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5 Times The British Royal Family Truly Shocked the World

The British Royal Family has been no stranger to public criticism over the years. In fact, over the course of time, the public scrutiny placed on its members has grown and grown to the point that every little move made by them is under the microscope.

This resulted in multiple scandals within the family, which caused public outrage and ultimately harmed their reputation. Whether it’s about rumored infidelities, a queen who never married, or members who chose to leave their royal duties, it’s never a tedious moment.

The British Royal Family has had a difficult time the last few years, especially since the civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew, so it’s safe to say that their public image has suffered several high-profile controversies.

Let’s take a look at some of the most shocking British Royal Family moments throughout history!

british royal family
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1. Prince Harry and Megan’s Oprah Interview

The British Royal Family’s public image definitely took a hit after this bombshell interview. While the couple shared some lovely anecdotes about their life in the US and also revealed they were going to have a baby girl on the way (royals usually don’t reveal the gender of their baby until after the birth), Meghan and Harry did make some shocking revelations.

Among them was that certain members of the British Royal Family had expressed concern over Archie’s skin color and that they also had refused to pay for the baby’s security costs. Meghan also addressed rumors related to their wedding, claiming that it was her sister-in-law Kate who had made her cry about the bridesmaids’ outfits, and not the other way round.

Following the shocking interview, Queen Elizabeth II issued a statement saying: “The entire family is saddened to learn how difficult the last several years have been for Harry and Meghan. The topics raised, particularly those related to race, are concerning. While some experiences may differ, they are taken very seriously and will be handled by the family privately. Harry, as well as Meghan and Archie, will always be much-loved family members.”

2. Prince Michael of Kent and His Close Ties With Russia

In May 2021, Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabeth II’s first cousin, was rumored to be willing to use his royal title for personal profit so he could seek favors from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Investigative reporters from The Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches collaborated to pose as South Korean gold investors working at the fictional House of Haedong company (which was trying to get in touch with the Kremlin to promote its business in Russia).

Over a secretly recorded Zoom meeting, Prince Michael of Kent said he could be hired for £10,000 per day to make ‘confidential’ proposals to the regime. He also stated that he would give their fake company his royal support via a recorded speech in exchange for $200,000, mentioning that he would be happy to use his home in Kensington Palace as a backdrop.

Here’s what Prince Michael’s office said: “Prince Michael of the British Royal Family receives no public funding. As a result, His Royal Highness earns his own living via a consultancy company that he has been in charge of for over 40 years. Prince Michael and President Putin have no special relationship. They last met in 2003, and Prince Michael has not had any contact with him since then”.

duke of york
Photo by Chris Allan from Shutterstock

3. The Duke of York and the Epstein Scandal

The Queen’s second son was stripped of most of his titles in 2019. Following his interview with BBC Newsnight, the whole world found out about his ties with the wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, known for his conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.

As a result, the British Royal Family took action, so the Duke of York was removed from royal duties. Here’s a short part of his speech: “I continue to deeply regret my imprudent association with Jeffrey Epstein.”

In 2021, Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Prince Andrew for allegedly assaulting her when she was a teenager, claims he has constantly denied.

A few months later, Giuffre and the Duke both reached an out-of-court accord. He paid her a settlement (although it was confidential, the amount is reported to be as much as $16 million) and also donated to her charity organization in support of victims’ rights.

The settlement came just a few weeks after the British Royal Family removed his royal patronages and military affiliations.

4. Diana, Princess of Wales and Her Revealing Interview

On November 20th, 1995, the BBC aired a 55-minute interview with Princess Diana on “Panorama,” its main investigative-news program. The show had been planned in absolute secrecy, so only a few people working at the BBC knew about it.

Marmaduke Hussey, the broadcaster’s chairman, had also been kept in the dark as his wife was the Queen’s female personal assistant. Alan Yentob, the controller overseeing the channel that broadcast the interview, states he wasn’t informed because he was an awful gossip. The British Royal Family, including Diana’s advisors, had been also excluded.

23 million people in Britain watched the interview, which ultimately created lots of headlines. According to Princess Diana, she and Prince Charles had separated approximately three years earlier, but she confessed she didn’t want to get a divorce.

Under the interviewer’s sympathetic but straightforward questioning, she revealed having an affair with Captain James Hewitt, a British cavalry officer.

She had some remarkable lines: “There were three of us in our marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” alluding to Camilla Parker Bowels, currently King Charles’s wife and The Queen Consort; “I would like to be a queen of people’s hearts” — a touching quote that got quite famous.

Diana spoke about her mental health, too, and she made sure to do so with visceral clarity: “Bulimia is like having a pair of arms around you.” Not only was bulimia a real taboo subject for that period, but it was also part of a statement made by a member of the British Royal Family.

“Perhaps I was the first one in this family who ever struggled with depression or was ever openly tearful,” she added. “And obviously, that was unsettling because how do you support it if you’ve never seen it before?”

Want to know more about Princess Diana’s life? Here‘s a book you may want to read!

princess margaret
Eric Koch for Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. The Tumultuous Love Life of Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret of Britain was charming, beautiful, and had the world at her feet, but her love life was never simple. She wasn’t allowed to marry her first love, Group Captain Peter Townsend, a divorced man that was 16 years older than her. She eventually married another man, but the relationship quickly deteriorated.

The Queen’s younger sister shocked both the British Royal Family and the whole nation when she decided to separate from photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1976. While the palace stated at the time that the pair had no plans to divorce, Princess Margaret began formal steps to officially end the marriage.

Although attitudes toward divorce were improving at the time, a royal divorce was still considered unimaginable. Not to mention that it was the first divorce of a member of the British Royal Family since Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1901.

Despite having many friends and companions during her later years, Princess Margaret reportedly felt lonely. However, thanks to what she had gone through, it was easier for other members of the British Royal Family, like Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, and King Charles, to divorce.

And though Meghan Marke and Camilla Parker-Bowles were divorcées themselves, they were able to marry their royal spouses.

If you’re interested in reading more about the British Royal Family, you may also like Queen Elizabeth II: 8 Funny Facts You Didn’t Know About Her.


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