- Rachel Burchfield
2019: The Queen’s second annus horribilis
Earlier this year on the blog, I gave a history lesson about 1992, the year the Queen called her “annus horribilis.”
It seems that 2019 has become her second annus horribilis.
The year started, if you’ll remember, with Philip’s car accident on January 17, when the Land Rover he was driving hit another car in Sandringham, where they were still on holiday. Philip was unhurt, but the driver and passenger in the other car sustained minor injuries. There was a nine-month old baby in the backseat of the other car who, thankfully, was also unharmed. Afterwards, Philip surrendered his license. We haven’t seen much of him since, and the recent news that he was hospitalized (albeit for a planned procedure) is jarring given his age of 98.
The Cambridge and Sussex households split, which isn’t necessarily horrible, but by October Harry confirmed rumors that he and William are having issues on a documentary about he and wife Meghan’s South Africa tour – which I’m sure the Queen cringed at while watching. Meghan’s constant barrage of criticism in the press and she and Harry’s dual lawsuits against the media have to be troubling for the Queen to watch, and Harry’s absence from most family gatherings must be hard on her too, as she adores him. Plus, even golden child William was caught up in a scandal of his own this year, accused of having an affair. Thankfully, those reports seem to be unfounded.
But, most awful of all, Andrew’s rape allegations and association with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein had and have the potential to put an irreparable stain on the monarchy. Talks occurred about, after the Queen is gone, abolishing the monarchy altogether because of it, nullifying the work the Queen has put in on the throne for 67 years. I doubt that will happen, but the Queen has worked so hard for Andrew – who many say is her favorite son – to let her down in this way. She forced him to quit his Royal duties, and, as Andrew was one of the hardest working members of the Family, having to reassign his work must have been frustrating (but totally necessary).
The year wasn’t all bad, though – Archie was born, Beatrice got engaged, Charles and Camilla took a historic trip to Cuba (which ended up becoming a really fantastic Christmas card for the Waleses), and Lady Gabriella Windsor got married.
I like this take from Sally Bedell Smith, the Queen’s biographer, from this Vanity Fair piece:
“This  is different to 1992 for many reasons, and while it has been a difficult year, it is not one that could threaten the future of the monarchy the way that 1992 had the potential to do. The Queen is loved more now than she ever has been, and that counts for a lot. When you look back at 2019, there have actually been some lovely moments, with a birth and a Royal wedding. It has been a difficult transitional year with some self-inflicted wounds, and I am thinking of the Sussexes particularly. One hopes that they will use this break to reflect and reassess how they can best serve the monarchy, but overall the monarchy is in good shape.”
The Queen and Charles are closer than ever, Bedell Smith said in the article: “I think it must be a comfort that she knows he will be a good king. The line of succession is secure, and you can see the Cambridges getting into their roles as a future king and queen. I don’t see any ominous clouds on the horizon for 2020.”
Here’s to 2020 being much less dramatic and more of an “annus beatus” (happy year).