These Royal Family Members Had Illicit Affairs
From Prince William and Duchess Kate’s ever-growing family to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s swoon-worthy wedding, the British Royal Family gives us a lot to smile about. The royals haven’t been this popular since the 1980s when the late Princess Diana was dubbed “The People’s Princess.” Yet, if you know anything about the royals — or if you watch Netflix’s The Crown — then you know things haven’t always been pleasant.
From humiliating divorces to illicit affairs, these royal family members faced the wrath of the royal family and the public for their “unsavory” relationships.
1. King Henry VIII
If you’ve seen Showtime’s The Tudors with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, then you know the king was known for illicit affairs and marriages. King Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547 and was married six times. Since divorce wasn’t accepted, the king used every measure to get rid of his wives when he found a new love.
He annulled his marriage to first wife, Catherine of Aragon, when he met Anne Boleyn. When Boleyn failed to give him a son after many miscarriages and stillborns, he had her beheaded for “adultery.” By the time Boleyn lost her head, the king was engaged to Jane Seymour. Four more wives — and countless stillborns, deaths, and beheadings — followed.
Next: A king who gave up his crown for love
2. King Edward VIII
In 1936, King Edward VIII had just taken over the throne when he fell in love with a still-married American socialite, Wallis Simpson, who’d already been divorced once. When Edward VIII proposed to Simpson, the Royal Family descended into chaos. It was forbidden for the king, who was also the head of the Church of England, to marry a divorced woman whose ex-husband was still alive.
Edward VIII ultimately abdicated the throne and married Simpson after her second divorce. His brother, King George VI, took over as king, paving the way for his daughter Elizabeth to become queen.
Next: A princess and her older married lover
3. Princess Margaret and Captain Peter Townsend
Queen Elizabeth II has always been prim and proper, but her feisty younger sister, Princess Margaret, did what she wanted. At 17, the princess began an affair with Captain Peter Townsend, a married royal equerry 16 years her senior.
In 1953, after the captain divorced his wife, they asked Queen Elizabeth II about marriage. Though the queen wanted her sister to be happy, Parliament would not hear of it. Threatening to take away Margaret’s title and income, Parliament denied the couple the right to marry many times due to Townsend’s divorce. Eventually, the pair married other people, but both were devastated.
Next: More affairs for Margaret
4. Princess Margaret and her many affairs
When it became clear she’d never be able to marry Captain Townsend, Margaret set her sights on photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Margaret and The Earl of Snowden were married from 1960 to 1978, but it was not a happy union. Margaret began seeing a slew of other people, including Mick Jagger, Peter Sellers, David Niven, Warren Beatty, Anita Pallenberg, and Dusty Springfield.
Next: Leaving behind risqué evidence
5. Princess Margaret’s photos
Margaret wasn’t discreet when it came to her extramarital relations. In the ’70s, the Sunday newspaper published a nude photograph of British aristocrat, Colin Tennant, gardener Roddy Llewellyn, and actor Nicholas Courtney — allegedly taken by Margaret on the island Tennant gifted her.
In 1971, a £5 million heist was carried out on a safety deposit box owned by Michael X. Apparently, the MI5 carried out the raid to remove some risqué images of the princess.
Next: A photographer who had a baby three weeks into his marriage
6. Anthony Armstrong-Jones
Margaret’s husband, Armstrong-Jones, was well-known in London for his sexual escapades. A friend of his once joked, “If it moves, he’ll have it.” In fact, the Earl of Snowden had a daughter with another woman just three weeks into his marriage to Margaret.
Next: A secret love nest in New York
7. Prince Philip
The queen has never encountered a romantic scandal. But her husband Prince Philip has allegedly had relationships with other women. No concrete evidence exists. However, The Baltimore Sun reported the prince was “romantically involved with an unnamed woman whom he met on a regular basis in the West End apartment of a society photographer.”
Next: A naughty Captain
8. Captain Mark Phillips
Mark Phillips and Princess Anne married on Nov. 14, 1973. Sadly, by the time their daughter Zara was born in 1981, the couple was spending a lot of time apart. Phillips was also increasingly absent from royal events.
By 1989, the pair legally separated but did not want to divorce. This changed in 1991 when a New Zealand art teacher claimed Captain Phillips was the father of her 5-year-old daughter, Felicity. She told The Daily Express, “My ambition is to get Mark’s public acceptance of her and to be able to enter his name on her birth certificate.” DNA confirmed that Phillips was indeed Felicity’s father.
Next: She had an affair, too.
9. Princess Anne
Princess Anne’s own affair came to light in 1989 when the Sun acquired stolen letters. The Palace issued a statement: “The stolen letters were addressed to the Princess Royal by Commander Timothy Laurence, the Queen’s Equerry. We have nothing to say about the contents of personal letters sent to Her Royal Highness by a friend which were stolen and which are the subject of a police investigation.”
A royal insider told People, “Obviously, Tim and the princess were physically attracted to each other, but their friendship goes deeper than that. He cares for her in the way her husband does not.” Princess Anne and Laurence wed in ’92, the same year she finalized her divorce from Phillips.
Next: The future King of England
10. Prince Charles
It’s no secret Prince Charles and Princess Diana didn’t have a great relationship. When the pair married in 1981, the princess was just 19 and had little in common with her 33-year-old husband. It was clear the marriage would never work, and the prince sought comfort in the arms of ex-flame Camilla Parker Bowles.
The duo was not quiet about their affair, and Diana confronted the Duchess of Cornwall about it. In 1992, the public learned of the future King of England’s relationship when a telephone conversation he had with Camilla leaked to the media. During the phone convo, Prince Charles said he wanted to “live inside [Camilla’s] trousers as a pair of knickers” or “a Tampax.”
Next: A beloved princess and her childhood friend
11. Princess Diana and James Gilbey
The late Princess Diana was stuck in a lifeless marriage, so she turned to her childhood friend James Gilbey, a Lotus car dealer, for love and affection. In 1992, British intelligence recorded their phone calls in what became known as “Squidgygate.” In the tapes, Gilbey said he loved the princess and called her “Squidgy” 53 times. The Sun bought the tapes and The National Enquirer published them in the U.S. Princess Diana and Prince Charles separated the same year.
Next: Princess Diana’s affair with a red-headed man
12. Princess Diana and James Hewitt
James Gilbey was not the only man Princess Diana was linked to during her marriage to Prince Charles. Just before her divorce, Princess Diana admitted to an affair with British army officer James Hewitt during an interview with BBC reporter Martin Bashir.
She told Bashir, “He was a great friend of mine at a very difficult, yet another difficult time, and he was always there to support me.” However, Hewitt betrayed the late princess when he contributed to the book Princess in Love, revealing that his romance with Diana lasted from 1986 to 1989. Rumors also swirled that he was Prince Harry’s birth father — both men have red hair.
Next: A prince and an adult film actress
13. Prince Andrew
In 1982, four years before he wed Sarah, Duchess of York, Prince Andrew dated American actress, Kathleen “Koo” Stark. As soon as the media caught wind of the romance, nude and suggestive shots of the soft-core porn actress appeared in British tabloids.
Still, she and Prince Andrew dated for over a year, and Stark even met the queen. Unfortunately, due to media pressure, the couple’s romance fizzled though they remain good friends. People reported the Queen did not know of Stark’s acting career before meeting her.
Next: Fergie’s illicit photographs
14. Sarah Ferguson
Prince Charles and Princess Diana may think they had a terrible ’92, but Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, had it worse. With a naval husband who was often gone, the lonely duchess found comfort in the arms of another man. Fergie was photographed topless with oil tycoon, John Bryan, who was sucking her toes. No one warned the royal family of the photos, so the Windsors saw them over breakfast while reading the morning newspapers.
In a 1992 poll, nine out of 10 people said Ferguson should be stripped of her title, Her Royal Highness, if Prince Andrew asked for a divorce. Later, it actually happened.
Next: A party-boy prince.
15. Prince William
Okay, we wouldn’t call Prince William’s antics “illicit,” but they did raise eyebrows. He and Duchess Kate Middleton have been involved since 2004, only breaking up briefly in 2007. However, prior to their breakup, William did some questionable things.
When the prince was in the military, he visited London to see his lady on the weekends, but in late 2006/early 2007, he started doing this less. Leading to his breakup with the Duchess of Cambridge, William went clubbing and was photographed flirting with another girl. Middleton saw the image in the papers the next day.
A few weeks later, William got drunk at a nightclub and partied with half-naked girls. The next day, newspapers published photos of him touching one girl inappropriately and flirting with others. On April 3, 2007, Kate Middleton pulled the plug on their romance. However, the pair got back together by July of that year. They wed in 2011.