Best pictures of the Year 2021: Deadly US Capitol riot to Tokyo Olympics - we recap on the year’s key events

·7-min read
 (Leah Millis/Reuters)
(Leah Millis/Reuters)

In 2021, the world got busy vaccinating against Covid-19, a deadly riot threatened to topple US democracy and the climate crisis was given the air time it deserves.

Sausage wars, petrol shortages and fictional Christmas parties were all hot topics of conversation.

With the help of the world’s best photographers, the Standard has captured key events including sporting successes, glitzy award ceremonies and extreme weather events.

The day that shook America - Pro-Trump rioters storm the US Capitol building, killing five (Leah Millis/Reuters)
The day that shook America - Pro-Trump rioters storm the US Capitol building, killing five (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Just six days into the New Year, nobody could have predicted what was to happen in America. Pro-Trump supporters arrived in Washington DC to support the ongoing president, who refused to accept he had lost November’s presidential election.

At his Save America rally, Donald Trump tells the increasingly rowdy crowd to march on the Capitol, to contest Joe Biden’s victory.

The day soon descended into chaos after rioters stormed the halls of the Capitol. Five people died and many more were hospitalised, with more than 700 charged for their part in the siege.

The underside of Perseverance after its landing (Nasa)
The underside of Perseverance after its landing (Nasa)

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover dropped into Jezero Crater on Mars in February. Touching down on the Red Planet on Earth Day, February 18 2021, Perseverance began its lonely journey, trundling and hovering across the surface of the planet.

Its mission is to look for signs of past microbial life, cache rock and soil samples, and prepare for future human exploration, so some potentially groundbreaking discoveries could be made during its voyage.

Police detain a woman as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Police detain a woman as people gather at a memorial site in Clapham Common Bandstand, following the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

This haunting image taken in March shows a woman being handcuffed by two Metropolitan Police officers for attending the vigil of Sarah Everard in Clapham Common.

Hundreds attended the vigil to pay their respects to 33-year-old Ms Everard, who was found dead after she went missing while walking home.

The event had been cancelled after The Met said it would be illegal under lockdown restrictions, but people turned up throughout the day, including the Duchess of Cambridge. By the evening some of the vigil goers clashed with police after they were asked to leave.

The circumstances around Sarah’s death hit a nerve for many people, who took to social media to discuss their own experiences of walking the streets and the lengths they went to in order to feel safe.

Former Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens was later found guilty for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard. The Met faced criticism over its policing at the vigil, leading some to call for Commsisioner Dame Cressida Dick to resign.

A satellite image showed the stranded container ship Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal, Egypt in March this year (Maxar Technologies/AFP via Getty Images)
A satellite image showed the stranded container ship Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal, Egypt in March this year (Maxar Technologies/AFP via Getty Images)

Later in the month, the world was stunned when a giant container ship the length of four football pitches became wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

This caused a huge traffic jam, as dozens of vessels waited for rescue boats to free the 400m-long Ever Given, which was knocked off course by strong winds.

The bizarre turn of events inevitably saw an onslaught of viral memes that kept social media users entertained for the six days until the boat was finally freed.

The Queen at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Queen at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

On April 9, Buckingham Palace announced the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, at the age of 99. A statement issued by the palace reflected the Queen’s “deep sorrow” following her husband of 73 years’ death.

His funeral was held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, and a picture showing the Queen seated alone due to Covid-19 regulations stirred emotion around the world. Dressed in black, she looked solemn as she sat in solitude, with just 30 members of the Royal family able to attend the Covid-compliant funeral.

Friends cast (L-R) Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer (HBO Max Pop)
Friends cast (L-R) Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer (HBO Max Pop)

The cast of Friends look picture perfect as they pose for a reunion selfie taken by Matt LeBlanc, who plays Joey Tribbiani in the cult sitcom.

He was joined by Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer who all posed for a picture to mark the official trailer of their long-awaited reunion show, running 17 years since the final episode.

Sparks Lake wildfire was the largest burning in the province of British Columbia (BC Wildfire Service/AFP via Getty Images)
Sparks Lake wildfire was the largest burning in the province of British Columbia (BC Wildfire Service/AFP via Getty Images)

June saw wildfires ravage British Columbia, Canada. Sparks Lake was the largest fire burning in the province, having burned an estimated 95,980 hectares. The out of control fire, suspected to be human-caused, was ignited on June 28. It was one dozens of huge wildfires in the region, after the Canadian province saw record-breaking heatwave.

England fans celebrate on top of a Double Decker Bus  following their Euro 2020 semi-final victory over Denmark (Jeremy Selwyn)
England fans celebrate on top of a Double Decker Bus following their Euro 2020 semi-final victory over Denmark (Jeremy Selwyn)

Sports was the hot topic in July, with both the Euro 2020 and Tokyo Olympics.

Three Lions was the song of the summer as England sailed through to the Euro 2020 final against against Italy, where things reached fever pitch with football-mania sweeping across the country. But alas, it wasn’t to be. England lost on penalties, unsurprisingly, but the tournament lifted the spirits of a nation.

Tom Daley was in tears on the podium as he accepted his gold Olympic medal in Tokyo (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Daley was in tears on the podium as he accepted his gold Olympic medal in Tokyo (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 will go down in history as a unique Olympic Games, one which many critics didn’t think would happen due to the ongoing pandemic. Overnight, Adam Peaty, Beth Shriever, Duncan Scott and Laura Kenny, among many others, all became household names. Team GB brought home 65 medals in total, the same amount as London 2012, with 22 golds from a number of different sports.

Two teardrops glistened on British diver Tom Daley’s face when he stood on the podium to collect his gold medal after winning the synchronised 10-metre platform event with his partner, Matty Lee. In that moment, 13 years of of hope, frustration and disappointment paled into insignificance as he was crowned an Olympic champion for the first time.

A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport in Kabul (Omar Haidari via Reuters)
A baby is handed over to the American army over the perimeter wall of the airport in Kabul (Omar Haidari via Reuters)

Whether the then Home Secretary Dominic Raab was lounging around the pool while Kabul fell will remain up for political debate, but what we do know is just days earlier Taliban fighters captured their first provincial capital on August 6. By August 15, they were at the gates of Kabul.

Their lightning advance prompted tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, many arriving in the Afghan capital, others heading for neighbouring countries. And there was chaos in Kabul, which saw thousands of desperate Afghans rushed to Kabul airport to try and board some of the last flights out of the country.

Teenage grand slam winner Emma Raducanu celebrates her US Open victory (Danielle Parhizkaran/Reuters)
Teenage grand slam winner Emma Raducanu celebrates her US Open victory (Danielle Parhizkaran/Reuters)

At the beginning of the year, few outside British tennis circles had heard of Emma Raducanu. But after her stunning victory at the US Open, she is now a national superstar and known around the globe. The teenager’s US Open win - in which she didn’t lose a set - catapulted her to fame and made her one of the sport’s most marketable stars.

Since her historic victory, where she became the first female British winner of a tennis grand-slam event since Virginia Wade in 1977, she has signed deals with Tiffany & Co, Dior, Evian and now BA. She finished the year ranked 19th in the world, capping a meteoric rise from No 343 at the start of 2021.

Tyson Fury delivers the knockout blow in his triology clash with rival Deontay Wilder (Al Bello/Getty Images)
Tyson Fury delivers the knockout blow in his triology clash with rival Deontay Wilder (Al Bello/Getty Images)

To the world of boxing now, where in October, boxer Tyson Fury and his heavyweight rival Deontay Wilder, thrashed it out in their world title trilogy clash. Wilder played his part in an all-time heavyweight classic in Las Vegas before Fury produced the knockout blow in round 11.

After being floored himself in the third, the American turned the tables in a dramatic fourth round which saw Fury hit the canvas twice and come mightily close to suffering his first professional loss. But the ‘Gypsy King’ twice came back up from knockdowns before sealing the knockout.

Brazilian model Adriana Lima looks sensational at The Fashion Awards 2021 (Dave Benett)
Brazilian model Adriana Lima looks sensational at The Fashion Awards 2021 (Dave Benett)

November saw the most stylish people descending on London for The Fashion Awards 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall. The event was first established in 1989 to honour those making impressive contributions in the industry.

Brazilian model Adriana Lima stunned in a gorgeous white gown. Other celebrities attending included Demi Moore, Georgia May Jagger, Gillian Anderson, Lily Allen, and many more.

The annual Christmas card photograph from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shows the family in Jordan (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)
The annual Christmas card photograph from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shows the family in Jordan (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge)

Seasons greetings from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Their annual Christmas card photograph showed the family-of-five enjoying a trip to Jordan.

The new image features the future king and queen sitting down with their three children, Prince George, eight, Princess Charlotte, six, and three-year-old Prince Louis. But, it has been reported that they will not be spending Christmas day with the Queen, instead choosing to spend it in Norfolk.

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