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The Cambridges

A look back at the Cambridges’ year


Photo: Kensington Palace

January

Our coverage of William and Kate began with birthday tributes as Kate celebrated her 39th birthday on 9 January. We looked at some of her best style moments and shared 39 facts about the future queen.

In phone calls with NHS frontline workers, William revealed that he spoke about their important work with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. Later in the month, William and Kate talked about grief and grieving with frontline workers.

When The Queen and Prince Philip announced they’d received their vaccines, William told frontline workers he was “very proud” of them doing so. Kate praised nurses for going “that extra mile” in a video call with nurses at the University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire.

As lockdowns continued and the royals relied on video calls, it was revealed that William and Kate had been using Sandringham as their base, with The Queen’s permission. The Cambridges isolated at their Anmer Hall home on the Sandringham estate.

In honour of Burns Night, the Cambridges joined a video call with Scottish healthcare workers to celebrate. Kate later joined two Holocaust survivors for a poignant video call to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. She told them: “The stories you both have shared with me again today, and your dedication in educating the younger generation about your experiences and the horrors of the Holocaust shows extreme strength and such bravery.

“It’s so important and so inspirational, so thank you so much once again for sharing your stories with me and for all the work you do in sharing your experiences.”

After homeschooling her children, the Duchess hopped on a video call with other parents to talk about homeschooling and parenting during the pandemic, noting: “I know how challenging it is juggling work, home life, school life, and everything else that you as parents are doing, so really well done.

“Fingers crossed, let’s hope for the positivity as you’ve all been saying. Make sure everyone looks after themselves — it’s very hard to prioritise, but it’s definitely needed now more than ever.”

Still from Royal Family/YouTube

William took to Twitter to voice his support for black footballers who had been targeted by racists online, tweeting: “Racist abuse – whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media – is despicable and it must stop now.”

And to close out the month, Kate shared a video encouraging children to express themselves ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week. She said: “Find those ways in which to share your thoughts and your feelings or find someone to talk to because we really do need to be the very best versions of ourselves for the children in our care.”

February

As the Cambridges’ 10th wedding anniversary crept up, we started looking at their first decade of marriage, including a review of Kate’s royal style from the book The Duchess of Cambridge A Decade of Modern Royal Style by Bethan Holt. (We also noted our own favourite style choices Kate’s made in the last ten years.)

Kate praised the work of teachers during the pandemic, telling them “you are doing an amazing job,” while William praised young environmentalists who’d been named the UN Environmental Programme Young Champions of the Earth. Continuing their promotion of nurses and nursing, William and Kate spoke with nursing students from Ulster University in Northern Ireland, calling it one of the UK’s most trusted professions.

The Duchess shared that she supports families up and down the country in a video call with families supported by the Little Village baby bank.

In a historical touch, a distant relative of Prince William’s was poised for sainthood by Pope Francis; in a political touch, William appointed a former staffer of Prime Minister David Cameron as his Private Secretary.

With Prince Philip’s health in decline at the start of the year, William provided a brief update on his grandfather’s health following his sixth night in hospital. Once the COVID-19 vaccine became more widely available, the Duke joined the rest of the Royal Family in visiting vaccine centres.

Photo: KensingtonRoyal/Twitter

It was announced that William had made a personal donation to the Thin Green Line Foundation’s Fallen Ranger Fund after six rangers were killed by poachers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And finally, William voiced the necessity that we need to be careful where we get our information about the coronavirus and vaccines during a video call with people with long-term health conditions who have been shielding during the pandemic.

March

To promote Shout, their text line that provides 24/7 mental health support to those in need, William and Kate spoke with a teen who’d used the service.

As Harry and Meghan told their truth in an interview with Oprah, with tidbits shared about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (including that Kate had made Meghan cry during the bridesmaids’ dress fitting), we covered some of the revelations.

Ahead of Commonwealth Day, we looked at Kate’s fashion hits at the service. Ahead of International Women’s Day, Kate spoke with a 21-year-old rower who’d completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 70 days.

William became the first member of the Royal Family to publicly comment on Harry and Meghan’s interview with the short statement, “We’re very much not a racist family.” Once The Queen commented with her “recollections may vary” statement, we examined how William’s statement was much more hard-line than his grandmother’s.

The Cambridges visited a school in East London to see their mental health initiatives the day after the bombshell interview. As news was released about the statue of Diana, Princess of Wales, that was revealed on 1 July, it was announced that William and Harry would put on a united front.

Kate made a low-key and unannounced appearance at the memorial to Sarah Everard to pay tribute to the young woman who’d been murdered by a police officer. Later in the month, the Police Commissioner was asked if she’d broken gathering rules by attending (the UK was still under serious restrictions at the time, and the Commissioner argued that Kate hadn’t broken any rules as she’d attended in a work capacity).

William spoke with Syrian aid workers about their work throughout the pandemic; he also praised the BBC’s correspondent for the way he’d covered Prince George’s birth in 2013.

Prince William was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, an important role given to him by The Queen. He’d been due to act in this role in 2020 before the pandemic saw its cancellation.

Kate announced that a book based on the Hold Still photography exhibit was to be published—she wrote its foreword—and William…was voted the internet’s sexiest bald man.

April

Sadly, Prince Philip passed away in April at the age of 99. William and Kate paid tribute to his late grandfather, calling him “an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support The Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

Photo Credit: The Duchess of Cambridge

Following Prince Philip’s funeral, it was reported that William, Charles and Harry had their first face-to-face meeting since the Oprah interview. Later in the month, William and Kate carried out an engagement with the Air Force Cadets in Prince Philip’s memory.

As Prince Louis turned three, William and Kate released a new snap of the toddler taken by his mother. William made phone calls to NHS carers to personally thank them for their work. He also waded into the European Super League row. After the England teams withdrew, he released another statement praising the move. Later in the month, he honoured those who served and sacrificed on ANZAC Day.

Photo by The Duchess of Cambridge/Kensington Palace via Getty Images

On 29 April, William and Kate celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, which we covered extensively. There was an opinion piece on how to fundraise to support Baby Basics UK as a way to celebrate; a look at engagements the couple carried out in County Durham to see how funds from their wedding fund had been used; new pictures to mark their anniversary, and a look back on their wedding day.

We also looked into where the members of their bridal party—many of them teenagers now!—are today. We re-shared this Royal Wedding Rewind article of their wedding day; examined Kate’s wedding dress in detail; and William’s uniform, too. We gave some coverage to Kate’s often-neglected second wedding dress; looked into the wedding lace; examined what Carole Middleton wore; shared this opinion piece on a royal watcher’s decade of engagement thanks to William and Kate; and looked at who attended the wedding from foreign royal families.

Our reporter Sydney did a countdown of 10 important Cambridge moments; and the day was completed with William and Kate sharing a family video to mark ten years together, heavily featuring Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

May

We remarked, once again, how much Princess Charlotte resembles William when her sixth birthday snaps were released.

Photo: Duchess of Cambridge via Getty Images

Wading into new social media territory, in early May, William and Kate launched their own YouTube channel; and William saw first-hand the work of volunteers during a visit to Northern Wales.

Kate began releasing videos of her calls with ‘Hold Still’ participants, the most famous among them with a young girl named Mila Sneddon, who asked Kate if she was wearing a pink princess dress. The Duchess promised Mila that she’d indeed wear one when they met (they’d meet in July). Another call saw her talking with the photographer behind the ‘Forever Holding Hands’ portrait.

William paid tribute to a police officer killed in the line of duty. We reviewed a True Royalty documentary about Kate; and Jason Knauf, a long-time Kensington Palace staffer (and the one who’d launched the bullying complaint against Meghan) stepped down following a new job opportunity.

William and Kate visited Wolverhampton; and it was later announced that Kate’s portraits of Holocaust survivors would appear in an exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. Ahead of William’s turn as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the palace announced a week-long tour of Scotland.

Kate visited the Victoria & Albert Museum after it reopened; William received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (the image went viral); and following the release of the Dyson Report (examining the role the BBC played in getting Diana, Princess of Wales, to agree to the now-infamous 1995 Panorama interview), William released a blistering statement condemning those at fault.

At the end of the month, William began his tour of Scotland; undertook a football engagement (naturally); and spoke of his personal memories of Scotland in his opening ceremony speech at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

As the Duke and Duchess were returning to the source of their romance—which began at university—we looked back at their university romance. William shared a pint with first responders while watching the Scottish Cup Final; and later shared ice cream (and some flirting!) with residents of a care home facility.

William spent the Sunday of his Scottish week with faith-based groups, and ahead of an engagement with Fields in Trust, we looked at his links (and those of his late grandfather’s) with the charity (he and Kate later opened a new green space). We also looked at his and Kate’s roles with NHS Charities Together ahead of another such engagement.

To mark the end of the Nursing Now Campaign, Kate released a video message praising the role of nurses. As she joined William in Scotland, the focus shifted towards community support organisations and opening a hospital.

The royals then hosted a movie screening at the Palace of Holyroodhouse; returned to the University of St. Andrews, where it all began; met with fishermen; and tried their hands at land yachting on the beach in Fife.

To end the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, William gave another speech, saying: “As I sat in Canongate Kirk last Sunday listening to Neil Gardner’s sermon, I felt particularly fortunate that my week as Lord High Commissioner coincides with Pentecost. A week that celebrates the way in which the Holy Spirit kindled within Jesus’s early followers a desire to learn from others – whose tongues they could now understand – and to share far and wide the Christian message of love and service. I have kept this message at the forefront of my mind all week.”

Kate had her face-to-face meeting with Mila Sneddon at the Palace of Holyroodhouse (yes, in a pink dress) and then closed her time in Scotland with a bit of tennis with some local youth players.

@KensingtonRoyal/Twitter

After returning to London, Kate received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and William’s private meeting with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown came into question.

June

As part of the Royal Family’s delegation to the G7 Summit, William and Kate attended a series of events in Cornwall, including Kate’s meeting with US First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for an early years engagement.

Kate’s long-time bodyguard was honoured in The Queen’s Birthday Honours; and mid-month, Kate launched the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

We looked back on the last year in William’s life as he celebrated his 39th birthday on 21 June; and Kate spoke of the importance of children’s hospices as the UK marked Children’s Hospice Week. 

Kate enjoyed playing with spiders during a visit to the Natural History Museum; and a new patronage was announced for Kate when one of her older ones merged with The Forward Trust.

Looking ahead to Prince George’s birthday in July, we learned that he’d been informed of his future status on his last birthday. William announced that London would host the inaugural Earthshot Prize awards ceremony (we looked at the princess and future queen who inspired the name of the ceremony’s venue, Alexandra Palace).

Days before the Diana statue was unveiled, Kensington Palace released notes about the private engagement; and Kate was announced as the ship sponsor of the still-under-construction HMS Glasgow, an important role given to her by The Queen (William shared the news during a visit to the shipyard). If you’re wondering what a ship sponsor is, we covered that, too!

As Euro 2020 got underway, William and Kate took their oldest football fan, Prince George, to the England vs. Germany match.

July

As Diana’s statue was revealed, we covered the ‘private’ event at Kensington Palace, and noted the joint statement William and Harry released to the public about their mother. “We remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” they said.

i-Images/ Pool

As Wimbledon continued, Kate attended matches and joined out-going Wimbledon President, the Duke of Kent, in the royal box. She helped the Wimbledon chefs prepare the iconic strawberries and egg sandwiches for spectators; but sadly, by the end of the week, was forced into self-isolation after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Cambridges were due to celebrate the NHS’s 73rd anniversary together; however, after Kate went into self-isolation, William attended the events solo. We covered the Buckingham Palace Garden Party here.

William, meanwhile, was full of praise for his chosen sport. He praised England’s football team after they defeated the Ukraine; and attended the England vs Denmark match (also attended by the Danish royals), which England won. Ahead of the Euro Final, William released a video message telling the team to “Bring it home.”

After completing her self-isolation, Kate was able to attend the Championship weekend, and was spotted with William and a host of tennis champions in the Royal Box. She also presented the Ladies’ Singles trophy to Australian Ashleigh Barty.

The Duchess of Cambridge and her father, Michael

On the final Sunday, Kate and her father, Michael Middleton, attended the Men’s Singles championship. With the Duke of Kent announcing his retirement as Wimbledon’s President, and the bulk of royal duties being shifted to Kate for future years, I wrote about how Wimbledon is safe in Kate’s hands.

William, Kate, and Prince George attended the Euro Final, where, sadly, England lost to Italy in penalties. And ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, William recorded a video with Welsh boxer Lauren Price, who was about to compete in her first Olympics (spoiler: she won a gold medal).

Photo: The Duchess of Cambridge

Prince George celebrated his eighth birthday at the end of July, and his new official portrait (snapped by Kate) had us doing a double-take with his uncanny resemblance to William!

August

As the royals went on vacation in August, it was a quiet month on the news front. We wondered if William would ever become Prince of Wales; and picked our favourite fashion looks from Cambridges’ first royal tour in 2011.

Kate’s portraits of Holocaust survivors were chosen to appear in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum (she would visit the collection in November). And to support the Big Butterfly Count, Kensington Palace released a new portrait of Princess Charlotte with a butterfly.

@KensingtonRoyal/Twitter

William announced his support for a new youth empowerment strategy from the Diana Awards, and at the end of August, there were rumours that William and Kate planned to move to Windsor to be closer to The Queen.

September

William’s Earthshot Prize announced a new Global Alliance of partners to support the winners and finalists with their projects. We also learned that William personally intervened to help get an Afghan soldier and his family out of Afghanistan.

As rising tennis star Emma Raducanu began dominating the US Open, Kate sent a message of support to the teenage phenom. We also looked back at William’s career as an air ambulance pilot; and his visit to the Dockhead Fire Station in South London for 999 Day. Prince William also attended the Who Cares Wins Awards, which we covered here.

Kate’s younger brother James was married in France, which we covered. We also wondered why we hadn’t seen Kate out on royal duties in a while.  

It was announced the next day that Kate would meet with the soldiers who helped evacuate Afghanistan; and her visit to RAF Brize Norton was covered in full here. Kate also spent a day away in the Lake District meeting with Holocaust survivors and Holocaust-related projects; and later hosted a reception for Hold Still partners.

In the foreword to a new book about The Earthshot Prize, William wrote: “I strongly believe that change is possible.” The next day, he announced the first 15 finalists for the inaugural Earthshot Prizes—including an entire country, a city, and a 14-year-old girl.

William’s visit to the Dulwich Hamlet Football Club was an opportunity to discuss the ongoing Fan Lead Review of Football Governance with players and fans. Kate’s visit to the National Tennis Centre was an opportunity to celebrate the UK’s biggest tennis champs (including Emma Raducanu), all of whom had just won trophies at the US Open.

With the return of movie premieres came the return of royal red carpets, and William and Kate lit it up at the No Time To Die premiere in London with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

(Yes, we all gushed over Kate’s golden gown.)

September closed with a visit to Northern Ireland that included petting spiders and playing rugby.

October

Kate continued her research on the early years with a visit to the University College London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies to learn about a study of children born in the 2020s.

William, meanwhile, gained global attention for calling out billionaires engaging in space tourism and encouraged them instead to focus on solving the planet’s problems first. Of all people, Star Trek actor William Shatner was one of the most vocal respondents to William’s comments, saying, “He’s a lovely, gentle, educated man, but he’s got the wrong idea.”

Later, William and Kate attended a Generation Earthshot event in Kew to hear from children about how we can all work to save the planet.

Ahead of the first-ever Earthshot Prize ceremony, Prince Charles paid tribute to his son’s visionary work. We also covered William and Kate attending the Earthshot Prize ceremony at the Alexandra Palace in London.

Kate, meanwhile, gave a keynote speech at the launch of the Taking Action on Addiction campaign, saying: “No one chooses to become an addict. But it can happen to any one of us. None of us are immune.”

On the royal fashion front, we picked our favourite of Kate’s hats; and we revealed how No Time To Die star Rami Malek surprised Kate with a question he asked her.  

November

William and Kate were in Glasgow for the start of COP26, joining the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. While at COP26, William met with the Earthshot Prize winners and finalists; and Kate held an event with the Scouts.

Prince Charles led the Royal Family delegation at COP26, which also included meeting with dignitaries at a reception. And later, William praised the Earthshot Prize winners who’d travelled to Glasgow to meet with those poised to help their projects.

William held his first Investiture ceremony since the pandemic began in mid-November, awarding an MBE to Marcus Rashford. Meanwhile, Kate opened two exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum, and met with the Holocaust survivors she once photographed.

With The Queen unable to attend Remembrance Sunday events, it was up to the rest of the Royal Family to lead the nation. William took the salute at the Cenotaph on behalf of his grandmother; and Kate met with a 98-year-old veteran and a 10-year-old Cub Scout to discuss the importance of Remembrance while commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.

William and Princess Anne pulled double duty at Windsor Castle holding Investiture ceremonies; and then William and Kate enjoyed a night out on the town, attending the Royal Variety Performance. William continued his work combatting the illegal wildlife trade with a visit to Microsoft HQ; and later attended the Tusk Conservation Awards.

William ended the month with the launch of Blue Light Together, a mental health service for emergency responders; and Kate went back to school for a lesson on neuroscience and the early years. We also pondered if Camilla’s proposed title—Princess Consort—would restrict Kate from being named Queen Consort in due time.

The month ended with the announcement that Kate would host a Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey in early December, to be televised by ITV.

December

December began for the Cambridges with a visit to refugees from Afghanistan, whom William met at a hotel in Leeds. Kate visited the V&A to view the new Fabergé exhibit.

In an episode of Apple Fitness+’s ‘Time to Walk‘, Prince William opened up about his mental health, his favourite songs, and shared tidbits about his life. With the revelation that Princess Charlotte is a Shakira fan, we covered how the singer was ‘pleased’ to hear that she has a royal fan.

We covered ‘Together at Christmas‘, Kate’s carol service at Westminster Abbey; we covered William inviting BBC Radio’s Teen Heroes to Kensington Palace; and we covered the Cambridges’ new Christmas photo, taken earlier this year in Jordan. ITV presenter Kate Garraway shared behind the scenes details of Kate’s Christmas service; and we covered how The Queen quietly lent her support to the carol service with the gift of Christmas trees.

As ‘Together at Christmas’ aired on Christmas Eve, Kate surprised audiences by accompanying musician Tom Walker on the piano for a special performance of his new song, ‘For Those Who Can’t Be Here.’

With Omicron derailing Christmas plans, the British royals spread out for Christmas. The Cambridges stayed in Norfolk and attended a Christmas service at St Mary Magdalene’s Church on the Sandringham Estate.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.