Annus horribilis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase, meaning "horrible year". It is complementary to annus mirabilis, which means "wonderful year"; however, annus mirabilis is a traditional term, while annus horribilis is of relatively recent coinage.

Elizabeth II[edit]

Although the phrase was used in 1891 to describe 1870, the year in which the Roman Catholic church defined the dogma of papal infallibility,[1] it was brought to prominence by Queen Elizabeth II in a speech to the Guildhall on 24 November 1992, marking the 40th anniversary of her accession, in which she described the year as an annus horribilis.[2]

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.

The "sympathetic correspondent" was later revealed to be her former assistant private secretary, Sir Edward Ford. Here are some of the events to which the Queen may have been alluding:

  • On 12 March 1992, Mauritius, of which Elizabeth was Queen, became a republic.
  • On 19 March, it was announced that her second son, Prince Andrew, would separate from his wife, the Duchess of York.
  • On 23 April, her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips.
  • On 8 June, the Princess of Wales's tell-all book Diana: Her True Story was published after being serialised in The Sunday Times. Written by Andrew Morton, it revealed for the first time the unhappy truths of the princess's marriage – particularly, the affair between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles – starting the "War of the Waleses".
  • On 20 August, scandalous pictures of the Duchess of York being kissed on the feet by her friend, John Bryan, were published in the Daily Mirror.
  • On 24 August, intimate conversations between the Princess of Wales and James Gilbey from a tape recording of their phone calls were published in The Sun, causing "Squidgygate".
  • On 13 November, the affair between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles was confirmed by a transcript of a recording of their phone calls published in the Daily Mirror, dubbed "Camillagate".
  • On 20 November, just four days before the Guildhall speech, Windsor Castle – one of the Queen's official residences - caught fire and was extensively damaged.

Kofi Annan[edit]

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."[3] His remarks were widely interpreted as having alluded to persistent allegations of corruption in the UN’s Iraq Oil-for-Food Program.[4] His remarks came just days before the deadliest event of the year, the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26.

Juan Carlos I of Spain[edit]

In 2007, the Spanish Royal Family, in particular 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.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Möhler, Döllinger and Oxford Anglicanism". London Quarterly and Holborn Review 75. E.C. Barton. 1891. p. 105. 
  2. ^ "Annus horribilis speech, 24 November 1992". The Official Website of the British Monarchy. 
  3. ^ New York, 21 December 2004 - Secretary-General's year-end press conference (unofficial transcript) The Secretary-General Off the Cuff
  4. ^ Associated Press (December 22, 2004). "UN chief welcomes end of 'horrible' year". NineMSN. Archived from the original on September 13, 2005. 
  5. ^ El "annus horribilis" del Rey Juan Carlos, La Nación, 15 November 2007.

External links[edit]