According to a new biography of the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II was deeply disappointed that three of her four children’s marriages ended in divorce.
“Outwardly stoical, as ever, the Queen was finding the divorce talks deeply upsetting,” Robert Hardman wrote in his book,
“Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II,” (via People.) “Another former member of the Household recalls that every now and then, there would be a glimpse of her despair.”
The Queen,’s two sons, Prince Charles and Prince Andrew, as well as her daughter Princess Anne, are all divorced, leaving her son, Prince Edward, as her sole surviving child.
A former palace staffer told Hardman that the Queen was far more “distressed” than she ever let on.
“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 former staffer said.
Her former press secretary, Charles Anson, also revealed in the book that the Queen always kept her cool, even when Charles, Andrew, and Anne’s marriages all fell apart in 1992.
“I don’t remember a single occasion when I went to see her and she exclaimed, ‘No! What next?’ 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,” Anson told Hardman.
Anson went on to say that the queen was “never short, never irritable, and completely steady.”
In terms of how the Queen handled the very public drama involving Charles and Princess Diana, Hardman wrote that staffers were impressed with her ability to handle the scandal.
“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. 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,” Hardman wrote.
He added, “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.”
After 15 years of marriage, Prince Charles, 73, and the late Diana divorced in 1996 amid his cheating scandal with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he married in 2005. When Charles becomes King, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall will be the “Queen Consort.”
Princess Anne, 71, was previously married to Mark Phillips from 1973 to 1992. In 1992, she remarried Timothy Laurence.
From 1986 to 1996, Prince Andrew, 62, was married to Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Since then, he has been accused of sexual abuse.
Prince Edward, the Queen’s son, has been married to Sophie, Countess of Wessex since 1999.