Queen Elizabeth II became a taxpayer in 1994, learned she was losing her yacht and saw the Charles and Diana marriage-go-round still spinning headlines.

No wonder the queen's Christmas Day address to the nation dwelled on South Africa, the Middle East and Northern Ireland, and skipped over matters closer to home.She did, however, suggest that one and all "look to our own faults before we criticize others."

The good news in a dismal royal year was that drillers thought there might be oil beneath Windsor Castle. But the government gets the proceeds, if any, and Her Majesty would get a drilling rig in the garden.

Prince Charles told the world he had been unfaithful to Princess Diana. Her riding instructor claimed to have been her lover. The tabloids said Diana made nuisance telephone calls.

His authorized biography painted the queen as a distant mother and Prince Philip as an insensitive, overbearing father. But "The Prince of Wales," by Jonathan Dimbleby, gave the prince equal time on the marriage issue.

He seemed to gain points with the public for his candor in a TV documentary, when he admitted cheating on Diana only after the marriage had "irretrievably broken down."

Just over a year ago, dazzling Diana retreated from the public eye, appealing for understanding and relief from the constant attentions of the press.

In the months following, she was pursued by a posse of paparazzi, faced intense media scrutiny after allegations that nuisance phone calls were made from her private line and was photographed twice at surreptitious meetings with a friendly tabloid reporter.

Another book, "Princess Diana, Her New Life," described a princess focused on astrology, colonic irrigation and her beauty regime.

The queen visited Russia in October - the first monarch to do so since the Bolsheviks assassinated her relative, the Czar.

There was, as ever, talk about abolishing the monarchy. But all was not lost - an opinion poll in August found that the once deeply unpopular Princess Anne would be the public's first choice as an elected leader.