2021 in pictures: 18 of the most iconic images from key events in the last year

2021 in pictures: 18 of the most iconic images from key events in the last year

It’s been a year.

It started with huge riots in Washington and ended with chaos over alleged Christmas parties in London. And what a lot happened in between.

We’ve had sporting events and political scandals. We’ve seen tragic high profile deaths, and huge vaccination schemes. We’ve even seen a ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

Here are 18 images that tell the story of the last 365 days.

Trump supporters storm the Capitol

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Capitol Breach Social MediaCopyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and in some ways egged on by Donald Trump, a huge mob stormed the United States Capitol on 6 January. Five people reportedly died in the chaos while many more were injured.

As the year continues, more and more people are arrested over their involvement.

The third national lockdown continues in the UK as the rest of the world faces strict Covid restrictions


In January, with covid cases rising in the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown while other countries in the world faced similar restrictions.

In a bid to beat the virus and reduce the need for restrictions, countries started rolling out vaccines among the adult population and as the year went on more groups became eligible for the jab.

As things stand, the British government is massively extending a third booster jab rollout to anyone over the age of 18, ambitiously hoping to jab one million people a day before the end of the year.

Ship gets stuck in the Suez Canal

Global shipping was disrupted earlier this year when the Ever Given container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal (Aaron Chown/PA)PA Wire

In a moment of levity in March, the world was captivated when one of the largest container ships in the world - Ever Given - got stuck in the Suez Canal for around a week.

People made memes about it and became utterly obsessed with the ship before it was freed.

Patsy Stevenson arrested at Sarah Everard vigil

Pictures of the Year: A Picture and its StoryReuters

Elsewhere in March, the police were criticised for their heavy-handed response to women attending a vigil in Clapham Common, London to mark the tragic killing of Sarah Everard. At the time, gatherings were prohibited due to Covid rules and police flooded the bandstand in the park, encouraging people to disperse.

No picture told the story more than this image of one of the vigil’s attendees, Patsy Stevenson who was pinned down by police and given a £200 fine. She is taking legal action against the force for the arrest and the fine.

An independent investigation into the force’s decisions on the evening of the vigil, commissioned by home secretary Priti Patel said the police “acted appropriately” but a parliamentary inquiry later in the year said police breached “fundamental rights” at the vigil.

‘Kill the Bill’ protests turn violent


Also in March and April, people gathered to protest against the police, crime, sentencing and courts bill. The bill, which is still moving through parliament, is controversial as it will allow the police to place more conditions on peaceful protests and many public figures have condemned it.

One protest - which was meant to be peaceful - turned violent in Bristol with 20 police officers injured.

The Queen sits alone at Prince Philip’s funeral

The Queen sits alone during Prince Philip\u2019s funeralThe Queen sits alone during Prince Philip’s funeralGetty Images

In April, Prince Philip died aged 99. A photo of the Queen sitting alone at his funeral - due to coronavirus restrictions that were in the place at the time - tugged at the nations' heartstrings as we were reminded of all the people who had delayed or virtual funerals for their loved ones due to the pandemic.

Dominic Cummings savages the UK government as he gives evidence on its handling of the coronavirus pandemic

Too many Dominics, not enough Helens: Cummings giving evidence this weekEPA

In May, former adviser Dominic Cummings showed he was completely done with his former bestie (the government) when he gave seven hours of evidence detailing various issues with its response to coronavirus.

He eviscerated the then health secretary Matt Hancock as well as Johnson and said the pair were “hopeless”.

Hancock then denied many of Cummings’ allegations when he gave his own evidence.

CCTV footage of Matt Hancock kissing his aide triggers his resignation

But it is safe to say things went from bad to worse for Hancock when the Sun published images then CCTV footage of him kissing his aide Gina Colandelago in May, at a time in which social distancing measures were in place.

He resigned and has since then popped up to embarrass himself on occasion, by co-starring in TikTok videos, failing to land jobs at the UN, and posting cringe social media videos.

Euro 2020 tournament unites the nation

Fans watching Ukraine v EnglandPA

In July, the world sat in pubs and at their TVs glued to the Euro 2020 tournament.

It was a tournament that inspired memes, a ridiculous debate about taking the knee, and sadly it led to England players receiving racist abuse after losing the finals.

But it also brought people together who were not previously that fussed about football, and pictures of people celebrating and partying in the streets of London and elsewhere were certainly striking.

Let’s just not mention that photo of Boris Johnson wearing an England shirt.

Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi both win gold in the men’s high jump at the Tokyo Olympics

AFP via Getty Images

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared a gold medal with grace, after they both jumped 2.37m in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

The summer games had been scheduled to take place in 2020 but were rescheduled because of... you know what.

Overall, the United States topped the medal count by both total golds (39) and total medals (113), and China finished second by both respects (38 and 88). Host nation Japan finished third, setting a record for the most gold medals and total medals ever won by their country at an Olympic Games with 27 and 58. Great Britain finished fourth, with a total of 22 gold and 65 medals,

People flee Kabul as Afghanistan falls to the Taliban

Afghanistan-Immigrant FamiliesPublic Domain

In August, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan after the Taliban stormed the capital Kabul and seized his palace. The Taliban took control of Jalalabad and seized every city in the country, creating fear about the kind of regime they would implement.

Pictures of people fleeing airports went viral on social media as the world witnessed the desperation people felt.

Emma Raducanu makes history as she wins the US Open

Emma Raducanu was a shock winner of the US Open women\u2019s singles title, aged 18, in September (ZUMA/PA)PA Media

In September, Emma Raducanu made history by winning the US Open, becoming Britain’s first female grand slam singles champion for nearly half a century.

The 18-year-old beat Leylah Fernandez, a 19-year-old Canadian, in straight sets (6-4 6-3) during the women’s final in New York and was congratulated as a result by just about everyone - including the Queen.

What a moment for British sport.

Insulate Britain protests disrupt major cities

Insulate Britain protesters stage a 24-hour fast outside Downing Street, with more joining remotely from across the UK (Sophie Wingate/PA)PA Wire

While Raducanu was smashing it at tennis, protests began in London, Manchester and Birmingham by a group called Insulate Britain who want the government to provide insulation for 29 million homes

The group sat down on roads and refused to budge to get their message across, but the controversial tactics didn’t exactly win hearts and minds given that they blocked people from getting to work, school and even ambulances.

Regardless, the protestors said they were acting for the greater good.

Richard Ratcliffe embarks on 21-day hunger strike to free his wife Nazanin

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Aaron Chown/PA)Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Aaron Chown/PA)PA Wire

In October, husband of the detained British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Richard Ratcliffe embarked on a 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office to pressure the government to free his wife.

In 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned for five years in Iran, accused of plotting to overthrow the government when she travelled to the country to visit her family with her daughter Gabriella.

She was then sentenced to another year after her release earlier this year for “spreading propaganda against the regime” and while she has remained on parole at her parent’s home in Tehran, there are concerns that she could be sent back to prison as a result of this latest sentencing.

Ratcliffe’s strike attracted the support of politicians but he ended it fearing for his health.

Politicians pay their respects at David Amess’ funeral

Sir David Amess funeralPA

In November people attended the funeral of David Amess MP after he was killed in his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on 15 October.

It was reported that a man entered the room and stabbed him several times. A week later, Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was charged with murder as part of an investigation led by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command. He will stand trial next year.

During his funeral, fellow MPs and other public figures paid their respects to the politician.

World leaders meet in Glasgow for Cop26 climate summit

El presidente estadounidense Joe Biden (Steve Reigate / Daily Express)PA Wire

In November, world leaders attended Cop26 to make global progress with the fight against climate change.

While they came to some key agreements, the conference was overshadowed by images of world leaders appearing to fall asleep, cringey speeches and geography mishaps.

Never mind, there’s always Cop27.

People die crossing the Channel

Inflatable boats used by migrants who crossed the English Channel from France, are secured by Port of Dover officials in the marina in DoverREUTERS

In November, 27 people sadly died by drowning after a small boat capsized in the Channel on the way to Britain.

Two people were saved from the water and the French authorities arrested five suspected people traffickers in connection with the incident, while the regional prosecutor opened an investigation into aggravated manslaughter.

The incident triggered debates about the UK’s strict immigration system and the role of people smugglers who facilitate the dangerous crossings.

Pictures of Boris Johnson hosting a quiz while the country faced Covid restrictions emerge

In December, amid allegations that Downing Street hosted a number of parties the previous year while the country faced strict Covid restrictions, leading to former spokesperson to the prime minister Allegra Stratton resigning, the Mirror revealed that Boris Johnson himself attended one - virtually - to host a quiz which some colleagues attended in-person.

Numerous people called for the PM to resign and the Tory party and his personal ratings tumbles in the polls, though he insisted he broke no rules. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police said it would not be investigating the matter due to “a lack of evidence” and a policy stopping it from looking into past events.

The ramifications of the incident rumble on.

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