It’s been a year of ups and downs for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex certainly shared the sweetest moment with the birth of their first child, son Archie, in May. And though they loved gushing about their little guy publicly, they did struggle in other aspects of their lives.
The couple received some criticism of their excessive use of private jets on their getaways with Archie. They also publicly sued the British tabloids and got vulnerable in the documentary special Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, showing that behind the scenes, things weren’t exactly picture-perfect for the pair.
Here’s a look back at the highs and lows for Meghan and Harry in 2019:
Meghan Markle Is in the ‘Happiest Period of her Life’ While Pregnant
The winter was a time of anticipation and excitement for Meghan Markle, who was enjoying her first pregnancy with Baby Sussex. At the time, ET’s royal expert Katie Nicholl told ET, "She has told friends that this is the most exciting [time], the happiest period in her life. I'm told that she is upbeat and that she is happy."
Meghan Markle Has Star-Studded Surprise NYC Baby Shower
Baby Sussex got lots of love from across the pond when Meghan traveled to New York City to celebrate with a sweet baby shower at The Mark Hotel, hosted by her tennis pro pal, Serena Williams. A-list guests included Amal Clooney, Gayle King, designer Misha Nonoo, Jessica Mulroney and more. The guests created flower bouquets that they later donated to pediatric cancer patients. Shortly after the event, King told CBS This Morning of the duchess, "She's very kind, she's very generous, a really, really sweet person. So I think her friends just wanted to celebrate her... It was a very, very small, private affair and just a very special time for her. Because having a baby is a great joy. Let's not lose sight of that."
After weeks of waiting and anticipation, Baby Sussex arrived on May 6. The little guy’s birth was announced by his proud dad, Prince Harry, who stepped out beaming to share the good news.
“Mother and baby are doing incredibly well,” Harry told reporters, smiling. “It’s been the most amazing experience I could ever possibly imagine…. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension, but we’re both absolutely thrilled.”
“It's magic. It's pretty amazing. I have the two best guys in the world, so I'm really happy," Meghan gushed at a small press conference. "He has the sweetest temperament."
Meghan Markle Makes Glowing First Royal Appearance Since Giving Birth at Trooping the Colour Parade
Talk about that new mom glow! Meghan looked stunning at the annual Trooping the Colour Parade in London in June. Just one month after welcoming Archie, the Duchess of Sussex shone in a navy ensemble and matching fascinator hat while sitting alongside her husband.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Exit the Royal Foundation to Create Their Own Organization
Branching off! After previously joining forces with Prince William and Kate Middleton, Harry and Meghan decided to divide and conquer with with a foundation of their own. They announced their decision to leave the Royal Foundation to create Sussex Royal, which will officially launch in 2020.
An official statement noted that Harry and Meghan and William and Kate are planning to “work together on projects in the future, including on The Foundation’s mental health program, Heads Together."
In addition to splitting from the foundation, Meghan and Harry also moved out of their residence at Kensington Palace, where William and Kate live with their three children. They upgraded to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, England, where the new family now spends the majority of their time.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Christen Baby Archie
In July, baby Archie was christened in a private ceremony at the Private Chapel in Windsor Castle. Members of the press were not invited to the occasion -- a break in tradition from the christenings of William and Kate’s three children -- but official photos were released shortly afterward. Prince Charles, Duchess Camilla, William and Kate all attended from the royal family, as did Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. And the late Princess Diana’s sisters, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Lady Jane Fellowes, both attended and appeared in the official photos. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were not in attendance, but they also did not attend last year’s christening of Prince Louis.
Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Have Play Date With Baby Archie and Prince Louis at Polo Match
Rift? What rift? It seemed that Meghan and Kate were bonding over being moms in July when they had a sweet play date with baby Archie and Prince Louis at the King Power Royal Charity Polo Day, where Prince Harry and Prince William were competing.
Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Attend Wimbledon Together to Cheer on Serena Williams
Double duchess power! After Meghan made one solo appearance to cheer on her pal Serena, she took in another match with her sister-in-law by her side this summer. The pair were all smiles as Meghan sat between Kate and her sister, Pippa Middleton.
An eyewitness told ET that "Kate, Meghan and Pippa looked like they were having a fabulous girls' day, laughing, chatting and enjoying tennis."
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Meet Beyonce and JAY-Z at Lion King Premiere
After earning a shout-out from Bey and Jay at the 2019 BRIT Awards earlier that year, Meghan finally came face-to-face with the American royalty at the London premiere of The Lion King. Beyonce called Meghan “my princess,” and ET learned that the duchess was actually “nervous” to meet the “Formation” singer. The event marked the duchess’ first red carpet appearance since giving birth to baby Archie, and they all appeared to hit it off on the carpet.
Despite covering magazines in the past, Meghan decided to let others take center stage when she guest-editing the September issue of British Vogue. The “Forces of Change” issue highlighted 15 impactful women on the cover and stories inside with the likes of Michelle Obama and Jane Goodall. Meghan also opened up about her experiences guest editing the fashion bible at a significant time in her life.
“I was about five months pregnant when this process began, and by the time you hold this issue in your hands, my husband and I will be holding our three-month-old baby boy in ours,” she wrote. “It’s a very special time for me personally, on so many levels; working with Edward and his team, both during my pregnancy and my maternity leave, has played no small part in that joy -- it has been a privilege to be welcomed and supported by this amazing team.”
Meghan Markle Celebrates Her 38th Birthday With a Private Trip to Ibiza and Nice
After a chaotic year, Meghan rang in her 38th birthday with a private family trip to Ibiza, Spain. But as details of the trip -- complete with private jets -- came to light, the Duke and Duchess were criticized by some for their lavish getaway and the environmental costs it came with. Family friend Elton John later came to the couple’s defense on social media, writing, “After a hectic year continuing their hard work and dedication to charity, David and I wanted the young family to have a private holiday inside the safety and tranquility of our home. To maintain a high level of much-needed protection, we provided them with a private jet flight. To support Prince Harry’s commitment to the environment, we ensured their flight was carbon neutral, by making the appropriate contribution to Carbon Footprint.”
Meghan Markle Makes First Trip Away From Baby Archie to Attend the U.S. Open
Following the backlash, Meghan flew commercial to New York City without baby Archie to cheer on her pal Serena in the U.S. Open. While there, she took in a yoga class and got some much-needed R&R.
And no sooner than it began, Meghan’s maternity leave ended in September with the launch of her Capsule Collection for the charity Smart Works. The collection, which featured work from a variety of designers and brands, helped women trying to get back in the work force dress for success. Meghan took a hands-on approach to the collection, selecting the collaborators and working on the photo shoots. And though it marked the technical end of her maternity leave, ET’s Katie Nicholl noted that she had been hard at work since Archie’s birth.
"Yes, she's been off since Archie was born in early May, but that laptop has never been too far out of reach. In fact, she's been quietly working a lot of the time," Nicholl said at the time. "She's been really heavily involved behind the scenes."
Royal Tour of Africa: The Highs and the Lows
In September, Prince Harry and Meghan traveled to Africa with baby Archie for their official Royal Tour. Harry was excited to introduce his young family to his “second home” in South Africa. Things kicked off on a high note with the royal couple dancing with locals and Meghan proudly calling herself a “woman of color” to the cheering crowd. The pair went on to gush about each other as parents and shared some sweet PDA moments.
In a rare interview, the couple seemed enthusiastic, with Harry saying, “We've been looking forward to coming to visit Cape Town -- [Meghan's] first visit, I love this place. And again, meeting the people, the energy, the fun, again the positivity, the optimism, the hope in the face of such incredible adversity. There are young people and older people, men and women trying to change what effectively has become the norm."
But despite all of the positive press and touching appearances, the couple ended the tour on a sour note when it was announced that they planned to sue the British tabloids.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Sue the British Tabloids
The announcement came on the penultimate day of their tour, putting the Royal Rota -- a team of certified reporters who cover the royals -- in an awkward position. In an official statement, the Duke and Duchess revealed they were planning to pursue legal action against Associated Newspapers, owners of the Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and more -- after the Mail on Sunday published a private, handwritten letter that Meghan wrote to her estranged father.
"As a couple, we believe in media freedom and objective, truthful reporting. We regard it as a cornerstone of democracy and in the current state of the world -- on every level -- we have never needed responsible media more," Harry said in an official statement. "Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences -- a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son."
Harry was later seen calling out a specific reporter on the tour when she tried to ask him a question about the news.
Documents were later released showing Meghan refuting “untrue and offensive” tabloid stories surrounding the letter, the renovations to Frogmore Cottage and more.
ITV's @tombradby spoke to Meghan as he gained exclusive access to the royal couple as they toured Africa for 10 days with their son Archie.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Participate in Vulnerable Africa Documentary
Shortly after they returned from Africa, a new documentary special was released, titled Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. But it quickly turned out that this was not the ordinary special. The couple got extremely candid and vulnerable on a variety of topics, from their treatment in the press to the rift between themselves and the Cambridges.
The special shocked viewers and the royal family alike as a tearful Meghan told the interviewer she was not OK.
"Any woman, especially when they are pregnant, you are really vulnerable, so that was made really challenging. And then when you have a newborn, and especially as a woman, it is a lot,” Meghan said of the negative media attention. “So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed, I guess thank you for asking, because not many people have asked if I am OK. But it’s a very real thing to be going through behind-the-scenes."
For more from the royals' banner year, watch the clip below: