Royals: It's been a good news/bad news kind of year

The Queen and her closest heirs -- Prince Charles and Prince William -- stand on the balcony at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations on June 5. (AP Photo)

When the train pulled into King's Lynn station on Thursday, it was sure sign the end of the year is close.

Aboard was Queen Elizabeth, arriving with Prince Philip for the annual Christmas pilgrimage to their 8,100-hectare Sandringham estate, where they will celebrate the season with a few dozen or more Royal Family members.

It's a time to reflect, on both the good and bad.

Most would say it's been a pretty good year for the Royal Family, starting with the Diamond Jubilee and ending with a new heir on the way. But behind every silver lining ... is a cloud.

KateOn one hand ... No more guessing games over when Prince William and Kate will start a family.

On the other hand ... The mental image of Kate throwing up with morning sickness puts a whole new spin on "The Kate Effect."

On one hand ... the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were a huge success, culminating with the thousand-boat flotilla down the Thames.

On the other hand ... Standing to wave at crowds in often drizzly weather, all Prince Philip got was a bladder infection and almost a week in hospital.

On one hand ... Prince Harry revealed himself to be a fine ambassador for Britain during his royal tour of the Caribbean.

On the other hand ... Prince Harry revealed too much of himself during his very non-royal tour of Las Vegas.

CharlesOn one hand ... The Diamond Jubilee celebrations meant Canada would get a royal visit.

On the other hand ... It was Charles and Camilla.

On one hand ... The 86-year-old Queen vowed to "rededicate myself" after 60 years of service.

On the other hand ... Charles, 64, made no such vow to wait another 60 years for his turn.

On one hand ... Pippa Middleton has become a published author.

On the other hand ... She's apparently not a very good one.

On one hand ... Kate and her clothes again made headlines.

On the other hand ... Kate without her clothes made even more headlines.

On one hand ... British papers refused to publish photos of Topless Kate.

On the other hand ... More than half of Britons polled looked at them on the web anyway.

ZaraOn one hand ... The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips won Olympic silver in team equestrian event.

On the other hand ... Even Zara admitted it would have been gold, but "I messed up."

On one hand ... The Brtitish government named a gigantic piece of the planet after Queen Elizabeth.

On the other hand ... It's in Antarctica, where penguins and seals can't even hum the words to "God Save the Queen."

On one hand ... Prince William inherited $16 million from his mother's estate when he turned 30 in June.

On the other hand ... It wasn't enough to stem the flow of hair from his head.

As we said ... all in all, a pretty good year.


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