The 10 darkest moments of the Queen's reign

Her reign has had lows as well as highs

With her reign spanning seven decades, the Queen has seen her fair share of celebratory moments as well as difficult times during her historic rule.

PHOTOS: 10 incredible photos from the Queen's coronation in 1953

MORE: 9 times the royals have had to apologise in public

From Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview to her 'annus horribilis' in 1992, HELLO! takes a look at the more trying times of Her Majesty’s reign.

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WATCH: Highlights from the Queen's Platinum Jubilee weekend

The death of her father, King George VI - 1952

The Queen shared a close bond with her father, King George VI

The beginning of the Queen's 70-year reign was bittersweet - because it was marked by the death of her beloved father, King George VI.

When the monarch was only 25, her father died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 56 after battling lung cancer. 

MORE: A look back at the day Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth

Although the Queen would have been prepared for this eventuality given the King's poor health, it must still have been difficult to lose her father at such a young age, and to suddenly have to reckon with all the responsibilities of being Queen.

Worse still was the fact that the Queen was enjoying a short break in Kenya at the time with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her remote location meant that the news took longer to reach her.

PHOTOS: Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip's 1947 wedding

Aberfan mining disaster - 1966

The Queen took over a week to visit the site of the disaster

Tragedy struck in 1966 in the small mining village of Aberfan, South Wales, when a colliery spoil tip claimed the lives of 144 people, 116 of them children.

The Queen waited eight days to visit the village and pay her respects, however, only making her way to Aberfan the day after the last victim was pulled from the debris.

READ: The Crown Season Three: Which bits are fact and which bits are fiction?

It was later reported that the monarch reflected on the time she waited before visiting Aberfan as one of the biggest regrets of her reign.

Sir William Heseltine, who worked in the royal press office at the time of the tragedy, said: "I think she felt in hindsight that she might have gone there a little earlier. It was a sort of lesson for us that you need to show sympathy and to be there on the spot, which I think people craved from her." 

READ: Tragedies that hit the British and European royal families

London bombing attacks - 1982 

11 people and seven horses were killed in the blast

In 1982, 11 people were killed and at least 51 were injured when members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated two bombs during British military ceremonies in central London, the first in Hyde Park and the other in Regent's Park.

READ: The Queen sends heartfelt thanks to military personnel and veterans on Armed Forces Day

According to Andrew Parker-Bowles - the ex-husband of the Duchess of Cornwall - the Queen saw the attack as one of the darkest days of her reign: "She said to me it was 'the most ghastly day of my life.'"

Annus horribilis - 1992

The blaze at Windsor Castle destroyed 115 rooms

In a speech at what should have been a celebratory event to mark her Ruby Jubilee, the Queen remarked: "1992 is not a year I shall look back on with undiluted pleasure. It has turned out to be an 'annus horribilis.'" 

READ: Why Windsor Castle is the perfect place for the Queen to rest

It was indeed a trying time: a month earlier her favourite residence, Windsor Castle, had gone up in flames, and to make matters worse, her children’s marriages were falling apart.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana were set to separate after the ‘Camillagate’ scandal, which revealed the affair between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

READ: Why Princess Diana didn't wear a royal wedding tiara like other brides

The Duke of York had divorced Sarah Ferguson earlier in the year and Princess Anne also separated from Captain Mark Phillips, going on to marry Commander Tim Laurence at the end of the year.

Death of Diana, Princess of Wales - 1997

The Queen gave a heartwarming tribute - but some argued it wasn't given soon enough

There was a widespread outpouring of grief in 1997 after Diana, Princess of Wales passed away after being severely injured in a car crash.

The Queen was on holiday at Balmoral with both of Diana's sons, Prince Harry and Prince William, along with the rest of the royal family at the time.

READ: Princess Diana competing in Prince Harry's school sports day has to be seen

For five days, the family remained secluded at Balmoral. The Queen's silence after the tragedy, coupled with the decision not to fly a flag at half-mast over Buckingham Palace, led to backlash from the public.

The Queen's tribute to Diana, during which she called the Princess of Wales "an exceptional and gifted human being", helped to soften public sentiment.

Golden Jubilee - 2002

The Queen lost both her mother and sister in this difficult year

Yet another Jubilee was tainted for the Queen due to sad events. 

In the year that she should have been celebrating 50 years on the throne, the Queen lost her sister, Princess Margaret, and then the Queen Mother, only seven weeks later.

READ: The few times the Queen has been moved to tears in public

Princess Margaret died at 71, after suffering from a series of strokes which left her with mobility issues and partial eyesight.

The Queen Mother died at 101, continuing an active public life despite her age until just around a month before her death.

Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview - 2019

The Duke stepped back from royal duties following criticism from viewers

In one of the most shocking scandals to hit the royal family, Prince Andrew agreed to an interview addressing his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, during which he spoke of his "tendency to be honourable". 

MORE: Prince Andrew spotted for the first time since Newsnight interview

The interview led to intense scrutiny and was widely criticised by the media as well as the public.

Following the scandal, the Duke stepped back from his royal duties, and was stripped of his military affiliations and royal patronages after Virginia Giuffre began legal action against him for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

He can no longer use the style 'His Royal Highness' in any official capacity.

MORE: What happens to Prince Andrew's military titles and royal patronages now?

The Sussexes stepping back - 2020

Meghan and Harry's decision to step back set off a dramatic chain of events

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex hit headlines around the world when they announced that they would be "stepping back" as senior members of the royal family. 

READ: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wine and dine in style at New York restaurant after emotional speech

The Queen released a statement saying that she had begun discussions with Harry and Meghan after their shock move, but expected them to be difficult: "We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."

Another explosive moment followed in the form of the Sussexes’ tell-all interview with Oprah, which led to increased scrutiny for the monarch and the whole royal family after shocking revelations from the couple about racism.

MORE: 12 most shocking royal moments that stunned the world

Death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh - 2021

The Queen sat alone at her husband's funeral 

The Queen lost her lifelong confidante and beloved husband Prince Philip on 9 April 2021, at the age of 99.

PHOTOS: 20 of Prince Philip's sweetest family moments

The pair had been married for 73 years, having raised four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren together.

Due to COVID restrictions, only 30 people were allowed to attend Philip's funeral at Windsor Castle. The Queen was poignantly seen sitting by herself and wearing a face mask at the intimate ceremony.

Getting ill with Covid-19 - 2022

The Queen made a full recovery despite concerns

Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen had caught COVID-19 earlier this year, and she was experiencing "mild cold-like symptoms".

READ: The Queen reveals she feels "exhausted" following COVID battle

The news that the monarch had tested positive concerned many, given the fact that her age made her more vulnerable.

Despite this, the Queen displayed her typical resilience and recovered in time to attend festivities commemorating her Platinum Jubilee.

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