Many consider 2021 to have been another annus horribilis for the Queen, but over the 70 years of her reign Her Majesty has faced numerous challenges. Despite the difficulties and the huge loss she has recently experienced, the monarch has followed the wise advice of her mother and taught herself to focus on the positive. In 2021 that was the birth of four great-grandchildren: August Brooksbank, Lucas Tindall, Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor and Sienna Mapelli Mozzi.
August and Lucas were christened on 21 November at the Royal Chapel of All Saints, in the grounds of Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park. August, the nine-month-old son of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, should have been christened in July but the event had to be postponed because one of the guests had a Covid-19 scare. After Zara Tindall gave birth to her son Lucas in March, the two families eventually decided it might work to have a joint christening as there would be a greater chance of the Queen being able to attend one event instead of two.
Fortunately, Her Majesty had recovered from the sprained back that prevented her from attending the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph the previous weekend. She had fully intended to be in Whitehall, having obeyed her doctors and taken a fortnight’s rest, but at the last minute the journey to London was deemed unwise. The Queen has missed only six other Cenotaph ceremonies so far during her reign – on four occasions when she was overseas and in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and then Prince Edward.
The Queen was well enough to host a family lunch at Windsor Castle before the double christening. The private ceremony was conducted by Canon Martin Poll, who is Canon Chaplain to St George’s Chapel, Windsor and Chaplain to the Great Park. The service was attended byfamily members of both infants, including, it is believed, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. William and his cousin Zara have been close since childhood; as youngsters they behaved badly, flicking jelly at each other at smart tea parties and making a general nuisance of themselves.
The bond remains to this day, and William and Catherine made Zara a godmother to their firstborn, Prince George. Sadly for Princess Eugenie, her father-in-law George Brooksbank died a few days before his grandson’s christening after a long Covid-related illness.
Forty years ago, on 9 January 1982, Catherine Middleton was born at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. Turning 40 is sometimes an unwelcome milestone but in the last year the Duchess of Cambridge has forged the path she wants to follow and seems to be at the top of her game: her expertise and interest in the formative years of a child’s life will certainly shape her future work. Alongside her passion to expand the understanding of early childhood development, Catherine has a strong grasp of what is expected of her and her future royal role.
The forthcoming Platinum Jubilee year will put pressure on the remaining working members of the House of Windsor but there is little doubt they are all immensely proud to be assisting the Queen in her monumental year.