Prince off to an active start
While the rest of us were ringing in the new year with parties and fireworks, poor old Prince William was hunting for lost dog walkers in his lumbering Sea King helicopter.
He spent New Year's Eve away from Kate taking part in a search for a man blown into the sea in a force eight gale.
According to the Daily Mirror, William was on duty as part of a search and rescue helicopter crew when the alarm was raised that a man had been swept into freezing waves in Blackpool.
William was scrambled from RAF Valley on Anglesey, north Wales, just a few hours in to the New Year, searching for the missing man, who had been walking his dog in Blackpool with a friend when both men ended up in the water shortly after midnight.
There’s been a noticeable dearth of Prince Harry news since he was sent off to Afghanistan in service of grandmother and country, but the Royalists favourite observation is that his nickname in the army is ‘Big H’.
Samir Hussein, WireImage / Getty Images
The info comes via the Sun, tucked away in its report on how Harry has logged his first official ‘kill’ of a senior Taliban commander. The Sun’s source – who claims to have met Prince Harry in the cookhouse so is clearly unimpeachable - says:
"Big H is a legend. We were on patrol and the Apache helicopters were called in. We heard this posh voice come over the radio and knew it was Big H. They were tracking a Taliban leader — he was commander level. The Apache then let off some Hellfire missiles and its 30mm cannon and 'boom'. It was Big H all the way."
Kate celebrates with family
Prince William and Kate Middleton flouted royal tradition today to spend Christmas with the Middleton family, in Bucklebury, Berkshire.
The Queen and Eugenie today (Chris Jackson / Getty Images)
While the Queen attended church at Sandringham, with her husband and other royals including Beatrice and Eugenie, William and Kate joined Pippa, James, Carole and Michael at St Mark's Church in Berkshire.
Kate's morning sickness meant the young royals were given permission to skip the formal celebrations with the Monarch.
In her annual Christmas speech, the Queen spoke warmly about her own jubilee and the success of the London Olympics. the message was recorded in 3D for the first time ever.
Reports from India shed light on previous attempts
Jacintha Saldanha, the royal nurse who committed suicide after the Kate hospital hoax, had tried to kill herself twice before it has emerged.
Reports from her hometown of Mangalore in India are suggesting that Jacintha, who took her own life days after Australian DJs pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles, took an overdose of pills during a family trip to India last year.
She recovered after being rushed to hospital, but nine days later the mother of two attempted suicide again after jumping from a building.
Jacintha, 46, spent days in intensive care and was put on a course of antidepressants for nine months.
Her brother Naveen Saldanha, 42, told the Times of India: “Jacintha never wanted the family to know of the incident and we played a behind-the-scene role. Even this incident was not discussed at home for the knowledge of it would have hurt my ailing mother Carmine.”
Pippa's plans for a keep-fit book knocked back by publishers
Pippa Middleton’s plans to be a superstar celebrity author are in tatters after she was knocked back for a second book by her publishers, Penguin, following disappointing sales and reviews for her debut effort.
Pippa: no new book deal (FameFlynet)
She received a $500,000 advance for her party-planning book ‘Celebrate’, but it received a far from glowing literary reception – suitable for people who need “a recipe for ice” as one reviewer memorably remarked - and the manula was widely derided for its simplistic advice, including the gem that “turkeys are perfect for feeding larger gatherings”, but the young auteur was apparently not dissuaded from continuing her literary career.
According to the London Evening Standard, Pippa has ideas for a whole range of how-to manuals, and next on her hit-list is a keep-fit tome. (It might perhaps begin with the advice to ‘join a gym’ or ‘buy a pair of trainers’ in a ‘shop’, both activities which will require the use of ‘money’.)
Geneticists believe there is an even-money chance that William and Kate's baby could be born with red hair.
"For the child to have red hair, both parents need to be carriers," Alistair Moffat, director of a company caled BritainsDNA which carried out the research told the Daily Mail.
"Princess Diana and Prince Charles must both have been since Prince William’s brother, Harry, has gloriously red hair. The way the genetic dice fall, that means Prince William has a 67 per cent chance of being a carrier of the gene variant. The question remains, is Kate a carrier? As a result of our study, we can say she has a 38.3 per cent chance of being one. If those percentages are averaged, it is 52 per cent likely that Kate and Wills will have a red-haired child."
Kate attended a royal lunch yesterday and is feeling better, sources say
Some good news at last from the royal pregnancy – Kate’s feeling better, really, according to royal sources, and is hopeful that the worst of her acute morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum – is behind her.
Having been ‘50/50’ on whether or not she would be able to make it to Sandringham for the royal Christmas celebrations earlier this week, royal sources now say that William and Kate are hopeful that they will be able to announce either later today or tomorrow that they will be spending Christmas at the royal estate in Norfolk after all.
Their attendance at Sandringham will be expected to include making a public appearance at the local church on Christmas day and talking to the locals, as is customary. Last year, Kate spent over an hour talking to members of the public on Christmas day.
Kate on her way to the royal Christmas lunch yesterday (Indigo / Getty Images)
Charles' plans for a slimmed-down monarchy pres sonwards
In yet another humiliation for Prince Andrew's dynasty, he is to be required to pay rent on the royal apartment occupied by his children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, after their ousting from the family firm.
Still, its not a bad deal - he is only having to cough up about $30,000 to allow his two daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie to stay on in a four-bedroom apartment in the heart of London at St James’s Palace, according to The Daily Express's Richard Palmer.
Beatrice, 24, and Eugenie, 22, lost their taxpayer funded bodyguards and were excluded from the Jubilee balcony appearance by Prince Charles earlier this year. Charles is determined to 'slim down' the monarchy, and the the fifth and sixth in line to the throne have been told they must get jobs and will not be on the royal pay roll.
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (Stuart Wilson / Getty Images)
Prince William and Kate Middleton hosted 27 members of their staff on Tuesday Dec. 18 for a Christmas party and lunch at the Bumpkin restaurant in London's Notting Hill neighborhood, according to Us Weekly.
The mag reports that the pregnant Duchess "sipped soft drinks," and adds that her "health is improving" after dealing with acute morning sickness earlier this month.
Us adds: "The private bash wasn't extravagant, with everyone eating from the price-fixe Christmas Turkey menu, which cost a humble 30 pounds, or approximately $48, a head."
Charity bag-packing is something of a Christmas custom, and Charles and Camilla spent a few minutes packing Christmas hampers today at a London housing estate where waste ground has been converted in vegetable patches.
Arthur Edwards / WPA Pool / Getty Images
Like many men, Chaz struggled to do a neat job. As he packed the goods and attempted to tie a gold ribbon around the packages, Charles said to Camilla: "Have you really done all these, darling? I am really hopeless at this."
"Leave it to the expert," Camilla replied.
Veteran politician Eric Pickles later told the BBC that one can 'never have too many table mats' and the Queen now has the chance to put that claim to the test.
What to get the monarch who has everything? Politicians wrestling with that question today gave the queen a set of 60 placemats - and a chunk of the Antarctic twice the size of Great Britain.
The newly named Queen Elizabeth Land is a 169,000 square mile chunk of the British Antarctic Territory which makes up almost a third of Britain’s claim on the polar continent. The 60 placemats given as the queen attended a cabinet meeting today will probably be just as useful.
Veteran politician Eric Pickles later told the BBC that one can 'never have too many table mats' and the Queen now has the chance to put that claim to the test. Lucky her.
Jeremy Selwyn / WPA Pool / Getty Images
First time Monarch present since the 1700s
The Queen attended a meeting of the cabinet of the British government today, one of the final diamond jubilee events of the year.
Dressed in a royal blue coat, the Queen walked up the red carpet on the steps of No. 10 before standing chatting with the prime minister at the door to pose for photographs.
Chris Jackson / Getty Images
She is believed to be the first monarch to atend a cabinet meeting since King George III. A former Cabinet Secretary said it was a testimony to the Queen's neutrality that Prime Minister David Cameron felt able to invite a monarch into the UK's decision-making body for the first time in hundreds of years.
Kate made her first trip out of doors last night since hyperemesis gravidarum became part of our vocabulary. She looked stunning in a green McQueen gown at the BBC's sports personality of the year award.
The Duchess of Cambridge, walks out to present Lord Sebastian Coe with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London, Britain, 16 December 2012. (David Davies/EPA via Landov)
She attended for 45 minutes, long enough to hand out an award to cyclist Bradley Wiggins: "While the Duchess does not feel ready to attend a four-hour engagement, she is keen to show her support to the UK’s sportsmen and women at this prestigious event which caps a momentous year for British sport," said a royal spokesperson.
Kate attended the event alone as her husband, Prince William, was on duty as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and British soccer player David Beckham host the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2012 at ExCeL Arena, London, Britain, 16 December 2012. (David Davies/EPA via Landov)
Sixty years and hardly a slip.