Could Disney animators have drawn a more perfectly perfect royal wedding? A handsome prince in scarlet, his exquisite bride in hand-stitched lace, a horse-drawn carriage and a balcony kiss-make that two!-for the ages. Eight months after the Big Day Watched Round the World, Prince William and Princess Kate-a.k.a. the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge-both 29, have lived up to the hype, bringing their unique combo of high glamour and easy warmth everywhere from Buckingham Palace to Hollywood to their adopted home of Anglesey, Wales. “She is enjoying being with the love of her life,” says a friend, “and he’s enjoying being with his.”
That daily comfort will soon be put to the test: a nearly two-month separation in early 2012 when William leaves for the Falklands as part of his Royal Air Force job. But no one who has seen the former Kate Middleton in action doubts her ability to step into the spotlight solo. As natural pushing a grocery cart as she is hobnobbing with President Obama and the First Lady, she made the leap from overnight royal to international icon without a single misstep in her favorite taupe L.K. Bennett pumps. (Yes, they’re out of stock.) And she’ll soon be in even greater demand: One Palace source signals “major changes” for both Kate and William, who are expected to take on a far greater public role when the Queen’s jubilee celebration wraps up at the end of 2012. As for all the breathless baby anticipation, “news of a pregnancy would put a seal on their happiness,” says royals author Judy Wade. “It’s going to be a great year.”
The Kate EFFECT
Number of knock-off Kenneth Jay Lane rings sold on QVC since Kate debuted her sapphire sparkler.
Time it took for Net-a-Porter.com to sell out of Kate’s navy silk-jersey Issa engagement dress.
Number of U.S. outlets opened by L.K. Bennett, Kate’s go-to shoe designer, in ’11.
Estimated dollar amount of royal wedding memorabilia sold.
Number of visitors this summer to Buckingham Palace, where Kate’s Alexander McQueen bridal gown was on exhibit.
The Superstar Sister
Savvy, sporty and the hottest bridesmaid ever, Princess Kate’s sister, 28, is also one of the world’s most eligible bachelorettes since breaking up with her longtime beau in November. Pippa-who reportedly plans to release a party-planning book in 2012-“is friendly and fun,” says a society source. “She likes to have a drink.” Fellas, the line to buy one for her starts waaaay back here …
The Dynamic Duo
Jennifer Aniston & Justin Theroux
In May the new couple were spotted at her favorite under-the-radar L.A. eatery Sunset Tower. By fall the actress had embraced his New York neighborhood and signature style-all black. “They’re very much on the same page,” a pal says of the actress.
After Phillip and Nancy Garrido were sentenced to life in prison in June, Dugard, 31, described her 18 years in their captivity in an excerpt from her memoir A Stolen Life in PEOPLE’s July 18 issue. Thriving two years after her dramatic rescue, she lives with mom Terry Probyn and her daughters, now 14 and 17, in Northern California. Her recently launched JAYC Foundation helps families of abducted children. “So many can be helped,” she tells PEOPLE, “if we unite.”
That WAS ME!
I Married My Partner
“We can be secure together-nobody can take anything away from us now.”-Cheryle Rudd (right), who wed partner of 12 years, Kitty Lambert, the minute marriage equality came to New York
I Occupied Wall St.
“At 7 p.m. we had our first consensus to occupy. There were 30 to 80 people committed to getting arrested to keep the spot.”-Ted Hall, at the protest from day one (Sept. 17)
I Got a Date with JT
“There was never a dull moment! And I have to say Justin fit right in.”-from the blog of Kelsey De Santis who convinced the star to take her to the Marine Corps Ball
Voice of the Year
Five Fun Facts
1 She used to be a hair model: “My cousin used me for a hair-dressing competition,” says Adele, 23. “I have so much hair-it’s so big!”
2 Sinead O’Connor makes her sob: One night she “got home at 2 a.m. and cried, listening to ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ and looking out the window. Such a cliche!”
3 She’s been all over the style map: “I was a skater girl, a grunger, and at one point I tried to look like Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
4 Airplanes are not her friends: “I was going to take a boat to America because I hate flying.”
5 Louis Armstrong is her BFF: “My dachshund Louie is supercute. He’s the love of my life.”
When a fire broke out at Sir Richard Branson’s island home Aug. 22, the actress/houseguest carried his 90-year-old mom to safety.
At a Nov. 27 screening of Moneyball, Pitt consoled a suicidal struggling actor in the crowd.
In August a woman said Paltrow saved her on 9/11 by nearly hitting her with her SUV-delaying her commute to the World Trade Center.
The actor busted up a New York City street brawl June 24. His derring-do was captured on a cell phone video and went viral.
On Jan. 8 Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Giffords event in Tucson, killing 6 and wounding 13, including the congresswoman, 41, who took a bullet to the brain. With the help of her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, she’s made a remarkable recovery, her speech still halting but her spirit unbowed. In an excerpt from their memoir in PEOPLE’s Nov. 21 issue, she vowed she’ll never give up on her dream of returning to Washington. As she told constituents in a recent voice mail, “I want to get back to work.”
Serena & Venus Williams
“I’m thankful for today because you never know what will happen tomorrow-we both learned that this year,” says Serena (left), who bounced back from a pulmonary embolism in February, while Venus revealed in August that she has an autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s syndrome. Back on the court, the sisters faced off in November-Venus won. Her goal for 2012? “Bring home an Olympic medal playing doubles with Serena.”
Vincent van Gogh
Did the troubled painter kill himself, as was once thought? The authors of the new biography Van Gogh: The Life make a convincing case that he was actually accidentally shot to death by a teenage boy.
And you thought she was just a fashion maven! In the book Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War, author Hal Vaughan claims Chanel was acting as a German spy during WWII.
How’s this for a gender bender? Art historian Silvano Vinceti says Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece isn’t actually of a woman-it’s of da Vinci apprentice (and rumored lover) Gian Giacomo Caprotti.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis
Jackie O. wasn’t A-Okay with LBJ and MLK. Recently released tapes revealed the First Lady gossiping about Lyndon Johnson, and calling Martin Luther King Jr. “phony.”
A side-by-side comparison of two of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
Prince of Pop
Not a bad year for the Biebs (except for a fan’s so far unsuccessful paternity claim). He and Selena Gomez recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, he sold a few records (he had two No. 1 albums), and he did his best to cultivate a mustache. “I’m growing it out, man!” he said.
Most Endearing Actress
• As the titular New Girl, Deschanel, 31, is making the most of TV’s Year of the Woman. “I think it’s so great that they’re building shows around strong female characters,” says Deschanel of her hit sitcom and shows like 2 Broke Girls and Whitney. For the role of Jess-the lone gal in an apartment full of guys-Deschanel drew from her experience touring with her band She & Him. “Living on a bus with 12 people is like roommates on steroids,” she says. Her trick to making everyone play nice? “I make them all coffee and milk shakes.”
The ex-Friend called her Rachel do “the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen.”
The actor admitted he turned down the chance to play James Bond in 2005.
The anchor revealed he’d never tasted coffee or spinach. Finally, he tried-and hated-both.
The singer mocked the flowers given to her by a fan. Turns out, she loathes hydrangeas.
The Runaway Wife
Ode to Kim & Him
Kim walked the red carpet with her famous caboose/Trailed by siblings, and mom, and stepfather Bruce. /But what good reality stardom or deals/With no man to share in her photographed meals?
But then Kim discovered the man of her dreams: /Kris Humphries, of various basketball teams. /Tall and good-looking, he offered his heart/And proposed with rose petals (E! cameras took part).
The bride was an angel in dresses by Wang/Hearts softly cooed as they did the vow thang/(Cameras recorded the moment for E!)/”For better and worse,” for … eternity?
The days passed, a total of seventy-two/Then Kim doubled back on her famous “I Do.”/The marriage was over, the couple kaput./In her mouth, one might say, she’d inserted her foot.
But the marriage (thank goodness, recorded by E!) /Provided fresh grist for her show with Kourtney. /Was it all a mirage? A heartbreak? A ruse? /Kim walks the red carpet with her famous caboose.
Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones
After battling throat cancer, Douglas began 2011 with a clean bill of health and a renewed appreciation for his loved ones, especially his wife. “It brought our family closer,” he said. Meanwhile, Zeta-Jones bravely went public with her bipolar II diagnosis. After a brief stay at a mental-health facility, she was back to work, filming three movies (including Rock of Ages) while her husband took time, he said, to “smell the roses.” Next up? He’s playing Liberace!
Always a bridesmaid? Not any more. After years of playing second banana, the comedian got the last laugh in 2011 by stealing the show in the summer’s run-away hit Bridesmaids. By fall she was TV comedy’s alpha female-winning the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy for her sitcom Mike & Molly.
Celebs IN DRAG
She plays a woman who impersonates a man in 19th-century Ireland in the film Albert Nobbs.
The actor did double duty, playing both title characters in the movie Jack and Jill.
The diva appeared as her tough-guy alter ego, Jo Calderone, in fashion mags and at the VMAs.
The actress dressed as photographer Terry Richardson for his Candy magazine cover shoot.
This year a hacker was arrested for allegedly leaking naked pics of stars. Now we’ve unearthed nude photos of celeb pets!
Josephine with Holly Madison
Aston with Countess LuAnn de Lesseps
Baylor with Selena Gomez
Spartacus with Coco
The Breakout Star
• “Having the opportunity to meet and work with people I’ve admired has been a great thing,” says Stone, summing up the year in which she hit leading-lady status via A-list movies like The Help and Crazy, Stupid, Love. But the star’s favorite moment of 2011 happened on the small screen when she hosted SNL for the second time. “It was my birthday week, and it was kind of the icing on my life.”
On the STAND
• After four years in an Italian prison, the 24-year-old saw her conviction for the 2007 murder of roommate Meredith Kercher overturned. Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle Oct. 4 a free woman.
After dosing Michael Jackson with the powerful anesthetic propofol in his final hours, the physician, 58, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
• Her sensational trial on murder charges in the death of daughter Caylee, 2, gripped the nation. Acquitted July 17, the fast-living 25-year-old still faces civil suits and remains in hiding.
Once a hero to hard-luck kids, the former Penn State assistant football coach faces 52 counts of molesting or raping 10 boys, all of whom he met through his charity the Second Mile. The scandal has long coattails: Beloved football coach Joe Paterno was fired.
After winning Dancing with the Stars, the Iraqi war vet and former All My Children star’s dance card is filling up with offers, including one to pen his memoir. “People tell me, ‘You’ve taught me to be a better person,'” says Martinez. “That, to me, is the trophy.”
No one turns 30 quite like Beyonce. “I would say it’s one of my most defining years,” she says of 2011. First she released another chart-topper, 4. Then in August she revealed at the MTV Video Music Awards that she was expecting her first child with husband Jay-Z. “I thought it was so much better to show my pregnancy,” she says, “especially after so many false rumors.” She adds, “It’s been the best year of my life.”
In March the Two and a Half Men star went on a bizarro spree, veering from rants against his show’s co-creator to waving a machete and “Tiger Blood” on an L.A. rooftop. After getting fired, Sheen, 46, pulled himself together. Now he’s on to his next TV project, fittingly called Anger Management.