|Prince Louis with The Duchess of Cambridge
Matt Porteous/Kensington Palace
As I admitted, it was easy to predict third babies for The Duchess of Cambridge (Prince Louis), Princess Madeleine of Sweden (Princess Adrienne) and Tatiana Casiraghi (Maximilian) since all of their pregnancies were already public knowledge. But, I am particularly delighted that my speculations for three other babies turned out to be accurate. I had hoped for a third baby for Zara Tindall, who safely delivered baby Lena and then later revealed that she had suffered a second miscarriage that had not been publicly announced as the first one had been. Meanwhile over in Monaco, Beatrice Casiraghi did indeed quickly deliver her second son, Francesco, in May, just 15 months after her first baby. Then, in a big surprise, their sister-in-law Charlotte Casiraghi gave birth to her second child, Balthazar, by her current love Dimitri Rassam. This meant that all three of Princess Caroline of Monaco's adult children had a baby boy in 2018. Quite a baby boom! (Her fourth child, Princess Alexandra of Hanover, turned 19 during the summer.)
My other strong suspicion/hope/prayer (which I tried to keep under control in my predictions post) was that Prince Harry and his bride Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, would announce a pregnancy before the end of 2018. I could never have imagined that they would announce it as early as October. The entire world went mad and we all can't wait until spring when their little will arrive. Nevertheless, neither Sofia of Sweden nor Claire of Luxembourg have shown signs of new pregnancies as I thought they might this year.
|Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank with their families and
little wedding attendants
Alex Bramall/Buckingham Palace via AP
At last, we were treated to a very lovely York wedding when Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank in October. It was a lovely ceremony in the "family church" at Windsor with lots of personal touches, including a gown designed specifically to reveal Eugenie's scars from scoliosis surgery. She was also surrounded by loads of little cousins in the bridal party, and even her little goddaughter Maud Windsor, granddaughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was among them. Eugenie also managed to find a tiara in the back of the family closet that had not been seen in public for decades. The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara was part of a massive cache of jewels inherited by the Queen Mother in 1942. Eugenie, her great-granddaughter, is the first royal to ever wear it in public.
As for big sister Beatrice, reports are rife that she may have found love again after her long-term relationship with Dave Clark ended in 2016. I guess we shall see if Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi is Mr. Right...
|Getty Images/WPA Pool
Her Majesty indeed had another banner year after celebrating 65 years since her coronation. She was out and about quite a lot for a 92-year-old, frequently accompanied by one of her children or grandchildren, including the new Duchess of Sussex, who even had the privilege of staying over night with The Queen on the royal train. Nevertheless, with her heir Prince Charles' 70th birthday celebrations in November, speculation inevitably turned to what will happen once he is king. As for The Queen she delivered a touching address at his birthday party, remarking about what a privilege it is for a mother to be at her child's 70th birthday. Let's hope she is with us through ALL of her kids' 70th birthdays! That will keep her around until 2034! She'll be 107 when her "baby" Prince Edward reaches that milestone, but I'm sure she will still be doing very well!!
|Crown Princess Masako
From Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
As predicted, the upcoming April 30, 2019 abdication of Emperor Akihito has placed more focus on the monarchy there. We have seen more of Empress Michiko and much, much more of Crown Princess (soon-to-be Empress) Masako, whose ill health over the years has often kept her out of the limelight. In the last few days, the two ladies featured prominently at the Emperor's official birthday celebrations and we will likely see them front and center at the New Year's Court. Meanwhile, Masako's daughter Aiko, who has suffered from bullying and some ill health, seems to be emerging into a more public role. She turned 17 on December 1, which prompted the Imperial Household Agency to spotlight some of her public and education-related activities this year, including the fact that she danced in a school performance and served as emcee for the event.
Sadly, the announced wedding Aiko's cousin Princess Mako of Akishino did not take place. Early in the year, the IHA said that the engagement had been delayed, but I believe this was just a polite way of canceling the wedding. Rumor has it that there were financial irregularities or concerns about the groom's family. However, another Japanese princess did get married. 28-year-old Princess Ayako of Takamodo, a great-niece of the Emperor, surrendered her imperial title and status to marry Moriya Kei on October 29.
|By Casaregala via Wikimedia Commons
Following the death of former King Michael of Romania late last year, things were a bit unclear for his selected heir, Margareta, the eldest of his five daughters. Though she was living in the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest, the existing agreement would have required her to decamp within 60 days of her father's death. However, all has turned out well. Margareta is still at the palace where she regularly hosts prominent visitors to Romania. She has also continued to travel abroad to promote and support her country, despite the fact that the monarchy ended there at the end of 1947. Although she might have claimed the title "Queen of Romania" in pretense, she has opted instead to be called Her Majesty Custodian of the Crown. Her hard work has paid off; not only was she named Romanian's most influential woman in 2018, but some politicians event stated that it might be possible, even advisable, to restore the monarchy.
Most of this year's big birthday's were celebrated rather privately by our royal ladies. In Sweden, Queen Silvia celebrated her 75th with just her close family. Likewise, Queen Emerita Sofia of Spain enjoyed her 80th with her children and grandchildren, even releasing a family photo of everyone (less the son-in-law who is currently in prison on corruption charges). Former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, gathered her kids and grandkids for photos and fun for her 80th birthday.
|Photo studio of Boasson and Eggler,
State Archive of the Russian
Federation via Wikimedia Commons
The centenary of the Romanov murders was indeed marked by many articles, posts and stories. Many new books were released not just about the Imperial Family and about their deaths, but also a couple of books that explored the culpability of their extended family, and those who failed to save them. These books offered a new perspective on the extreme fear and uncertainty of the time. After all, it is easy with hindsight to say what should have been done, but in the midst of the violence and politics of a world war, it is much harder to make those difficult decisions. Had anyone been able to foretell the fate of the Romanovs, ships galore would have been launched to save them. Sadly, there were no Cassandras among the Romanov's royal cousins.
|Elisabeth of Denmark
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Thankfully, all of the superannuated royal ladies whom I mentioned were above the average life expectancy for European women survived the year. Unfortunately, one princess did not quite reach the average age of 84. Queen Margarethe of Denmark's cousin Princess Elisabeth passed away in June at the age of 83. Although she never married, she was buried next to her longtime partner, film director Claus Hermansen. Elisabeth spent 45 years in the Danish diplomatic service and was a regular guest at official royal occasions. The Danish Royal Family had already been greatly bereaved a few months earlier with the passing of Queen Margrethe's husband, Prince Henrik. In 2017, it had been announced that he was suffering from dementia. His health deteriorated rapidly in early February 2018, causing his son Crown Prince Frederik to cut short his trip to the Winter Olympics in Korea. He arrived back in Denmark just in time to be present when Henrik died in his sleep.
|Alexi Lubomirski/PA Images/Hand Out/INSTARimages.com
Without a doubt the biggest wedding of the year was that of Prince Harry of Wales, who was given the title The Duke of Sussex, to American former actress Meghan Markle. Although "small" by Charles-and-Diana or William-and-Catherine standards, their wedding at St. George's Chapel, Windsor attracted huge attention all over the world. The lead-up to the wedding was unfortunately marred by some very thoughtless and tacky behavior on the part of Meghan's father and half-siblings, who even more unfortunately have continued to sell/tell their stories to the all-too-willing-to-listen media. Also, very unfortunately, Meghan's mixed race heritage has also caused issues among some. While her heritage has brought many new "fans" to the British Royal Family who would never have paid much attention in the past, it has also triggered many instances of actual racial bias as well as some unfounded accusations of racism among the media and the general public. I tend to discount rumors of rifts or problems within the BRF itself, but the public discourse (especially on social media) has yet to settle down. These arguments and controversies, in my opinion, have very little to do with the happy couple or the graceful and strong work ethic that Meghan is demonstrating as a working royal. Rather, it reflects the ongoing racial tensions of both the national and international cultures in which Meghan and Harry live. Genuine attacks against Meghan have very little to do with the real woman. Likewise, her zealous defenders often have little real understanding of the context and history of her role within the monarchy. This is just a new battleground in the longstanding catastrophe of race relations dating back centuries. The very fact that the daughter-in-law of the future King of the world's most recognized and respected monarchy is a woman of mixed race bodes well, I hope, for continuing progress and positive change in our societies. If we pay attention, we could learn quite a lot from The Duchess of Sussex, though she is neither the cause of nor the solution to racial tensions. Since she was a child, she has done what she could to help support the causes of people of color as well as of women and others who suffer from bias around the globe. And, through her work with the survivors of Grenfell Tower, she has clearly shown that she will continue to support and champion others. She has done far more than most of us to move us toward a more harmonious and fair society. We would do well to stop squabbling, to actually listen to each other and to honor and celebrate the humanity in each of us.
Despite all this "noise" around the newlyweds, they have had a truly tremendous year. The success of Meghan's Grenfell Tower cookbook has been phenomenal. Harry's Invictus Games continued to draw international acclaim for its support of wounded warriors. The couple completed a triumphant tour of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. And, to put a cherry on top of our royal sundae, they announced the impending arrival of their first child less than five months after the wedding. I could hardly be more delighted with all they have accomplished so quickly. Can't wait to see what 2019 will look like for them.