Royal Reminiscence: Memorable Moments Over the Past 15 Years of Zoomer

Zoomer Royals 15th

Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family stand on the balcony during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant, Buckingham Palace, June 5, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool/Getty Images

On the 15th anniversary of Zoomer magazine, we look at the ups, the downs, the triumphs and tragedies of the past fifteen years for the British Royal Family.


Fall, 2008: A New Generation of Starry Young Royals Comes of Age

“Oh to be young, social and in love,” was how British Vogue termed the experience of Kate Middleton, recent-ish grad of St. Andrew’s, partying the night away in the fall of 2008. She and Prince William, who had been involved since their shared time at university, had briefly broken up in 2007, but both were back in London and frequenting tony nightclubs Boujis and Mahiki, dancing the nights away with Prince Harry as trusty sidekick. A new generation of royal watchers have been treated to blurry limo backseat TikTok images of the now Waleses. Today, they are in crisply professional working royal form. But at the end of the noughties, Kate and William were social butterflies. Dubbed Waity Katie by the tabloids, Kate kept busy as an accessories buyer and at her family’s now-defunct Berkshire business, Party Pieces.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony at Buckingham Palace on their wedding day, April 29, 2011. Inset, top: Kate Middleton arrives at the Day-Glo Midnight Roller Disco at The Renaissance Rooms in London on Sept. 17, 2008. Inset, bottom: Kate attends the after party following the opening night of AFRIKA AFRIKA at the O2 Arena, Jan. 17, 2008, London. Photos: Getty Images


That all changed, and fast, with the couple’s engagement (in secret, on safari in Africa, with Diana’s famous sapphire ring) and the frenzy built into a spectacular wedding at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. Prince Harry was the best man. Things looked like they were going swimmingly for the monarchy, as the then second in line to the throne settled into a honeymoon period in Anglesey, Wales, where William worked as a helicopter rescue pilot.

Meanwhile, Harry served in two deployments to Afghanistan (in 2007/08 and then again in 2012/13). During his second tour, he was an Apache helicopter co-pilot and gunner, who said in his 2023 memoir Spare that he gunned down some two dozen Taliban militants at the time.

Zoomer 15th
Prince Harry patrols through the deserted town of Garmisir, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 2, 2008, . Photo: John Stillwell – POOL/Anwar Hussein Collection/WireImage/Getty Images


Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics

The year 2012 was a huge royal moment. The Diamond Jubilee led straight into the Summer Olympics in the British capital. Prince Philip was ailing that year, and was hospitalized midway through the 60th anniversary of Elizabeth’s reign, but the magnificent show went on. The surprise video of the Queen with actor Daniel Craig, depicting the James Bond character, both seeming to jump out of a helicopter and into the Olympic Stadium showcased the monarch’s brilliant, bone-dry wit.


The Lindo Wing

The heir to the throne for the current generation was born on July 22, 2013. Prince George Alexander Louis was presented to the world in the arms of his mother, Catherine, on the same steps that Diana, Princess of Wales had presented her first born, William, the heir of the previous generation, 31 years prior. 

His sister, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, was born a. little less than two years later, on May 2, 2015. The Cambridges moved to Anmer Hall, the Norfolk country estate presented to them by the Queen upon their wedding, to spend the nursery years with their first two children, relatively out of the public eye.

Left: Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales leave St Mary’s Hospital with baby Prince William, June 22, 1982. Photo: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images. Right: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and their newborn son, Prince George of Cambridge leave the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s hospital, July 23, 2013. Photo: Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images


Meanwhile, Harry, whom we later learned was struggling through this period following his deployment and retirement from military service, launched his lasting legacy, the Invictus Games (IG), in 2014, a global initiative for wounded veterans that grows bigger every year. Canada, in fact, has played a role in IG, with Toronto playing host in 2017 (where Harry and Meghan made their first public appearance as a couple); Canada will again host the games in 2025 in Vancouver-Whistler.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the Wheelchair Tennis competition on Day 3 of the Invictus Games Toronto, Sept. 25, 2017. Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images


Then in 2016 a new phenomenon rocked royal watchers: The Crown launched a whole new (fictionalized) review of the House of Windsor, both romanticizing the reign of Elizabeth II and spiking pop culture with some gossipy tidbits that rocked the royal boat. (Season 6, which features both the death of Diana and the early romance of William and Kate, is set to upset apple carts again sometime this fall.)

The third child of William and Kate, Prince Louis Arthur Charles, arrived on April 23, 2018. Louis has since emerged as a charming royal asset: just four years old at his great-grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, then five for his grandfather’s coronation, Louis has provided a much-needed dose of sassy and relatable levity to the very formal proceedings.

Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Louis and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge watch a flypast from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during Trooping the Colour, June 2, 2022,. Insets, top to bottom: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis ride in a horse-drawn carriage with their mother, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Queen Camilla during Trooping the Colour on June 17, 2023; Prince Louis watches an RAF flypast on June 17, 2023; Prince Louis ‘thumb’s his nose’ and sticks out his tongue at his mother as they attend the Platinum Pageant on June 5, 2022. Photos: Getty Images


The Sussex Wedding

When Harry met Meghan, the arrival of an American actress girlfriend onto the scene was like lightning striking the royal rota press corps. As the whirlwind relationship progressed to an engagement — and Meghan gave up her role on the U.S. cable drama Suits — the excitement for a very different kind of royal wedding reached a peak. Meghan was a breath of fresh air for the monarchy; she was seen as a way the ancient institution could ease into the modern age. American, divorced, biracial and a successful career woman, Meghan had experience in philanthropic work and a proven work ethic. The wedding, upon which the pair was made the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, took place May 19, 2018. It was a moment of great hope for the monarchy. 

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex during their carriage procession, Castle Hill, Windsor, May 19, 2018. Photo: Aaron Chown – WPA Pool/Getty Images


A honeymoon period wherein the two sons of Diana and Charles were paired up with their wives as the “Fab Four” — working together on the HeadsUp mental health initiatives — was very short-lived. Behind the scenes, as we later learned from Harry and Meghan’s tell-all Oprah interview, their Netflix series and Harry’s memoir, things were in tatters. Meghan announced her first pregnancy on the eve of the couple’s tour of Australia. 

The Sussexes had presented Prince Archie Harrison  to the world a few days after his birth on May 6, 2019. By the time of their second tour, to South Africa when Archie was five months old, the cracks in the Sussexes’ relationship with both William and the Royal Family as a whole were on public display.

Harry and Meghan pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor at St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, May 8, 2019. Photo: Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Images


Andrew’s Epstein Scandal and Megxit

The end of 2019 shaped up into another annus horribilis for Queen Elizabeth and her heir, then Prince Charles. First, Andrew imploded in epic and ugly fashion in the most ill-advised press interview of all time. On national TV (seen around the world in a heartbeat), Andrew baffled viewers by obfuscating about his friendship with convicted American pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, as well as allegations of him having underage sex with Epstein employee Virginia Guiffre (accusations he later settled out of court for financial compensation to the victim without admission of guilt).

Andrew was immediately censored, losing his business development position at Pitch at Palace; all his patronages and his very HRH status were stripped by the Queen herself in 2022 following his settlement with Guiffre in a New York court.

Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey accompanied by Prince Andrew, Duke of York for the Service of Thanksgiving for The Duke of Edinburgh, March 29, 2022. Photo: Richard Pohle – WPA Pool/Getty Images


Then, if possible, an even bigger hurricane hits Buckingham Palace. Harry and Meghan unilaterally announced they were leaving their roles as senior working roles. After a period of negotiations, the palace does not accept as plausible their initial plan of maintaining some royal duties and dividing their time between the U.K. and North America. Soon after, the pair boards a plane to Canada, and then to Meghan’s home state of California, as a pandemic drops a big blanket onto the world.


A Beacon of Light and Leadership

The pandemic may go down as the Queen’s finest moment. In television broadcasts that hearkened back to the wartime broadcasts of her father, George VI, and of her own 21st birthday pledge to serve her country for the whole of her life, whether it be long or short, Queen Elizabeth was the steadying force her nation, the Commonwealth and it would not be a leap to say the entire world when she spoke in the darkest early days of the pandemic. Her very longevity — the fact most all of us had never known a world without her in it — was a comfort. So too were her words, reflective of a life of service. She quoted Vera Lynn, the songstress who buoyed courage in the Second World War with her lyrics “We will meet again” in the very moment we were all isolated from each other.

The pandemic also cast Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, Anne, Edward and Sophie into the spotlight. The new “slimmed-down” monarchy was part of the long-dreaded but long-planned transition to Charles’ rule. Reading the republican tea leaves, the mood of his nation and the economic perils on the horizon, Charles knew the public would want to see some clear and dramatic signs of cost-cutting. Slashing the civil list was a natural first step. So too was closing ranks after the ignominious forced departure of Andrew and the painful rift with Harry and Meghan. 

It soon became apparent that the breach between Diana and Charles’ sons, who were once inseparable, was bigger than previously thought. Fault isn’t the issue: the real sadness is the distance between the princes. The unveiling of a statue in Diana’s honour that the boys had commissioned years before devolved into the most awkward photo op ever with the two facing in opposite directions on the 25th anniversary of their mother’s death.

Prince Harry, and Prince William attend the unveiling of a statue of their mother, Diana, at The Sunken Garden in Kensington Palace on what would have been her 60th birthday, July 1, 2021. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/POOL/AFP/Getty Images


Platinum Jubilee in June; Funeral in September

What a heady roller coaster 2022 was for the British monarchy, and for the world. The Jubilee, although with the ailing Queen in sparse attendance, was a magnificent success of community and celebration. The Queen managed a few, key moments, most notably on the balcony at the end of the long weekend of festivities.

Queen Elizabeth watches from the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade, June 2, 2022. Photo: Jonathan Brady – WPA Pool/Getty Images


Still, some of the arrangements leading up to the big June event were marred by poor planning and a misjudgment of the mood, especially in some quarters of the Commonwealth. A tour William and Kate took of the Caribbean was marked by protests and some feet-in-mouth photo ops. After Barbados declared itself a republic the year before — with Prince Charles in attendance, alongside Rihanna — the writing was on the wall. More Commonwealth nations were considering their position on the monarchy. 


The Coronation of King Charles and Acceptance of Queen Camilla

The coronation ceremonies for King Charles III and Queen Camilla this past May were deliberately scaled down from past coronations, in light of the economic stressors in Britain following its split from the European Union in 2020 and knock-on pandemic economic costs. The ceremony, the first most of us have seen in our lifetime, still included plenty of signature British pomp and stagecraft, as well as some solemn religious moments. 

The next generation was very much in the foreground. William and Catherine, as well as George and Charlotte (who both had also attended the Queen’s funeral) were front and centre, the future path of the House of Windsor line on view. In fact, George served as pageboy, a high-profile role for a young man of then still nine years of age.

(L-R) Lady Louise Windsor, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, Princess Charlotte of Wales, Anne, Princess Royal, Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince Louis of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Page of Honour Lord Oliver Cholmondeley, Prince George of Wales, Page of Honour Nicholas Barclay, Page of Honour Ralph Tollemache, King Charles III and Queen Camilla on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, May 6, 2023. Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images


The promise of a bright, fresh and different future for the monarchy is incredibly important. Leger recently released new polling data indicating that 63 per cent of Canadians feel it is time to rethink ties to the monarchy. However, Governor General Mary Simon said on the occasion of the first anniversary since his accession that King Charles’ demonstrations of commitment to the environment and Indigenous reconciliation warranted our faith in the new monarch. “We had already seen His Majesty’s keen interest in Canada and issues of common concern, such as climate change, diversity and inclusion, and education.” The Wales family is the future. 

Meanwhile, we can hope that the Montecito wing of Charles’ line is now out of grenades. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have absolutely been victimized by a royal tabloid press that has been guilty of not just racism towards Meghan, but also of slanting and planting negative stories about the Sussexes in retribution for their leave-taking of senior working royal status. That said, the volleys of very public accusations the Sussexes have made against Harry’s family and the institution as a whole have been painful and, as the Queen herself said, “recollections may vary.”

In the end, after a dramatic 15 years of generational waves of change and shifting relevance have shown, the House of Windsor still has our full attention. Let’s just hope going forward it will be for the right things, good public works and acts of service and building community, rather than for infighting, gossip and scandal.