DIANA PRINCESS OF WALES
Sometimes it's really easy to predict what's going to happen. With August/September 2017 marking 20 years since the world was plunged into nearly unprecedented grief over the sudden and tragic death of Diana, it was no surprise that my predictions of books and television specials and ramped-up media coverage came true. We even got interviews with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry, who together with William's wife launched a new focus on mental health called Heads Together. This stemmed from each of their interests in the area of mental health awareness as well as Harry's ongoing support of post-combat military veterans. What was unexpected was the candidness with which the threesome linked the effort to the princes' own experiences of their mother's death and their years of recovery afterward. We even got to "listen in" on a rather more revealing than usual conversation on the subject among the three as they sat in the garden. And, speaking of gardens, the public got to enjoy a very special tribute from the princes to their late mother as they turned her favorite garden at Kensington Palace, the sunken garden, into an all-white floral celebration for summer visitors. Later, we got to see the garden again, sans the white flowers, as Prince Harry chose this location to announce his engagement to Meghan Markle.
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Speaking of Meghan Markle, her engagement was not entirely unexpected even though her relationship with Prince Harry was still quite young at the beginning of last year. After all, Harry had already issued an official statement asking for the media (and online racists) to leave her alone. In my annual predictions, I anticipate that 2017 might include an engagement due in part to the fact that they are likely to want a family and aren't getting any younger and to the idea that the anniversary of Diana's death might prompt the prince to want to move on with settling his own family life. So the biggest wedding surprise in 2017 wasn't about Meghan and Harry but about his cousin Princess Eugenie and longtime love Jack Brooksbank. In the last part of 2016, a certain royal reporter had confidently reported that we would see an engagement before the end of that year. Well, here we are more than a year later...the couple is still together but we have yet to hear an announcement...
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Sofia and Carl Philip with sons
Alexander and Gabriel
Photo: Erika Gerdemark, The Royal Court, Sweden
For the last many years, we've had royal pregnancy announcements to help us get through the cold winter months but last year, we had no spring babies to look forward to. So, my royal baby predictions had to rely more on past family activities. Sadly, there was no "rainbow baby" for Zara Phillips who had lost her second pregnancy right at the end of 2016, but the Swedes and the Cambridges both followed my baby hopes by giving us three pregnancies in 2017. Princess Sofia of Sweden delivered her second son Prince Gabriel on August 31, while her sister-in-law Princess Madeleine is expecting her third child early in 2018. The Duchess of Cambridge, who could certainly have been forgiven for avoiding a third pregnancy and the hyperemesis gravidarum that plagues her, announced that she is expecting another Baby Cambridge in April. In fact, Prince Harry's wedding date of May 19 seems to have been selected so that Catherine will be recovered enough from the birth to feel like making a public appearance at the wedding of the year.
CRISTINA OF SPAIN
We finally got a verdict in the long, dragged-out Noos embezzlement case that had consumed Infanta Cristina of Spain and her husband Inaki Urgandarin. Cristina, sister of King Felipe, was acquitted while Urgandarin was sentenced to several years in prison plus fines. In 2016, Cristina was stripped of her title as Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, but her brother permitted her to keep her royal title and rights. Her acquittal means that she will not likely lose these. However, both she and their older sister Infanta Elena Duchess of Lugo have been less and less involved in royal duties since their father's abdication in 2014. I would not expect that we will hear much from Cristina for many years to come as she will likely need to focus on raising her four children as an essentially "single" mom.