What does annus horribilis mean in The Crown season 5?

The Crown season 5. Image courtesy Netflix
The Crown season 5. Image courtesy Netflix /

A new season of The Crown has arrived on Netflix and the Emmy-winning series definitely has given fans a lot to process. In the new season, the action moves into the 1990s which was one of the most challenging decades in the history of the British monarchy.

Warning: Minor spoilers from The Crown season 5 ahead. 

As we see across the first episodes of the season, the marriages of three of the Queen’s children end with their relationships splashed across the tabloids. Princess Anne officially divorced her husband of 19 years, Captain Mark Phillips, three years after separating in 1989; Prince Andrew separated from his wife Sarah Ferguson; then Prince Charles separated from Princess Diana in a scandal splashed across the pages of newspapers across the globe.

Not only did the year see three of her four children’s marriages coming to an end, but that same year also saw Windsor Castle go up in flames in a fire that destroyed 115 rooms.

Needless to say, the year was not a pleasant one for the monarchy and wasn’t the best way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. So when the time came for the Queen to give a speech commemorating the anniversary, she didn’t mince words when reflecting on the year.

Annus horribilis meaning in The Crown season 5

During a speech given on Nov. 24, 1992, at Guildhall designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her Accession to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II referred to 1992 as an “annus horribilis” — a phrase the Queen Mother went so far as to recommend she remove from her speech. The term seems to have a negative connotation, but what exactly does the phrase mean?

Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase that means “horrible year” and that Merrian Webster describes as a “disastrous or unfortunate year.” So the Queen’s use of the phrase in her speech was her way of saying that 1992 was a horrible year, which was a more than fair assessment of the year for the royal family.

The Crown season 5 is streaming now on Netflix.

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