Our top picks from the royal pix

The rough estimate -- very rough -- is that there were maybe one thousand gazillion pictures taken of Kate and William (mostly Kate) in 2011.

So, there's a lot to choose from in trying to select the best of the royal pix for 2011, especially when we want to include royal happenings from some non-UK settings. In a royal year that is quite unlike any in the past decade, what we have below are some of the photos that brought a smile or two.



Sure, they kiss, but it's the other faces in this picture that make it interesting. On the left is 3-year-old Grace Van Cutsem, a grumpy-looking sort who was not taking in the pomp and ceremony with much glee. In fact, she spent much of the time on the balcony covering her ears to block out the crowd noise. Another bridesmaid, Margarita Armstrong-Jones, appeared much more encouraging of the bride and groom's affection for each other. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)


Just wed

It was well after the wedding that the humour of this picture emerged. Proud father Prince Charles was more than happy to have the newlyweds drive away from Buckingham Palace in his much prized 1969 Aston Martin Volante. It made for quite as whimsical exit, except that it was later revealed that William had forgotten to off the handbrake. Both Charles and the car managed to survive the senior moment (Pierre-Philippe Marcou, Getty Images)



At the time this was taken, who would have thunk that the young lady on the right would be garnering almost as many headlines through 2011 as the bride herself. Pippa Middleton's iconic appearance in her Alexander McQueen bridesmaid gown caused more than a mild sensation and "Her Royal Hotness" was born. ((AP Photo/Matt Dunham)


There's something deliciously curious about this picture. It's a rigid Prince William, standing at almost mock attention in front of his grandmother and monarch, Queen Elizabeth, with a slight grin. The occasion was a visit by the Queen and Prince Philip to the RAF base in Anglesey, Wales, on April 1. Slightly awkward given the company, but in the end, it was a grandson proudly showing his grandma around the place he worked. (REUTERS/Christopher Furlong)


The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge stand out from the crowd on a hot afternoon in Ottawa as they arrive to take part in the Canada Day festivities. Her maple-leaf inspired fascinator, together with a maple leaf brooch borrowed from the Queen, gave Kate a distinctly Canadian look, even if the hat and Reiss dress hailed from Britain. (CP, Sean Kilpatrick)


The image of untouchable royals melts away in this photo of Kate hugging 6-year-old Diamond Marshall on the windy tarmac of the Calgary airport. Diamond was a cancer-striken girl who wanted to meet her princess. She got her wish, and, as the year wound to a close, got another wish when she underwent successful surgery to remove tumours in her lungs, the result of battling undifferentiated sarcoma. (CP/Nathan Dentte)


The good guys always wear the white hats, right? The royals look oddly out of place, yet oddly right at home as they watch the Calgary Stampede in the waning hours of their Canadian tour. There's been no word on when the couple might don their stetsons again. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)



This is supposed to be a big deal ... the obligatory photo-op between the royal party and the U.S. president. All is perfect until the gusts arrive. Suddenty it was hold onto your hat and your dress, lest your dignity ends up blowing in the wind. In the presence of a Guard of Honour in London, Barack Obama manages to stand his ground on May 24 while all those around him seem to be shifting their tactics to deal with the wind. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)



Just when you've got everything perfect for a royal arrival, there's always one guy in uniform who decides he can't take the heat. In this case, the member of Spain's honour guard passed out in front of the country's Princess Letizia, left, at the Pardo Palace outside Madrid on March 30. They managed to get the soldier out of the way before the arrival of Prince Charles for a visit. (Reuters/Andrea Comas)


Maison Dauphine

Prince William talks to one of the group members of Maison Dauphine, a shelter offering support services for street kids in Quebec City. Despite a distinct difference in styles, the duke and the young man seemed to connect. “Of course he's royalty, always surrounded by people... But he seems close to people," said one person from Maison Dauphine. "He seemed like a normal guy.” High praise, indeed. (CP/Sean Kilpatrick)



Spain's Duchess of Alba  Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y Silva dances the flamenco beside her husband Alfonso Diez outside Las Duenas Palace after their wedding in Seville on Oct. 5, 2011. One of Europe's wealthiest aristocrats and socialites, the 85-year-old Duchess -- with more titles than Queen Elizabeth --  wedded a civil servant 24 years her junior. The May-December romance won out over opposition from the duchess's children. They backed off once they added guarantees that the multi-billion-dollar holdings that would come through inheritance did not slip through their fingers. Money problems settled, the Duchess was not shy to show off her dancing skills in front of the crowds that gathered to wish her well. (Reuters/Javier Diaz)


Bhutan is just a speck on the globe, a tiny Himalayan nation stuck between China and India, and for centuries virtually cut off from the world by the mountains. Well, there's a new generation in charge. Mindful of tradition, the country is still embracing change and there may have been no stronger symbol of that than Jetsun Pema, a 21-year-old student who suddenly became Queen of the country. Fresh from the high of the royal wedding, the spotlight seemed to roll naturally to Pema and King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck on May 20 as they exchanged vows. Above, the royals show their manners as they greet the media during a visit to Tokyo in November. Can't remember the British royals doing anything similar for media. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)


Queen philip

If this was a final farewell to Australia, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip made it a memorable one. The 85-year-old monarch and 90-year-old Prince Philip were at their royal best for the nine-day tour Down Under. There will be no foreign tour in 2012, sparking speculation that the Queen will be leaving any future royal tours to the younger generation of royals. (AP Photo/Paul Kane)


Queen Elizabeth eyes a pint of Guinness with a 'should-I-or-shouldn't-I' expression while touring the brewery storehouse in Dublin on May 18. In the end, she politely refused a sip. The host didn't seem to to be offended, which is a good thing since many Irish people have long been offended by the mere presence of the Queen. This tour to Ireland, the first by a British monarch since the country's independence, was judged a "game-changer" by British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Reuters/Tony Maxwell)


Prince Albert II of Monaco kisses Princess Charlene of Monaco during their wedding in the Main Courtyard of the Prince's Palace on July 2. In subsequent days, people would return again and again to the wedding pictures, looking for evidence that -- as reports suggested -- the bride was desperately unhappy as she took her vows. In the months since, though, the couple has behaved like model royals. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)


All the cheering that Prince Harry and Princess Eugenie could muster wasnt' enough to help his grandmother's horse, Carlton House, win the famed Epsom Derby on June 4. The Queen has had only a handful of horses good enough to challenge for Derby crown in her almost 60 years on the throne, so hopes were high as the horse entered as the favourite. It wound up third and the Queen's drought for one of horse racing's most prized titles continued. (Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)


"You dust your shoulders off twice," was the instruction by Vanessa Boateng, centre, as she coaxed a dance move from Prince Williamn during a reception at Centrepoint's Camberwell Foyer on Dec. 21. The Duke of Cambridge obliged, resulting in an image that caused a few chuckles both inside and outside royal circles. Kate seemed to enjoy seeing her husband loosen up a bit. The couple were visiting Centrepoint, a UK charity that provides housing and support to improve the lives of young homeless people. (Ben Stansall/Getty Images)


We leave you with an image of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge taking a canoe ride at Blachford Lake in the Northwest Territories on July 5. Water, woods, lake, canoe ... there's isn't much that doesn't say 'Canada' in this photo. (CP/Nathan Denette)



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