014

A Scandinavian Christmas tradition features on Royal Christmas Countdown today. Every year, as December grows darker and the days grow greyer and colder, the feast of St Lucia brings an opportunity to celebrate the return of light. The Feast of St Lucia allows children to take the lead in celebrations and traditionally involves the eldest daughter of the house wearing white with a headdress of candles as she wakes up the family and serves them saffron buns and coffee. The tradition is particularly strong in Sweden but in 1946 the future queen of Denmark took part. Margrethe, eldest daughter of Frederik IX and his wife, born Princess Ingrid of Sweden, dressed in the traditional costume as the tradition was taken to heart in her country.Now in Denmark St Lucia's Day is a chance to celebrate everything to do with children and to allow young people the focus on work helping other youngsters. The photo for today's countdown is of Queen Margrethe dressed as for the feast of St Lucia in 1946.

And that photo, along with all the others from Royal Christmas Countdown, can be seen on the special page - just click the link above.

Kate dazzles New York

The Duchess of Cambridge brought the curtain down on her visit to New York in spectacular style with an evening dress designed to dazzle and chosen for one of the biggest events on her American agenda. The duchess attended a dinner marking the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews - the place where she and the Duke of Cambridge met and fell in love. Dressed to impress, she watched on as William told guest at the meal that the university would always hold a special place in the Cambridges' hearts. It was a glittering end to a glittering tour which has seen Kate conquer NYC. And she ended with a flourish - by dazzling everyone.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the St Andrews' University Dinner in New York on December 10th 2014
(photo @UKinNewYork Twitter)

The duchess attended a dinner marking the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews - the place where she and the Duke of Cambridge met and fell in love. Dressed to impress, she watched on as William told guest at the meal that the university would always hold a special place in the Cambridges' hearts. 

A video posted by British Consulate General NY (@ukinnewyork) on

It was a glittering end to a glittering tour which has seen Kate conquer NYC. And she ended with a flourish - by dazzling everyone.