Like most of the world, The Royal Family has made drastic changes to their annual calendar this year in response to COVID-19. Many of the annual events that the royals and fans alike look forward to have been postponed or cancelled for 2020. While these events will hopefully be able to go on in 2021 as normal, here is a look at the royals calendar of events, both official and unofficial, for the first half of the year.
First Sunday Service
While first Sunday Service is by no means an official royal event, it is one that fans have come to expect through the years. Each year the Royals celebrate the Christmas Holiday at the Queens Sandringham Estate.
The Queen typically stays at Sandringham through the beginning of February and is typically only seen on her way to and from church service.
The first Sunday service is exactly what it sounds like, the first church service of each new year. For several years now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and some of their Norfolk friends) have joined the Queen for the service. As Royals typically only take two extended holidays (for summer and winter) the First Sunday Service is one of the few times the royals emerge in the new year.
One of my favorite annual events on the calendar each year, Commonwealth Day is one of only a handful of times we see most of the working royals together each year. Held on the second Monday of each March, the day is marked with a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the Commonwealth and its member nations. It is a chance to highlight the unique cultures of the independent and varied nations that make up the Commonwealth and it is used as an opportunity to come together to celebrate the bond that unites the 53 countries under the banner of the Commonwealth.
Irish Guards St. Patrick's Parade
St. Patrick's day is celebrated differently around the world with a day of drinking, parades and celebration of Irish Culture. For the Royal Family, this day is marked with a visit to the Irish Guards on March 17th each year.
The Duke of Cambridge is Colonel of the Irish Guards so he and his wife, The Duchess of Cambridge, have represented the Royal Family on this day since 2012. Catherine typically does the honor of fastening a shamrock to the Collar of the Irish Wolfhound Domhnall, the mascot of the guard since 1985. They then go and share a pint of Guinness (Catherine has opted for water some years due to pregnancy) and are able to talk to some of the soldiers and learn more about Ireland and the Irish Guard.
Royal Maundy Service
A special service in the Anglican Church, Maundy Thursday is held each year before Good Friday. The Queen, usually joined by other royal family members, attends each year to distribute "maundy money" as alms to recipients. The service is very important to the Queen as part of her devotional life. It is also the only annual occasion where the Queen visits others to give awards rather than recipients coming to her.
While Easter Service is a private affair for the Royal Family, members of the public can typically see them on their way into church as well as exiting. As the Monarch is known as "defender of the faith" and Easter is one of the most important days in the Christian Calendar, the Royal Family is almost always seen on this day. It is a more private affair for them so it is not unusual to see them laughing and talking on their way to church, allowing the public a rare glimpse into the family's personal relationships.
Anzac Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand each year on April 25th as a national day of remembrance. The Royal Family usually mark the day by attending a dawn service at Wellington Arch and a Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving. In addition to attendance at services they typically post a tribute to all those in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
The Queen has served as patron of the RHS since 1952 and is a regular attendee at RHS Chelsea. Since the RHS has a long history with the Royal Family, other working royals can be spotted at the show, enjoying the work of expert gardeners and picking up tips and tricks for their own gardens. In recent years the Duchess of Cambridge most notably designed her own garden for the show to encourage people to get Back to Nature.
The Queen hosts four garden parties each summer, three at Buckingham Palace and one at Holyroodhouse during Holyrood week. The Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family meet and learn more about the work that the guests do to benefit their community. Each summer over 30,000 people are invited to attend garden parties and the Queen has, on special occasions, hosted additional parties to mark important milestones.
The Beating Retreat is a ceremonial event with roots that date all the way back to the sixteenth century. It takes place each June for two consecutive evenings before the Queen's annual birthday parade, Trooping the Colour each June. Historically, it was used to signal to troops that they should retreat back to their castle, however, it is now a ceremonial practice that The celebrates military music and precision drills. Each year the Salute is taken by a senior member of the Royal Family.
Trooping the Colour
A favourite on the Royal Calendar, Trooping the Colour is an annual parade to mark the Sovereign's Birthday. The Parade includes over 1,400 soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians as well as a procession by the royal family down the Mall. Members of the Royal Family who hold honorary positions within a regiment will wear their respective uniform and ride horseback as part of the parade. While other members of the family ride in carriages, waving to crowds who gather for the spectacle. The Queen is the last carriage in the procession per tradition.
The parade is concluded with a fly past by the RAF that the royal family views from the Buckingham Palace Balcony. It is the only annual event of the year that brings together the entire extended royal family (and royal children) for a public occasion, making it a fan favourite.
The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior order of Chivalry in Britain. Created by King Edward III nearly 700 years ago, Garter Day is celebrated every June in Windsor with members of the Royal Family playing a pivotal role in the ancient tradition. As one of the most ancient surviving traditions of the royal family there are several traditionalist elements of Garter Day; the spiritual home of the Order being St. George's Chapel in Windsor where every knight displays their coat of arms.
There are currently 22 knights of the Garter who are all hand selected by the Sovereign for their work and service. There are also 8 Royal knights of the Garter as well as Prince Charles who is Royal Knight Companion of the Garter. Currently, At 37 years old, Prince William is the youngest Knight of the Garter who was also the 1,000th member of the order. The Duke of Edinburgh is the oldest Knight of the Garter at 98 years old.
Ascot is one of Britain's best known race courses and Royal Ascot has become an absolute favorite event every June on the Royal calendar. The Queen is a is an avid horse lover, a passion she shares with many other members of the Royal Family. Ascot Racehorse was founded over three hundred years ago by Queen Anne and eleven different monarchs have served as patron ever since. The Queen's own horses have won several races at Royal Ascot including when her horse, Estimate, won the Gold Cup in 2013.
While Wimbledon is not an official royal event, it has become expected to see several members of the royal family appear at the tournament each summer. The Duke of Kent is President of the All England Lawn and Tennis Croquet club while the Duchess of Cambridge serves as patron. The Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Edinburgh are also Honorary Life Members of the prestigious tennis Club.
The past two years the Duchess of Cambridge and Duchess of Sussex have attended together and the Duke of Cambridge is typically spotted in the stands towards the end of the tournament. In addition to royal guests, Wimbledon also sees plenty of celebrities and socialites in attendance for some of the best tennis matches in the world.
These annual events take place in addition to the Royals personal charity work and initiatives each year. Typically May and June is seen as the busiest time for Royal watchers due to the number of ceremonial and annual events that take place but their calendars remain full the rest of the year as well.
What are you favorite annual events in the Royals Calendar? Leave a comment below!