The Queen’s year has a seemingly unalterable shape to it and yet each twelve months is peppered with differences while staying true to the tradition that has made it so familiar. The past twelve months has brought a busy public diary for Elizabeth II while behind palace doors, the Head of State has carried out a ceaseless string of audiences and meetings. There have been investitures, Privy Councils, the presentation of credentials by ambassadors and long lines or receptions for charities and organisations. And on top of that are the public appearances that link the Queen to her kingdom. Here’s a look back at the royal year.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh began 2018 at Sandringham in Norfolk. Both were seen attending church services throughout the month while the Queen made her traditional visit to West Newton Women’s Institute, where she is a member. Meanwhile, millions across the UK tuned in to a special BBC programme marking the 65th anniversary of the Coronation during which the Queen spoke to Alastair Bruce about the event and viewers got to see the Monarch getting to grips with the most famous Crown in the world again.
The queen of the catwalks looked ever so slightly star struck in February 2018 when Anna Wintour welcomed Elizabeth II to London Fashion Week and caused a right royal debate by not removing her famous sunglasses for the meeting. The month also saw Her Majesty visit the Royal College of Physicians to mark its 500th anniversary and begin a year of events marking the centenary of the Royal Air Force with a trip to RAF Marham. Back at Buckingham Palace, the Queen hosted a reception celebrating the achievements and contributions of the Commonwealth Diaspora.
The Commonwealth would play a huge role in the Royal Family’s year and, as usual, March saw the Queen lead the whole Royal Family (including Meghan for the first time) at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. The Queen also welcomed leaders from around the world to London for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where Elizabeth II gave her full public backing to the Prince of Wales becoming head of the organisation when he is king. That was sanctioned at the meeting, marking a major constitutional and personal moment for the Queen in 2018.
Elizabeth II also saw another of her sons take on an important role in March as the Duke of York became Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, an event marked with a parade at Windsor Castle. There were a series of engagements for the Queen in Windsor during the month and the Maundy Service also took place there, at St. George’s Chapel, as HM spent her Easter break at the castle.
The Queen celebrated her 92nd birthday on April 21st and was joined, on the day, by many members of her family for a concert at the Royal Albert Hall where she was serenaded by Ed Balls on the ukelele before rolling her eyes at the Prince of Wales referring to her as ”mummy” in his speech. The following day she was up bright and early to officially get the runners under way at the London Marathon. The month also saw HM present a new standard to the Royal Tank Regiment, of which she is Colonel in Chief, at a special ceremony at Windsor Castle.
April was also the month that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh became great grandparents for the sixth time as the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to Prince Louis on April 23rd 2018.
May, of course, saw more personal happiness for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as they celebrated the marriage of their third grandson, Prince Harry, to Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. HM and HRH attended the ceremony and the afternoon reception for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex on May 19th 2018.
The month also brought the familiar sight of the Queen visiting the Chelsea Flower Show and the start of the garden party season with the doors of Buckingham Palace thrown open to thousands of specially invited guests. The Queen also hosted a reception for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, of which she is patron, welcoming some of those who have been recognised for their bravery to her London home.
June marked the Official Birthday of the Queen with Her Majesty taking part in Trooping the Colour. Her whole family, including the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Sussex, joined her on the balcony of Buckingham Palace afterwards for the flypast. Meanwhile, birthday celebrations for the Duke of Edinburgh were more low key when he turned 97 in June.
The Queen was also accompanied by Meghan on a day of engagements in Cheshire during June with the two royals travelling up to the county the night before on the royal train.The Queen also attended the races at Epsom and Royal Ascot and led the traditional Order of the Garter ceremony at Windsor this month. The Prince of Wales accompanied his mother on another special engagement as they visited Westminster Abbey where Elizabeth II officially opened the Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
However, June was slightly less busy than usual for the Queen in 2018 as there was no State Opening of Parliament. However, she and the Duke of Edinburgh welcomed a seventh great grandchild when Zara Tindall gave birth to a daughter, Lena Elizabeth, on June 18th.
All eyes were on Windsor in July for one of the most highly anticipated events of the Queen’s year – the visit of US President, Donald Trump. The meeting made headlines around the world with the image of President Trump appearing to momentarily lose his way during an inspection of the guard talked about for weeks afterwards. There was another big talking point in July, too, as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh decided not to attend the christening of Prince Louis of Cambridge, held on July 9th 2018.
There were more RAF centenary celebrations this month with many members of the Royal Family joined the Queen at a special service at Westminster Abbey and then on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch a flypast. The Queen also travelled to Scotland for ‘Holyrood Week’ which included a garden party, the traditional Order of the Thistle ceremony and the presentation of a new standard to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
The Queen also found time to welcome the King and Queen of the Belgians to Windsor Castle for an informal meeting during July.
August and September
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent the hottest summer the UK had known in years at their official Scottish residence, Balmoral. The Queen attended the annual Braemar gathering during her stay with her eldest children, the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal.
There were more family celebrations for the Queen and Prince Philip in October when their third granddaughter, Princess Eugenie of York, got married to Jack Brooksbank. The ceremony, at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, on October 12th 2018 was also the first public meeting between the Duke of Edinburgh and Sarah, Duchess of York for several years. The family celebrations continued just days later when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirmed that they were expecting a baby, an eighth great-grandchild for the Queen and Prince Philip.
RAF centenary celebrations continued and the Queen came face to face with herself during an engagement linked to the anniversary. During a visit to the RAF Club, she viewed a new portrait of herself by Benjamin Sullivan. October’s other engagements included a day in Bracknell and a visit to Schroders in London to tour their new building. The Queen also hosted her only incoming State Visit of the year when she welcomed King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to Buckingham Palace for a two day stay.
November, as always, was dominated by Remembrance commemorations which this year had an added poignancy as the centenary of the end of World War One was also being marked. The Queen watched the Remembrance Sunday service from a balcony overlooking Whitehall while the Duke of Edinburgh missed the event for the first time in years. Her Majesty also led her family at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh marked their 71st wedding anniversary in November, just days after celebrating their eldest son turning seventy. The Queen hosted a party for the Prince of Wales and attended by European royals as well as other family and friends. King Harald V of Norway accompanied the Queen on a visit to the Anglo Norse Society during his stay in London while HM’s other engagements in November included a day at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
As they year wound to an end, the Queen carried out a Christmas engagement laden with personal symbolism as she spent time at the children’s charity, Coram, an organisation she first visited in 1936 with her grandmother, Queen Mary. The Queen also visited the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn with Prince Andrew before heading off for her Christmas break at Sandringham by train where she joined the Duke of Edinburgh.
The final act of her royal year, the Christmas Speech, saw the Queen urge everyone to put aside ”deeply held differences”, seen by some commentators as a reference to the ongoing divisions caused by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, an event due to happen in 2019. No doubt the Queen will find her ministers asking her advice during that political change during the audiences and meetings that fill her diary behind closed doors. But the year to come will also bring a new member of the family as well as an agenda that shows signs of change but that remains, in many ways, eternally familiar.