As we continue the death of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, we must honor the struggles she’s been through not just as a Queen but also as a mother. She privately struggled with the fact that three of her four children’s marriages ended in divorce. Although her Majesty remained stoic as Prince Charles (now King Charles), Prince Andrew, and Princess Anne’s divorces were made public, she suffered behind the scenes, reveals author Robert Hardman in his upcoming biography Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Outwardly stoical, as ever, the Queen was finding the divorce talks deeply upsetting. Another former member of the Household recalls that every now and then, there would be a glimpse of her despair,” read a part of his book, according to PEOPLE. A former staffer tells Hardman, “It distressed her much more than she let on.”
He also attempted to put the Royals’ broken marriages in some sort of perspective to help the Quess process it better. “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,” he notes.
Despite her internal struggles, the Royal head did not lose her cool, not even during her horrible year in 1992. It was “annus horribilis” as a part of Windsor Castle got destroyed due to a fire as well as the collapsed marriages of Charles, Anne, and Andrew. It was the same year when the scandals surrounding Prince Charles and Princess Diana were making the media rounds.
“I don’t remember a single occasion when I went to see her and she exclaimed, ‘No! What next?'” recalls her former press secretary Charles Anson. “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.” That being said, the Queen’s former press secretary noted that she was “never short; never irritable; completely steady” despite the circumstances.
Even during the very public drama surrounding Diana and Charles, Queen Elizabeth handled it by choosing “stillness,” an approach she had learned from her late father, King George VI. “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,” writes Hardman, whose biography came out earlier this year.
“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,” he adds. “Storms will come and go, some worse than others. But she will always put her head down and plow through them. The Queen has always lived by the doctrine, ‘This too shall pass,'” said Sir John Major, who had worked quite closely with the Queen during the rough period.
“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,” explains Hardman. Charles, 73, divorced the late Princess Diana and went on to marry Camilla. the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005, according to Page Six.
Meanwhile, Princess Anne, 71, remarried Timothy Laurence in 1992 after her marriage with Mark Phillips fell through. 62-year-old Prince Andrew’s marriage with Sarah Ferguson ended in 1996 and he has since been accused of sexual abuse. 58-year-old Prince Edward is the only one who has been married to Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.