Believe it or not, it has been twenty years since the Queen had her annus horribilis – that terrible year, 1992. Specifically, 20th November marks the anniversary of the Windsor Castle fire. It is interesting in the year of her Diamond Jubilee and blue sapphire wedding anniversary to look back on that difficult time for the Queen and the British monarchy in general.
“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.” This is what the Queen said in November 1992 after the Duke and Duchess of York separated, Princess Anne got divorced, and Windsor Castle went up in flames. And that was not even the end of it, for in December, the announcement was made by John Major to the House of Commons that Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, were separating too.
Although these events occurred decades after the final British Pathé newsreel was released (see this blog post), they are succinctly summarised in the BBC/British Pathé co-production, A Day That Shook The World. The relevant episodes, narrated by John Humphrys, are: British Royal Family in Crisis, Windsor Castle Damaged by Fire, and The Prince and Princess Separate. Click the links to view the films.
Things would not improve for the Queen in the following few years. With the death of Diana, the monarchy’s popularity declined. Again, these tragic events are covered in A Day That Shook The World episodes, on the car accident in Paris and the funeral.
And yet, in 2012, the monarchy is incredibly popular. The Queen had her Diamond Jubilee this year and the entire country came out in support and celebration. Popularity ebbs and flows.
And the Queen’s personal life must be happier too. Prince William and Kate are a popular couple, Charles and Camilla are married and, by and large, accepted by the public, and the 20th November marks her 65th (blue sapphire) wedding anniversary - the same day as the devastating Windsor Castle fire. Their marriage has been a successful and supportive one. We offer our congratulations.