Twenty-seven years ago this weekend, the Queen gave a speech describing the year 1992 as her "annus horribilis" – a Latin phrase meaning "horrible year".

"1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure," she said at an event marking the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

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"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.

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"Distance is well-known to lend enchantment, even to the less attractive views. After all, it has the inestimable advantage of hindsight."

She was right.

The events of 1992 seem positively quaint compared to the intensity of the scandals that have plagued the royal family in 2019, marking what could become a new low point in the fortunes of The Firm.

In 1992, the monarchy was reeling from the separation of Prince Charles and Diana, and a tell-all book by Andrew Morton in which a secret source, later revealed to be Diana herself, detailed the unhappiness of her marriage, bulimia and feelings about Camilla Parker Bowles.

Prince Andrew had recently separated from Sarah Ferguson, who was caught by paparazzi in St Tropez having her "toes sucked" by Texan millionaire John Bryan.

Princess Anne finalised her divorce from Mark Philips and a huge fire gutted more than 115 rooms in Windsor Castle after a faulty spotlight ignited a curtain in Queen Victoria's private chapel.

Sarah, Duchess of York and Diana, Princess of Wales at the Epsom Derby. File photo / Getty
Sarah, Duchess of York and Diana, Princess of Wales at the Epsom Derby. File photo / Getty

The family fortunes recovered and perhaps reached a high point between 2011 and 2012, with the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, the Queen's diamond jubilee and the London Olympics followed by a string of royal weddings and babies.

But a recent series of public relations disasters have again shaken the institution to its core.

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Many commentators are now wondering whether 2019 could shape up to be worse year the modern Windsors have endured.

Here's how a disastrous year unfolded.

Prince Philip's car crash

A little more than two weeks into the new year, Prince Philip flipped his Land Rover while driving without a seatbelt on a road outside the Queen's Sandringham estate.

The 97-year-old Duke said he was dazzled by bright sunlight and didn't see a Kia car containing two women and a nine-month old baby.

The Duke was unhurt and helped out of his car by a passer-by but after the accident, suffered criticism for being slow to apologise to the others involved.

Kia passenger Emma Fairweather broke her wrist in the crash and complained to the tabloids three days later she was yet to her from the Duke.

Prince Philip has retired from public duties. File photo / AP
Prince Philip has retired from public duties. File photo / AP

"I'm lucky to be alive and he hasn't even said sorry," she said.

"It has been such a traumatic and painful time and I would have expected more of the Royal Family … It could have been so much worse."

Prince Philip later wrote a note saying he was "very sorry" about what happened.

"I was somewhat shaken after the accident, but I was greatly relieved that none of you were seriously injured," he said.

Harry and Meghan

2019 has been a tumultuous year for the Sussexes following the high point of their wedding in May last year.

The arrival of baby Archie this May was followed swiftly by criticism of the couple for keeping details of his christening private.

The move incensed sections of the tabloid media, who fumed that access to the couple was the price to pay for the £2.4 million (AU$4.57 million) taxpayer-funded renovation of Frogmore Cottage they had recently carried out.

In July, pictures of Megan visiting Wimbledon in a "private capacity", where one of her security guards stopped a fan taking a selfie near her, added to the perception the couple were trying to have it both ways when it comes to living private lives on the public purse.

The couple also copped heavy criticism when they used private jets to travel to Ibiza, France and Italy during the summer, while preaching about environmental concerns.

Prince Harry later defended his use of private travel, saying it was "to ensure my family are safe. It's genuinely as simple as that".

Prince Harry follows in his mother's footsteps in Angola, clearing mines for the HALO Trust. File photo / supplied
Prince Harry follows in his mother's footsteps in Angola, clearing mines for the HALO Trust. File photo / supplied

The royal tour of Africa was supposed to be the "make or break" chance to reset their roles as working royals in a continent that has always been close to Prince Harry's heart.

However, after a largely successful nine days of shining a light on charitable causes close to the couple's hearts, a royal statement dropped a bombshell that overshadowed the tour.

The Duchess of Sussex was suing the Mail on Sunday newspaper and its parent company over copyright infringement after it published a private letter she wrote to her father.

Prince Harry took the opportunity to deliver a brutal attack on the travelling press pack that had been dutifully documenting the tour.

"Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself," he said in reference to the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

"I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

It was later announced Prince Harry had also issued legal proceedings against the owners of The Sun and The Daily Mirror.

The tell-all documnetary

The tour was followed by a soul-baring documentary in which Prince Harry and Meghan opened up about the struggles they had faced living in the spotlight.

Prince Harry said mental health required "constant management" and confirmed reports of a royal rift with Prince William, saying "we're certainly on different paths".

Prince Harry confirmed reports of a rift with Prince William in his television documentary. File photo / AP
Prince Harry confirmed reports of a rift with Prince William in his television documentary. File photo / AP

"We don't see each other as much as we used to because we're so busy … But I love him dearly and the majority of the stuff is created out of nothing," he said.

"But as brothers, you have good days, you have bad days."

It came after news the couple would split from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's Royal Foundation, which overshadowed their tour of Pakistan and sparked anger among royal aides.

Meghan and Harry have taken a six-week break from the spotlight. File photo / AP
Meghan and Harry have taken a six-week break from the spotlight. File photo / AP

Meghan also revealed on camera she was warned not to marry Prince Harry and admitted she was struggling with the "British sensibility of a stiff upper lip".

"I think I really tried to adopt this British sensibility of a stiff upper lip. I tried, I really tried, but I think what that does internally is probably really damaging.

"The biggest thing I know is that I never thought this would be easy, but I thought it'd be fair, and that's the part that's really hard to reconcile. But I don't know … I'm taking each day as it comes."

Prorogation of Parliament

Britain's toxic political battle over Brexit seeped into the Queen's orbit with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to prorogue parliament in October.

The decision to shut down parliament for five weeks, for which the Queen had to give assent, put the monarch, 93, at the centre of a "political and constitutional hurricane" that dragged her role out of the shadows and into the limelight.

Queen Elizabeth was forced into the limelight over the prorogation of Parliament, which was later ruled unlawful. File photo / AP
Queen Elizabeth was forced into the limelight over the prorogation of Parliament, which was later ruled unlawful. File photo / AP

The prorogation was later ruled "unlawful, void and of no effect" by the Supreme Court.

The BBC's royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said Mr Johnson had "blown apart" the understanding the Queen would never be put in a position where she could be accused of having a political role.

"With the Supreme Court judgment a bright and critical light now illuminates the monarchy," he said.

"At which point, of course, some will ask – just what is the role in government, in the 21st Century, of a hereditary monarch?"

Prince Andrew steps down

As if 2019 had been tumultuous so far, enter Prince Andrew with a "hold my beer" moment.

The Newsnight interview, designed to draw a line under his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, spectacularly backfired after he failed to mention Epstein's victims but lamented his "honourable" decision to stay at the disgraced billionaire's New York pad.

It led to swift condemnation from the public and Epstein accusers, with major organisations quick to distance themselves from the Duke.

Sunday Express newspaper front page leading on allegations that Prince Andrew is caught up in an underage sex scandal. Photo / supplied
Sunday Express newspaper front page leading on allegations that Prince Andrew is caught up in an underage sex scandal. Photo / supplied

The painful decision to step down was said to have been taken in direct consultation with the Queen and Prince Charles, who was away on royal tour in New Zealand.

Commentators in Britain described it as the most dramatic statement since Edward VIII announced he would abdicate to marry Wallis Simpson.

Royal biographer Robert Lacey said "nothing like this has happened in the Queen's long reign".

Royal commentator Peter Ford said it was another example of the "royal malaise" that left the Queen "badly exposed" over the prorogation of parliament.

"Andrew's humiliation is complete," Ford said.

"No more Cenotaph, Trooping the Colour or appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony. He won't have embraced his fallen destiny. He'll have clung to the balustrades. While the Queen handed him his P45, it will have been filled in by Charles."

Spokesman for campaign group Republic, Graham Smith, who wants to see an end to the monarchy, said Prince Andrew was a "symptom of a rotten institution".

"Prince Andrew has brought shame on the UK and continues to disgrace himself as he shows no remorse or insight into what he has done," Smith said.

Prince Andrew with the Queen before he was stripped of his duties. File photo / AP
Prince Andrew with the Queen before he was stripped of his duties. File photo / AP

Delicate transition

The intensity of royal scandals in 2019 highlight how the monarchy is struggling to operate its

"never complain, next explain" mantra in the age of social media and a new generation of royals.

It also comes at a time of transition, with Prince Philip retired from public life and the Queen handing more of her duties to Prince Charles and Prince William.

Some experts have blamed the debacles on the loss of a centralised communication strategy run by Buckingham Palace, in favour of a "silos" where Clarence House for Prince Charles and Kensington Palace for Prince William operate independently.

When asked if his decision to face questions on such a "raw subject" was an example of a sea change in royal communications, Prince Andrew put the finger squarely on social media as the "problem we face in the 21st century".

"There is a whole range of things that you face now that you didn't face 25 years ago because it was just the print media. And I think that to some extent there is a … there is a thick skin that you have to have," he said.