THE QUEEN had to rehabilitate the monarchy after her annus horribilis, but Prince Andrew’s scandalous behavour caused a dark cloud to linger over the Royal Family.
Early in 2011, Buckingham Palace wanted the world’s attention to focus on the upcoming nuptials of second-in-line to the throne Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was an enormous opportunity to bring positive PR to the Royal family that had been plagued by scandals and divorces in the past years. The Queen had also been trying to rehabilitate the monarchy and ensure its survival in its current form.
1992 was her annus horribilis, a time when one scandal to another tried to shake the foundations of Windsor House.
There was the breakdown of Prince Charles and Diana’s fairytale marriage, Fergie photographed with her toes being sucked, and the Windsor Castle fire.
In “Prince Andrew: The War Hero of Buckingham Palace” by Jessica Jayne, the author reveals how the Queen’s plans of rehabilitating the monarchy were upended by some controversies surrounding Prince Andrew.
The book, published in 2012, described how Andrew’s relationship with soft-porn film actress Koo Stark still lingered in the air, and then he found himself again in hot water shortly before the William-Kate nuptials.
Jessica Jayne said: “The press was less forgiving, digging deeply to uncover more dirt to mar his suitability as trade envoy.”
On 24 November 1992 The Queen gave a speech at Guildhall to mark the 40th anniversary of her Accession. In it The Queen referred to recent events as part of an ‘annus horribilis’.
She said: “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’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.”
Undoubtedly shaken, in the aftermath the Queen sought help from outside the palace “old guard” in the shape of sharp corporate PRs. Market research was introduced.
Constitutional expert Vernon Bogdanor, research professor at King’s College London, believes the main change the Queen has overseen during her reign is the transformation “from a rather magical monarchy to a public service monarchy”.
Monarchy has to “adapt and evolve” to survive, said Bogdanor. “It can’t be ahead of public opinion, but it can’t be too far behind. It’s a difficult balance to achieve.”
During her reign the Queen has chosen to follow the safe path set by her grandfather, George V, and continued by her father in overseeing a “welfare monarchy”.
When the monarchy lost its political power, they filled the vacuum with social service, with the patronage role. George III had nine patronages. The Queen has 700-800. The extended royal family have, between them, roughly 3,500.”