After a year where the pandemic changed how we lived and worked, 2021 saw the opening up of travel and the return of face-to-face engagements for Their Royal Highnesses. From the Scillies to Skye, Cookstown to Cambridge, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have returned to meeting people across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Prince of Wales had taken advantage of the lockdown to convene online leaders from business, charities, indigenous groups, and non-governmental organisations to address the issues around climate change. Now the world has opened up, His Royal Highness continues to convene meetings in this way but has also had a chance to do so face-to face.
As we approached the critical UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, The Prince’s fifty years of awareness-raising meant he was uniquely placed to focus the minds of world leaders on finding solutions. Under His Royal Highness’s leadership, more than 500 companies have now joined the Sustainable Markets Initiative, a collection of the world’s leading companies committed to transforming how we run our economy so that its focus is on Nature, People and Planet, rather than just profit.
"Your Royal Highness … I think you have been a prophet without honour for too long in this matter and you’ve been right for a very long time. Thank you for the leadership that you have shown, I am very grateful indeed.”
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister at COP 26 in Glasgow
His Royal Highness was invited to address both the G7 in Cornwall, as the whole Royal Family united to highlight the crucial issue of the planet’s future, and then the G20 in Rome where all the national Italian newspapers ran his editorial urging business and world leaders to take action.
“We need you badly. I’m not just saying it, you keep the whole thing going, that’s how it all started.”
President Joe Biden at bilateral with HRH The Prince of Wales
After His Royal Highness’s speech to the COP26 conference, The Prince of Wales spent the next five days in public and in private encouraging action, not words. On the Friday of the first week when most world leaders had left, The Prince hosted the world's Chief Negotiators, thanking them for their work and entreating them to keep going:
“There is a lot of anger and frustration out there.... please don't forget these people. Don't forget that it is their future, I promise you, that you hold in your hands.”
The Duchess of Cornwall has also used this last year to support the charities that are close to her heart, through visits, through private conversations, through raising awareness and through speeches.
The Duchess spoke movingly in an interview for the BBC with Gloria Hunniford about the effect Osteoporosis had on her mother and grandmother, and the simple actions that young women should take in order to protect themselves from this dreadful condition.
In November, Her Royal Highness gave her most powerful speech yet on the need for society to address the issue of violence against women, a cause she has supported for many years.
This time, The Duchess addressed a new audience:
“We need to get the men in our lives involved in this movement. We do not, in any way, hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we do need them all on board to tackle it”
The Duchess’ campaign to encourage literacy has gone from strength to strength with more than 140,000 now following “The Reading Room” on Instagram, which this year also launched a website. There were more than 25 thousand entries to the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and a rapturous welcome for the winners at the ceremony in St James's Palace, where The Duchess was supported by Geri Horner.
The Duchess’ passion for horse racing was highlighted in an interview for ITV and her love of dogs underscored when Beth, HRH's Jack Russell rescue dog beat the comedian Paul O’Grady’s dog in competition at Battersea Dogs Home.
Central to Her Royal Highness’ role is the support she provides The Prince of Wales in his duties, something recognised by Her Majesty in a tribute on Accession Day:
“When, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”
Her Majesty The Queen
Just as Their Royal Highnesses returned to travelling the UK, they also began their duties on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office again, undertaking international visits. Given His Royal Highness’s passion for the Planet, this came with a new commitment that, whenever supplies allowed, sustainable aviation fuel would be used in air travel.
Their first joint trip was to Egypt and Jordan, where alongside seeing both the Baptism site of Jesus and the Pyramids of Giza, Their Royal Highnesses highlighted issues close to their hearts. His Royal Highness led discussions on the challenge of Climate Change as Egypt geared up to take on the mantle from Glasgow of hosting the UN Climate Conference. Her Royal Highness met in Cairo with victims of domestic abuse, praising their courage.
A visit to the Republic of Ireland saw Their Royal Highnesses follow in the footsteps of Her Majesty as they took to the Rock of Cashel.
In an historic visit to Barbados, The Prince of Wales represented Her Majesty The Queen as the country became a Republic. The Prime Minister, Mia Motley, awarded The Prince of Wales the Order of Freedom of Barbados, saying he was a “man ahead of his time” particularly on climate change and championing of opportunity for young people with his Prince’s Trust.
Both Their Royal Highnesses continue to support the nation in their work at home; whether that is laying The Queen’s wreath on Remembrance Day; handing out Maundy money at the traditional Easter service; or supporting our Armed Forces, with Her Royal Highness becoming Patron of British Forces Broadcasting Service and giving her first speech as Colonel-in-Chief of the Rifles, a role she took on from the late Duke of Edinburgh and which she has described as “one of the greatest honours of my life.”
Throughout the year, The Prince and The Duchess maintained a focus on supporting refugees. Firstly, those fleeing the Taliban from Afghanistan, where The Prince continues to maintain contact particularly through his patronage, Turquoise Mountain. Since February 2022, there has been an additional focus on Ukraine.
The Prince also continues to remember those who have suffered from conflicts past. In a moving tribute, His Royal Highness commissioned 7 portraits of some of Britain’s last remaining Holocaust survivors, as a “permanent reminder” of the depths to which “humankind can fall”.
The year began with sorrow as The Prince marked the passing of The Duke of Edinburgh - an irreplaceable figure mourned by the nation and the family alike. As the year closes, the focus is on a happier family event, Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. As The Prince led the tributes and The Duchess helped the nation celebrate as Patron of The Big Lunch, both Their Royal Highnesses still found time to join in the festivities. Their recording of a special “Jubilee” party edition of EastEnders was a particularly memorable conclusion to the year.
Impressions on social media
Virtual events, briefings, and visits