What was the Queen's 'annus horribilis'?

Diana, Queen Elizabeth and Charles all pictured in 1992, what is referred to as the late Queen's 'annus horribilis'. (Getty Images)
Diana, Queen Elizabeth II and Charles all pictured in 1992, the year that is referred to as the late Queen's 'annus horribilis'. (Getty Images)

The year of 1992 was a terrible one for the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth II summoned the two words that described it more succinctly than anything else and would go down in history – annus horribilis.

In a speech at the Guildhall marking her 40th year on the throne, she referred to it as "not a year I will look back on with undiluted pleasure".

She added: "It turned out to be an ‘annus horribilis."

What does 'annus horribilis' mean?

Annus horribilis literally translates to "horrible year" — and for the royals it certainly was one.

LONDON:  Queen Elizabeth II makes a speech at Guildhall on her 40th Anniversary in 1992 - the
Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip, makes a speech at Guildhall on her 40th Anniversary in 1992 – the 'annus horribilis'. (Getty Images)

The Queen had to steer her family through several major public relations crises including fire, marriage breakdowns and embarrassing leaks - the scale of which was unmatched in her previous decades as monarch.

Her speech at the Guildhall showed how deeply it had impacted her as she called for "moderation" and "compassion" from the Royal Family's critics.

Yahoo News UK runs down the events that turned the royals' lives upside down.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 04:  Queen Mother's 92 Birthday. The Queen, Princess Margaret, The Queen  Mother, Viscount Linley, Prince Charles,  Princess Diana And Prince Harry Walking Outside Clarence House.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Diana and Harry outside Clarence House in August 1992. (Getty Images)

Sarah Ferguson splits from Prince Andrew – and the Royal Family

The first scandal of the year came in January, when photographs of Sarah Ferguson and a Texan financier named Steve Wyatt on holiday two years earlier were stolen by cleaners and leaked to the press.

In March, the couple’s separation was announced – they didn’t officially divorce for four more years – but it was the beginning of the end for her chequered history with the Windsors.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 16:  Duke And Duchess Of York With Their Children Princess Beatrice And Princess Eugenie At Royal Windsor Horse Show After Their Official Separation.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York with their two daughters Beatrice and Eugenie in Windsor, 1992. (Getty Images)

More compromising headlines emerged in August, when photographs were published in the press of US financial manager John Bryan seemingly sucking the toes of a topless Ferguson while on holiday.

Her expulsion from the inner circle of the Royal Family was reported to be swift and immediate. It would be many years before she was welcomed back – even somewhat – into the fold.

Since then, the Duchess of York has always spoken highly of the Queen. She has even claimed that during the divorce proceedings with Andrew she told Queen Elizabeth that she didn't want a large financial settlement – and instead would rather prize the monarch's "friendship'.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 04:  The Duchess Of York (sarah Ferguson), The Duke Of York (prince Andrew), The Queen And Prince Charles Outside Clarence House For The Queen Mother's 86th Birthday.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Sarah, Duchess of York with Prince Andrew and Queen Elizabeth II outside Clarence House, in 1992. (Getty Images)

Prince Andrew and Ferguson have maintained good relations and still live together at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.

Anne and Mark Phillips finalise divorce after cheating claims

Having announced their intention to separate the previous September, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips' divorce was finalised in April.

Their marriage had been plagued by rumours of infidelity on both sides. In 1989, letters to Princess Anne from her mother's equerry — Tim Laurence — had been leaked to the press.

This had been the final blow and led to Anne and Mark separating at the time. Months after her divorce to Phillips was finalised, she married Tim Laurence in a small and discreet ceremony at Crathie Kirk on the Balmoral estate.

Commander Tim Laurence (L) and  Britain's Princess Anne are seen in their car after their wedding at Crathie Church 12 December 1992 in Scotland. (Photo credit should read EPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Tim Laurence and Princess Anne are seen in their car after their wedding at Crathie Kirk, Scotland in 1992. (Getty Images)

The Church of Scotland had different rules about divorced people remarrying, so the ceremony could not have taken place in England in an Anglican Church — particularly as the Queen is supreme governor of it.

Laurence and Anne remain married.

Diana reveals Charles' affair in Andrew Morton biography

For the then-Prince and Princess of Wales, 1992 really was exceptionally bad in terms of public relations.

In June, Diana: Her True Story was released. Unbeknownst to the rest of the Royal Family, Diana had been collaborating with its author, Andrew Morton, for some time. The book opened the door on the dysfunctional state of her marriage to Charles.

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) at Seville Expo '92, the Universal Exposition of Seville, Spain, 21st May 1992. The Princess is wearing a floral print dress by designers Bellville Sassoon. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Charles and Diana in Spain in 1992. (Getty Images)

Diana admitted to Morton that she suffered from bulimia and Charles' relationship with then Camilla Parker Bowles. Most shockingly, she revealed that she had repeatedly attempted suicide.

While she admitted that she had encouraged her friends and family to cooperate with Morton, it was only after her death that she had been directly involved was made public.

Later in the summer of 1992, just days after Sarah Ferguson's 'toe-sucking' scandal had broken in the press, came yet another scandal.

Diana, Princess of Wales  (1961 - 1997) visits the ancient temple complex in Karnak, part of the city of Luxor in Egypt, 14th May 1992.  (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images)
Diana in Luxor, Egypt, in 1992. (Getty Images)

Squidgygate, as it came to be known, were recordings taken from phone calls in late 1989 between Diana and her close friend, James Gilbey, and published by The Sun in August.

The 23-minute recording featured a male voice referring to Diana as 'Squidgy' and 'Darling' multiple times and saying "I love you".

The recordings are still a matter of controversy: at an inquest into Diana's death in 2008, Ken Wharfe — former protection officer for the princess — said: "It's my belief that this internal recording was probably made by GCHQ."

He added he believed that "GCHQ at that time were monitoring members of the Royal Family because of heightened IRA activity at the time".

The suggestion was dismissed by the home secretary at the time, Ken Clarke, as "wild" and "extremely silly".

The affectionate conversation between Gilbey and Diana also revealed more about her real feelings towards her husband and other members of the Royal Family.

"He makes my life real, real torture," Diana said about Charles.

SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 03:  Prince Charles And Princess Diana On Their Last Official Trip Together - A Visit To The Republic Of Korea (south Korea).they Are Attending A Presidential Banquet At The Blue House In Seoul  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Charles and Diana in South Korea on their last royal tour together, 1992. (Getty Images)

In December, it was announced that Charles and Diana were officially separating. Although they did not - at that stage - plan to divorce, they would live separate lives going forward.

Windsor Castle Fire

In November, 1992, just four days before the Queen's speech at Guildhall, a huge fire broke out at Windsor Castle.

Faulty electrics started the fire in Queen Victoria's chapel, but it quickly spread. All in all, 115 rooms were destroyed: nine of which were state rooms.

Restoring Windsor Castle took five years, and cost nearly £40 million. Initially, it was said the repairs would be funded by the taxpayer, however this controversial suggestion caused outcry from the public after a long year of sordid scandals.

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 20:  Another Disaster In The Queen's
Windsor Castle on fire in November, 1992. (Getty Images)

Instead, Buckingham Palace had to be opened to the public to cover some of the costs. The Queen also used some of her private wealth and had to offer to pay income tax from then on to settle the controversy.

She said in her Guildhall speech that year: "I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year. I dare say that history will take a slightly more moderate view than that of some contemporary commentators."

Queen Elizabeth II watching the Royal Windsor Horse Show, held at Home Park in Windsor, Berkshire, England, Great Britain, 16 May 1992. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, in May 1992. (Getty Images)

The late Queen may well be right. The new season of The Crown will serve as a reminder of what a tumultuous year it was for the royals, and a whole new generation will learn about it for the first time.

Whether they will - after all this time - take the moderate view, remains to be seen.