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Why does the 20th of November have good and bad memories for the Queen?

Queen Elizabeth II
i-Images/Pool

Many dates in royal history will churn up positive and negative memories for members of the Royal Family. Perhaps this is most true for the Queen herself, who has been the head of the House of Windsor for almost sixty-nine years.

Several key anniversaries define Her Majesty’s reign. Most prominent is likely February 6, the date of her accession to the throne which also marks the tragic death of her father King George VI in 1952. Another pivotal day is June 2, the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 1953. 

These dates are all of constitutional importance in the make-up of the Queen’s time on the throne, but what about November 20? The significance may not immediately obvious, but why is it important? What are the positive and negative recollections attached to this date?

The day is practically littered with royal history – from a long-lasting royal romance to the release of one of the most earth-shattering tell-all royal interviews of all time.

Starting on a positive note, this date marks the wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The couple, then known as Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, married at Westminster Abbey on this day in 1947, meaning that as of 2020 they have been married for 73 years. The couple went on to have four children and subsequently have eight grandchildren, as well as eight great-grandchildren as of November 2020, with one more expected by Princess Eugenie in the spring of 2021.

The other attachments to this day are more likely negative from a royal perspective. First is from 1992 – a year dubbed by Her Majesty as ‘Annus Horribilis’- which saw the destructive fire at Windsor Castle. The Queen’s beloved childhood home went up in flames at around 11:15am, starting in the private chapel. It was later revealed the fire had been caused by a spotlight being pressed up against a curtain. The damage was extensive, totalling £36.5 million once the project was completed.

The bad luck of the 20th of November reared its head once again in 1995 when Princess Diana took part in the BBC Panorama interview which, once again, is the subject of controversy as it approaches its 25th anniversary. Whilst the recording of the interview occurred on the evening of November 5, 1995, it was aired fifteen days later. The House of Windsor was rocked by the interview after Diana’s comments about the Prince of Wales’s adultery and her own mental health struggles.

Few dates can measure up to the number and enormity of the events which occurred on the 20th of November throughout the Queen’s lifetime although hopefully this day can be free from scandal for the foreseeable future.