May 30, 2024 | Eul Basa

The British Royal Family's Biggest Scandals


Far from a fairytale life

The British Royal Family always seems to captivate the public with rituals, history, and charity work. Despite their privilege, they face scandals like infidelity and financial misconduct, attracting media attention.

King Edward VIII chooses love over the throne

Edward VIII became King after his father's death in 1936 but abdicated the throne within a year due to his love for Wallis Simpson, a divorced American socialite. The Church of England's disapproval led to his abdication, and they married in 1937.

Grayscale Portrait Photo of Edward VIII in uniformBritish Library, Wikimedia Commons

Princess Margaret's romance with a married man

Princess Margaret was romantically linked to Captain Peter Townsend, a Royal Air Force officer and servant to the royal family. He developed romantic feelings for the princess and divorced his wife to marry her in 1953— but the Church of England regulations disallowed it. They ended their engagement in 1955.

Grayscale Portrait Photo of Princess MargaretEric Koch, Wikimedia Commons

Princess Margaret weds a photographer instead

Princess Margaret quickly married Anthony Armstrong Jones after breaking up with Townsend. Their royal wedding was televised; however, their marriage faced public mockery, with Margaret taking extended trips alone. They divorced in 1978, making Margaret the first royal to divorce since Henry VIII.

Grayscale Portrait Photo of Princess MargaretJoop van Bilsen, Wikimedia Commons

Princess Anne's shaky marriage to an Olympian

Princess Anne married Mark Phillips, an Olympic equestrian, in 1973—but their marriage was unhappy. In 1989, letters from British naval officer Timothy Laurence to Anne were leaked. She divorced Phillips in 1992 and married Laurence.

Princess Anne at discus medal ceremony Commonwealth GamesArchives New Zealand, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Ferguson's paparazzi shocker

Sarah Ferguson, nicknamed "Fergie," married Queen Elizabeth's son, Prince Andrew, in 1986. A scandal erupted in 1992 when photos showed Fergie with American John Bryan, leading to their divorce in 1996.

The Duke Andrew and Duchess Of York Sarah in TownsvilleQueensland State Archives, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sarah Ferguson was accused of taking a bribe

Fergie's post-divorce struggles persisted in 2010 when she was caught on video allegedly accepting a £500,000 bribe to facilitate a meeting with her ex-husband. She later apologized, acknowledging her mistake as a "serious error in judgment."

Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Eugenie of York and Sarah, Duchess of York skiingNorbert Aepli,CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prince Andrew's connections to Jeffrey Epstein

Prince Andrew was a UK trade envoy for a decade before resigning in 2011 due to close ties with Jeffrey Epstein. Unfortunately for him, stepping down would only be the start of his personal nightmare.

Portrait Photo of Prince Andrew in a dark suit looking to the leftSecretary of Defense, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prince Andrew's nightmare BBC interview

In 2001, Virginia Roberts claimed Epstein forced her to have intimate relations with Prince Andrew when she was 17. Prince Andrew denied the accusations, and Buckingham Palace rejected them—but he later withdrew from royal duties. Epstein died awaiting trial.

The Duke of York and Princess Eugenie riding in the carriageCarfax2, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Princess Diana's alleged secret lover

In 1992, media leaked a transcript of Princess Diana talking to James Gilbey, rumored to be her lover, where he called her "Squidgy" 53 times. The scandal was dubbed "Squidgygate," and although Diana confirmed the conversation, she denied any adultery accusations.

Portrait Photo of Diana, Princess Of WalesJohn Mathew Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Prince Charles' leaked conversation with Camilla

After Diana's private call was leaked, Queen Elizabeth's eldest child Charles had his own call with Camilla Parker Bowles released. The transcript confirmed their romantic relationship, including a bizarre mention of Charles transforming into a tampon. Charles and Diana later separated.

Portrait Photo of Prince Charles & Camilla standing next to each otherAndy Gott, Flickr

Princess Diana's bombshell TV interview

In 1995, Diana discussed her struggles being a royal public figure with Martin Bashir. She revealed knowledge of Charles' relationship with Camilla and her own infidelity with James Hewitt. Following the interview, the Queen advised Charles and Diana to divorce while Charles married Camilla in 2005.

Portrait Photo of Princess Diana in a pink dressImad Abdel-Samad, Flickr

The Queen's silence following Princess Diana's death

Public anger grew as the queen stayed silent after Diana's death. She remained hidden in Balmoral with other royals, including her grandsons, princes William and Harry. She eventually gave a televised address to the nation due to public scrutiny and media pressures.

Portrait Photo of Queen Elizabeth II in green dressCommonwealth Secretariat, Flickr

Prince Harry's day in rehab

Prince Harry, at the age of 17, admitted to trying substances with his father. He spent a day in a London rehab center after the news got out. The royal family said he wanted to learn about the consequences of substance use.

Portrait Photo of Prince Harry in blue suit.DoD News, Flickr

Prince Harry's poor choice of Halloween costume

In 2005, The Sun published a photo of Prince Harry with Hitler's insigna on his arm at a costume party. The prince, who was 20 years old at the time, issued an apology, acknowledging the costume choice was offensive and embarrassing.

Prince Harry, wearing uniform of the Blues & Royals.Michael Garnett, Flickr

Prince Harry gets naked at a party in Vegas

In 2012, a British tabloid released naked photos of the prince taken by a party-goer during a game of strip billiards in his hotel suite. His security team seemed aware of the photos being taken.

Portrait Photo of Prince Harry in a blue suitIan Ward, Flickr

Kate Middleton gets caught sunbathing topless

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed at Viscount Linley's vacation home. During their stay, pictures were taken of Kate Middleton while she was sunbathing topless, and Closer Magazine published them. In 2017, Closer Magazine had to pay $118,000 to Will and Kate after losing a legal case.

Portrait Photo of Kate Middleton on blurred backgroundgem_106, Flickr

Meghan Markle's father was absent at her wedding

Thomas Markle was absent from the royal wedding due to a heart attack but later had a strained relationship with his daughter, the duchess. He publicly criticized her in interviews with British tabloids.

Portrait Photo of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry at their weddingHsnews Us, Flickr

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle step down

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced plans for financial independence and a lesser role in the Royal Family, while supporting Queen Elizabeth. They said they willl split time between North America and the UK. Queen Elizabeth's statement acknowledges ongoing discussions.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the Women's Empowerment receptionBruce Detorres, Flickr

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's TV interview with Oprah

Oprah's interview was a two-hour primetime special filled with stunning revelations. Markle told Winfrey that Kate Middleton made her cry before her wedding. She shared that the royal family discussed Archie's skin color before his birth and denied him a title or security. 

Markle also spoke about her struggles with suicidal thoughts and racism. Harry revealed his family cut off financial support and Prince Charles ignored his calls. The Royal Family expressed sadness over Harry and Meghan's struggles and promised to address the issues privately.

Portrait Photo of Prince Harry and Meghan MarkleBruce Detorres, Flickr


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