If 2011 sent royal watchers into a frenzy with six glittering weddings, Prince William and Kate’s smash tour of Canada plus a titillating scandal involving a sex club and, allegedly, Sweden’s king, then the events already crowding the 2012 calendar will send monarchists into orbit. Here are the top five happenings of the year:
1. Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee
The year-long celebrations to honour the sovereign’s 60 years on the throne promise to include some must-see events, including a 1,000-boat flotilla on the Thames and the lighting of 2012 beacons from one tip of Britain to the other. The country gets a four-day holiday in June for all the events, which will see millions lining the route to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a service of Thanksgiving. The last time a sovereign hit the big 60 was in 1897. Then Queen Victoria was so fat and unwell she remained seated in her carriage for a blessing at the cathedral. That’s not likely to happen with her über-healthy great-great-granddaughter. However, in a concession to her age—she’ll be 86 this year while Prince Philip will be 91—the regal couple is staying in Britain while the rest of the family will visit every realm country in the world, as well as some big Commonwealth republics.
2. Kate, year two
The duchess of Cambridge turns 30 today, a milestone she celebrated in advance on Sunday by attending the London premiere of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”–wrapped in a fabulous, floor-length lace gown by Alice Temperley–followed by “low-key and private” celebrations. London’s tabloids were taking turns guessing what William got for his wife. The latest had it being a watch–a very, very nice watch. There were also reports the Queen would give her a family tiara, though that will only be confirmed when she wears it in public. But so far, the royal family has kept everyone guessing.
After a massive debut in 2011—wedding, royal tour etc.—Kate’s expected to keep a much lower profile this year, so as to not overshadow the Queen. Expect a continuation of her ultra-neutral, ultra-simple fashion. As for a baby, the stork isn’t likely to come until after the summer’s Jubilee festivities and the London Olympics.
3. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark’s Ruby Jubilee
A cousin to most of Europe’s royal families, “Daisy,” as she’s been known since birth, celebrates 40 years on the throne this year. Not only is she beloved—her popularity stands at more than 80 per cent—but so is the monarchy itself, which Margrethe, who turns 72 in April, has done an enviably good job of modernizing. People like royals to act royal, but not too royal, and Denmark’s queen has figured out how to successfully walk that tightrope. Her dynasty is ancient—traced back to Gorm the ?—and the sovereign at times wears a crushing amount of historic jewelry. But she also has an artistic streak–she illustrated a Lord of the Rings edition; sketched sets and costumes for the 2009 film The Wild Swans, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale; and even designs some of her own clothes. And she is often seen doing her own shopping in Copenhagen.
And don’t expect her to abdicate any time soon to plunk her photogenic progeny, Crown Prince Frederik, and his equally glam wife, Mary, on the throne. Margrethe recently told the Danish daily Politiken, “My view has always been that it is an assignment that you have for life.”
4. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s upcoming bundle of joy
After a year marked by scandal gossip about her regal father’s alleged frequenting of sex clubs, along with revelations about her mother’s Nazi family secrets, the future queen will likely enjoy this year a lot better. In March she’s due to give birth to her first child, who, under Swedish law, will succeed Victoria on the throne.
5. Spain’s unsexy scandal
If there is a royal family guaranteed to have it rough in 2012, on the other hand, it is Spain’s. On Feb. 25 the king’s son-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, the duke of Palma de Mallorca, is slated to appear before a judge over allegations of corruption. The husband of Infanta Cristina is under investigation for misusing fund given to his foundation to organize sporting events. Spanish papers allege he siphoned the money into his private businesses and it’s widely believed he’ll be criminally charged in the affair within months.