The Year in Review 2012: Eventful year for Britain's royal family

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International  |  Dec. 21, 2012 at 4:30 AM
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Britain's royal family kept the tongues of gossips wagging on both sides of the pond this year, thanks to Queen Elizabeth II's lavish Diamond Jubilee celebration, Prince Harry's nude photo scandal, Prince Philip's health woes and Duchess Kate's pregnancy.

The 86-year-old queen became a great-grandmother for the second time in March with the birth of Isla Elizabeth Phillips -- the daughter of Peter and Autumn Phillips -- who is now 13th in line for the English throne. Peter is the son of Princess Anne, the queen's daughter, and her first husband, Mark Phillips. Peter and Autumn also have a 2-year-old daughter named Savannah.

In June, the queen marked her 60th anniversary on the throne with a four-day celebration in London that included a concert with performances by Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey; church services at St. Paul's Cathedral; flotillas down the Thames River; processions throughout London, and receptions at Mansion House and Westminster Hall.

Elizabeth is only the second monarch in British history -- after her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria -- to reign for at least 60 years.

Elizabeth's 91-year-old husband, Prince Philip, missed out on most of the festivities after he was hospitalized for a bladder infection.

The usually prim and proper monarch surprised the world in July when she was filmed leaving Buckingham Palace in a helicopter with current James Bond portrayer Daniel Craig, then appeared to parachute into the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics. Although it was actually a stunt double that popped out of the helicopter, the queen's participation in the hilarious stunt endeared her to millions.

The following month, Prince Harry, the queen's 28-year-old grandson, made headlines of his own when nude photos were taken of him at a Las Vegas party, then published in tabloid newspapers and posted online. Despite the public embarrassment the snaps scandal caused, the royal family stood by the hard-partying prince, with one St. James Palace source telling, "He didn't do anything unlawful. ... What he did was entirely his own business."

Prince Philip, the queen's husband was again hospitalized for several days with another infection in August, but is now believed to be in good health.

Prince William's 30-year-old wife, Kate, was the object of her own nude photo scandal in September. She and her husband sued the French magazine Closer for breach of privacy after it published topless photos of the duchess of Cambridge as she sunbathed while on holiday in Provence. The palace likened the unauthorized taking of the photos to "the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana, princess of Wales," referring to William's mother, who was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997 as her drunken chauffeur tried to evade pursuing paparazzi.

William, also 30, and Kate, who celebrated their first wedding anniversary in April, announced in early December they are expecting their first child in 2013. Their happy news was marred, however, when a nurse, who worked at the hospital where the duchess was being treated for extreme morning sickness and dehydration, hanged herself after she was caught up in an Australian radio prank in which she gave out information about Kate's condition to a woman pretending to be the queen. The radio personalities involved were fired and apologized profusely for the joke gone awry.

William and Kate have not disclosed the baby's gender or anticipated due date.

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