31 December 2015

British Royal Ladies of 2015

As is true in every year, the British royal family received the most attention around the world, especially with the birth of little Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Her Majesty also officially became the longest serving British monarch, finally surpassing her great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who had reigned for 63 years 216 days. Meanwhile her daughter-in-law The Countess of Wessex began to share her personal stories about the impact of her daughter's early vision problems. (On a side note: three of The Queen's four granddaughters have had a particular struggle: Beatrice with dyslexia, Eugenie with scoliosis and Louise with esotropia.) Princess Beatrice took a job with an equity firm in New York where perhaps not coincidentally her longtime boyfriend Dave Clark works for Uber. At about the same time, her sister Princess Eugenie left New York to take a job with an art gallery in London.

As Elizabeth II prepares to celebrate her 90th birthday in a few months, she still has a passion for brightly colored fashion and hats so that the petite monarch is visible in a crowd. More notably, she seems to be smiling in public much more often.

Speculation that she might one day be Queen Camilla, despite the Palace statement that she would be Princess Consort, once again swirled around The Duchess of Cornwall this year. She meanwhile maintained her reputation for being jolly good fun, and this Christmas card from her and The Prince of Wales put to rest the other rumors of the year: that she and Charles are growing apart.

Despite a slimmer calendar of engagements due to her pregnancy and confinement, The Duchess of Cambridge remained the world's royal cover girl, and everything she was seen wearing immediately sold out. With cameras trained on her every move, I still think this private family photo turned Christmas card was her best look of the year.

In the first eight months of her life, we have been blessed with four sets of photos of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge: her departure from hospital, her christening, snaps by her mum a few weeks ago (which appear to have been taken on the same day as the family photo above), and an adorable set of pics with big brother Prince George, also taken by her proud mum.

After the sartorial criticism of her past, Princess Beatrice of York appeared much sleeker and sophisticated this year, as demonstrated in this photo with cousin Zara Phillips Tindall at Ascot.

Unlike her sister Bea, Princess Eugenie of York tends to draw a bit less media attention and therefore media criticism. Even her longtime relationship with Jack Brooksbank has rarely made headlines, although his appearance with her at Glorious Goodwood this year could not be overlooked.

As The Queen's daughter-in-law, Sophie The Countess of Wessex has been the official British royal representative at foreign royal weddings along with her husband The Prince Edward. This summer found them at the white-tie wedding of Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.

Officially not royal, The Lady Louise Windsor is still a male-line descendant of The Queen and therefore, under previous Letters Patent, entitled to a royal style. Her family prefers to keep things more low-key and their parenting approach is clearly working: Lady Louise appears happy and healthy and, having just turned 11, seems to have grown tremendously this year.

Although Anne The Princess Royal still maintains one of the heaviest schedules of official engagements, she much prefers her life in the country with horses, dogs, and her three granddaughters, including Savannah (left) and Isla Phillips.

As one of the more senior members of the cadet branches of the royal family, the Danish-born Duchess of Gloucester still maintains a steady calendar of engagements, including this year's Davis Cup where her royal status gained her the spot next to Queen Mathilde of the Belgians.

Preferring to be called simply Katharine Kent, the Duchess of Kent has retreated into private life focusing her time on teaching and performing music, her Catholic faith, and her 10 grandchildren. Sightings of her have become increasingly rare.

Meanwhile Katharine's sister-in-law Princess Michael of Kent (nee Marie Christine von Reibnitz) loves the spotlight, but she and her husband must "earn" their own way as they are no longer subsidized by The Queen. Marie Christine has a multifaceted career as an author as well as an interior designer and art consultant. She spent part of this year sporting an eye patch, which she tried to make as fashionable as possible, after a cornea surgery.

Now in her eighties, The Queen's only female cousin (on the royal side) Princess Alexandra has taken on an increasingly smaller public role due to health issues, particularly a painful condition called polymyalgia rheumatica. Her older brother, the Duke of Kent is also growing more frail and this year broke his hip while the family was in Scotland.

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