Origin of phrase
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.
- Separation of the Queen's second son, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, from his wife, Sarah, Duchess of York (19 March)
- Divorce of the Queen's daughter, Anne, Princess Royal, from Captain Mark Phillips (23 April)
- Publication of Diana, Princess of Wales's tell-all book Diana: Her True Story, revealing the problems in her marriage to the Queen's eldest son, Charles, Prince of Wales, particularly his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles (Sunday Times, 7 June)
- Publication of photographs of the Duchess of York sunbathing topless with her friend, John Bryan (20 August)
- Publication of intimate conversations between Diana, the Princess of Wales, and James Gilbey from a tape recording of their phone calls (24 August)
- Fire in Windsor Castle, one of the Queen's official residences (20 November)
After her speech, one more event transpired that became notable: the separation of her son Prince Charles from his wife Diana (9 December).
Kofi Annan, then United Nations Secretary-General, used the phrase in his year-end press conference on 21 December 2004. He reflected: "There's no doubt that this has been a particularly difficult year, and I am relieved that this annus horribilis is coming to an end." His remarks were widely interpreted as having alluded to persistent allegations of corruption in the UN's Iraq Oil-for-Food Program. He also spoke of upheaval and violence in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Palestine, and Sudan; the ongoing process of UN internal reform; and "persistent...criticism against the UN" and himself personally. Annan's remarks came five days before the deadliest event of the year (and one of the deadliest natural disasters in history), the Indian Ocean tsunami on 26 December.
Juan Carlos I
In 2007, the Spanish royal family, in particular King Juan Carlos I, faced a difficult year. Family tragedy and a series of controversies led to Spanish newspapers to refer to the year as the king's annus horribilis.
- In February, Érika Ortiz Rocasolano, the youngest sister of Letizia, then the Princess of Asturias, died of a drug overdose in her apartment.
- In July, a humour magazine, El Jueves, published a drawing that ran on the cover, depicting Felipe, Prince of Asturias (now Felipe VI of Spain), and the aforementioned Princess Letizia having sex, with a caption reading: "Just imagine if you end up pregnant. This will be the closest thing to work I’ve ever done in my life." It satirized a proposal by the government to give 2,500 euros to the parents of newborn children. The magazine was banned and removed from distribution, which led to a censorship controversy.
- In September, Catalan separatists were tried for having burned photographs of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía at an anti-monarchy and Catalan separatist rally in Girona while the royal couple toured the city.
- In early November at the XVII Ibero-American Summit, after a verbal altercation between Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, the king asked Chávez, "¿Por qué no te callas?" ("Why don't you shut up?").
- Shortly after the summit, the royal house announced the separation of the king's daughter, the Duchess of Lugo, and her husband, Jaime de Marichalar. The couple have two children, Felipe and Victoria.
The year 2020 was widely remarked as being an annus horribilis as the world faced several challenges, most notably, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which began in late 2019 and rapidly spread in early 2020.
- "Möhler, Döllinger and Oxford Anglicanism". London Quarterly and Holborn Review. 75. E.C. Barton. 1891. p. 105.
- "Annus horribilis speech, 24 November 1992". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009.
- Corby, Tom (28 November 2006). "Obituary: Sir Edward Ford". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
- How the royal family bounced back from its 'annus horribilis', The Guardian, 24 May 2012
- "New York, 21 December 2004 – Secretary-General's year-end press conference (unofficial transcript)". Off the Cuff. United Nations, Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. The Secretary-General Off the Cuff
- "UN chief welcomes end of 'horrible' year". NineMSN. Associated Press. 22 December 2004. Archived from the original on 13 September 2005.
- El "annus horribilis" del Rey Juan Carlos. Archived 6 December 2012 at archive.today, La Nación, 15 November 2007.
- Doebele, Justin (13 December 2020). "Editor's Sidelines, December 2020: Annus Horribilis". Forbes. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
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