Straight Talk
CHRISTINA BLIZZARD - 2012: Weird and wonderful year for Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth watches her Diamond Jubilee flotilla on the Thames River in London in June 2012.

Credits: REUTERS

CHRISTINA BLIZZARD | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - It was a diamond year of stunning success - glorious high points and stunning lows for the Royal Family.

The Queen's 60th anniversary year turned out to be one of royal triumphs, topless titillation and some very Naughty Harry.

Finally, the year of celebration turned tragic in the last month, when a nurse in a London hospital answered a prank call from two Australian radio hosts trying to talk to the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton.

But before that drama unfolded, there were other hijinx.

Pictures of Harry surfaced, showing the royal bad boy partying just a little too hearty in Vegas.

Then we saw a glimpse of topless Kate on vacation.

Kate was caught by long-lensed cameras in an off-guard, topless moment while on holiday with her hubby, Prince William, in a secluded villa in France.

It was no doubt a haunting reminder for William of the way his mother, Diana, died being pursued by paparazzi in a Paris tunnel.

Calling the incident an invasion of privacy that was "grotesque and totally unjustified," an outraged William took the French magazine Closer to court on criminal charges.

The year was the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne and it was celebrated with pomp and circumstance and the kind of pageantry the Brits do best.

In June, the largest flotilla ever assembled - most of the boats, barges and sailboats gaily bedecked with flowers and decorations - sailed down the River Thames. Sadly, the notoriously soggy English weather was characteristically unco-operative.

The Queen and Prince Philip stoically stood through an afternoon of torrential rain watching the sailpast. Prince Philip, 91, who'd been hospitalized last Christmas, was once again admitted to hospital - this time with a bladder infection, thought to have been made worse by standing in the cold and wet weather during the river pageant.

Meanwhile, Toronto had its own royal encounter.

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, were in town for Victoria Day. They wowed hundreds of guests at a reception at the Distillery District, visited the Yonge Street Mission and even surprised passengers on a TTC bus when they hopped aboard.

Their whirlwind tour through Canada also took them to New Brunswick and Saskatchewan.

The 2012 London Olympics provided one of the lighter royal moments of the year.

In a carefully choreographed spoof during the Games' opening ceremonies, the Queen teamed up with James Bond star Daniel Craig.

An opening segment showed Craig escorting the 86-year-old monarch from Buckingham Palace and then she appeared to parachute into the stadium from a helicopter.

It was, of course, a stunt double but it added a slightly irreverent humour to the event.

In September, Prince Harry learned that what happens in Vegas doesn't necessarily stay in Vegas, especially if you're a royal.

The billiard-playing prince was snapped partying naked, his hands cupping his private bits, with a group of young women at a hotel room.

Popular opinion was on Harry's side, it seems.

No sooner had the pics surfaced than a rash of copycat photos surfaced of groups mimicking Harry's nude pose. The younger royal, currently third-in-line to the throne, seems to be the one royal who can get away hijinx.

All was mostly forgiven, if not entirely forgotten, when he was shipped off to Afghanistan to serve with his army unit.

Just as the Jubilee year was winding down came word that Kate was expecting a child.

The news was released earlier than it otherwise would have been because Kate was hospitalized with extreme morning sickness.

As she was being treated at the King Edward VII Hospital, two Australian hoaxsters called the hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

In a squeaky, high-pitched voice with a faux upper-crust British accent, Michael Christian and Mel Greig asked to speak to "my granddaughter, Kate."

The call came in to the hospital at 5:30 a.m. when there was no receptionist on duty.

Two nurses spoke to the hoaxsters, the second revealing Kate had been very dehydrated when she had arrived at the hospital.

Jacintha Saldanha, the first nurse who answered the call and put it through to Kate's ward, later committed suicide.

Again, it was another echo of Diana's tragic death.

The world will be watching as Kate's pregnancy progresses.

And there will be big changes for William and Kate. They live in Anglesey, North Wales, a remote part of the U.K. where William is posted as a search and rescue helicopter pilot.

That may change. As the Queen slows down her royal duties, William and Kate may be needed closer to London.

One thing is for sure.

A new generation of royals may be on the way, but there's no sign the public's appetite for royal gossip will slow down any time soon.

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