Just when you think The Crown is running out of material for its upcoming modern era of the Royal Family, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just gave Netflix enough material for its own spin-off series with another of those thrilling Royal scandals.
It looks like Queen Elizabeth II has lost control of ‘The Firm’ as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they’ll be “stepping back” from Royal duties in January 2020.
Writing on their @sussexroyal Instagram, the pair released a statement saying, “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution.
“We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
With the pair going it alone, they’ve inadvertently caused one of the biggest Royal scandals of all time…or have they? Here are 10 Royal scandals that are more shocking than Harry and Meghan.
King Edward VIII’s Abdication
As Harry and Meghan are surely about to find out, going against the rest of the Royals is a bold move to make. There are few moments of sticking it to the monarchy that are quite as iconic as King Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936.
Eddie left the throne for love when he revealed his plans to marry American socialite Wallis Simpson. With Simpson’s standing as a divorcee whose ex-husband was still alive, marrying her would break civil and religious laws (at the time).
Choosing love over ruling the country, Edward left his birthright behind and made way for King George VI to rule. If it wasn’t for Edward abdicating, the Windsor family and the monarchy as we know it today would’ve looked completely different.
Topless Kate Middleton
Orlando Bloom might be used to baring all in front of the paparazzi, but Kate Middleton was less than impressed when topless pictures of her ‘assets’ were splashed all over the front page.
As Kate and Wills sunned themselves in France during the summer of 2012, she relaxed sans-bikini to catch some rays. The French, Italian, and Irish press wasted no time in publishing the pictures, which the Palace branded a “grotesque and unjustifiable invasion of privacy”.
The Royals got the last laugh as the French version of Closer Magazine was forced to pay 10,000 euros in damages and two members of staff had to cough up an additional 90,000.
Prince Philips’ Crash
Whatever anyone thinks of the usually brash Prince Phillip and his ability to put his foot in it at every turn, there’s no denying he’s done remarkably well for his age. However, things took a shocking turn when he gave up his driving licence following a dramatic crash in 2019.
At the age of 97, the Duke of Edinburgh was driving near the Sandringham estate when he was dazzled by sunlight pulling out of a junction and flipped his Land Rover Freelander. Although the Queen’s husband was shaken and seen wiping blood off his hands, he was rescued by a passing motorist and went to check on the people in the other car.
The Crown Prosecution Service ruled that prosecution would not be in the public interest, but that didn’t stop Emma Fairweather (the driver of the other vehicle) lashing out at Prince Phillip. He’s still allowed to drive on parts of the Sandringham estate and has been spotted behind the wheel since.
Camilla Parker Bowles vs Princess Diana
The whole Charles and Camilla saga deserves an entry of its own. Even the Queen got involved and reportedly wrote to Charles and Diana telling them to get a divorce when everything hit the fan.
With one Martin Bashir interview in 1995, Diana sent shockwaves through the world and ultimately started a spiral of press invasion that would contribute to her untimely death. Speaking to Bashir, the Princess of Wales said, “Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
Although Princess Diana was open about her adultery with James Hewitt in the Bashir interview, Charles wouldn’t admit to his own infidelity until several years later.
It had been a long time coming, and if it was 2020, there would’ve been more than a few side-eye emojis when Prince Charles married Parker Bowles in 2005. There was the Royal disgrace of a monarch’s child getting remarried following a divorce, the fact it was the future King, AND Andrew Parker Bowles still being alive.
Prince Harry’s Nazi Costume
Royal rule No.1 is “Don’t dress like a Nazi”. With the Windsor family already having a forgotten past of German heritage due to descending from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Prince Harry suiting up in a Nazi uniform probably isn’t in the best taste.
Although there are no direct ties to the Nazi party, King Edward VIII was rumoured to mix in similar circles and all of Prince Phillip’s sisters married Germans. In 2005, the naive Prince Harry was papped in a Nazi costume while drinking and smoking.
The British press had a field day and Harry issued a public apology. The young Royal said, “I am very sorry if I caused any offense or embarrassment to anyone. It was a poor choice of costume and I apologize.”
Known for everything from smoking weed to playing naked billiards, Harry’s formative years were rocked by plenty of headlines that presumably had his gran shaking her head in shame.
Princess Margaret’s Love Life
Again referring back to The Crown, Helena Bonham Carter excelled as Princess Margaret. Always held as the Queen’s ‘fun’ younger sister, Margaret was the nation’s sweetheart as she smoked and sipped her way through her life.
Margaret was no stranger to grabbing headlines — making Meghan Markle look like a shrinking wallflower. Her love life saw her romantically linked to Peter Townsend after she was seen picking fluff off his jacket at the Queen’s Coronation.
Townsend asked for her hand in marriage, but with his divorce meaning Margaret would be stripped of her titles, she instead married Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960. In later life, Margaret was linked to Roddy Llewellyn, and ironically, later divorced Armstrong-Jones amidst talk of infidelity on both sides.
If you think 2019 did a number on you, spare a thought for the Queen in 1992. With a run of bad luck, Queen Elizabeth II faced family drama up the wazoo as three of her four children started to end their respective relationships with their partners in this fateful year.
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson parted ways, Princess Anne divorced Captain Mark Phillips, Diana and Charles also headed to splitsville as she released the Diana: Her True Story book, there was a devastating fire at Windsor Castle, Diana’s “Squidygate” tapes were leaked, Fergie’s toe-sucking photos grabbed headline, and the Queen’s nephew died.
Speaking to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession, the Queen said, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.”
Still, there are those who’ve said 2019 was Annus Horribilus II for Her Majesty.
Princess Diana’s Death
While 1992 was the Queen’s annus horribilus, 1997 was undoubtedly the general public’s. It was the year the nation’s sweetheart was tragically taken from us as Princess Diana died in the horrific Paris car crash that claimed her life, Dodi Fayed’s, and driver Henri Paul.
Everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news, and who could forget Elton John’s moving rendition of “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral?
For years, Dodi’s father insinuated Prince Phillip had something to do with the crash and claimed the Duke of Edinburgh had Diana ‘bumped off’ in the style of the Godfather.
The likes of the Queen and Phillip became public enemies in the eyes of the world and it’s a scandal that remains taboo to this day.
Sarah Ferguson has had plenty of Royal scandals over the years, but it turns out having her toes sucked by a Texas millionaire would end up being the least of her worries. In 2010, Fergie was caught in a sting by the News of the World and willingly accepted a bribe to allow access to ex-husband.
“Fake Sheikh” Mazher Mahmood posed as a potential businessman and snared Fergie with a £500,000 bribe. In the compromising video, Ferguson said, “Look after me, and he’ll look after you. You’ll get it back tenfold. I can open any door you want.”
Fergie blamed her financial situation and assured the public it would never happen again. In her apology, Fergie told the world, “I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused. It is true that my financial situation is under stress, however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment.” Well, it might explain why she’s not invited to weddings anymore.
Prince Andrew And Jeffrey Epstein
Sticking with recent events, Harry and Meghan’s departure is hardly in the big leagues when it comes to accusations of sexual assault against Prince Andrew.
In November 2019, Prince Andrew was suspended from Royal duties for the “foreseeable future” after a disastrous BBC Newsnight interview. When financier Jeffrey Epstein was exposed as a sex offender, Virginia Giuffre claimed she’d been forced to have sex with Prince Andrew.
His now legendary excuse saw the Queen’s second son use a meal at Pizza Express as an alibi. Prince Andrew admits that his friendship with Epstein was an oversight but maintains no wrongdoing or connection to sex offences.
Speaking about Prince Andrew’s scandal, PR and crisis consultant Mark Borkowski said it’s “one of the biggest things since the death of Diana.”
So yeah, suddenly Harry and Meghan stepping out on their own doesn’t seem so bad. We’ve all loved the jokes and the various memes, but remember, it could always be worse when it comes to the Royal Family.
[Featured Image: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images]