A version of this story appeared in the December 30 edition of CNN’s Royal News, a weekly dispatch bringing you the inside track on Britain’s royal family. Sign up here.
The writing was on the wall. Family reunions, legal troubles, fractured relationships and exiled royals – it was always going to be a tough 12 months for the House of Windsor. But nothing could have prepared Britain’s royal family for the realities of the past year and the seismic shifts it has endured.
2022 should have been a year of celebration, an opportunity to recognize the entry of Queen Elizabeth II into an exclusive club of world leaders who reached the historic milestone of 70 years of service.
For many Brits, the Queen was the only monarch they’d ever known but instead the summer’s Platinum Jubilee became a swansong that united thousands in London to celebrate her reign one last time.
Exuberant partygoers draped in Union Jack flags flocked to the British capital for the long weekend. As expected, the four days of pomp and pageantry were an eclectic and, at times, eccentric British spectacle. But concern for the Queen’s health cast a shadow over the occasion – a stark reminder that her presence was not everlasting.
With her ongoing health and mobility issues, she only appeared twice: once as events kicked off with the Trooping the Color military parade and at the pageant finale when she took to Buckingham Palace balcony for what would become the final time.
Just three months later, in September, crowds returned to the famous royal residence as the Queen once more united the nation – this time in grief at her passing.
With the end of the second Elizabethan Age came a long goodbye. Ten days of mourning and commemoration during which 250,000 people flocked to the Palace of Westminster to pay their respects as the late monarch’s coffin lay in state.
Among the mourners, presidents, prime ministers and dignitaries from around the world – 2,000 in all – came together for the Queen’s funeral. The mourning period saw a new King grieve publicly as individual family members paid tribute to the late monarch’s lifelong dedication and legacy.
The funeral arrangements, which had been the subject of much speculation for years, followed centuries of tradition, and allowed many both at home and across the Commonwealth and world to mourn the Queen’s death. Thanks to decades of meticulous planning, the dawn of the new Carolean reign saw Charles III quickly proclaimed before he embarked on a whistlestop tour of each of the UK’s nations.
Previously unresolved issues such as what kind of role his wife Camilla would have in the future monarchy had been settled by the Queen in the months before her death. One example was her wish for her daughter-in-law to be known as Queen Consort “when the time comes” in a statement issued in February, on the anniversary of her father’s death.