This week People published some excerpts from an upcoming biography about THE QUEEN, entitled Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II. In the released passages, author and royal expert Robert Hardman writes that, while the Queen may have been her usual stiff-lipped, stoic self when three of her kids (Princess Anne, Prince Charles, and Prince Andrew) all got divorces in the ’90s, it actually “distressed her much more than she let on.” I mean, I get it. Your son allegedly abused an underage sex trafficking victim? Ehhh, shit happens. But to permanently stain the royal family with a DIVORCE? That crosses the line.
Apparently, the Queen was fixated on the fact that 75% of her children had failed marriages. Princess Anne and Mark Phillips divorced in 1992, Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced in 1996, and Prince Andrew and Fergie divorced the same year. Only the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, has kept his 23-year marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones intact. Here are parts of the excerpts from People:
“Outwardly stoical, as ever, the Queen was finding the divorce talks deeply upsetting,” Hardman writes in his book, which is excerpted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “Another former member of the Household recalls that, every now and then, there would be a glimpse of her despair.”
“It distressed her much more than she let on,” a former staffer tells Hardman, recalling his attempt to put the broken royal marriages into some sort of perspective. “I said, ‘Ma’am, it seems to be happening everywhere. This is almost common practice.’ But she just said, ‘Three out of four!’ in sheer sadness and exasperation. One shouldn’t underestimate the pain she’s been through.”
The book also talks about the Queen’s very bad 1992, dubbed “annus horribilis” (ugh, I’ve got one of those, has she tried Polysporin?). That was the year all her kids’ marriages collapsed, there were a bunch of Princess Diana and Prince Charles scandals, and part of Windsor Castle burnt down:
“I don’t remember a single occasion when I went to see her and she exclaimed, ‘No! What next?’ ” her former press secretary Charles Anson tells Hardman in Queen of Our Times, out April 5. “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.”
Charles Anson adds that the Queen deals with drama using “stillness,” a tactic she learned from her father:
“Her mother’s strategy in these situations— to carry on as if they were not happening—had earned her the nickname ‘imperial ostrich’ among royal staff,” Hardman writes. “The Queen’s response, as ever, was to follow the example of her father, absorbed from his days at sea, and to treat adversity like the ocean.”
“Storms will come and go, some worse than others,” Sir John Major, who worked so closely with her through this period, tells Hardman. “But she will always put her head down and plough through them. The Queen has always lived by the doctrine, ‘This too shall pass.’ ”
Hardman writes, “While the Queen has sometimes been accused of being slow to act, there has never been a charge of panic. Her default mode in the face of a crisis is stillness.”
For me, the most shocking part of this story is that THE QUEEN has a fourth child named Edward. Am I the only one who didn’t know this? I feel stupid. Maybe I did know at one point, but my brain rejected the information to stuff in more useless facts about The Real Housewives. Also, the dude’s title is the Earl of “Wessex.” I’m sorry, but that just sounds fake.