We love the royal family here at WO HQ. Read all the reasons we love the royal family right here. But no one can deny that they’ve had their fair share of scandals. And that’s just in the last century! “Squidgygate”, Fergie’s foot-licking or Kate and Prince William’s partying days… Here are some of the scandals that have happened that the royal family would probably rather you forgot…
Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson
On December 11th 1936, after being dogged by rumour and scandal, King Edward VIII followed his heart and abdicated his throne.
His decision to choose twice divorced Wallis Simpson over his duty as King may have shocked some, but for those who understood their deep affection for one another, it would have come as no surprise.
In his speech announcing his abdication, Edward said:
“At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for me to speak.
A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.
You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for twenty-five years tried to serve. 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.”
Princess Margaret’s forbidden love
Series 1 of The Crown turned this heartbreaking royal scandal into a key storyline for the show. The hit Neflix series re-told the story of how the Queen’s younger sister fell for Peter Townsend, a Captain who was not only 16 years her senior but already married. Despite the fact the age difference would have raised eyebrows at the time, it was the fact that Townsend was still married when his flirtation with the Princess began that was truly scandalous.
In the TV show, it’s the Queen who is portrayed as being the one to eventually forbid the relationship.
However, in reality, it wasn’t the Queen who was against the idea of them getting married. Alan Lascelles, the private secretary to George VI, was one of the main objectors to the partnership due to Townsend’s position as a divorcee.
Author Anne de Courcy depicts the heartbreaking ending to Princess Margaret’s love affair, “It was decided that the best plan would be for Townsend to leave the country for a year—at the end of which they were asked to wait another year [before they decided to marry]. Townsend and Margaret saw each other again for the first time on October 12, 1955.” Alas, “less than three agonizing weeks later, the two of them came to the conclusion that their love could have no happy ending.”
For his part, Peter Townsend rarely spoke of his doomed relationship with the Princess. However, he did mention it in his 1978 autobiography, Time and Chance. “She could have married me only if she had been prepared to give up everything—her position, her prestige, her privy purse,” he wrote. “I simply hadn’t the weight, I knew it, to counterbalance all she would have lost.”
“Squidgygate” as it came to be known involved leaked tapes of Princess Diana talking to one of her rumoured lovers, James Gilbey. Apparently Gibley repeatedly told the Princess “I love you” during a half-hour conversation. He also referred to her affectionately as “Squidgy” 53 times.
Despite the scandalous tapes, Gilbey, a childhood friend of the princess, denied having an affair with Diana.
Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles
The relationship between Camilla and Prince Charles after they split up and married other people was always scandalous for the royal family. Although many suspect the pair of having a love affair, it was not until leaked phone conversations between them surfaced that everyone’s suspicions were confirmed.
Not only was there a leaked phone conversation between the reportedly flirty pair, but the tapes were published in 1992. The conversation, in which the pair joke about Prince Charles ‘coming back’ as ‘a pair of knickers’ or ‘a tampax’ in order to ‘live inside Camilla’s trousers’ were highly embarrassing for both the royal family and Princess Diana.
Diana always had her suspicions about the former couple still having feelings for one another. Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter for The Telegraph explains how discovering a piece of jewellery all but confirmed Diana’s fears that Charles and Camilla’s relationship was more than just friends.
Rayner reveals that Diana, “found a bracelet intended for Camilla Parker Bowles which had the letters “GF” engraved on it. She believed they stood for “Gladys” and “Fred”, the pet names the Prince and Mrs Parker Bowles had given each other, though an alternative suggestion was that they stood for “Girl Friday”, another nickname the Prince had given her.”
Prince Charles and Camilla got married on the 9th April 2005, 9 years after Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced. Camilla was given the title The Duchess of Cornwall after the marriage.
Fergie and the foot-licking incident!
The Duchess of York and Prince Andrew announced their separation in 1992, however that didn’t make this shocking royal scandal any less humiliating for the royal family! Sarah Ferguson, or ‘Fergie’ as she became known, was papped having her toes licked by Texas businessman John Bryan whilst on holiday in August 1992.
The tell-all Panorama interview
“There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
This famous Princess Diana quote, revealing her disdain and resentment towards Prince Charles and Camilla’s relationship during their marriage, came from an explosive, tell-all BBC1 Panorama interview with the Princess of Wales, broadcast in November 1995. The televised interview, with Martin Bashir, was quite simply scandalous for the royal family.
Diana chose to be completely open and honest about many subjects the press continually speculated about surrounding her life. Without holding back, she spoke candidly about the love affairs that plagued her royal marriage, her struggles with mental health issues, bulimia and self-harm.
The Duchess of York duped
Sarah Ferguson’s ability to whip up a royal scandal continued when it was exposed that she had offered to ‘sell access’ to her ex-husband Prince Andrew in return for money. Footage surfaced of Fergie asking for cash and a sizeable sum of money via wire transfer in exchange for introducing a reporter to the Prince.
“I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused,” Ferguson said in a statement.
“It is true that my financial situation is under stress however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and I am very sorry that this has happened,” she added.
James Hewitt and the question of Prince Harry’s paternity
This was said to be the royal rumour that pushed Princess Diana over the edge. Despite the clear family resemblances, there have always been rumours and theories that suggest that Prince Harry is not Prince Charles’ son. Many imply that Harry could be the result of Princess Diana’s love affair with Hewitt – her riding instructor.
In that Panaorama interview, Princess Diana admitted to the affair and that she “adored him” and “was in love with him”. However, she never entertained the rumours about Harry’s paternity. Those close to the Princess revealed that the suggestion that Harry was James Hewitt’s son deeply upset Diana.
By the time Diana sat down to give her explosive Panorama interview, the relationship between the two had broken down. Hewitt had sold his side of their story, making their affair public knowledge. “ I was absolutely devastated when this book appeared, because I trusted him” Diana said.
“It was very distressing for me that a friend of mine, who I had trusted, made money out of me. I really minded about that.”
James Hewitt recently gave an interview categorically denying that he is Prince Harry’s father. You can read all about the recent interview with James Hewitt here.
The Las Vegas photo leak
Prince Harry has certainly had his fair share of run-ins with the paparazzi and press. The formerly ‘party loving’ Prince had barely put a certain scandal about photos of him in a ‘Nazi uniform’ well and truly behind him when he was hit with yet another invasion of his privacy.
Photos of the Prince partying in Vegas were published by the papers, showing Harry with virtually nothing on, in Sin City with a group of male and female friends. Following the very public scandal Prince Harry apologised for embarrassing his family, “I let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down.”
Prince William’s partying days and Kate’s candid moments
They may be the crown jewels of the royal family now, but Kate and Prince William were not always snapped looking so composed!
As their private life together at university in St.Andrews came to an end, Kate Middleton and Prince William were often papped out and about in London.
This included many an evening of the young couple spotted leaving various exclusive haunts and nightclubs looking a little worse for wear! Whether it was stumbling into a taxi or grinning at the paparazzi, both Kate and William were seen clearly enjoying their youth!
These days however, the couple have swapped late nights out clubbing for long days on official visits and royal tours.
The picture of perfect family happiness with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, it’s nice to know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were once just like us and enjoyed letting their hair down after a tequila or two!