A royal year: From heiresses to 'Heilnesses', bathtub bans to beachheads

Royal families around the world celebrated some big milestones this year. There were plenty of memorable moments for royal watchers, who obsessed over babies, glamorous weddings and important anniversaries.

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But just like regular families, monarchs and their heirs had some of their best -- and worst -- times in 2015.

The good times included the birth of Princess Charlotte, the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II as the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history and the lavish wedding of Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and reality TV star Sofia Hellqvist.

But there were also many less flattering, and sometimes odd, stories about royals that went beyond the usual tabloid headlines. We’ve compiled some of the highlights:

The future faces of Prince George and Princess Charlotte

Prince George

The world is obsessed with the youngest heirs to the British throne, so it’s no surprise that someone is already trying to predict what the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s children will look like decades into the future. Scientists at the University of Bradford in the U.K. have developed software that can predict someone’s future appearance by blending their parents’ individual features. This fall, they demonstrated the software’s capabilities by creating imagined – and some say slightly creepy -- photos of Prince George and Princess Charlotte at different stages in their lives, up to age 60.

The Queen’s Nazi salute

The Sun newspaper shows photo of Queen saluting

A British tabloid stirred up controversy in July when it published images of a young Queen Elizabeth II performing the Nazi salute with her family in 1939. The Sun’s front-page headline blared: “Their Royal Heilnesses,” prompting Buckingham Palace to issue a rare response expressing the Royal Family’s disappointment with the publication.

The prince who will never be king

Romania's ex-King Michael with son Price Nicholas

The international press rarely pays attention to Romania’s royal family, but the Balkan nation’s former King Michael made headlines around the world in August when he stripped his only grandson, Prince Nicholas, of the royal title. In what was perhaps the biggest royal snub of 2015, King Michael said the royal family should instead be led by someone who is “modest, well-balanced and with moral principles.” Ouch.

An heir’s lonely end in a trailer park

Tsar Alexander III and family

Tsar Alexander III ruled the vast Russian empire of the 19th century, but his great-grandson died poor and alone – save for his dog -- in a trailer park in the Australian Outback. The locals didn’t even know Prince Philip’s real name and simply called him Old Nick. He died of a suspected heart attack and a local family paid for his funeral.

Swedish king calls for bathtub ban

King Carl XVI Gustaf

It was a tongue-in-cheek comment that nevertheless raised some eyebrows: King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden suggested in an interview that “all bathtubs should be banned” in an effort to conserve water. The eco-conscious royal said the idea struck him when he realized how much “fresh water and energy” was wasted with each bath. “I really felt ashamed then, I really did,” he said.

Prince Charles is worried about his Camembert

Prince Charles

The future King of England is not known for impassioned speeches, but he delivered something close to one this year on an unusual topic – cheese. He told an audience in Paris that he fears for the very existence of traditional French cheeses as genetically modified foods become more common. “What will become of the Brie de Meaux, the Crottin de Chavignol or the Bleu d'Auvergne?" he wondered.

Prince of Monaco loses court fight over love child

Court rules against Prince of Monaco

Ten years after Prince Albert II of Monaco unsuccessfully tried to prevent the publication of a magazine story about a secret son he had with a flight attendant, the Europe’s top human rights court ruled in favour of press freedom. The court ruled that the prince was not justified in trying to keep his love child a secret and that the public had the right to know about a potential heir.

Saudi royal takeover in Cote d’Azur

French beach

Saudi Arabia’s King Salaman caused an uproar in southern France this year when he and his entourage forced the closure of a strip of beach during his visit to the Cote d'Azur. More than 150,000 people signed a petition protesting the closure in front of the king’s villa. He left France after just eight days, but it’s unclear whether the grumpy locals drove him away.

Demands for return of ‘stolen’ crown jewel

Crown jewel

A court petition was filed in Pakistan seeking the return of the Koh-i-noor diamond that the document claims was forcibly handed over to British rulers during India’s colonial times. The 105-carat diamond, presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, was set at the front of the crown made for the late Queen Mother Elizabeth. India has also been calling on the U.K. to return the diamond.

A Canadian disavowal

Dror Bar-Natan

And finally, one of the year’s odder stories about royalty comes courtesy of a new Canadian who insisted on renouncing his oath to the Queen immediately after taking part in a citizenship ceremony. While many Canadians hold the Queen and the Royal Family close to their hearts, Dror Bar-Natan, a math professor from Israel, sees the monarchy as a symbol of inequality. Since Ontario’s top court has ruled that citizens can publicly disavow their oath to the Queen, Bar-Nathan did just that in a formal letter to the judge.


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