Queen's ‘sheer sadness’ over divorce ‘despair’ in hardest year ever

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh travel in the royal carriage
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The Queen's reportedly only ever shared a “glimpse of her despair” amid one of the hardest years of her life as she was overwhelmed by divorce “sadness”. 

A new royal biography has delved into the Queen’s heartbreak during one of the most challenging years for The Firm, with three out of four of the monarch’s children going on to divorce. Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson all separated in 1992. 

In a speech to mark the 40th year of her accession to the throne that November, Her Majesty dubbed it her “Annus Horribilis” or “Horrible Year” in light of all she and her children had been through. Now a new biography has claimed that the Queen was far more “distressed” about these three divorces than she let on at the time. 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

Delving into this painful year in his book, Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II, Robert Hardman claimed that despite being “stoical” she felt divorce "despair".  

“Outwardly stoical, as ever, the Queen was finding the divorce talks deeply upsetting,” Robert Hardman wrote, according to Page Six. “Another former member of the Household recalls that, every now and then, there would be a glimpse of her despair.”

A former palace staff member reportedly claimed to Robert that the Queen felt “sheer sadness” at the news that three out of four of her children’s marriages had come to an end. 

“I said, ‘Ma’am, it seems to be happening everywhere. This is almost common practice,'” the former staffer alleged he’d told the monarch. “But she just said, ‘Three out of four!’ in sheer sadness and exasperation. One shouldn’t underestimate the pain she’s been through.”

Queen Elizabeth II At The Guildhall In London Making Her 'annus Horribilis' Speech

Meanwhile, Charles Anson, the Queen’s former press secretary reportedly revealed in the book that despite her immense sadness, she didn’t allow herself to be “knocked back”.

“The issue was sometimes embarrassing, but she got on with it. It is immensely reassuring in those situations to work for someone who isn’t knocked back,” he is said to have told Robert.

This comes as a Buckingham Palace aide previously alleged to the Sunday Express that as far as the monarch is concerned, “enough is enough”.

The Royal Family stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade

“The Queen is the head of the Church and so from a point of principle she is opposed to royal divorces,” they claimed. “However, she has witnessed the divorces not just of her sister Princess Margaret, but also those of her three eldest children. She now feels, to put it bluntly, that enough is enough.”

“She does not want to name names, but she is adamant that there are going to be no further royal divorces during her reign,” they declared.

The Queen's divorce "despair" is understood to have been a hugely difficult time for her and the wider Royal Family. Though as she's done consistently throughout her reign, it seems Her Majesty remained stoically committed to her royal role and duties despite huge personal sadness.

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.