Why Queen Elizabeth Called 1992 Her ‘Annus Horribilis’


2022 marks the 30th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s “annus horribilis.” Thanks to the latest season of Netflix’s The Crown, many people are reliving the royal family’s horrible year.

The show’s fifth season follows the royal family through the early to mid-’90s. In fact, one episode deals directly with Her Majesty’s speech about the troublesome year of 1992.

On November 24, 1992, the queen made the infamous speech during which she donned the year as her “annus horribilis.”

1992 was marked by the demise of several royal marriages. Sensational photos and recordings of the royal family spread like wildfire. Then there was, of course, the actual fire that occurred at Windsor Castle.

With all of these events, is there any wonder that the queen publicly denounced the year?

‘1992 Is Not A Year On Which I Shall Look Back With Undiluted Pleasure’

As Queen Elizabeth marked the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne at her Ruby Jubilee, Her Majesty appeared to be in anything but a celebratory mood. In the past year, the royal family had been marred with strained marriages, affairs, and sensational pictures and recordings.

As the queen said in her speech, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”

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Surprisingly, the queen’s seemingly extreme statement was really an apt one. The year was one for the history books for the royal family. What’s more is that when the queen gave her speech in November, she had no idea that one more royal marriage would come to an end before the new year.

A Timeline For Why The Queen Called 1992 ‘Annus Horribilis’

Her Majesty’s horrible year started off with a bang.

In January 1992, photographs were published about an affair between Sarah, Duchess of York, and Texan oil millionaire Steve Wyatt. Then, on March 19, the queen’s son, Prince Andrew, separated from Sarah.

The following month, on April 23, the queen’s daughter, Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips. Less than two months later, Princess Diana published a revealing book, Diana: Her True Story, that divulged the problems in her marriage to the queen’s son, then-future King Charles. Diana’s story was particularly incriminating of the royal family as the princess shared about the affair Charles was having with Camilla Parker Bowles.

The summer remained a time of damaging stories about the royal family. On August 20, pictures circulated of Sarah, Duchess of York, sunbathing topless with her friend John Bryan. Four days later, on August 24, intimate conversations were published from a tape recording between Diana and her childhood friend, James Gilbey.

As if the affairs, separations, and sensational photographs weren’t enough, there was also a fire at one of Her Majesty’s residences.

Just four days before her Ruby Jubilee, Windsor Castle suffered major fire damage on November 20. And of course, one more notable event happened after the speech. On December 9, Charles and Diana separated.

Considering all the misfortune that befell the royal family in 1992, who could really blame the queen for wanting to erase the year from her memory?

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