• Weird History

A Definitive List Of The Most Famous Scandals From The Modern British Royal Family

Scandals always captivate the public, and British royal family scandals are the cream of the crop, proving the family is not exempt from the grip of impropriety and public embarrassment. The modern royal family, the Windsors, is headed by Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning queen England has ever had. Her children, unfortunately, have borne the brunt of numerous scandals over the years: Prince Andrew allegedly slept with a 17-year-old sex slave; Prince Charles had a salacious affair that was highly publicized; and Princess Anne, who was once nearly kidnapped, was beseiged by adultery rumors concerning her ex-husband. Of course, scandal is not new to the royal family. Queen Elizabeth's uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated his throne to marry a divorcee, and the story of the love affair between Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend, a married man, was huge news during the '50s. 

This list details the most sordid and highly publicized scandals the Windsors have experienced in modern history.

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  • Photo: Mattnad / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Prince Charles Had A Decades-Long Affair With Camilla Parker-Bowles, While They Were Both Married To Other People

    Prince Charles made no secret of his love for Camilla Parker-Bowles, before, during, or after his marriage to Diana Spencer. Charles and Camilla met in 1970, but couldn't marry due to Camilla's "promiscuous" history (she had had previous boyfriends). Charles married Diana, and together they had two sons; however, Charles never stopped loving Camilla, and in 1986, they began an affair.

    In an interview, Diana admitted she knew full well of the affair, and had even confronted Camilla about it. Controversially, Charles and Camilla married in 2005, eight years after Diana's death.

  • Sarah Ferguson Tried To Sell Access To Prince Andrew

    Scandal-plagued Sarah Ferguson was once caught accepting a bribe of over £500,000 in exchange for open access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew. In May 2010, the press released footage of Ferguson putting £40,000 in her purse and demanding 500,000 more; in exchange, she said, she could "open doors." 

    Ferguson later went on Oprah to explain herself, claiming she had a drinking problem at the time. Remarkably, Andrew forgave her.

  • Both Charles And Diana Had Private Phone Conversations Leaked

    Charles's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles was no secret to Diana, who had an affair of her own with army captain James Hewitt. Not surprisingly, the Prince and Princess of Wales couldn't hide their extramarital relationships from the public, either, and both had personal and revealing phone calls leaked.

    Charles's conversation was insanely scandalous and dubbed "Tampongate," as the conversation involved Charles telling Camilla he wanted to live in her underpants, perhaps as a tampon. Diana's was a bit more innocent; the conversation, which she insisted was not adulterous in its nature, involved a man named James Gilbey calling her "Squidgy" numerous times.

  • King Edward VIII Abdicated His Throne To Marry The Woman He Loved

    Perhaps the most impactful royal scandal in the history of the modern British monarchy occurred when Edward VIII chose to marry Wallis Simpson instead of being king. The only problem was, he already was king. Less than a year into his reign, in 1936, Edward (who allegedly disliked royal life anyway) chose to abdicate his throne and marry Simpson.

    Since Simpson was divorced (twice), the church forbade their union, forcing Edward's hand. They were given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but were shut out from the royal family. They remained married until Edward's death in 1972.