Photos: Revealing Britain's biggest royal scandals
Published on March 9, 2021 at 10.46
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan's revelations about the British monarchy in an explosive US TV interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey is the latest installment in a long-running royal soap opera. The royal family, who appear to be perfect on the outside, have had their fair share of controversies over decades. Here’s a look at the major ones that rocked Buckingham Palace.
Abdication of Edward VIII
The abdication of Edward VIII, 326 days into his reign in 1936, remains the biggest scandal in royal history. It was over another American divorcee -- Wallis Simpson -- who he stepped down to marry, sparking a constitutional crisis. Their union was deemed impossible while Edward was monarch and head of the Church of England, which at the time refused to remarry divorcees while their former spouse was still alive. Edward was the first monarch in the 1,000-year history of the Crown to give up the throne of his own free will.
Princess Margaret's heartbreak
Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister Princess Margaret also sparked a firestorm with her choice of husband. She began a romance with her late father's divorced aide, former Royal Air Force officer Peter Townsend in 1952. Their wish to marry prompted a battle between the disapproving government and the public. Margaret was eventually persuaded to abandon the relationship and marry photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. They divorced in 1978.
The queen memorably described 1992 as an "annus horribilis" after three of her children's marriages crumbled and a fire devastated her Windsor Castle home.Prince Charles' split from Princess Diana after 11 years of marriage. Then the queen's second son Prince Andrew separated from wife Sarah Ferguson.Meanwhile Princess Anne, her only daughter, divorced her first husband Mark Phillips.
Diana died in a high-speed car crash in a Paris tunnel in August 1997 having been stripped of her royal status. For the week leading up to her funeral, the monarchy was rocked by an unprecedented outpouring of grief for the popular "people's princess". Anger mounted at the silence of senior royals. Within days the Queen paid homage to her former daughter-in-law in a televised speech. She also publicly bowed before Diana's coffin.
Prince Andrew in trouble?
Prince Andrew has been dogged by sex allegations involving one of the teenage victims of deceased US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The prince attempted to clear his name in a disastrous BBC interview in November 2019. He was forced to step back from public duties.
Harry and Meghan walk away
Prince Harry sent the royal family into another spin when he and his American actress wife, Meghan, stepped backed from royal duties in 2020 and moved to North America. Last month, the palace ordered the couple to relinquish their honorary titles and patronages.Relations dived further after the pair gave two TV interviews in the US, including one with Oprah Winfrey. Photos: AFP