9 Royal Family Scandals That Make Current Royal Drama Seem Tame

Prince William and Prince Harry have been in the public eye since they were small children. As the only children of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, fans around the world embraced the two young men — particularly after the tragic death of Diana in 1997. They remained close even as they grew and matured into adulthood.

These days, however, Harry and William are at odds, with conflicting reports about what caused the rift between the two members of the royal family. With all the awkwardness and drama between the two brothers, this is far from the first time that there has been royal family drama. In fact, over the years, there have been many major royal family scandals that have kept fans around the world totally riveted. Who is the most scandalous of the royal family? That might be a subjective answer but here are some scandals from the past that make the current drama seem tame.

The British monarch is no stranger to royal scandals over the centuries

Edward VIII became the British monarch in 1936, and citizens of the country held a lot of hope for the future. However, just one year later, King Edward VIII decided to abdicate the throne in order to pursue a relationship with Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American socialite. The monarch was not allowed to marry a divorcee while on the throne, and ultimately, he decided that he would rather have love in his life than power. The scandal rocked the world, but to Edward VIII and Simpson, it was all worth it — the two eventually married and remained together until his death in 1972.

Several decades later, it was Princess Margaret whose love affair made headlines. The younger sister to Queen Elizabeth reportedly fell in love with Captain Peter Townsend, a married Royal Air Force officer who divorced his wife in order to propose to Margaret. At the time, Church of England rules forbade marriage between the two, and in 1955, the two parted ways.

The romance with Townsend wasn’t the only time that Margaret would cause a stir. After marrying photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones, Margaret increasingly became the subject of tabloid headlines, with many publications calling out the couple’s reported fights. In 1976, the couple separated, making Margaret the first royal to divorce since Henry VIII.

Princess Anne’s love affair and Princess Diana’s leaked phone call scandal

Princess Anne, the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, was married to Olympic equestrian Mark Phillips in the ’70s. However, the marriage was reportedly not a happy one, and in the late ’80s, reports started swirling that Princess Anne was involved in a romance with a British naval officer named Timothy Laurence. By 1992, the royal indirectly confirmed the reports by announcing that she was divorcing Phillips in order to pursue a romance with Laurence. Ultimately, Laurence and the princess married, and are together to this day.

By 1992, the royal family‘s love affairs were hot topics. Therefore, when a transcript of a conversation between Diana, who was married to Charles at the time, and an alleged lover named James Gilbey, was published, people around the world sat up and took notice. Diana later confirmed that she had, in fact, had the conversation with Gilbey, but denied that she was romantically involved with the man. 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana clapping. The two had a lot of royal family scandals.
Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Notably, Diana was involved in several royal family scandals, including her bombshell interview with Martin Bashir in 1995. In the interview, Diana called out the royal family, as well as her husband, Charles, for his alleged infidelities. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana admitted in the interview. 

Sarah Ferguson’s infamous toe-licking incident

Charles ended up in the same trap as his estranged wife, not long after the transcript of Diana’s phone call was published. An Australian magazine reportedly published a conversation between Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, which revealed the nature of their alleged romance. The transcript caused a major stir and could have contributed to the statement of divorce between Charles and Diana, which was announced later that same year.

The early ’90s was a troubling time for the royal family, not just for the Prince Charles-Princess Diana scandal. In 1992, Sarah Ferguson, the estranged wife of Prince Andrew, was photographed on holiday, appearing to have her toes licked by her financial adviser, John Bryan. The royal family scrambled to do damage control, but the romance between Ferguson and Andrew was over — the two divorced that same year.

Ferguson has also been a tabloid favorite over the years and has been involved in at least one other notable scandal. In 2010, Ferguson, who had been divorced from Andrew for years, was accused of accepting a bribe in exchange for access to Andrew. Ferguson admitted to a “lapse in judgment” but ultimately, the scandal didn’t seem to affect her deep friendship with her ex-husband. 

RELATED: What Princess Diana Thought About Sarah Ferguson’s Toe-Sucking Scandal