1992 was Her Majesty’s horrible year. And it was also the one that ended with an unprecedented plea for public mercy. That year was something she wishes never to experience again.
The monarch was set to deliver a speech to Guildhall.
She had 40 years of accomplishments to look back on, but the Queen was preoccupied by more recent events. She announced: “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’”.
In 1992, divorce was still something of a taboo in the royal family. But the monarchy was rocked by two broken marriages in very quick succession. On March 19 Queen Elizabeth’s second son, Prince Andrew separated from his wife Sarah Ferguson. She was a lively and unpredictable addition to the royal family.
Post-split, she felt the Queen’s wrath. As the palace announced that she would no longer carry out public engagements on behalf of the Queen. Just one month later, on April 23, Her Majesty’s daughter, Anne divorced her husband, Captain Mark Phillips. The couple had been separated for three years.
On June 8, Andrew Morton’s tell-all book Diana: Her True Story written with input and co-operation from Diana herself was published. The book forever changed the way the public viewed the British monarchy.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles were still married. But across 448 pages, Diana detailed the dysfunctional state of their relationship in the most raw and unfiltered terms.
The book revealed that Diana was so unhappy with both her marriage and her life inside the royal family that she had been driven to suicidal thoughts.
Then came another scandal.
On August 20, pictures of Fergie sunbathing topless and being kissed on the feet by her friend, John Bryan were splashed across the tabloids. The next came was the details of intimate phone conversations between Diana and her close friend, James Gilbey. Those details were splashed across the tabloids.
Diana vented her frustrations to her close confidante during the secretly recorded conversation, telling him: “I was very bad at lunch, and I nearly started blubbing. I just felt so sad and empty and thought ‘bloody hell, after all I’ve done for this f**king family. Always being innuendo, the fact that I’m going to do something dramatic because I can’t stand the confines of this marriage”.
A great fire.
In November, just four days before Queen Elizabeth’s Guildhall speech another shocking blow, as Windsor Castle went up in flames. The largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the official residencies, the castle suffered extensive damage in the fire. It started when a spotlight pressed up against a curtain caused it to ignite.
It took nine hours to get the fire under control, and while firefighters battled the blaze, royal staff tried to save as many priceless artefacts as they could. Despite their efforts, the castle needed years of restoration work, at a cost of 36.5 million pounds.