A version of this story appeared in the April 2 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a new weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on the royal family, what they are up to in public and what’s happening behind palace walls. Sign up here.
London (CNN) — Why does Britain have a monarchy? It’s a question as old as the institution itself. But an even bigger one is why countries, beyond the UK, have the same monarchy. The Queen is head of state in 15 other countries that were formerly under British rule, stretching as far as Australia and New Zealand — literally on the other side of the planet. Due to her age, Her Majesty hasn’t traveled to these countries for years, which makes it even more remarkable that she has retained her positions there. More recently, senior royals such as her son, Prince Edward, and grandchildren, the Sussexes and Cambridges, have visited on her behalf. So how does she keep the relationships strong? Well, she demonstrated that this week with a fleeting yet symbolic visit down the road from Windsor Castle. Read MoreThe 94-year-old visited the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede on Wednesday to mark the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force. The surprise appearance by the monarch was her first in-person public engagement this year.The Queen stepped out for her first in-person engagement this year on Wednesday.Since the start of the pandemic, Elizabeth has rarely left the confines of Windsor Castle, pivoting instead to daily video calls to continue her duties. This has in part been due to her advancing age (she’s set to turn 95 in a matter of weeks, on April 21) but also to protect the public from gathering en masse to see her and thus providing a heightened opportunity for Covid transmission. This week saw the UK’s first cautious steps out of lockdown and the Queen has received her first vaccine dose (and is reportedly due a second one soon). But her desire to mitigate risk amid the pandemic remains a priority as she resumes more public events. JUST WATCHEDPrince Harry says the Queen was not allowed to meet him last yearReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH
Prince Harry says the Queen was not allowed to meet him last year 02:43The fact she opted for her first physical engagement in 2021 to involve a Commonwealth country where the thorny issue of her relevancy has reemerged is telling.Retaining her position is not something she can take for granted. In September last year, Barbados announced it would fully leave its “colonial past behind,” opting to remove Elizabeth as its head of state. It will become a republic in November, when it celebrates its 55th anniversary of independence from the British empire. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here,” the Queen commented as she arrived at the Air Forces Memorial. Cameras from Australian as well as British media were invited to capture the moment. And her choice of outing wasn’t missed by Australian outlets. “Queen’s nod to Australia in first public appearance since Meghan and Harry interview,” read the headline on the News.com.au website. The Queen may not have set foot in Australia for a decade but the message here was that it hadn’t been forgotten by her, even amid the latest family tumult. In an order of service for the event, the Queen wrote: “Throughout my reign, the Royal Australian Air Force has shown immense dedication to duty and has defended our freedom in many conflicts around the world.” Those words are valued by Australians and she reminds them of her place in their history by referring to her record-breaking reign, during which she has consistently represented and promoted Australian interests on the world stage. Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch in British history.Hide Caption 1 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, in London. She is held here by her mother, also named Elizabeth. Her father would later become King George VI.Hide Caption 2 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Princess Elizabeth poses for a photo at her London home in 1928.Hide Caption 3 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Princess Elizabeth is seen with her uncle Edward, Prince of Wales, during a visit to Balmoral, Scotland, in September 1933. He would go on to become King Edward VIII in 1936. But when he abdicated later that year, Elizabeth’s father became King and she became heir presumptive.Hide Caption 4 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II From left, Princess Elizabeth, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret wave to the crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on June 22, 1939.Hide Caption 5 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth rides a horse in Windsor, England, in 1940. Her love of horses has been well documented.Hide Caption 6 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II A 14-year-old Elizabeth, right, sits next to her sister for a radio broadcast on October 13, 1940. On the broadcast, her first, she said that England’s children were full of cheerfulness and courage.Hide Caption 7 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Princess Elizabeth shakes hands with an officer of the Grenadier Guards on May 29, 1942. King George VI made Elizabeth an honorary colonel in the Royal Army regiment.Hide Caption 8 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth, right, and Princess Margaret wear summer dresses circa 1942. Margaret is Elizabeth’s only sibling.Hide Caption 9 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II With the Drakensberg Mountains behind her, Princess Elizabeth sits in South Africa’s Natal National Park on April 21, 1947. It was her 21st birthday.Hide Caption 10 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II On November 20, 1947, Elizabeth wed Prince Philip, a lieutenant in the British Navy who had been born into the royal families of Greece and Denmark. After becoming a British citizen and renouncing his Greek title, Philip became His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His wife became the Duchess of Edinburgh.Hide Caption 11 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Princess Elizabeth arrives at a state banquet in London in March 1950.Hide Caption 12 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth ascended to the throne in February 1952, when her father died of lung cancer at the age of 56. Here, she walks to the altar during her coronation ceremony on June 2, 1953.Hide Caption 13 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Queen Elizabeth II is photographed on the balcony of Melbourne’s Government House during her tour of Australia in March 1954.Hide Caption 14 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II From left, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother visit Epsom Downs Racecourse in June 1958.Hide Caption 15 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen holds her son Prince Andrew while his sister, Princess Anne, watches during a family holiday at Scotland’s Balmoral Castle in September 1960. The Queen has four children, including sons Charles and Edward.Hide Caption 16 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Queen Elizabeth II is seen during the state opening of Parliament in April 1966.Hide Caption 17 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Queen Elizabeth II with her oldest son, Prince Charles, in 1969. Charles is next in line for the throne.Hide Caption 18 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Prince Charles adjusts his coronet during his investiture ceremony as Prince of Wales in 1969.Hide Caption 19 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen and Prince Philip wave from a plane ramp shortly before taking off from Tokyo in May 1975.Hide Caption 20 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen takes a portrait at Windsor Castle for her 50th birthday on April 21, 1976.Hide Caption 21 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen meets the crowds during her royal tour of New Zealand in 1977.Hide Caption 22 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth walks with some of her corgis at the Windsor Horse Trials in May 1980.Hide Caption 23 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen stands next to Prince Charles as he kisses his new bride, Princess Diana, on July 29, 1981.Hide Caption 24 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth takes pictures of her husband during a horse show in Windsor in May 1982.Hide Caption 25 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth drives her Land Rover during the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 1992.Hide Caption 26 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II While at Buckingham Palace, the Queen and Prince Philip view the floral tributes to Princess Diana after her tragic death in 1997.Hide Caption 27 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen addresses the nation on the night before Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997.Hide Caption 28 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Prince Charles looks back at his mother after wedding Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in April 2005.Hide Caption 29 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen, second from right, greets a crowd from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on April 29, 2011. Her grandson Prince William, third from left, had just married Catherine Middleton.Hide Caption 30 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen’s signature is seen in the visitors book at Aras An Uachtarain, the Irish President’s official residence in Dublin in May 2011.Hide Caption 31 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Madame Tussauds London reveals a wax figure of the Queen in May 2012.Hide Caption 32 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Prince Charles kisses his mother’s hand on stage as singer Paul McCartney, far right, looks on at the Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations marked Elizabeth’s 60th anniversary as Queen.Hide Caption 33 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen tours the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London in December 2012.Hide Caption 34 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II A boy in Belfast, Northern Ireland, takes a selfie in front of the Queen in June 2014.Hide Caption 35 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen enters the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle after attending a commemorative service for the Scottish National War Memorial in July 2014.Hide Caption 36 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen waits to give her speech during the state opening of Parliament in May 2015.Hide Caption 37 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth listens to her great-grandson, Prince George, outside a church where George’s sister, Charlotte, was being christened in July 2015. George and Charlotte are the children of Prince William, left, and Duchess Catherine.Hide Caption 38 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen and Prince Philip wave to guests in London who were attending celebrations for her 90th birthday in 2016.Hide Caption 39 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth speaks to Evie Mills, 14, at a hospital in Manchester, England, in May 2017. Evie was injured in a bombing that took place as people left an Ariana Grande concert.Hide Caption 40 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen sits at a desk in Buckingham Palace after recording her Christmas Day broadcast in 2017.Hide Caption 41 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen arrives for the wedding of her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May 2018. Hide Caption 42 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen laughs with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during a bridge-opening ceremony in Halton, England, in June 2018. It was Meghan’s first royal outing without her husband, Prince Harry, by her side.Hide Caption 43 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen and US President Donald Trump inspect a guard of honor during Trump’s visit to Windsor Castle in July 2018.Hide Caption 44 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen looks at her new great-grandchild, Archie, in May 2019. Archie is the first child of Prince Harry, second from left, and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Prince Philip is on the far left. Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, is next to her at right.Hide Caption 45 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen welcomes Boris Johnson at Buckingham Palace, where she formally invited him to become Prime Minister in July 2019. Johnson won the UK’s Conservative Party leadership contest and replaced Theresa May, who was forced into resigning after members of her Cabinet lost confidence in her inability to secure the UK’s departure from the European Union.Hide Caption 46 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen speaks to Johnson from Windsor Castle in March 2020. Earlier in March, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would be postponing engagements in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson later announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the virus.Hide Caption 47 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II An image of the Queen appears in London’s Piccadilly Square, alongside a message of hope from her special address to the nation in April 2020.Hide Caption 48 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen rides a horse in Windsor, England, in May 2020. It was her first public appearance since the coronavirus lockdown began in the United Kingdom.Hide Caption 49 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen and Prince Philip pose for a photo in June 2020, ahead of Philip’s 99th birthday.Hide Caption 50 of 51 Photos: The life of Queen Elizabeth II The Queen and Prince Philip look at a homemade anniversary card that was given to them by their great-grandchildren Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis in November 2020.Hide Caption 51 of 51Is she still as relevant as she was? Well, that will be tested later this year when the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) hopes to capitalize on the fallout from “that” interview with Meghan and Harry. “The royal family has always been presented as the Rock of Gibraltar for all constitutional monarchies,” ARM chairman Peter FitzSimons told The Sydney Morning Herald, where he is a columnist. “What we in fact see is extreme dysfunction and possible racism.” FitzSimons said the group plans to unveil its preferred constitutional changes to sever ties with the royal family by the end of the year.Many countries have dropped Elizabeth as their head of state after gaining independence. But when it comes to Australia, the Queen famously survived the last referendum on replacing her as head of state in 1999 and that was just after the Diana crisis. Has the Meghan and Harry interview done her more harm? It’ll be left for Australians to decide, but if history teaches us anything, it’s never to underestimate the power of Elizabeth. NEWS OF THE WEEK Diana’s legacy to be honored in London The late Princess of Wales is getting one of London’s famous blue plaques later this year. The sign will be placed outside Coleherne Court, her old apartment building in Earl’s Court, west London, where she lived with girlfriends before marrying Prince Charles. Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, thanked English Heritage — the charity that oversees historic buildings and the commemorative plaque project — saying it was “such a very happy place” for his sister. The tribute will no doubt be special to her family as Diana is being recognized in the year in which she would have celebrated her 60th birthday. Before marrying Prince Charles, Diana Spencer, pictured in 1980, lived at Coleherne Court in London. Archbishop gives more insight on Meghan and Harry’s weddingThe Duke and Duchess of Sussex were legally married at their televised wedding, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby confirmed this week. His remarks shed more light on a comment made by Meghan in the recent Oprah interview, where she mentioned a backyard wedding in the days before the big event on May 19, 2018. “The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offense if I had signed it knowing it was false,” Welby said in remarks reported by Italian newspaper La Repubblica and confirmed to CNN by Lambeth Palace. “So, you can make what you like of that. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday, but I won’t say what happened at any earlier meetings,” the archbishop added.The royals also had lockdown projectsWhether it’s baking, redecorating or learning a new skill, many have found new projects to take advantage of the endless hours indoors — including the Duchess of Cambridge. Catherine has spent the last year working on her own passion project — combining her love of photography with community outreach. Last year, she invited people across the UK to submit portraits they had taken during the first national lockdown as part of her “Hold Still” initiative. With the help of the National Portrait Gallery, 31,000 submissions have been whittled down to 100, which will be published in a new book in May, it was announced this week. The duchess wrote in the book’s introduction that she “wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing — to capture individuals’ stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic.” View this post on Instagram
FROM THE ROYAL VAULT The Queen has revealed her sadness over having to cancel the traditional Royal Maundy service for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. As “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” the Queen ordinarily marks the Holy Week with a service held on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. This year’s event was supposed to be held at Westminster Abbey in London. Instead, the monarch sent out gifts to the 190 people who would have been invited this week. “I am sure you will be sad, as I am, that present circumstances make it impossible for that Service to take place. I hope however that this Maundy Gift will remind you for years to come that your efforts have been truly appreciated,” the Queen wrote in a letter to each recipient. The Royal Maundy service is an ancient ceremony that dates back to 600 AD and, for Christians, remembers how Jesus washed the feet of disciples at the Last Supper. The Queen observes Maundy by offering gifts to senior citizens put forward by local clergy of all denominations in recognition of their service to the church and to the local community. During the Queen’s reign, she extended the ritual of Maundy money beyond London and has traveled to different cathedrals and abbeys across the United Kingdom to distribute the symbolic gifts. As part of the service, Elizabeth hands out two leather purses which have been blessed: One red and one white.Examples of the two purses that the Queen distributed during the Royal Maundy Service in 2013. The red pouch this year includes two newly minted coins: A £5 coin in honor of the Queen’s upcoming 95th birthday as well as a 50p piece that marks the 50th anniversary of decimalization of the currency. Historically, the amount of £5.50 represents the sovereign’s gift for food and clothing. The white purse holds bespoke Maundy money minted for the occasion in denominations of one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, which add up to her age. Customarily, the Queen celebrates Easter weekend privately with her family at Windsor Castle — where she has been holed up with her husband, Philip, and a bubble of their staff since the virus struck last year. We usually get a glimpse of the monarch as she attends church on Sunday morning at St. George’s Chapel — the beautiful chapel that was constructed in the late 15th century and is still the scene of many royal baptisms, weddings and burials — accompanied by some members of the clan. But the traditional family gathering is unlikely to happen this year, with Covid-19 restrictions preventing more than six people or two households meeting up. The last traditional Maundy service was held at St. George’s Chapel on April 18, 2019 in Windsor.The Queen may opt to worship privately — which she does at the Chapel of All Saints, near Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge home in Windsor Great Park — but she will certainly forego the usual trip to St. George’s to avoid drawing any crowds. In lieu of public appearances, it’s possible we may still hear from a member of the royal family. Prince Charles has often recorded special Easter messages to mark the holiday, including participating in the “Abbeycast” podcast last year and sending a supportive video message to people persecuted for their faith in 2018. A WORD FROM THE ROYALS
“How much we’ve missed it and how much we’re looking forward to being able to have that collective experience again.”
Prince Edward marks World Theater Day on March 27 The pandemic has forced the arts to explore the digital realm like never before. And while the online landscape has allowed global theater to present some virtual offerings, many fans — including the 57-year-old Earl of Wessex — are looking forward to the day they can return to playhouses.
400 Bad Request
400 Bad Request