2022 in review: Three prime ministers, the death of a monarch and a war in Europe | UK News
For most of us, 2022 has felt like more than just a year.
In the space of 12 months, the UK has had three prime ministers and two monarchs.
Russia went to war with Ukraine, causing a global financial and energy crisis, and after dominating our lives for more than two years, the coronavirus pandemic finally took more of a back seat.
So grab a cuppa, or mulled beverage, depending on the time of day, and let’s look back at what made the headlines this year.
The UK began 2022 still in the midst of the first Omicron coronavirus wave, with many having had what they hoped would be their first COVID-free Christmas in two years scuppered by cases.
But despite infections still being high, ministers reduced the legal isolation period from seven days to five on 17 January – and three days later removed the legal requirement to wear a face mask on public transport and guidance to work from home where possible.
Also in January, a Chinese Communist Party agent was revealed to have interfered in UK politics by making large donations to the Labour MP Barry Gardiner. Chinese officials denied Christine Lee was involved in any interference.
Down Under there was outrage after tennis world champion Novak Djokovic was given a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open – despite not meeting COVID vaccine requirements. He was eventually deported, missing the whole tournament.
Back home, the investigation into lockdown-breaking parties in Westminster carried out by senior civil servant Sue Gray was delayed by the Met Police’s own investigation.
An initial excerpt was published on 31 January, which forced then-prime minister Boris Johnson to apologise for breaking his own rules.
One you might have missed: A 24-year-old man, Jonathan Chew, from Essex, was jailed for eight weeks for harassing England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty in St James’s Park in London the previous summer.
At the start of February, West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma caused outrage when he was filmed kicking and slapping his pet cat.
He was later prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act and sentenced to 140 hours of community service.
The same month, Virginia Giuffre, the woman who accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her as a teenager, made the surprise decision to drop her US civil case against him and settle out of court.
The Duke of York, who had already had his military titles and patronages stripped, donated to her victims’ charity on top of his undisclosed settlement – reported to be up to £12m.
Days later, the Queen tested positive for coronavirus, with Buckingham Palace saying she suffered “mild cold-like symptoms”.
In a video call to COVID bereaved families later in the year, she admitted it “leaves one very tired and exhausted”.
On 24 February, Boris Johnson removed all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England, declaring it was time to start “living with COVID”.
It meant people were no longer legally required to isolate after contracting the virus and the end to universal free testing.
On the same day, Vladimir Putin’s troops crossed the border from Belarus into Ukraine as part of what he called a “special military operation”.
The UK, US, EU and others condemned the war, quickly imposing sanctions and offering military support.
Elsewhere, the showbiz world was shocked by the death of YouTuber and SBTV founder Jamal Edwards at the age of 31.
Edwards, who the likes of Skepta and Ed Sheeran thanked for their careers, had a heart attack after taking cocaine, a coroner later concluded.
One you might have missed: A mum called Jane went viral after she spotted radio DJ Greg James on a train from Edinburgh – but was too shy to approach him so texted her daughter to check it was him. Jane’s daughter tweeted him, James spotted the tweet, and quickly surprised her by asking: “Are you Jane?”
The Kremlin’s hopes of storming Kyiv and claiming a swift victory were dashed as Ukrainian troops held firm.
Despite suffering horrendous losses, citizens remained defiant, with many women and children trying to flee to other countries.
In the UK, economic sanctions were imposed on all Russian assets, including Chelsea Football Club – owned by oligarch and close friend of Mr Putin, Roman Abramovich.
Fans were dismayed as it left the club unable to sell any new match tickets, merchandise, or buy players.
On 17 March, after six years in a Tehran prison, Iranian-British dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned home to the UK.
She was accompanied by fellow detainee Anoosheh Ashoori, who had been held since 2017.
Emotional pictures of her being reunited with her husband Richard and daughter Gabriella were followed by claims she was made to sign a false confession in the presence of British government officials.
The last day of March saw the internet’s mouth drop when actor Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars for making a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Later described as “the slap heard around the world”, it saw Smith banned from Oscars ceremonies for the next 10 years.
One you might have missed: The Met Police were forced to apologise after an officer strip searched a black schoolgirl while on her period after wrongly suspecting her of carrying cannabis.
April was a big month for showbiz news, starting with the death of much-loved EastEnders actor June Brown at the age of 95.
Days later a High Court judge ruled in Ed Sheeran’s favour that he didn’t plagiarise grime artist Sami Switch in his song Shape of You.
The artist had claimed Sheeran’s lyrics were “strikingly similar” to his 2015 song Oh Why.
In the US, David Beckham’s eldest son Brooklyn married the daughter of billionaire American businessman Nelson Peltz, Nicola, in a £3m ceremony.
In Las Vegas, Harry Styles’s then-partner Olivia Wilde was served divorce papers live on stage while promoting her film Don’t Worry Darling.
Back in the UK, Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and then-chancellor Rishi Sunak were all handed fixed penalty notices for breaking lockdown rules.
This made Mr Johnson the first prime minister to be reprimanded by the police in office.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also fell foul of COVID rules, albeit to a much lesser extent, as she was spoken to by police for not adhering to face mask rules.
And 26-year-old Ali Harbi Ali was sentenced to a whole-life prison sentence for stabbing Southend MP Sir David Amess to death in his Leigh-on-Sea constituency in October 2021.
One you might have missed: The Otley Burger Company in Yorkshire had an advert banned because it made light of the disappearance of toddler Madeleine McCann in Portugal 15 years ago.
It read: “With burgers this good, you’ll leave your kids at home. What’s the worst that could happen?” and featured a man running in the background with an image of Madeleine in his hands, alongside the words: “Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there.”
On 9 May, the Queen missed the state opening of parliament for only the third time during her reign.
She didn’t do it 1959 and 1963 on the advice of her doctors as she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Edward.
Prince Charles took her place due to the mobility problems she had been experiencing since the autumn.
The next day, the long-awaited Wagatha Christie trial began at the High Court in London.
It was given that name after Coleen Rooney claimed in 2019 to have carried out her own sting operation into who was leaking stories about her to the press.
After declaring it was fellow footballer’s wife Rebekah Vardy, Vardy sued her for libel, alleging her claims had damaged her reputation. After six weeks, the judge sided with Rooney.
On 24 May, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos shot his grandmother before storming Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killing 21 people.
Ramos was shot dead and the police were later criticised for waiting more than an hour before engaging him, triggering a wider discussion about US gun laws.
Back in the UK, the long-waited Sue Gray report into lockdown gatherings in Downing Street was finally published in full.
It contained damning revelations about parties where civil servants were so drunk they were sick and broke the prime minister’s son’s swing.
May was also the month the first case of monkeypox was confirmed in the UK.
One you might have missed: Seventeen-year-old Jake Daniels, who plays for Blackpool, came out and became the first openly gay male professional footballer in the UK.
On 1 June, a Virginia court found that actor Amber Heard had defamed her ex-husband Johnny Depp in a Washington Post article about their relationship.
She was made to pay £8.5m in damages and almost immediately said she would appeal.
It came after Depp lost a UK libel trial against The Sun over an article that described him as a “wife beater”.
Britons got a long Bank Holiday weekend from 2 to 5 June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The Queen played herself in a skit with Paddington Bear in which she admitted to hiding marmalade sandwiches in her handbag – to the nation’s delight.
Concerns for her health were fuelled after she had to pull out of the Buckingham Palace pop concert and other events because of her mobility issues.
Prince Louis stole the show on the palace balcony with his visible dislike of the noisy flypast.
In more showbiz news, Justin Bieber announced he was suffering from a form of facial paralysis and had to cancel tour dates.
On 7 June, the prime minister narrowly survived a no confidence vote over the findings of the Sue Gray report in the Commons.
In the US, the historic legislation that guaranteed abortion rights in all 50 states was overturned by the Supreme Court on 24 June.
The ruling on Roe v Wade sparked fears for abortion rights in other countries around the world.
Back in the UK, traces of polio were found in traces of sewage in London, triggering a warning from the UK Health Security Agency.
And on 29 June, campaigner Dame Deborah James died five years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
She was given a damehood personally at her Surrey home by Prince William and raised more than £7m for cancer research with her Bowel Babe fund.
One you might have missed: The Binley Mega Chippy near Coventry shot to global fame with its own song after becoming a TikTok sensation.
As summer got underway in the UK, it was plagued by blistering temperatures and travel chaos.
The heatwave saw temperatures surpass 40C (104F) for the first time on 19 July.
And as airlines struggled to cope with staff vacancies from the pandemic, thousands of flights were cancelled, causing holiday chaos for families.
July began, however, with a political crisis.
On 3 July, two further allegations of sexual assault emerged against Conservative deputy chief whip Chris Pincher.
When it transpired concerns about his behaviour had been reported to Downing Street before and seemingly ignored, it triggered a huge backlash within the Tory Party.
Already furious over his involvement in lockdown parties, momentum against Boris Johnson finally grew to the point of no return.
And on 7 July he appeared outside Number 10 to announce his resignation.
Conceding that “them’s the brakes”, he also suggested he might return to frontbench politics with a reference to Roman leader Cincinnatus.
Earlier in the month, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner were cleared over the beergate scandal.
They offered to resign if police found they had broken lockdown rules by accompanying a campaign meeting in Durham with a beer and curry, but were cleared on 8 July.
July was the month that England got behind its Lionesses at the European Championships, and football came home at Wembley with a 2-1 win over Germany.
The team appeared slightly worse for wear in bucket hats as they sang Sweet Caroline at their victory parade in London’s Trafalgar Square the following day.
One you might have missed: A study was published that the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea is the reason humans have grandparents.
As Britain’s parks and fields remained scorched brown from the heatwave, monster wildfires raged across Europe.
A report later found more than 5,000 square miles had been burnt.
Back in the UK, a long High Court battle between doctors and the family of a 12-year-old boy from Essex, Archie Battersbee, ended with his life support machine being turned off.
He had been ruled “brain stem dead” by medics after he was found unresponsive at home months before, but his family insisted he had shown signs of improvement.
On 10 August, Dame Olivia Newton-John, who played Sandy in the 1978 musical Grease, died aged 73 from cancer.
Her co-star John Travolta led tributes, signing his off: “Yours from the first moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John.”
Days later, the British-Indian author Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed 12 times as he spoke on stage in New York.
Sir Salman lost the sight in one eye and the use of one of his hands in the attack. A 24-year-old man is still awaiting trial in the US.
Back in the UK, the death of nine-year-old girl Olivia Pratt-Korbel in her own home in Liverpool shocked the nation. Thomas Cashman, 34, has been charged with her murder and her mother Cheryl’s attempted murder and will go on trial in 2023.
The month ended with outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson travelling to Kyiv to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
One you might have missed: Two men on motorised surf boards were branded “idiots” by the mayor of Venice for speeding down the city’s famous canals.
Only licenced vehicles are permitted to use the waterways as concerns mount about foundations of buildings there.
September was arguably the biggest month in news the UK has seen in decades.
It started with Liz Truss beating Rishi Sunak to become prime minister and Conservative leader on 5 September.
Mr Sunak kept a low profile after his defeat – 43% to Ms Truss’s 57% – only to replace her as leader seven weeks later.
Ms Truss travelled to Balmoral to be formally appointed leader by the Queen – as opposed to Buckingham Palace – as is tradition.
The pair were pictured together in Scotland, with many commenting on Her Majesty’s frail appearance.
Three days later on 8 September, business in the Commons was interrupted by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announcing the Queen’s doctors were “concerned for her health” and she was “under medical supervision” at Balmoral.
Party leaders swiftly left the chamber and after hours of speculation, at around 6.30pm it was announced the Queen had died.
Flags dropped to half mast, not just in the UK, but around the world, and a period of national mourning was declared as King Charles’s reign began.
People queued throughout the day and night to observe Her Majesty’s coffin, with one man arrested for a public order offence for trying to grab it.
TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield faced a fierce backlash over allegations they were able to skip the long wait – in a row that became known as queuegate.
The funeral took place on 20 September, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex returning from their new lives in the US to pay tribute.
As day-to-day life returned to normal, just three days later the new PM Liz Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng revealed their “plan for growth”.
The mini-budget, as it became known, included a new price cap on energy, and huge tax cuts, but didn’t include a forecast of how the £45bn would be funded from the Office for Budget Responsibility.
The Bank of England had to make an unprecedented intervention after it sent the pound and pension markets plummeting – and mortgage rates soaring.
One you may have missed: A 48-year-old man from Norfolk was jailed for life for murdering his neighbour over a row about noise from his motorbike. He told police: “Killing people isn’t always a bad thing.”
The mini-budget triggered a general lack of economic confidence in October, exacerbating the cost of living crisis that began earlier in the year and sending inflation to a record high of 11.1%.
Mortgage rates became almost unaffordable and house sales and purchases fell through.
On 3 October, the chancellor U-turned on one of his most controversial mini budget measures – a tax cut for the wealthiest 1%.
Elsewhere, Thailand experienced its worst ever mass killing when a sacked policeman killed 36 people, including dozens of children, at a day care centre on 3 October.
Back in the UK, the trial of former nurse Lucy Letby began in Manchester, where she denied murdering seven babies and attempting to murder 10 others in her care between 2015 and 2016.
Harry Potter fans mourned the death of Hagrid actor Robbie Coltrane – and James Corden was forced to apologise after he was outed by a New York restaurateur for being rude.
On 15 October, Kwasi Kwarteng’s flight back from the US appeared to be delayed as rumours of his imminent sacking swirled.
He resigned later that day after just 38 days in the job.
When former health secretary Jeremy Hunt was appointed as his replacement, he quickly U-turned on almost all of the mini-budget measures.
Five days later, Liz Truss appeared outside Downing Street to resign – making her the shortest-serving PM in history.
After another five days, her former leadership rival Rishi Sunak replaced her.
And at the end of October, more than 150 people died in a crush at a Halloween event in Seoul, South Korea, and Twitter was bought by Elon Musk – beginning what has already been a chaotic new era at the social media company.
One you might have missed: Much-loved local radio presenter Tim Gough died live on air while broadcasting from his home in Suffolk. He was 55.
November began with the bizarre news that former health secretary Matt Hancock had signed up to be on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!
He had the Conservative Party whip suspended as a result, but said he “hadn’t lost his marbles” and wanted to show that politicians are “real people”.
After suffering countless bushtucker trials and tense encounters about his handling of the pandemic with his campmates, he finished third and later announced he would be stepping down at the next election.
Ousted Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was shot four times in the leg in what his supporters described as an assassination attempt.
The US midterms saw the Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, while the Democrats maintained the Senate – having won Pennsylvania.
It took more than a month for the Georgia’s Senate result to be declared – with Democrat Raphael Warnock beating former American footballer and Donald Trump-backed Republican candidate Herschel Walker.
Mr Trump announced his intention to run for president again on 16 November – despite most of his candidates losing their races.
On the same day in the UK, a coroner ruled that a two-year-old boy called Awaab Ishak had died of the effects of damp and mould in his family’s flat in Rotherham.
Politicians described it as a “defining moment” and “wake-up call” to improve social housing conditions.
The following day, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled his delayed autumn statement.
On 16 November, NASA launched the first stage of its historic Artemis mission to put humans back on the moon.
Four days later, amid much controversy over the country’s treatment of LGBTQ people and migrant workers, the FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar.
Wales qualified for the first time since 1958 – but failed to make it through the group stages.
Elsewhere in football, Cristiano Ronaldo gave a TV interview where he slated Manchester United and its management, quickly sparking his departure from the club.
One you might have missed: An angler from Kidderminster showed off a 30kg giant goldfish he nicknamed “the carrot”, after he fished it out of a lake in France.
Three years of China’s strict zero COVID policy culminated in rare protests across the country in December.
Fears of a brutal crackdown came after people chanted “down with Xi Jinping” in the streets, but party officials ultimately relaxed restrictions.
The Royal Family was rocked with fresh racism allegations when a London charity boss claimed she had been repeatedly asked “where in Africa” she was from at a Buckingham Palace reception.
Lady Susan Hussey, one of the Queen’s longest-serving ladies-in-waiting, apologised and stepped down as a result.
The release of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all Netflix documentary put further strain on the palace in December.
In Qatar, England were knocked out of the World Cup by France, who ultimately lost to Argentina in the final.
And in the US, scientists carried out the first ever nuclear fusion experiment to achieve a net energy gain, paving the way for a “clean energy source that could revolutionise the world”.
Snow fell across the UK, which compounded by strikes across travel, the NHS andpostal service, caused chaos.
Four boys, two brothers, their cousin and a friend, died after falling through a freezing lake in Solihull, West Midlands.
One you might have missed: A man who murdered his wife in 1985 was the first in the UK to have his parole hearing held in public.
Russell Causley has always denied killing her and told the hearing he came home, where his mistress also lived, to find her dead. “It was a lovely summer’s day and my wife’s dead body was in the garage,” he said.
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