British royals' journey through scandals and controversies

The Prince Andrew scandal was the biggest controversy to have rocked the British royal family in a long time. The alleged involvement of the disgraced Prince with American pedophile and sex offender Jeffery Epstein was nothing less than a nightmare for the British sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip during the wedding service for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel,
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip during the wedding service for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St George's Chapel, Reuters

The attempt on the part of the prince to salvage his reputation backfired when he was sacked from his royal duties after the infamous BBC interview.

Here is a look at the scandals that have rocked the monarchy over the years:

Prince Andrew-Epstein sex scandal

In 2014 Virginia Roberts, an American woman, accused Andrew of having sex with her when she was just 17 years old. Roberts claimed that she was working for Epstein, when she was forced to have sex with the royal on three different occasions, the first time when she was a minor. The judge in the high-profile case decided that all allegations against Prince Andrew be struck from court records.

Prince Andrew at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, 1st September 2011
Prince Andrew at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, 1st September 2011 Thorne1983 / Wikimedia Commons

The case again gained momentum following the death of Epstein, who committed suicide in jail. During an interview with BBC, Andrew accepted that he was a close friend of Epstein. He showed no remorse for sharing close ties with the pedophile even as the Prince declined having any knowledge about Epstein's sexual abuse of minors and women. He reportedly failed to show any empathy towards Epstein's victims.

The interview evoked a severe backlash, following which the Queen sacked the Prince from his royal duties including removal as charity and business head from the ventures being run from Buckingham Palace. In yet another interview aired by BBC, Virginia spoke at length about the sexual encounter with the Prince. She described sex with the Duke of York as quick and disgusting.

King Edward VIII scandal

A year after his anointment, Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry the love of his life Wallis Simpson. An American socialite, Wallis was previously married and divorced two times when she met King Edward VIII. Following a major furor after the Church of England refused to allow his marriage to the divorced woman, Edward had to leave his throne in order to be with the love of his life. His abdication led to a change in the entire line of succession.

Another controversy involving Edward VIII was his friendship with Adolf Hitler. It was believed that Wallis Simpson was instrumental in passing on several important British official documents to the Germans while she was having an affair with the King. Even though the British government ensured that the documents remained hidden forever, they were made public in 1957.

The wild princess: Princess Margaret

The princess was known to have been madly in love with a married Peter Townsend, a Royal Air Force Officer, who worked with her father, King George VI. The scandal became public in 1953, after Townsend divorced his wife and immediately proposed to Margaret. Once again, the Church of England did not give its permission to the member of a royal family marrying a divorcee. The two parted ways two years after they were engaged.

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon
This is an image from the Nationaal Archief, the Dutch National Archives, donated in the context of a partnership program.

Soon after her breakup from Townsend, Margaret went on to get married to Antony Armstrong-Jones, a photographer. However, the fairy tale marriage was shortlived after the two got separated over reports of Antony cheating on her.

In an official statement issued by Buckingham Palace in 1976, it was said: "HRH The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, and the Earl of Snowdon have mutually agreed to live apart. The Princess will carry out her public duties and functions unaccompanied by Lord Snowdon. There are no plans for divorce proceedings." Two years later in 1978, Margaret became the first royal to get divorce since King Henry VII in the 1500s.

Prince Harry's scandals

Much before he married Meghan Markle and turned into a dedicated husband, Prince Harry had his days of wildness. The 17-year-old Prince was sent to a drugs rehabilitation clinic for one day after he told his father Prince Charles about consuming alcohol and marijuana. St. James' Palace released a statement saying: "It was a way to learn about the possible consequences of starting to take cannabis."

Prince Harry

Prince Harry created yet another scandal that caused a major embarrassment to the monarchy when he was spotted wearing a Nazi armband to a party. Clarence House issued a statement apologizing for Harry's conduct. It read: "Prince Harry has apologized for any offence or embarrassment he has caused. He realizes it was a poor choice of costume."

Prior to his deployment in Afghanistan as part of the British Army, he had a wild night in Las Vegas. The night out turned into a controversy after his naked pictures were leaked. The photographs showed a naked Prince Harry playing a game of strip pool. Later, he apologized saying: "At the end of the day I probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down. But it was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. It's a simple case of that."

Princess Diana and Prince Charles

The world was in love with the 'People's Princess'. But Princess Diana was desperately seeking the love of her husband, Prince Charles, who was having an extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Royal Family

In one of the interviews, Diana admitted that in order to get attention from her estranged husband she used to inflict self-harm. The princess revealed that once, while four months pregnant with her firstborn, she deliberately threw herself from the stairs, just to get Charles' attention.

In 1992, the Squidgygte scandal rocked the British household when a transcript of a phone call between Princess Diana and her lover James Gilbev was made public by The Sun. Gilbev addressed Diana, married to Charles at the time, as Squidgy at least 53 times during their telephonic conversation while telling Diana how much he loved her.

It was in 1996 when Princess Diana and Prince Charles got divorced. A year before, she did an interview where she spoke at length about her struggle with bulimia, postpartum depression and the stress of being in the public eye. Diana also revealed that she knew about Charles and Camilla's affair, saying: "Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded." She also publicly admitted to her own affair with James Hewitt, a riding instructor.

Princess Diana's death led to a lot of speculation about possible involvement of the royal household. Diana, along with her boyfriend at that time, Dodi Al Fayed, died in a car crash in Paris.

Sarah Ferguson aka Fergie

Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson, better known as Fergie, in 1986. However, the couple divorced after a photograph of Fergie and John Bryan, an American financial adviser vacationing together were leaked in 1996. In the photographs, Bryan was seen nibbling Fergie's toes.

In an undercover sting operation, Fergie agreed to provide information about her ex-husband, the Duke of York, for £500,00. The Guardian reported that Fergie told the undercover reporter, posing as businessman: "That opens up everything you would ever wish for. I can open any door you want, and I will for you. Look after me and he'll look after'll get it back tenfold."