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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Elliot Wagland

Pictures of the Year 2023: Images that defined the past 12 months from the King's Coronation to war in Gaza

It was a year that delivered some of the most extraordinary events in recent memory, with a king crowned and war breaking out in the Middle East. There were moments of heartbreak, grief, joy, hope and wonder and photographers across the globe were on hand to document them, capturing the key images as history was made.

In today’s special edition of the Evening Standard, we look back at 2023 and highlight the photographs that defined a year.

The crowning moment came when King Charles ascended the throne in front of a worldwide audience estimated to be in excess of 400 million.

The Westminster Abbey ceremony on May 6, complete with the massed ranks of the armed forces and 90 heads of state, was captured in thousands of photographs.

Taken from inside Buckingham Palace, it shows the moment the King and Queen greeted the crowds thronging The Mall to celebrate.

But it was not just the King who caught the attention of the photographers —Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt became the face that launched a thousand memes after her memorable efforts carrying the 3ft, 17th-century sword of state for nearly an hour.

IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND: At the Coronation, Lord President ofthe Council Penny Mordaunt held aloft the Sword of State for 51 minutes (Getty Images)

Away from the pomp and ceremony, politics continued to grab the headlines with some stunning by-election defeats for the Government, leaving Rishi Sunak facing fire from his own side on issues including the legacy of Brexit and how to deal with immigration. Sir Keir Starmer maintained Labour’s steady lead in the polls but also faced splits in his party over his position on the Israel-Gaza conflict, while his conference speech was interrupted when a stage invader tipped glitter over him as part of a protest calling for changes to the voting system.

HE’S BEHIND YOU!: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer got a sparkling surprise when he took the stage at partyconference in Liverpool. The glitter thrower,Yaz Ashwami, was protesting in favourof electoral reform. He later said heregretted making Sir Keir feel unsafe (PA)

Meanwhile, the Covid Inquiry saw former prime minister Boris Johnson give evidence about his time in charge during the pandemic. He said he was sorry for the “pain and the loss and the suffering” but his comments were interrupted by protesters.

Away from politics, the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree in September caused outrage. The landmark, located in a dramatic dip in the landscape on Hadrian’s Wall, was one of the most photographed trees in the country and had featured in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Across the Atlantic, another image caught the public’s attention in August when Donald Trump became the first former US president to have his mugshot taken. He had surrendered in Georgia on charges of plotting to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. It was his fourth arrest in five months in a criminal case, but this was his first police booking photo.

THUG LIFE: Donald Trump became the first former president to be arrested and havea police mugshot when he attended the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia (FULTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE/A)

War continued to rage in Ukraine, while Hamas’s terror attack on Israel on October 7 and the country’s military response in the Gaza Strip sparked fears of a wider conflict in the Middle East.

There were also devastating fires in Hawaii in August and an earthquake in Turkey in February, which left scenes of horror in their wake. But photographers were also able to capture some small moments of hope such as eight-year-old Yigit Cakmak, who was rescued from the rubble of a collapsed building in the city of Hatay after two days and reunited with his mother.

CASUALTIES OF WAR: In Khan Yunis, southern Gaza,one injured child was brought to the Nassr hospitalfollowing the initial rounds of Israeli air strikes (Anadolu via Getty Images)

In the world of showbusiness, 2023 was Taylor Swift’s year. Her Eras world tour started in North and South America, where it was projected to make more than $2 billion in ticket sales before coming to Europe next year, to the delight of Swifties on this side of the Atlantic. As one star dominated the world’s concert stages, another bowed out with Sir Elton John calling time on his live touring but not before wowing a huge audience at Glastonbury.

A WORTHY SEND-OFF: Sir Elton Johnperformed what was rumoured to be his finalUK show at Glastonbury in June. He rattledthrough a two-hour set of his greatest hits andleft the stage to rapturous applause (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

There was also a welcome return for Madonna, who overcame an illness that landed her in intensive care in a New York hospital to bring her Celebration tour to the stage. Her first greatest hits tour saw her impress audiences and critics alike during her stint at the O2.

Cinema was a tale of two films with Barbie and Oppenheimer dominating critics’ end-of year-lists.

In sport, Just Stop Oil protesters disrupted Wimbledon, the Ashes and World Snooker Championship. English hopes were dashed in the final of the Women’s World Cup in Australia, although goalkeeper Mary Earps gave fans something to shout about with a defiant penalty save.

JUST STOP SNOOKER: The tangerine terrors, themandarin menaces, the clementine catastrophes ofJust Stop Oil caused chaos at The Crucible, bringinga halt to the World Snooker Championship (PA)

But the tournament ended in controversy after Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed player Jenni Hermoso in a scandal that saw him lose his job.

Manchester City’s dominance was extended when they won the treble. But it was winger Jack Grealish who caught the photographers’ eyes when he refused to let the weather rain on his parade as he celebrated during an open-top bus tour.

JACK THE REDEEMER: Manchester City forward Jack Grealish celebrated the team’s treble in June with more than a few drinks (… and a starring role in the bus parade) (Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
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