11 Biggest Scandals of the British Royal Family

Over the years, the British Royal Family has experienced a lot of scandals — these scandals span bad romances, tragic divorces, racist jewelry, among other things.

Because of how the whole world holds this family in high esteem, their private issues always become topical in the media — the very moment it leaks out.

Here are some of the 11 biggest scandals of the British Royal family:

1. Meghan And Harry’s Candid Interview With Oprah

Meghan and Harry granted an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey on March 7, 2021.

In the interview, the couple exposed certain dirty secrets that got the whole world talking.

Meghan spoke extensively on certain dark secrets about the Royal family including their blatant racism towards Archie and Meghan being refused any form of help or support from the “family” after contemplating suicide.

Meghan described her brief time as a royal as “almost unsurvivable”, adding that she struggled with suicidal thoughts while the palace staff ignored her pleas for help. “I was ashamed to say it at the time… I just didn’t want to be alive any more. And that was a very real and clear and frightening and constant thought.”

She then explained that when she went to “one of the senior-most people” to seek mental health resource but was told she could not and that it would not be good for the institution. “They said, ‘My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there’s nothing we can do to protect you because you’re not a paid employee of the institution,’” she said.

2. First Royal Divorce in a Long Time

Princess Margaret’s marriage to photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones came with its own bag of troubles.

It was all fine and beautiful before things turned sour — in fact their wedding was the first royal wedding shown on TV.

But just after a few years, things took a nose dive.

They fought in public, Margaret went on vacation without her husband, and of course, there were rumors of her affair.

In 1976, the couple announced their divorce, and two years later they officially over. It was the first royal divorce since the reign of Henry VIII, back in the 1500s.

3. The Scandalous Prince Harry

Prince Harry has grown into a responsible prince, husband, and father, but when he was younger, truth be told, he was really wild and stubborn.

The calm and soft-spoken Harry as we have come to know him used to be the black sheep of the Royal family.

Parties all day every day, excessive alcohol consumption, and clubbing with girls of dubious reputation — Harry did it all.

After some of his one-night stands appeared on the newspapers’ front pages, he straightened out for a while. But the real damage to the Royals has been done when the photos of Harry naked scattered all over the papers after he (very clearly) lost at strip pool in Vegas.

4. The Infamous Brooch

This is yet another scandal that dented the image of the Royal Family

Princess Michael of Kent—wife of Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin—was spotted wearing a racially offensive brooch on her coat while arriving to the palace with her husband during one of the traditional gala dinners at the Buckingham Palace.

The accessory is a piece of blackamoor jewelry, which fetishize images of slavery.

When the photos of Princess Michael wearing the brooch made it into the media, it generated a whole lot of buzz as it became a national scandal.

Attempting to smooth it out, the royal family made a statement in which they claimed that the trinket was a gift, and it has been worn many times before, and that Princess Michael was very sorry and upset that this offended someone.

5. King Edward VIII rejected the crown in 1936 so he could marry a divorced American woman.

Directly after his father died in 1936, Edward VIII took the throne. Less than a year later, he renounced it.

That’s because he had fallen hard for Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who’d already been divorced once and was working through her second.

Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII. AP/Len Putnam
Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII. AP/Len Putnam

His proposal of marriage caused social and political uproar, since the Church of England technically forbade Edward from marrying someone who’d been divorced. Eventually, Edward was forced to abdicate.

“I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as King […] without the help and support of the woman I love,” he said in a radio address to the nation in December 1936.

Edward and Simpson married in 1937 and stayed together until Edward’s death in 1972.

6. Princess Margaret fell in love with a married man.

Captain Peter Townsend was a Royal Air Force officer who served as an equerry – essentially an attendant to the royal family.

He spent a great deal of time with Margaret, and before long, the two fell in love. The only problem was that he was married.

Captain Peter Townsend stands behind Princess Margaret. AP
Captain Peter Townsend stands behind Princess Margaret. AP

Things got even more scandalous in 1953 when Townsend divorced his wife and proposed to Margaret. But the rules of the Church of England forbade such a marriage. (After all, Margaret’s uncle Edward VIII had to relinquish the throne in order to marry a divorcee.)

The relationship came to a heartbreaking close in 1955 when they called off the engagement. There was simply no way for Captain Townsend and Princess Margaret to have a happy ending.

7. Princess Anne divorced her husband and married a member of the royal staff.

Princess Anne, the only daughter of current Queen Elizabeth II, married Olympic equestrian Mark Phillips in 1973. But the couple spent large swaths of time apart and didn’t appear to be happy — People magazine described the marriage as a “joyless sham.”

Mark Phillips and Princess Anne in 1976. AP
Mark Phillips and Princess Anne in 1976. AP

Then, in spring 1989, a British newspaper obtained stolen copies of letters written to Anne by one of her equerries — a British naval officer named Timothy Laurence. Though the content of the letters wasn’t made public, tabloids described them as “extremely intimate” and “too hot to handle.”

In 1992, Anne announced that she was divorcing Phillips — and that she planned to marry Laurence. The two have been together ever since.

8. In 2012, Prince Harry got naked at a private party in Las Vegas, and someone leaked the photos to The Sun.

As we said earlier, Prince Harry was really wild whiles growing up — and one of the things he did most was excessive clubbing.

During one of this clubbing moments, Prince Harry got naked and he was captured by another party-goer during a game of strip billiards in his hotel suite — and the naked photos were leaked to The SUN.

According to an anonymous source who was in attendance, the prince’s security team appeared to be aware that people were taking photos.

“No one asked for our phones or anything about us when we arrived at the party,” the source told The Sun. “It was obvious people were taking pictures.”

9. Prince Harry spent a day (yes, a single day) in rehab.

This is a secret a lot of people do not know — that Prince Harry spent a day in the rehab.

At the age of 17, Harry confessed to his dad that he was smoking marijuana.

The clinic Prince Harry attended in 2002. Getty/Sion Touhig
The clinic Prince Harry attended in 2002. Getty/Sion Touhig

He was as a result made to spend a day at the Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation center in London.

A statement from the royal family said the Harry had agreed to visit the clinic “to learn about the possible consequences of starting to take cannabis.”

10. Prince William’s Affair Rumors

In 2019, the Duke of Cambridge was accused of having an affair with Rose Hanbury, the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, who was a close friend of his wife, Duchess Kate.

At the time, a source exclusively revealed that Kate wasn’t pleased when she caught wind of the “hurtful” rumors.

However, the drama ended up changing the couple for the better.

“It forced her and William to sit back and examine their relationship, which they realized they should have been doing more often,” the insider said of the pair, who tied the knot in April 2011. A separate source insisted that William and Kate were “still going strong” and “love each other dearly.”

11. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Step Down

Less than two years after their May 2018 royal wedding, the Sussexes announced that after “many months of reflection and internal discussions,” they planned to step down from their senior royal duties.

“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” they noted via Instagram at the time. Two months later, they settled down in California with their son, Archie.

The move sparked a major conversation about life within palace walls — but a source revealed in January 2020 that the couple “made their statement without the official blessing of the queen.”

In February 2021, it was confirmed that the pair would no longer be working members of the British royal family.

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