Special Report

The Most Important Event in the Life of Queen Elizabeth in Every Year of Her Reign

Source: Princess Diana Archive / Getty Images

> Event: “Annus horribilis”

On the Queen’s 40th anniversary on the throne, she gave a speech calling 1992 an “annus horribilis” — Latin for “terrible year.” The year saw Prince Andrew separate from his wife and Princess Anne divorce her husband. It was also the year that Princess Diana published her tell-all book about her problems in the royal family, including revelations about her former husband’s ongoing affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. There was also a fire in Windsor Castle in 1992, one of the Queen’s residences. After her address, one further “terrible” event occurred — the separation of Prince Charles and Diana.

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> Event: Formation of the European Union

The Maastricht Treaty, signed in 1992, officially established the European Union, coming into force in November, 1993. There were originally 12 member countries, including the United Kingdom. The EU evolved out of the European Economic Community, which partly aimed to integrate European and prevent conflict after the devastation of World War II. The Queen gave her official royal assent to the treaty.

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> Event: First Church of England ordination of women priests

The Queen is technically the “Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” an institution which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. Women had been appointed as deaconesses in the Church of England since 1861, but it wasn’t until 1992 that they were granted the right to become ordained clergy, with the practice going into force in 1994.

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> Event: Visit of the Queen to Northern Ireland

The Queen’s 1995 visit to Belfast, North Ireland, was the first since a ceasefire came into effect between the Irish Republican Army and Loyalist forces. The Queen met with the Roman Catholic Primate and other Catholic officials. Her visit was seen as a way of encouraging the ongoing peace process that aimed to end The Troubles.

> Event: Cloning of Dolly the Sheep

Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. The procedure led to widespread advancement with stem cell research. Dolly produced several lambs during her lifetime, and was put to sleep after contracting a progressive lung disease unrelated to her cloning. Dolly was created and lived her life at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. One of the lead researchers, Ian Wilmut, received the Order of the British Empire from the Queen in 1999 and was knighted in 2008.

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> Event: Death of Princess Diana

One year after divorcing Prince Charles, Princess Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris. The car she was riding in was fleeing from paparazzi and everyone but one of Diana’s bodyguards died in the accident. The televised funeral of “the People’s Princess” was one of the most highly viewed events ever in British history. Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the princess in a TV broadcast the day before the funeral.

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> Event: Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement was actually a pair of agreements signed on April 10, 1998, that ended most of the violence related to The Troubles. The agreement involved questions of sovereignty, civil rights, demilitarization, and justice. Citizens of both the Republican of Ireland and Northern Ireland voted in a referendum to approve the measures. Irish President Mary McAleese had lunch with the Queen in Buckingham Palace the day after part of the agreement went into effect in 1999.

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> Event: Refusal to join the Eurozone

The euro was introduced as the official currency of the European Union in 1999. The U.K. had opted out of joining the Eurozone in 1993, but a new effort was made to convert Britain’s age-old sterling units. Although projections showed that Eurozone participation would increase the U.K.’s GDP and would be good for trade, public opinion was against it and the nation reiterated its desire to keep its own currency.

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> Event: Population of the International Space Station

The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The first components were launched in 1998 and the first official long-term residents arrived in 2000. The space station is a joint effort between five space agencies and more than 15 nations. The Queen has celebrated the British astronauts sent to the space station over the years and she spoke with some onboard the ISS in 2007.

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> Event: September 11th attacks

The terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, shocked the world and were a watershed moment that would change history for the United States, the United Kingdom, and many other nations around the world. Following the attacks, the Queen violated a 600-year-old royal custom and instructed the band of the Coldstream Guards to play the American national anthem at the daily changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in a show of support for Americans in London. The Queen asked for the anthem to be played again this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

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