The phrase annus horribilis was used in 1891 to describe 1870, the year in which the Roman Catholic church defined the dogma of papal infallibility; but it was brought to prominence by Queen Elizabeth II in a speech to Guildhall on 24 November 1992, marking the 40th anniversary of her accession, in which she described the year as an annus horribilis.
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.
The "sympathetic correspondent" was later revealed to be her former assistant private secretary, Sir Edward Ford. The unpleasant events which happened to the Royal Family in this year include:
- On 12 March 1992, Mauritius, the last Commonwealth realm in Africa, abolished its Monarchy.
- On 19 March, it was announced that her second son Prince Andrew, Duke of York would separate from his wife Sarah, Duchess of York.
- On 23 April, her daughter Anne, Princess Royal divorced Captain Mark Phillips.
- On 8 June, Diana, Princess of Wales‘s tell-all book Diana: Her True Story was published after being serialised in The Sunday Times. Written by Andrew Morton, it revealed for the first time the unhappy truths of the princess’s marriage – particularly, the affair between Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles – starting the "War of the Waleses".