Inside the Biggest Royal Moments of 2017

In a year when a royal pregnancy is only, like, the third-most momentous thing that's happened, you know it's been a jam-packed year for the British monarchy

By Natalie Finn Dec 28, 2017 12:00 PMTags
Best of 2017, Big Royal MomentsGetty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

There's always a something stirring among the royals, but 2017 did happen to be a particularly momentous year for Britain's most storied family in a variety of ways.

And when a pregnancy is only, like, the third-biggest news, you can guess that major change is afoot.

In no particular order as far as worldly importance or long-lasting effect on the monarchy goes, here's a rundown of the biggest royal happenings of the past 12 months, in the United Kingdom and beyond...

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Get Engaged

Obviously this is the standout news of the bunch, one of the world's most eligible bachelors deciding it's time to settle down—and not just with any lucky lady. The young man who's fifth (soon to be sixth) in line to the British throne is engaged to a divorced American actress of mixed race. A description that certainly wouldn't raise any eyebrows in Hollywood, perhaps, but a leap for the U.K.'s royal family, which saw a king step down in the 1930s in order to marry a twice-divorced American, and which prevented Princess Margaret—Harry's great-aunt—from marrying the divorced man she truly loved.

But molds, while they keep things uniform, were also made to be broken.

Harry and Meghan will marry on May 19, 2018—an almost unheard-of Saturday wedding among royals—at Windsor Castle, in St. George's Chapel.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Kate Middleton Pregnant With Baby No. 3

It's still exciting, blessed news and it will warm our cold, tattered hearts when the royal baby protocol begins yet again for Kate and Prince William's third child together (the birthing suite at St. Mary's, the Buckingham Palace-centric timing of the announcement, the deliciously formal tweet, etc.). We still love checking out the Duchess of Cambridge's maternity fashion and guessing whether it's a boy or a girl, and which traditional names they're going to bestow on him or her. The first picture of the new baby will send us over the moon.

But overall... it's their third kid. We know the drill.

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Photo Erika Gerdemark, Royal Court, Sweden

Prince Carl Philip & Princess Sofia of Sweden Have Another Baby

Because the Brits aren't having all the milestones!

Carl Philip, who's fourth in line to the Swedish throne, and his wife of two years welcomed their second child, Prince Gabriel, Duke of Dalarna, on Aug. 31. He joined big brother Prince Alexander, Duke of Södermanland, at the family home in Djurgården. 


The Queen and Prince Philip Go Platinum

Like a fine wine, the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has aged impressively. The longest-married couple in British royal history celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary—known as the platinum anniversary—on Nov. 20, a milestone for anyone let alone two people whose life together hasn't been without its unique pressures. Now that they're in their golden years, it's been fascinating to get to relive their earliest days together via The Crown on Netflix, an unsanctioned yet fairly historically faithful representation of what life as the younger-than-she-expected queen was like for Elizabeth, who is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

In fact, on Feb. 6, Queen Elizabeth II became the first-ever British monarch to enjoy a Sapphire Jubilee, in honor of 65 years on the throne.

Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke Heads Into the Sunset

Philip retired from public life this fall, the sudden announcement of his plan to do so having sent the media into a middle-of-the-night frenzy in May, with reporters camping out opposite Buckingham Palace to be prepared for the direst of news. Happily, the news—while a poignant reminder of the natural progression of life—wasn't so dire.

And it's not as if Philip has retreated to one of his castles to stew in solitude. Rather, the 96-year-old royal has just stopped dedicating plaques and showing up merely to wave and shake hands—as he amiably did during his final official event Aug. 2, a Royal Marines parade in his honor outside the palace, Philip's 22,219th solo event since becoming the queen's consort in 1952.


The Family—and a Nation—Remembers Princess Diana, 20 Years Later

Aug. 31 marked the 20th anniversary of Diana's death in a car crash at the shockingly young age of 36 (to put that into perspective—Meghan Markle is 36) and most of the year leading up to the sad day itself was treated as an extended celebration of her life and legacy, with both Harry and William contributing photos and commentary for documentary specials and speaking more frequently about their mother in public than ever before. A temporary "White Garden" was installed at Kensington Palace, her former home, and her sons rededicated her grave on July 1, what would have been her 56th birthday.

The occasion was also used, however, as an opportunity to re-delve into the more salacious side of went on behind closed doors (which the public was always hungry to do when she was alive as well). One particular special, Channel 4's Diana: In Her Own Words, met with backlash from people who knew Diana for utilizing tapes of her talking candidly with her public-speaking coach in what she certainly considered to be a private setting.

Ultimately, however, the lingering images will be of Harry and William sharing remembrances of their mother throughout the year, the brothers having grown into men she would have been so proud of.

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Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage

Prince George & Princess Charlotte's Normalcy on Display

Though life will never be ordinary for the future King of England and his little sister, the kids don't know that yet, and it's been a pleasure watching them act accordingly. George, who turned 4 on July 22, looked a little nervous when his dad dropped him off for his first day at Thomas's Battersea in London—and three weeks later, William commented to a fellow parent that George was over going to school already.

So he's normal.

And in July, Charlotte showed her age—2—when she erupted into a tantrum when the family was touring an airfield in Germany. Number of moms who could relate? All of them.

The Obama Foundation via Getty Images

The Prince & the President

As if Prince Henry wasn't having a banner year already, he also scored a sit-down interview with former President Barack Obama in September (Obama's first interview since leaving the White House) that just aired on BBC Radio 4 and is available online. They talked about everything from Michelle Obama and post-presidential life to the growing influence of social media and how Obama felt when he passed the baton to President Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

"Overall, there was a serenity there, more than I expected," the 44th president of the United States recalled. Discussing some of the mandatory aspects of modern politics, such as being in perennial fundraising mode, Obama also said about having that chapter of his life behind him, "The fact that I was now freed up from some of the pomp and circumstance of the presidency, that actually felt good."

Prince Harry, who spoke with Obama at the Invictus Games in Toronto, can certainly relate to the concept of daily pomp and circumstance. And soon, so will Meghan Markle!

Here's to a royal wedding, Kate and Will's third child and all the excitement to come in 2018.