Queen giving country home to Will and Kate, says report

The idea of the pitter-patter of little royal feet has apparently got the Queen to thinking about how she can be helpful to the youngest generation of royals.

And keep them close by in her advancing years.

Anmer hallOne idea being floated, according to the Telegraph, is to set up Prince William and his wife Kate with a country home close to her Sandringham home. It's called Amner Hall, right, and is part of her vast personal estate where she spends her winters.

It will fit in nicely with the royal real estate plans that also include William and Kate moving in next year to their London home in Apartment 1A at Kensington Palace, the former home of the Queen's late sister Margaret.

145759206Amner Hall, just over 2 kilometres from the Queen's residence about two hours outside London, is not unfamiliar territory for William. He would have been a visitor there many times since he and his father Prince Charles were close to the former tenants there, the van Cutsem family.

They left in 2000 and the property is now leased to James Everett, who owns a timber and furniture design company, Norfolk Oak. His lease runs until 2017, by which time Will and Kate's future toddler would be 3 years old.

A source told the Telegraph the home is being "earmarked" for Will and Kate, which is a long way from being a reality, but it's not an outlandish idea, if the Everetts decide it's a good time to move the family business.

Anmer Hall has been part of the Queen's holdings since her family bought the 20,000-acre Sandringham Estate in 1862. Before the van Cutsem family, the home had been the country estate for the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Right now, the immediate housing headache for Will and Kate is to complete renovations on the Kensington Palace apartment, a four-storey, 20-room abode that defies the usual definition of 'apartment'. When in London now, the royal couple inhabit a one-bedroom cottage on the Kensington Palace grounds.

Anmer Hall is currently home to the Everett family, which owns Norfolk Oak, a timber and furniture design company. (Bing map)


You can scratch one potential Prince Harry bride off the list.

Brudenell-BruceFlorence Brudenell-Bruce, who had a summer romance with the royal (right), is now engaged to the man she broke up with before dating Harry.

Brudenell-Bruce, 'Flee' to her friends, had been dating millionaire Henry St. George since 2008, but broke up with him in 2011. At the time, Prince Harry was also in 'rebound' mode, having split with Chelsy Davy.

Once the media caught on to the Harry-Flee connection, the English model reportedly got some cold feet with the amount of attention the match was getting. She and Harry eventually cut ties and she went back to St. George, son of the late multi-millionarie financier Edward St. George.

Flee, 26, had also dated Formula 1 driver Jenson Button. The Daily Mail reports that St. George popped the question to her over the New Year break in New York.

Harry, meanwhile, is due back in the UK very soon from his four-month military tour in Afghanistan. He apparently is still keen to pursue his relationship with another blonde (Harry's favourite hair colour it seems), Cressida Bonas, 24.


Mystery man in Princess Diana photo revealed


The mystery of 'Ski Bob' has been solved.

The previously unidentified figure lounging next to the future Princess Diana in a never-before-published photo has now been pegged as Adam Russell, a might-have-been suitor to Lady Diana Spencer's charms.

His identity was revealed by Diana's biographer Andrew Morton a day after the 8x10 photo came to light as part of an auction of images purchased by the Caren Archive from the Daily Mirror newspaper in London about seven years ago.

The photo will go up for public bidding at RR Auction in New Hampshire this month and is expected to go well above the usual $1,000 for type of celebrity picture.

EngageThe photo was stamped at the newspaper on Feb. 26, 1981, two days after Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement (right). The actual picture was taken much earlier, sometime in 1979 during a ski holiday in the French Alps.

Diana would have been 17 and she is obviously quite at ease with Adam using her shoulder as a resting place for his book.

Morton said they got to know each other well when they both had skiing injuries.

It turns out that Russell is the great grandson of for British prime minister Stanley Baldwin. He reportedly had his eye on developing his relationship with Diana beyond the 'smitten' stage. According to Morton, Russell went away for a year and on his return to Britain he told a friend he liked Diana. The friend retorted: "You've only got one rival, the Prince of Wales."

At that point, he backed away from the challenge, though he remained friends with her. Today, Russell is married and a deer farmer in Dorset.

The photo immediately drew much attention for what was scrawled across it. Why is the photo clearly marked in grease pencil "Not to be published"? Could it be that the paper was gun-shy about publishing a photo of a young Diana cuddled up with another man on a bed?

One editor from the early 1980s, Mike Molloy, told the Guardian that the reason the picture wasn't published was probably because the Sunday Mirror's editor, Bob Edwards, had been subjected to a lot of heat from the Palace for publishing an earlier story about a secret romantic rendezvous between Charles and Diana on the royal train.

"This would certainly not be the way the Royal Family would have wanted Diana to be presented at that moment, given that two days before her engagement had been announced," Eric Caren, owner of the Caren Archive, told the Daily Mail. "The fairytale between her and Charles was still intact at that point."



Princess Diana photo — 'not to be published' — shrouded in mystery

New diana

Fifteen years after her death, one would have thought the library of photos picturing Diana, Princess of Wales, would have been exhausted.

Alas, a new one has surfaced (above), this one most intriguing for the mystery that surrounds it.

What we do know is that the 8x10 image was among the photos purchased by the Caren Archive from the Daily Mirror newspaper in London about seven years ago.

The photo will go up for public bidding at RR Auction in New Hampshire this month and is expected to go well above the usual $1,000 for type of celebrity picture.

ChuckWe also know that the photo was stamped at the newspaper on Feb. 26, 1981, two days after Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement (right).
The actual picture was obviously taken much earlier, so it was likely purchased from a freelancer.

Here's what we don't know:

► Why is the photo clearly marked in grease pencil "Not to be published"? Could it be that the paper was gun-shy about publishing a photo of a young Diana cuddled up with another man? One editor from the early 1980s, Mike Molloy, told the Guardian that the reason the picture wasn't published was probably because the Sunday Mirror's editor, Bob Edwards, had been subjected to a lot of heat from the Palace for publishing an earlier story about a secret romantic rendezvous between Charles and Diana on the royal train.

► Who is the guy? The Daily Mail is suggesting it might by Rory Scott, an old Diana boyfriend from her teen years. She would have been about 17 or 18 at the time and speculation is that the setting might be a ski chalet in Switerland. A good time would likely have been had by all, it seems, since there is a bottle of Johnnie Walker not far from the future princess's head.

"This would certainly not be the way the Royal Family would have wanted Diana to be presented at that moment, given that two days before her engagement had been announced," Eric Caren, owner of the Caren Archive, told the Daily Mail. "The fairytale between her and Charles was still intact at that point."

The fairytale didn't last long, with the marriage crumbling into divorce by April 1996. A little more than a year later, in a Paris tunnel, Diana died.

The fascination with her has not.


Prince William sounds the battle cry over rhino killers

Prince William feeds a 5-year-old black rhino called Zawadi as he visits Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent on June 6, 2012. William visited the park to meet staff and rhinos involved in a translocation project. (Getty Images)

Fatherhood is just around the corner for Prince William, but it's the future of baby rhinos that is concerning him these days.

William, a long-time advocate for species conservation, has been "alarmed" over the latest round of illegal killings of black rhinos at a Kenyan sanctuary.

Over two weeks in December, five rhinos were the victims of poachers, who prize the animal's horn for its medicinal uses, especially in the Far East. Horns can sell for as much as $32,000 a pound.

"The Duke is concerned that action must be taken now to stem the tide before it is too late and these magnificent creatures become lost to the wild forever," said a Palace spokesman.

"Species conservation is something the Duke feels passionate about. He has been keeping a close eye on the poaching crisis, particularly involving Africa's rhinoceros and elephants, and is alarmed by the increase in the numbers being killed."

The Prince has had a relationship with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya since spending time in Africa as part of his gap year before university. Since then, William has become an outspoken critic of those who are trying to profit from the black rhinos.

In the past three years, 11 of the park's 126 rhinos have been gunned down, even though the reserve is heavily patrolled. The World Wildlife Fund says there were 593 rhinos killed last year in Africa.

Closer to home, the prince has a few other things on his mind as well ....

... Kate would be advised to stay away from her parents' place in Bucklebury for the next little while. The 2,100 residents of the village have been warned, along with other residents in the county of Berkshire, to stay indoors and keep windows closed as harmful smoke continues to spew from a fertilizer fire that began more than a month ago.

KateMore than 1,000 tonnes of wood mulch and garden waste caught fire and the local fire authorities decided to let it burn itself out, rather than create even more clouds of smoke by making further attempts to extinguish it.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue has received more than two dozen complaints of breathing problems because of the smoke, not to mention the smell that has filled the air. It's expected to last several more weeks.

Which means ....

... Where will Kate spend her birthday?

The duchess turns 31 on Jan. 9 and it's expected to be a quiet, family affair. Right now, the expectant Kate is due to be in Bucklebury, even with the smelly air and the assurances that there are no health concerns from the fire.

"She'll just want to be with her family and enjoy her last birthday with Wills before there's a little one to look after," a source told Look magazine in the UK.

One report suggested that William's present for his 30-something wife will be a home away from London, a little something in the $8 million range in the countryside.

In the meantime, she'll just bask in the absence of having to fulfill royal duties. The relative quiet may not last that long ....

... Since Prince Harry is due back on English soil from Afghanistan.

HarryThe exact date is hush-hush for security reasons, but his four-month tour of duty began in September, so it won't be long now.

The Daily Star tabloid reports that Harry's brother, Prince William, and Kate are planning a "massive bash" for the Apache helicopter co-pilot gunner.

No doubt Harry, 28, is about due for one after being, literally, under the gun with the UK troops fighting the Taliban. There are no all-out parties at Camp Bastion, where everyday can produce a deadly encountrer.

The prince's presence has clearly irritated the local war lords. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, labelled an Afghan terrorist by the U.S. State Department, said of Harry: "The British prince comes to Afghanistan to kill innocent Afghans while he is drunk."

Military officials shrugged off the barb, noting that troops are not allowed to drink alcohol while deployed on operations.

Yes, the Prince Harry stories will soon be running fast and furious.




Queen and Prince Philip set a brisk pace for younger royals

157004881They are one year older and maybe a step slower, but there's no sign the Queen and Prince Philip are about to retreat into semi-retirement anytime soon.

Figures compiled from Palace records show this most senior duo of royals are keeping up their end of the work when it comes to royal engagements.

By definition, these can be anything from awarding medals to attending luncheons to visiting a seniors residence to presiding over a charity to meeting heads of state, at home or abroad.

At 91, and despite some ill health, the Duke of Edinburgh is still setting a blazing pace, attending 325 engagements in 2012. The Queen, at 86, is no slouch at this game either, with 425 dates, 50 more than the previous year and all of them in the UK.

The numbers are compiled each year by Tim O'Donovan, who unofficially keeps track of royal actitivites via the Court Circular and published them in the Times.

The top royal in this department is once again the Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles, at 592 engagements, including 112 overseas. His sister, Anne, is often overlooked, but she always proves to be one of the busiest royals, racking up 566 engagements.

Most of the attention, naturally, has been on the younger generation of royals, but they still have a ways to go to match their elders. That's to be expected, since both William and Harry are members of the military and as such are restricted in the number of royal engagements they perform.

The Duchess of Cambridge, in her first full year as a member of the Royal Family, clocked in with an impressive 111 engagements, including 36 overseas. Don't expect her match that in 2013, with an heir on the way that's due in late June or July.

158616317As far as the Queen's daughters-in-law, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex (right) was the most impressive, with 324 engagements, 155 of them outside the country. Her husband, Prince Edward, had 431 total engagements.

Here's a rundown of some of the senior royals at work over the last three years:


2012 2011 2010
Prince Charles 592 601 585
Princess Anne 566 568 514
Prince Andrew 436 455 539
Queen Elizabeth 425 370 444
Prince Philip 325 330 356
Duchess of Cornwall 276 250 243
Duchess of Cambridge 111     34
Prince William 88 90 73
Prince Harry 61 16 53
(Figures not verified by Buckingham Palace.)


Pregnant Kate finds some comfort in shortbread

151755377Finally, here's something all the Duchess Kate wannabes can afford.

Designer gowns, expensive shoes and diamond-encrusted earrings are not necessary to feel Kate-like these days. Instead of the dough you find in your wallet, all you need is a little cookie dough.

The Duchess of Cambridge, now entering her second trimester of pregnancy, has apparently developed one of those well-know side effects of being with child -- cravings. In her case, according to the Sun in London, it's lavender shortbread.

“A lot of women develop cravings during pregnancy and Kate is no exception," a source told the paper. "She has got a real taste for these biscuits.

“Lavender is said to have healing properties, so it is not such a wacky food to nibble on when you’re pregnant.”

Even better, the sugary cookies are in plentiful supply around the royal household, since they are available from Prince Charles's Duchy Originals, a company he set up in 1990 to promote organic recipes and farming.

Lavender shortbreadOf course, you can always make them yourself.

It helps that lavender is one of the cures for morning sickness. Even the smell of it can reportedly settle a stomach. Kate has had more than enough of that queasy feeling, having been hospitalized for several days with acute morning sickness.

On the craving scale, Kate is very much a commoner. Sweets are one of the most common cravings during pregnancy, as are items like pickles, cheese, bacon and peanut butter. One report also said Kate has developed a particular fondness for scones with jam and clotted cream.

The royal couple didn't get much of a chance to feast on biscuits at the Queen's Sandringham estate. They missed Christmas with the Royal Family, opting to spend the day at the Middleton family home in Bucklebury, though they show up for Boxing Day in time for the annual pheaant shoot. Prince William joined in the hunt, while Kate spent time out of the rain with the Queen.

They were expected to spend New Year's at Prince Charles's Scottish retreat, Birkhall.




Royals: The best and not-so-best of 2012 (Part III)

The year 2012 was a special for a lot of reasons royal-wise. For one, the Queen, 86 years young, proved to be as vibrant, and as relevant, to a nation that is looking for role models. Her Diamond Jubilee year just added more sparkle to an already impressive reign.

For another, the year marked the emergence of the new generation, but this glance was perhaps as fleeting as youth itself. Prince William and Kate are no longer just a couple of newlyweds. They took on more royal duties and now are starting a family. This next year is a definite new phase in their lives, both family and work-wise.

With that in mind, here's the final part in our series of images that helped tell the royal story in 2012:


Best-Best of the royals 2012

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge got down to the level of her audience at Rose Hill Primary School in Oxford on Feb. 21. The visit carried special significance for the newshounds, who picked up on a conversation Kate had with some of the children, letting it slip out that the name of her new dog was Lupo. The black cocker spaniel was bred from a family pet owned by Kate's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. (AFP/Getty Images)


Best-Best of the royals 2012_3

Queen Elizabeth was all smiles and giggles as she attended the Epsom Derby on June 2. It was the start of a four-day celebration of her Diamond Jubilee to mark 60 years on the throne. It was a fitting start to the Jubilee weekend, considering the Queen's long association with thoroughbred racing. Horses from her stables have been in the the winner's circle of some of Britian's most prestigious races. The one crown that has eluded her in 60 years is the Epsom Derby, though she came close in 2011 when Carlton House finished third. (Reuters)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

Prince William looked a little out of place with a grass skirt and blazer, and also proved to be a little out of rhythm with the rest of the Tuvalu natives, and Kate, as he made a brave attempt at island dancing at the welcoming ceremony for the royals on Sept. 18. With the topless-Kate scandal behind them, at least temporarily, the couple seemed to get their second wind on the nine-day tour of Asia and the South Pacific with plenty of fun photo-ops like this one. (Getty Images)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

Even from the rear, there was no mistaking this threesome during the London Summer Olympics. As ambassadors of Team GB, Will, Kate and Harry were the most visible spectators for much of the Games. Here, they were just getting started as they took part in welcoming the Olympic flame to Buckingham Palace on July 26. (Reuters)


Move-Best of the royals 2012_2

Before the Olympics even began officially, it was proving to be full of surprises. The biggest was the Queen playing a lead role in the James Bond spoof video during the opening ceremony. When it came time for the Queen to jump from a plane, though, it was stunt-double Gary Connery (no relation to Sean) who took the leap. Wearing a copy of the Queen's dress and a wig, Connery steered the parachute to a spot just outside the Olympic Stadium and a few minutes later the real Queen entered the stadium. Connery's only regret was that he couldn't keep the dress. As for why he was chosen to impersonate the monarch, the only answer he could come up with was "I've got Queen-style legs." (Reuters)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

Here's a sight you won't see much ... Prince Charles doing a little ironing. He and his daughter-in-law Kate were pressing a couple of artworks they made during a visit to the Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts at the Dulwich Gallery in South London on March 15. (AFP/Getty Images)


Not-Best of the royals 2012_2

Prince Charles has a knack for looking slightly out of place when presented with a prop. Here, he kept one ear free while he learned how to scratch and fade with a turntable during a tour of an employment skills workshop in Toronto on May 22. He and Camilla made a four-day whirlwind tour of Canada -- with stops in New Brunswick, Regina and Toronto -- to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (CP Photo)


Not-Best of the royals 2012_4

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall appeared slightly intimidated as she shared a stage with her husband and a couple of chiefs from First Nations University in Regina on May 23. The serious faces seemed to disappear as the day went on and the royal couple was treated to a drum circle and traditional dancers. (Reuters)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

The biggest royal event in Sweden in 2012 was the birth of a new heir. Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, aka Princess Estelle, Duchess of Ostergotland, was born Feb. 23 to Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Daniel. As Victoria's first-born child, she is second in line to the Swedish throne behind her mother. (AP Photo/Swedish Royal Court)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge cleaned up very well for an appearance at Royal Albert Hall on May 11 to take in the British Olympic Association's concert, 'Our Greatest Team Rises.' Kate rose to the occasion with a Jenny Packham gown while Prince William shined the shoes and put on a tux. (Getty Images)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

We wind up this look back at royal photos of 2012 with two striking images of the woman of the Diamond Jubilee year, Queen Elizabeth. The first is the monarch in profile, eyes closed, as she stood by a cross bearing a poppy during the service of remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, on Nov. 11. About 10,000 veterans marched past the Cenotaph in the annual service to remember those who have lost their lives serving in the Armed Forces. The Queen herself served in uniform during the late stages of the Second World War with the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service. (AP Photo)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

The final image is actually a painting, the official Diamond Jubilee portrait commissioned by the Palace. Done by Australian artist Ralph Heimans, it shows the monarch standing on the Cosmati pavement, where kings and queens have been crowned in Westminster Abbey for 700 years. The 2.5x3.5-metre portrait shows a reflective Queen, dressed in the robes she wore at her Coronation in June 1953. Among the many portraits done of the Queen, this one stands out.


Best of the royals 2012, Part I

Best of the Royals, Part II


Royals: The best and not-so-best of 2012 (Part II)

The year 2012 will go down as a year of transition for the royals in Britain.

This will go down as the year the members of the younger generation made their presence felt, where you could sense them forging their regal identities. Harry made his first overseas tour, William and Kate strode confidently through both crisis and triumph, even Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie lent a hand in royal duties.

All the while, the Queen, after 60 years on the throne, stayed dutifully above the fray, basking in the Diamond Jubilee while most definitely sharing the stage with her grandchildren.

With all that in mind, we pick up where Part 1 left off from our look back images from the royal year that was ....


Best-Best of the royals 2012

HarryPrince Harry made the most of his first royal tour, bringing a sense of informality and fun every place he went, from Belize to the Bahamas to Jamaica and Brazil. One of the most enduring images, above, was him striking the iconic Usain Bolt pose with the originator himself at the University of the West Indies on March 6 in Kingston, Jamaica. In Brazil, right, he charmed the kids while playing rugby at Flamengo Beach in Rio de Janeiro. (Getty Images)


Best-Best of the royals 2012

The Thames River Pageant on June marked the apex of the Diamond Jubilee with a thousand boats cruising through London and all eyes on the Spirit of Chartwell barge carrying the Royal Family. Despite dreary weather, it was a triumph of spectacle. On board, the Queen was resplendent in white. The Duchess of Cornwall chose a creamier outfit, while Kate picked up on the boat's red colour scheme with an Alexander McQueen dress. Kate's choice was not without its critics, who suggested she was trying to "outshine" the Queen. (AFP/Getty Images)


Best-Best of the royals 2012
The 5-foot-4 Queen didn't quite measure up to some of the British Olympic athletes, but she still walked tall while in the Athletes Village on the first day of the London Olympics on July 28. (Getty Images)


  Move-Best of the royals 2012

She never quite made it to the Olympics as an athlete, but the Duchess of Cambridge was not entirely out of her depth when she joined Great Britian's field hockey teams on March 15. The former captain of Marlborough College's team acquitted herself quite well as she donned her form-fitting athletic wear for a workout with the national team. It was all part of her duties as an official ambassador for Team GB. (Getty Images)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge acknowledged the welcome of the Solomon Islanders as they left the airport aboard a truck decorated as a canoe in Honiara on Sept. 16. The royal couple made a nine-day tour of Asia and the South Pacific to mark Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. The visit was bittersweet for the royal couple, who became embroiled in a legal battle during the tour to keep topless pictures of Kate from further publication. (AFP/Getty Images)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

This sheep wasn't going to let Prince Charles think he was just one of the flock, leaping into the air as the royal toured the Leenavale Sheep Stud at Sorell, Australia, on Nov. 8. Charles and Camilla made a two-week tour of Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.


Not-Best of the royals 2012

Prince William and Kate looked none too pleased as they departed Kuala Lumpur airport in Maylasia on Day 4 of their Diamond Jubilee Tour, Sept. 14. The night before, they found out that a French magazine, Closer, was about to publish topless photos of the duchess taken while they were on holiday in France. Prince William, according to sources, was livid about the invasion of privacy and legal action was immediately launched. (Getty Images)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

Being the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge has its privileges, including seats at Centre Court for Wimbledon. Pippa Middleton made an unflattering face at Kate during the Roger Federer-Andy Murray match on July 8, but it was a rare off moment for the mostly-smiling Pippa.  It was an up-and-down year for Pippa, who remained a paparazzi target in 2012. She split with her boyfriend and earned some bad reviews for her party-planning book, "Celebrate," but she remained a hot commodity in social circles. (Reuters)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

There are plenty of strange customs around the world, one of them being a toilet-throwing contest in the Netherlands. It was part of the festivities marking Queen's Day, a Dutch national holiday celebrating the birthday of Queen Beatrix's mother, Juliana. Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander did his part in this pageant of all things orange in Rhenen on April 30. A month later, he said he felt "shame" at the contest since it was at odds with role as chairman of the United Nations Water and sanitation advisory board. (AP Photo)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

One can only guess what Prince Philip might have been thinking as he examined the rear of this mannequin at the Yorkshire Museum. The Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by Janet Barnes, CEO of York Museums Trust, was touring an exhibition of medieval costumes designed by York College Students on April 5. (Getty Images)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

There was much to celebrate as Prince William and Kate embarked on their second major foreign royal tour in September, and this photo captures that spirit. The couple was in Singapore, kicking off their nine-day Southeast Asian and Pacific tour. With a clink of glasses (water for the duchess), they toasted the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on Sept. 11 at a gala reception at Eden Hall. A few days later, smiles turned to frowns as topless pictures of Kate emerged. (AFP/Getty Images)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

Kisses on the balcony has now become standard behaviour for royals. Luxembourg's Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume didn't disappoint the crowds as he plants one on his wife Princess Stephanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, on the Grand Ducal Palace balcony. The scene came after the religious marriage ceremony on Oct. 20. The couple, who are distant cousins, had been dating for about two years. (Reuters)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

We end Part II with another balcony scene as members of Britain's Royal Family watch a flypast from Buckingham Palace following the Trooping the Colour ceremony on June 16. The ceremony marked the 86-year-old monarch's official birthday (her actual birthdate is April 21).  From left: Prince Andrew, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne, Prince Philip, Tim Lawrence, Louise Windsor, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Princess Eugenie and Prince Harry. (Reuters)

MORE: Royal moments of 2012 (Part I)



Royals: The best and not-so-best of 2012 (Part I)

It was quite a year for the royals, from the Diamond Jubilee, to a couple of scandals, to a new heir on the way.

It seems an appropriate time, before the calendar flips another year, to look back. Hence ....

We present some of the images that told the story of a year in royals, moments that were important, or funny, or symbolic, or odd, or beautifully photographed, or all the above. We discovered quite a few, so we're dividing them into three parts over the next several days.


Best-Best of the royals 2012

What better way to start a retrospective than at the end ... with Prince William and Kate announcing they are expecting a baby. Here, they posed for a few seconds on Dec. 6 after Kate was released from hospital suffering from acute morning sickness. She was only about 10 weeks pregnant, so look for a late June, early July birth. A truly inspired storyline would see a birth on July 1, the birthdate of Prince William's late mom, Princess Diana. (AFP/Getty Images)


Best-Best of the royals 2012

Six-year-old Alex Logan tags Prince Harry with a toy penguin as he greets him at the WellChild awards ceremony in London on Sept. 3. This was the first public outing for Harry since he was caught with his pants and everything else down at a Las Vegas party in his suite. The photos captured by one of the guests made their way around the web world. Before meeting Harry, Alex, who has leukemia, announced he would tell the prince "I'm glad you've got your clothes on." Harry found out about the scheme and beat him to the punch. "You keep looking up at your mom," he told the youngster with a smile. "It looks like you're dying to say something and you're worried she'll tell you off. I heard you were on ITV earlier and you said something cheeky -- but lets not talk about that here." (AP Photo)


Best-Best of the royals 2012

Princess Anne hugged her daughter Zara Phillips on the podium with her British teammates after Zara helped win the silver medal in the team equestrian of the Eventing competition at the 2012 London Olympics on July 31. This was a special moment for both women. Zara was making her Olympic debut after missing out on the Beijing Games because of an injury to her horse. Princess Anne had competed, but failed to medal, at the 1976 Games in Montreal. (AFP/Getty Images)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

Never mind the high heels and what they could do to the artificial turf. This was every girl's dream ... returning in triumph to the school of her youth, as a duchess no less. Weaing tartan reminiscent of her school days, the Duchess of Cambridge tried out the new turf at her old school, St. Andrew's in Berkshire. She attended the school between 1986 and 1995. A few days after this little field hockey exhibition with students, Kate was in hospital with morning sickness. (AFP/Getty Images)


Move-Best of the royals 2012

A young girl looked a little dejected after giving up the flowers she was carrying to present to Prince Charles during a walkabout in Saint John, N.B, on May 21. Charles and Camilla were on a four-day visit to Canada to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (CP Photo)


Move-Best of the royals 2012
In accordance with custom, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, take off their shoes before visiting the As-Syakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur on Sept. 14, 2012. The royal couple were on their second stop of a nine-day tour of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (Reuters)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

A copy of The Sun newspaper in London featured a picture of a naked Prince Harry on Aug. 24. The tabloid was the first and only paper in the UK to print photographs of Prince Harry from his naked Las Vegas romp, igniting a huge debate on the boundaries of royal media coverage in the UK. The issue became even more of a lightning rod in the next month as photos of a topless Duchess of Cambridge were circulated in Europe. No publication in Britain dared to challenge the royal lawyers in that case. (Reuters)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

No, it wasn't her grandson. Queen Elizabeth seems intent to stare through the camoflage as she meets a sniper from the Household Cavalry during a visit to Combermere Barracks in Windsor on Nov. 26. (Reuters)


Not-Best of the royals 2012

Prince Charles and Lisa Shannon dance at the Dance-O-Mat during a visit to Feilding, New Zealand, on Nov. 16. The Dance-O-Mat was set up to give people the opportunity to keep dancing after many of the venues were destroyed by the earthquake of 2010. (Getty Images)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

In a rare moment of public physical contact, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hugged as the British men's pursuit team won cycling gold on Aug. 2 at the velodrome during the London Olympic Games. The pair were a regular attaction at Olympic events, acting as official Olympic ambassadors for Team GB. (Getty Images)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

Outside the Assyakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Kate looks relfective as she adjusts her scarf. In line with religious law, all vistors to the mosque must remove their shoes and women must cover their heads before entering. That didn't prevent Kate from looking very stylish in her $900 Sabitri dress by Beulah London. (AFP Photo)


Portrait-Best of the royals 2012

Prince Harry, Kate and Prince William waved in formation as they acknowledged the thousands who turned up to see the Royal Family on a barge, just one vessel among the flotilla of a thousand boats on the Thames on June 3. The river pageant was the highlight of a long weekend of festivities marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (AFP/Getty Images)

MORE: Best of the Royals (Part II)


Queen still brings out a big crowd for traditional Christmas Day outing

Queen Elizabeth receives flowers from children as she leaves the Christmas Day church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham on Tuesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

There was no William and Kate, but there was still plenty of star power left in the Royal Family on Tuesday, drawing about a thousand people for a glimpse as they attended Christmas Day services at St. Mary Magdalene Church.

2012-12-25T132316Z_01_TOB503_RTRMDNP_3_BRITAINAccording to reports some people arrived as early as 4 a.m. to make sure they were front-of-line to see the royals as they made their trek from Sandringham House to the 11 a.m. service.

The Queen, who is just getting over a cold, was accompanied to the church by her granddaughters Beatrice and Eugenie in a Bentley while others in the family, including 91-year-old Prince Philip, made the traditional walk with other members of the Royal Family. He missed last year's service after undergoing emergency heart surgery.

Prince William and Kate, meanwhile, will have to join up with the Royal Family later. They spent Christmas Day with the Middleton family in Berkshire, where they attended early-morning church services at St. Mark's in Englefield. Prince Harry is also missing from Sandringham this year, on duty with UK troops serving in Afghanistan.

Despite the effects of a cold, the Queen beamed as she left church and met a line of about 50 kids eager to present her with small gifts.

After church, the Royal Family headed back to Sandringham for their Christmas lunch, then a spot of TV-watching as the Queen delivered her annual Christmas message, this time in 3D. (SEE VIDEO BELOW.)

In her message, the Queen paid tribute to all who helped her celebrate her Diamond Jubilee year as well as those who were part of the London Olympics.

"As London hosted a splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes," she said.

Talking about the Thames river pageant highlighting the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June, she said: "On the barges and the bridges and the banks of the river there were people who had taken their places to cheer through the mist, undaunted by the rain. That day there was a tremendous sense of common determination to celebrate, triumphing over the elements."


Prince  William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge leave Englefield Church in Englefield in Berkshire. (Reuters)


Sophie, Countess of Wessex, left, Lady Louise Windsor, Prince Edward, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence attend the traditional Christmas Day service at St. Mary Magdalene Church near King's Lynn, England. (Getty Images)


Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips, wearing a hat by Karen Henriksen, and her husband Mike Tindall arrive for the British royal family's traditional Christmas Day church service. (AP Photo)


2012-12-25T133924Z_01_TOB512_RTRMDNP_3_BRITAINQueen Elizabeth's granddaughters Princesses Eugenie, left, and Beatrice hold flowers the Queen received from children after attending the the Christmas Day church service. (AP Photo)


Queen Elizabeth receives flowers from children after attending the Christmas Day church service. (AP Photo)


Autumn Phillips, Peter Phillips and Princess Anne walk past the well-wishers to St. Mary Magdalene Church. (Getty Images)


Prince Philip waves as he leaves the family's traditional Christmas Day church service in Sandringham. (AP Photo)


Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend the traditional Christmas Day church service at St. Mary Magdalene Church. (Getty Images)


Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York watch as Queen Elizabeth accepts a posey of flowers after the Royal Family Christmas Day church service. (AFP/Getty Images)


Queen Elizabeth, wearing an Angela Kelly gown, records her Christmas message to the Commonwealth, in 3D for the first time, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace earlier this month. The Queen  paid tribute in her Christmas speech to Great Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes for inspiring the nation during a "splendid summer of sport." (Getty Images)


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