The Queen has faced a turbulent start to her historic Platinum Jubilee year in what is meant to be a time filled with royal celebrations.
It may only be seven weeks into 2022 but the monarch, who has now tested positive for Covid, has already endured personal turmoil amid a growing number of royal crises.
From the furore surrounding the Duke of York’s civil sexual assault case to the Prince of Wales potentially facing police questioning over an alleged cash for honors scandal, Elizabeth II’s troubles are not yet at an end.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt told the PA news agency: “So far, it’s been a year of considerable challenge rather than celebration.
“The Queen is noticeably more frail.
“Prince Charles is likely to be interviewed as part of a criminal investigation into an alleged cash for honors scandal and Prince Andrew is paying millions of pounds to a woman he says he has no recollection of ever meeting.
“These are problems for the monarchy that won’t just disappear overnight.”
Commentators will be questioning whether the Jubilee celebrations will save 2022 for the royals or whether it will become another “annus horribilis” for the monarch.
The annus horribilis of 1992 saw the Princess Royal divorce, the Duke and Duchess of York separate, the Prince and Princess of Wales split up and Windsor Castle catch fire.
The Queen’s second son the Duke of York settled out of court last week in his sexual assault civil case which will see him pay reportedly millions of pounds to Virginia Giuffre, who he has insisted he never met.
Ms Giuffre accused the duke of having sex with her after she was trafficked by Andrew’s friend, the billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The Queen had already taken steps to distance the royal family from Andrew and protect the monarchy brand.
She made the difficult decision last month to strip him of his honorary military roles, with the duke also giving up using his HRH – a style he was born with.
But the controversy around Andrew is unlikely to go away, with demands for the duke to clarify whether any public funds or the Queen’s money will be used to pay Ms Giuffre.
Calls for him to lose his dukedom connecting him to the city of York have mounted – a decision that ultimately lies with the Queen – and debate continues over his role as a Counselor of State and his service rank of Vice Admiral.
The settlement in Andrew’s case was followed the next day with the Prince of Wales hitting the headlines after the Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into an alleged cash-for-honours scandal linked to Charles’s Prince’s Foundation.
Charles and his former most trusted aide, Michael Fawcett, were formally reported to police last September when allegations first surfaced in newspaper reports.
Mr Fawcett, who has since resigned as chief executive of the foundation, has been accused of promising to help a Saudi billionaire donor receive British citizenship and a knighthood.
The Queen has just used her Platinum Jubilee Accession Day – when she reached a milestone 70 years on the throne – to set her affairs in order and end years of speculation and controversy over the Duchess of Cornwall’s future title.
It was, the Queen said, her “sincere wish” that Camilla should be known as Queen Consort at Charles’s side when the time came and she called on the public to support them both.
Meanwhile, Charles, who had been in contact with his mother, and Camilla both caught Covid.
The Queen, 95, acknowledged her own health issues last week, declaring “I can’t move” during an in-person audience, before testing positive with Covid-19 on Sunday.
Further family difficulties look set for the rest of the year, with the Duke of Sussex, who left the monarchy in crisis with Megxit, preparing to publish his tell-all memoir.
There are fears Harry will delve further into his troubled relationship with his father Charles, write about his rift with brother the Duke of Cambridge, deliver his thoughts on stepmother Camilla or even name the royal he and Meghan accused of making racist remarks about their son.
Harry, meanwhile, is pursuing a High Court claim against the Home Office over a decision not to allow him to pay for police protection for himself and his family while in the UK.
The Queen has only just experienced a year of great sorrow, when amid the pandemic, her beloved husband of 73 years the Duke of Edinburgh died at the age of 99 in April 2021.
Major celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee are set for June, with the nation set to honor the monarch on a special four-day bank holiday weekend.
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