From Spare to King Charles' Coronation: The biggest royal stories of 2023

27 December 2023, 20:25 | Updated: 28 December 2023, 00:49

It's been a tumultuous year for the Royal Family
It's been a tumultuous year for the Royal Family. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

It has been a tumultuous year for the royal family, the first the Firm has had to endure without Queen Elizabeth II at the helm.

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While there have been plenty of revelations, not least in Prince Harry's explosive, tell-all autobiography Spare, there have been plenty of celebrations, too - including King Charles' Coronation.

Join us as we take a look back at some of the biggest Royal stories of the year, starting all the way back in January with the release of that explosive memoir from the Duke of Sussex.

Sex, drugs and a royal row - Prince Harry tells all in Spare

Prince Harry's tell-all autobiography Spare
Prince Harry's tell-all autobiography Spare. Picture: Alamy

Harry's memoir, Spare, certainly promised a lot.

Written years after he and his wife, Meghan Markle, ditched royal life for California, Prince Harry set out to tell "his side of the story" in Spare, which was released in January 10.

It contained a series of explosive allegations about the royal family, including King Charles, Queen Camilla, and Prince William.

In the book, the Duke claimed he was shoved to the ground in a heated argument with Prince William, one of just a series of claims made about the brothers' relationships.

The Duke of Sussex also said Charles made a joke about who his father was amid the rumours about Diana and James Hewitt, and spoke about a spat between Meghan and Kate over a "baby brain" comment.

Prince Harry did not just speak about his relationship with other members of the family, but much of his personal life too.

He admitted to taking cocaine, losing his virginity in a field, and revealed how many members of the Taliban he had supposedly killed (25).

For the rest of the royals, it was business as usual, with no official comment on Prince Harry's autobiography from Buckingham Palace.

Prince Andrew 'thrown out of Buckingham Palace'

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew. Picture: Getty

While the start of January was dominated by Prince Harry's autobiography, the latter part of the month was all about Prince Andrew's living situation.

The Prince was reportedly told 'there is no longer any place for him at Buckingham Palace' and must look for a new place to live if he wants to stay in London.

A £369million, ten-year long renovation is under way at the Palace, which includes Andrew’s suite, known as the Chamber Floor.

It was the latest blow to be dealt the Duke of York, who also had his Buckingham Palace offices closed down last year.

Prince Andrew 'did not want to downsize' either after he was offered a place at Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan's old digs.

After their eviction, Harry and Meghan were reportedly offered Andrew's old flat at Buckingham Palace.

King Charles' historic Coronation

It was a historic day on May 6
It was a historic day on May 6. Picture: Alamy

As we said, there were celebrations as well as revelations, including the historic Coronation, which took place on May 6 this year.

While Meghan decided to give the event a miss, Prince Harry did attend, sitting in the third row.

Thousands packed into the streets of London to watch the King's big day, with hundreds sleeping in tents overnight on the Mall.

King Charles could be seen uttering the words 'thank you' to son William, as the historic Coronation ceremony got underway at Westminster Abbey.

Meanwhile, the royal children - especially Louis - went viral once again with their antics over the weekend.

It concluded with performances at King Charles' Coronation concert, including from Katy Perry, Take That, and Lionel Richie.

There were tributes to Charles and the late Queen by Prince William, who gave a speech at the concert to the delight of Kate and their children.

Harry and Meghan involved in 'near catastrophic' paparazzi chase in New York

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the night of the car chase in New York
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on the night of the car chase in New York. Picture: Getty

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Meghan's mother were involved in a 'near catastrophic car chase' in New York, a spokesman for Prince Harry has said in May.

Prince Harry’s spokesman said the couple were in a “relentless pursuit” by paparazzi that lasted over two hours after an award show in the city.

The couple are said to have been left "extremely upset and shaken" after being chased by around six ‘blacked out’ vehicles, according to reports in the US.

The couple left the award show in an SUV, but at some stage during the chase switched to a New York Taxi.

According to the New York Post's Page Six, a source claimed one cameraman hit a car, while another almost ran over a NYPD officer, during the “near-fatal” chase.

Prince Harry's security court challenge

Prince Harry
Prince Harry. Picture: Alamy

The Duke of Sussex brought legal action against the Home Office over the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) about his security provisions.

After Prince Harry announced he would be stepping down as a working member of the Royal Family in January 2020, the Home Office removed the Duke’s taxpayer-funded security.

Ravec decided that Harry should no longer receive the “same degree” of protection when visiting the UK following his decision to step down.

Harry was granted permission to challenge the decision in July 2022, initiating his legal fight with the Home Office.

He wants to overturn the ruling that saw his security provisions decreased and his lawyers have argued there was a lack of transparency over the decision.

The Government is opposing Harry's case, saying he is treated in a "bespoke manner", with his security provision considered by Ravec in "appropriate circumstances".

The London hearing started this year and a large part of it is set to be held in private, without the press or public present, due to confidential evidence over security measures being involved in the case.

Prince Harry's explosive phone-hacking statement

Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in his libel case against Mirror Group Newspapers over alleged phone hacking
Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in his libel case against Mirror Group Newspapers over alleged phone hacking. Picture: Alamy

In June, Prince Harry made a series of explosive claims in his witness statement as he gives evidence as part of his phone hacking case against the Daily Mirror publisher.

In the statement, Harry addresses a series of controversial figures and rumours from James Hewitt to his mum's former butler Paul Burrell.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Sussex also launched a scathing double attack on the "rock bottom" government and the press, who he says are "in bed together".

The duke accused the press of seeking to try and break up any new relationship he got into "by putting as much strain on humanly possible".

Harry says this has continued, even now he is married to Meghan Markle.

Directly naming the Daily Mirror's former editor Piers Morgan, Prince Harry wrote in his statement: "The thought of Piers Morgan and his band of journalists earwigging into my mother's private and sensitive messages (in the same way as they have me)."

Meghan Markle accused of 'faking' interviews with guests

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. Picture: Alamy

Meghan Markle was accused of "faking" some of her interviews with guests for the Archetypes podcast, which has recently been axed by Spotify.

Meghan was accused of getting producers to interview guests on the show, before having her own questions edited into the audio track.

Multiple sources told podcast-focused outlet Podnews that "some interviews on the show were done by other staffers, with [audio of Meghan’s] questions edited-in afterwards."

The report did not specify which interviews were edited this way, but journalist Alison Yarrow revealed last year that her interview on the show was conducted by producer Farrah Safarfi.

Ms Yarrow, who appeared on an episode about the origin of the word 'b****', hared an image of herself in front of a sign for the audio production company Gimlet, and thanked Ms Safarfi for being an "excellent interviewer".

The Crown Season 6 adapts Princess Diana's death

Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana
Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana. Picture: Alamy

In the new season of The Crown, Princess Diana returned as a 'ghost' after her death, offering support from beyond the grave to members of the Royal Family.

The sixth and final season of Netflix's The Crown covered events up to 2005, bringing the royals into the 21st century, though begins back in 1997, the year of Princess Diana's death.

The show immediately begins with a recreation of the moments before Diana's horrific car crash in tunnel in Paris, setting the first few episodes against the backdrop of her tragic death.

There are also flashbacks, detailing Diana's final eight weeks in the build up to the crash.

Omid Scobie's book 'Endgame' names 'royal racists' in Dutch edition

The controversial Endgame book by author Omid Scobie
The controversial Endgame book by author Omid Scobie. Picture: Alamy

Omid Scobie's book Endgame was pulled from sale last month after a Dutch translation accidentally named two royals accused of asking about Archie's skin colour.

The royal author, who is close to Meghan and Harry, includes a passage where he claims the Duchess of Sussex named members of the family who allegedly asked about it.

Two names were printed in the Dutch edition in what has been blamed on a translation error.

It has led to an order for thousands of copies of the new book to be destroyed.

The passage discusses letters written between Meghan and King Charles in which Meghan is said to have named the person.

A spokesperson for Dutch publisher Xander told the Mail: "[We are] temporarily withdrawing the book by Omid Scobie from sale. An error occurred in the Dutch translation and is currently being rectified."

Meghan has previously discussed the allegation during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Prince Harry awarded phone-hacking damages

High Court Rules In Prince Harry's Phone Hacking Lawsuit Against Mirror Group
High Court Rules In Prince Harry's Phone Hacking Lawsuit Against Mirror Group. Picture: Getty

Prince Harry was awarded substantial damages after a High Court judge ruled he was the victim of phone hacking by the publisher of The Mirror.

Mr Justice Fancourt said at the High Court that Prince Harry was the victim of phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and awarded him a total of £140,600 in damages.

The judge said there was “extensive” phone hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers from 2006 to 2011, “even to some extent” during the Leveson Inquiry.

The judge said Harry’s personal phone was targeted repeatedly between 2003 and 2009 and that 15 of 33 sample articles shown in court were ‘the product of phone hacking… or the product of other unlawful information gathering”.

A gleeful Prince Harry labelled the judgement a 'victory for truth'.

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