We have all grown up hearing stories about Prince and Princesses, Kings and Queens. The idea of royalty, luxury, palaces to live, kingdoms to rule, subjects to plead, and battles to fight is exceedingly captivating in stories. But isn’t all this too good to be true?

The reality may not be as bewitching as it seems. And let us not romanticise the idea of wars, please. Wars are harsh, ugly, and inhumane, and the world doesn’t need them. But when we speak of royalty, we’re automatically thinking about Queen Elizabeth II, the British Royal Family, and the Buckingham Palace.

Do you know that over the course of history, many a time, the British Royal Family has gone through some outrageous scandals that became huge public spectacles? Here are some of those infamous incidents associated with the Royal Family. 

1. King Edward VIII abandoned his throne to marry the love of his life

When King Edward proclaimed his decision to marry an American socialite and a two-time divorcee Wallis Simpson, it was viewed as blasphemy. The Church forbade the marriage resulting in his eventual renunciation of the throne, five months before his coronation.

Regressive much? Yes. But this is a story of a time when these kinds of rules existed in the world. And safe to say, things have evolved for good. 

What is remarkable about this incident is that it changed the entire course of history. Because his abdication was followed by the accession of the throne by Gorge VI, King Edward’s younger brother and the father of Elizabeth II, the present Queen of England who was merely ten years old then. Think about it. A love affair changed the history.

But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love.  

-Excerpt from King Edward VIII abdication speech, 1936

Hub Pages

2. Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret came to be viewed as the black sheep of the family. A typical ‘spoilt child’

Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II was the complete opposite of the poise, the calm, and the charm that the Queen seemed to reflect. It is common knowledge that Margaret was a chain-smoker and passionate drinker. Her bossy demeanour, rebellious persona and upfront behaviour was a constant source of worry for the royal family. She seemed to radiate the vibe of a spoilt royal child who socialised at parties and defied royal protocols. Her troubled marriage and controversial love affairs were a constant source of buzz for the tableaus. 

However, dig through Princess’s life and you’ll sympathise with her. If you’re royalty, you would definitely not want to be viewed as a black sheep or be known for your chaotic marriage, failed love life, or extravagant lifestyle.

Disobedience is my joy!

-Princess Margaret

The Guardian

3. Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s engagement interview was a nightmare. A cue for a marriage about to fail

Their royal marriage drew worldwide attention. It was going to be a fairy tale. The most eligible bachelor, Prince Charles, the royalty, was about to marry a young, beautiful Diana. It was going to be the wedding of the century. The world was smitten with Diana. Stories of her charming personality and alluring innocence had already crossed all geographical boundaries. But the first bubble burst came with the couple’s engagement interview. 

On being questioned whether they were in love, deep-into-love Diana responded with a reflex “of course.” However, Charles gave a nonchalant “whatever in love means.” The 19-year-old Diana’s embarrassed expression on her fiance’s callous response echoed hurt and disappointment. It was a big cue for things about to unfold.

4. Princess Charles and Camilla’s intimate phone call leaked soon after his separation from Diana

After the break-up of the tumultuous marriage with Diana, an old phone call between Prince Charles and Camilla resurfaced. The infamous phone call was an explicit exchange between two lovers yearning to be intimate with each other. Not only the audio transcripts but the full audio of the conversation was also leaked and still exists on the web.  

In the controversial phone call, the Prince can be heard fantasising about living inside Camilla’s trousers. He even suggested that if he could, he would have transformed into a tampon just to be able to live inside her. This scandalous conversation was an extended reflection of a chaotic marriage that Charles and Diana previously shared.

History Extra

5. Princess Diana revealed dark secrets about her marriage to Prince Charles in a shocking BBC interview

In an interview with Martin Bashir, 35-year-old Diana — having separated from Prince Charles — got candid and spilled the secrets around her doomed marriage. During the discourse, Diana openly spoke about her post-natal depression, bulimia, thoughts of hurting herself, and essentially being alone in the marriage. 

Charles loved Camilla, his present wife, even while he was married to Diana. Corroborating the same, Diana openly admitted that “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” With constant paparazzi and buzz around Diana, the interview became a global sensation. Millions of people around the globe tuned in to watch the controversial interview.

I think that I’ve always been the 18-year-old girl he got engaged to so I don’t think I’ve been given any credit for growth. And, my goodness, I’ve had to grow.

-Diana in BBC interview

The New Yorker

6. Prince Harry spotted naked in Vegas

Whatever happens in Vegas, doesn’t really stay in Vegas. Not when it comes to the Royal family. They are always under public scrutiny. This happened back in 2012 when, a British Tabloid, The Sun, published naked pictures of Prince Harry in the name of public interest. Despite warnings from The Royal Family’s legal team over invasion of privacy, the tabloid went ahead and release the pictures, from the Las Vegas hotel room, headlined “Heir it is!”

This was not the first incident where the privacy of a Royal member was played around like that. Princess Diana, Harry’s mother, throughout her public life, battled the intrusive cameras. She died in a fatal car crash while trying to avoid the vulture-like paparazzi. 

Not long after this incident, another magazine published a topless photo of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, sunbathing during a private holiday. The magazine was later sued and made to pay a hefty amount for the damages caused.

CBS News

7. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decide to leave the monarchy. The couple revealed horrific details about the monarchy in a candid interview to Oprah Winfrey

Devastated from the pressures that came from being royalty, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex, made a shocking decision to give up on their royal duties officially. In a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey, the couple opened up about racism, being sidelined, and the toxicity from the UK press, among many other things. Meghan also spoke about the self-destructive thoughts she had harboured during her stay in the monarchy.

The shocking interview mirrored the distress that Harry’s mother, Diana, had shared in the BBC interview back in 1995.  

There were concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he is born 

-Meghan Markle in the interview with Oprah Winfrey

The New York Times

8. Queen Elizabeth’s son, Prince Andrew embroiled in controversy due to his friendship with a convicted sex offender

Prince Andrew’s controversial friendship with a convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein drew a flood of negative criticism from around the world. Reportedly, Prince had close relations with Epstein and was even sexually involved with a minor trafficked by the latter. 

In a BBC interview with Emily Maitlis, the Prince said that he had no regrets about his association with Epstein. Predictably, this statement reveived enormous public backlash. As a result, the Prince stepped back from all his public duties in 2019.

These scandals associated with the Royal Family are dipped in different shades. A reflection of the past is in the present. While the monarchy has evolved, there’s still so much that needs to be addressed and further evolve. We may fantasise the world of princes and princesses but the world behind camera lenses is not as glitzy or glamorous. The fairy tales are not real. And All that glitters is really not gold!