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2015 – A look back at the royal year

As 2015 comes to an end, we take a look back at a milestone year for the Queen with her becoming Britain’s longest reigning monarch. 2015 also welcomed new arrivals to the family, and the Queen went back to Malta, a place she holds close to her heart.

In September, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest reigning monarch, overtaking Queen Victoria’s record of 64 years. It was business as usual for the Queen as she undertook a day of engagements in Scotland, opening the new Borders Railway at a ceremony in Tweedbank Station.

The 89-year old monarch did however, take some time to reflect back on her years on the throne in an unprecedented speech to the crowd gathered at the station.

Modestly, she said: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones; my own is no exception”

She added: “I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages and great kindness.”

In 1952 at the age of 25, the then Princess Elizabeth’s father, King George VI died. Since then Her Majesty unsurprisingly has become the most travelled monarch in history.

This year was no different with her undertaking two state visits, despite her turning ninety next year.

In June, the Queen and Prince Philip visited Germany and toured the Bergen-Belsen memorial site, which was a Nazi concentration camp between 1941 and 1945. The site has been one of international remembrance since the Second World War ended, in remembrance of the 70,000 plus people who died there.

The other state visit took place in November when she visited Malta to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Her Majesty officially opened the meeting in the country’s capital Valletta, where at a banquet, she met the leaders of all 53 Commonwealth countries.

Both the Queen and Prince Philip were particularly pleased to be back on the Mediterranean island again, as it is a country they have deep connections with.

The Queen and Prince Philip lived on the island before King George VI died. More recently, the royal couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on the island in 2007.

Without a doubt the standout moment of 2015 for royal watchers around the globe was the arrival of a new member of the royal family on May 2nd this year.

Weighing 8 pounds and 3 ounces, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby girl in the care of St Mary’s Hospital. Outside the now infamous Lindo Wing doors, royal fanatics from across the globe were camped out for weeks to try and get a first glimpse of Prince George’s new sister.

Photo Credit: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

Photo Credit: HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

Two days after the birth, it was announced that the baby’s name would be Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, in tribute to the variety of people who have influenced William and Kate’s life.

It is believed that Charlotte is partly in tribute to Kate’s mother Carole, and sister Pippa Middleton, who both share the middle name ‘Charlotte’. It could also be in recognition of Prince Charles as Charlotte is the female variant.

Elizabeth is both Kate’s middle name and a tribute to William’s grandmother the Queen. And the name Diana was chosen in poignant memory of William’s mother who was tragically killed 18 years ago in a car crash in Paris.

After the birth, the Cambridge family retreated to Norfolk hoping to live a life where they can raise the children out of the public eye. The next time we saw Princess Charlotte was at her Christening which took place at St Mary Magdalene church on the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

Whilst in Norfolk William got a job as an East Anglian air ambulance pilot. As part of this job he flies helicopters on missions whilst earning a £40,000 salary which he donates to charity.

Despite the family living on the secluded Norfolk estate, their privacy was still very much at risk as members of the press overseas were reportedly using covert methods to try and get photos of the children.

Some of the techniques used to take photographs of the children reportedly included using other children as decoys to lure Prince George out into the camera’s shutter.

This led to a strongly worded statement being released from Kensington Palace, on behalf of William and Kate which spoke about “their ability to provide a childhood for Prince George and Princess Charlotte that is free from harassment and surveillance.”

Whereas Prince William got a job this year, his brother Prince Harry left his. After spending a decade in the army, the Prince’s armed forces career ended as he spent more time on other projects, including the Invictus Games and his charities including Sentebale in Lesotho.

Prince Harry left the army this year after a decade of service [photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc]

Prince Harry left the army this year after a decade of service [photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc]

2015 was also important year for Britain’s relationship with China, of which the royal family played an important part.

Relationships between the two countries have previously been strained, a situation not helped after Prince Charles once called Chinese politicians “appalling old waxworks”, and Prince Philip described Beijing as “ghastly”.

Despite this, a new relationship has emerged after the Duke of Cambridge undertook an official visit to China earlier in the year. The trip was arranged to promote Chinese and British business relations and innovation.

The links between the two countries were further strengthened after the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, visited the United Kingdom on a state visit in October.

Here the Chinese president was treated to a state banquet with the Queen and the members of the royal family in attendance. This was also of importance as it was Duchess of Cambridge’s first state banquet.

One Noticeable absence however was the Prince of Wales. No reason was given for his absence, but it was speculated that his relationship with the country had not yet fully healed.

In 2015, the Prince of Wales continue to fight for the environment and tackled climate change. He spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December, and was a key player towards getting a global agreement on how to combat climate change.

It was also a year of controversy however for the heir to the throne. In May, the so-called ‘black spider memos’ were released to the public which showed revealed correspondence the prince had with government ministers.

Much to anti-monarchy groups’ disappointment though, the much anticipate letters showed nothing controversial at all. Later on in the year it was revealed that Charles and his son Prince William also had access to government papers, although they did not influence them.

To end the year off, just as she does every year, Her Majesty the Queen broadcast a Christmas message in the United Kingdom and around the Commonwealth.

Recorded at Buckingham Palace, the 2015 Christmas message features The Queen’s reflection of events which have happened over the past year, as well as looking on forwards.

Her Majesty spoke of the troubles that people have been subjected to from the past year and quoted a verse which she said gave hope.

She said: “It is true that the world has had to confront moments of darkness this year, but the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope often read at Christmas carol services: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’”.

You can watch the speech in full by clicking here