Queen’s ‘devastated’ reaction to 1992 Windsor Castle fire


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Today marks 30 years since Windsor Castle was damaged by a huge fire.

On November 20, 1992, a fire broke out in the castle’s private chapel due to a faulty spotlight, the Windsor fire lasted more than 15 hours and took more than 200 firefighters to put out. Over 100 rooms as the castle were damaged in the blaze and repairs cost more than £36m.

The fire was the culmination of Queen Elizabeth II’s “annus horribilis”. Resurfaced photos from the day show the devastated Queen arriving at the scene and watching as her home went up in flames, reports BerkshireLive.

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The fire started at 11.15am while Prince Andrew was staying at the residence. The Queen’s second son reportedly broke the news to his mother over the phone – “Her Majesty is absolutely devastated,” the Prince said.

The scene at Windsor Castle as dusk falls after the fire swept through the royal home.

(Image: Michael Stephens/PA Wire)

According to the Daily Mail, the Queen was particularly upset because a wing of Hampton Court Palace had also caught fire only six years prior. When asked about the Queen’s reaction, the Palace Press officer Dickie Arbiter said: “Probably the same reaction as yours if you saw your home burning down. Very upset.”

Once she had arrived at the scene, the Queen supervised the removal of her personal effects from the castle’s private apartments, and allegedly took a great interest in the works of art they had managed to save.

Despite a tendency to never show her true emotions, the Queen would later reflect on the fire and the impact of 1992 during her infamous “annus horribilis” speech. On November 24, at a Guildhall lunch to celebrate 40 years on the throne, she showed her vulnerability at the event.

Queen Elizabeth II inspecting the ruins of Windsor castle with a fireman in November 1992

(Image: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire)

She said: “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’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so. Indeed, I suspect that there are very few people or institutions unaffected by these last months of worldwide turmoil and uncertainty.

“This generosity and whole-hearted kindness of the Corporation of the City to Prince Philip and me would be welcome at any time, but at this particular moment, in the aftermath of Friday’s tragic fire at Windsor, it is especially so.”

More than 100 rooms were damaged in the fire, including St George’s Hall, State Dining Room, The Brunswick and Chester Towers, Red, Green and White Drawing Rooms, Private Chapel, Grand Reception Room. Firefighters saved the Waterloo Chamber and the Ante and Garter Throne Rooms, which were largely undamaged.

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