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A look back at the York Family’s tumultuous year – a time filled with joy, heartbreak and dilemma

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank
Princess Eugenie Instagram

One could say it has been quite a busy year for the York family with both highlights and some more difficult moments. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie both welcomed their first child, Sarah, Duchess of York, published another book, and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, found himself dealing with legal issues in the United States. With 2021 coming to a close and 2022 upon us, Royal Central is taking a look back at the year the York family had in 2021.


Sarah, Duchess of York, has been writing children’s books and nonfiction novels for years. In January, she announced the publication of her debut historical romance, Her Heart for a Compass. Published in August, the book is a fictional account of the life of Sarah’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. At the time of the book announcement, the Duchess said: “I have long held a passion for historical research and telling the stories of strong women in history through film and television. I am proud to bring my personal brand of historical fiction to the publishing world.”

Upon its 3 August release, the novel placed 10th in the United Kingdom’s hardback fiction bestsellers chart after it sold 1,079 copies in the week ending 14 August 2021. In the novel’s first week, it sold 1,241 hardback copies.


On 9 February at 8:55 a.m., Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank, became parents for the first time as they welcomed their son August Philip Hawke Brooksbank. The first grandchild of the Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York, Philip was born at Portland Hospital in London, weighing 8 lbs and 1 oz. He was also The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s ninth great-grandchild and, at the time of birth, eleventh in line to the British throne. However, as of December 2021, he is now 13th in line due to the birth of Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor, the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Miss Sienna Mapelli Mozzi, the first child of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.


In an interview discussing her work with the anti-slavery organisation she co-founded, Princess Eugenie shared her hopes for her newborn son in the future in an interview with CNBC’s Finding Solutions with Tania Breyer: “I think my child, hopefully, will be one of those people who will continue to see the world as a place that can be changed. I would love people to continue to have hope that we can make a difference. I hope that the world will be a place where my child can have hope and continue to know that they can make a big difference.”

During the month of March, Eugenie celebrated her 31st birthday 23 March by releasing new images of her family. In her message, the Princess wrote: ”Thank you for the birthday love yesterday! I got the best present I could ask for.” The post was just hours after Eugenie’s cousin, Zara Tindall, announced the birth of her own son, Lucas Philip Tindall, who was born on 21 March.


April would be a more quiet month for the Royal Family as the country mourned the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke passed away at the age of 99 on 9 April at Windsor Castle. Following his death, the Duke of York paid tribute to his late father during a candid moment outside a private service at The Royal Chapel of All Saints of Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park.

Speaking with Sky News, the Duke said: “It’s a total loss. My father said to me on the telephone a few months ago that we are all in the same boat and we must always remember that. My father’s death has bought home to me not just our loss but actually, of the loss, everybody else has felt for the people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic.

“So we are all in the same boat… we are all feeling a great sense of loss. At the same time, the tributes have been absolutely amazing. The messages I am getting are absolutely outstanding. I just want to say how grateful we are for these tributes. He was a remarkable man. I loved him as a father; he was so calm...”

Princess Eugenie would also share a message to the late Duke and her grandfather on social media. Her statement read:

“Dearest Grandpa, We all miss you. You would be so touched by all the tributes that have been shared with me the past few days...

I will remember you in your children, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Thank you for your dedication and love for us all and especially Granny, who we will look after for you.

“With all my love, Eugenie.”

Leading up to the Duke’s 17 April funeral at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, speculation began on whether or not The Queen would let the Duke of York attend the funeral service wearing full military attire. According to the Daily Mail at the time, Andrew wanted to attend the funeral as an Admiral, despite only holding the rank of honorary Vice-Admiral. The decision was also hanging under the backlash the Duke received from his friendship with former financier Jeffrey Epstein. In the days leading up to the funeral, Her Majesty denied the request to wear an Admiral’s uniform. The monarch then took things a step further, declaring none of the royal guests would be in military dress for the service.

After the national mourning period following the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, a security scare was reported in Windsor at the Duke of York’s home. Security officers at Royal Lodge granted a woman access to the Duke’s residence after she told them she had a lunch appointment with the 61-year-old. The woman, who claimed she was engaged to the Duke, even managed to persuade the guards to pay for her taxi fare.

The woman, who identified herself as Irene Windsor, was eventually detained by palace staff and arrested on suspicion of burglary. She would later become sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the matter.


Right before summer, Princess Eugenie announced the launch of a special Summer Art Auction to raise money for Horatio’s Garden, a charity that creates gardens in NHS spinal injury centres. This is a subject close to her heart as she underwent surgery in 2002 to correct scoliosis; the sale featured more than 50 pieces from leading UK artists.

During the month of May, Eugenie’s older sister, Princess Beatrice, announced she was expecting her first child with her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, whom she married the summer prior. At the time of the announcement, the Royal Family released a statement on the news: “The Queen has been informed, and both families are delighted with the news.”

Sarah, Duchess of York, stayed busy as she began a campaign to save more than 80 historic trees around her childhood home in Dummer. The trees and childhood memories helped inspire her book, The Enchanted Oak Tree. A petition was started to prevent the destruction next to a warehouse site. The petition gained more than 104,000 signatures.


On 17 July, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi celebrated their first wedding anniversary. The couple got married at the Royal Chapel of All Saints, Royal Lodge, Windsor, in a private, intimate ceremony in 2020. Among the guests included Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The bride wore a remodelled Norman Hartnell dress that was loaned by The Queen and the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, which The Queen also wore on her wedding day.


On 3 August, Sarah, Duchess of York’s debut historical romance based on the life of Sarah’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott, was published across the globe.

August would prove a busy month for the Duke of York and legal matters. In early August, a civil lawsuit was filed in the United States by Virginia Giuffre, which accused Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was 17-years-old. Ms Giuffre claimed she was a victim of convicted sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein who killed himself in prison in 2019. The lawsuit alleges the Duke – who has consistently denied all accusations and has never been charged with a crime – sexually abused Ms Giuffre on several occasions when she was under the age of 18. In a 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight, Andrew said he had no recollection of ever meeting Giffure.

During an August visit to Poland, Sarah, Duchess of York, made headlines after she said she still stands by her marital vows to Prince Andrew. Talking about her 1986 wedding, the Duchess said: “When you make that commitment, you decide to marry a prince,” the 61-year-old told Polsat News. “And I fell in love with him. He was a sailor; he is still. He was a helicopter pilot and was also a prince.

“I kept my commitment, no matter what. People said: you got divorced. They don’t know how I feel. Divorce is one thing, but my heart is my oath, my obligation.”


On 18 September 2021, Princess Beatrice announced the birth of her daughter, Sienna Elizabeth Mapelli Mozzi. Born at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, Sienna was born at 23.42 and weighed 6 pounds and 2 ounces. As of December 2021, Sienna is currently 11th in the line of succession. She is also the 12th great-grandchild for The Queen, and the second grandchild for the Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York.


As for the Duke of York in autumn, Metropolitan Police ended an investigation into the actions of the Duke that was prompted by the case of Virginia Giuffre. The review began in August 2021 when Ms Giuffre says she was trafficked to London at the age of 17 by financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and forced to engage in sexual acts with the Prince.

The police issued a statement upon the closure of the investigation, saying: “As a matter of procedure, MPS officers reviewed a document released in August 2021 as part of a US civil action. This review has concluded, and we are taking no further action.” Buckingham Palace had no comment on the matter.

Later that month, lawyers acting on behalf of the Duke asked a judge to keep a 2009 legal agreement sealed. The request was made following submissions by the Duke’s lawyer that claims the deal can protect the Duke against a lawsuit claiming he sexually assaulted Ms Giuffre. The request asked that any information made during his arguments that reveal information in the agreement should be redacted.

A US judge ruled the Duke has until the middle of July 2022 to answer questions under oath in the civil sexual assault case filed by Ms Giuffre. She is seeking unspecified damages from the royal. In the scheduling order, lawyers for both parties signed, and a judge ruled a pretrial order was due by 28 July 2022. No other parties were allowed to join the case after 15 December.

At the very end of October, in a court filing, the Duke asked a US judge to dismiss the civil lawsuit. The filing note argued the case should be dismissed because Ms Giuffre did not state a claim warranting relief, going on to add that if the dismissal was not granted, she should be required to provide a more definitive statement of her allegations.


November kicked off with celebrations in Windsor after August Brooksbank and Lucas Tindall were jointly christened at All Saints Chapel, Royal Lodge. The private ceremony was attended by members of the Royal Family and close friends. After an enforced period of rest following medical advice from doctors, Her Majesty was able to attend the service.

Near the second half of the month, George Brooksbank, father-in-law to Princess Eugenie, died at the age of 72. It’s understood George had been in poor health since earlier this year when he contracted the coronavirus. George was born in February 1949 and worked for many years as a chartered accountant.


On 8 December, Princess Beatrice and Edo joined Princess Eugenie and Jack to support the Duchess of Cambridge’s first community carol service at Westminster Abbey. They joined other members of the Royal Family for the programme that was filmed by ITV and will air on Christmas Eve.

About author

My name is Sydney Zatz and I am a University of Iowa graduate. I graduated with a degree in journalism and sports studies, and a minor in sport and recreation management. A highlight of my college career was getting the chance to study abroad in London and experiencing royal history firsthand. I have a passion for royals, royal history, and journalism, which led me to want to write for Royal Central.