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11 Royal Family Scandals From Back In The Day

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

It’s no surprise to find members of the British royal family in the gossip magazines stacked along grocery store checkout aisles.

However, the modern royals are hardly the first to shock the world with their “scandalous” actions.

In fact, some of the British royal scandals from way back in the day would likely make the princes and princesses of today blush harder than any of their own stories. Sure, we think of Prince Charles and Princess Diana off the bat, but the examples below are so much more surprising, especially considering the time periods involved.

Despite their lofty titles and shiny crowns, they are still humans after all.

It can be difficult to imagine those carefully posed portraits from history being anything but personifications of perfection, but hey — we all have our flaws.

Unfortunately for the names listed below, their flaws happen to have been broadcast out to the whole wide world and then stuck in the history books for good.

Take a look to see what shocking scandals the royals cooked up for themselves decades (and even centuries) in the past.

Let us know in the comments if we missed any particularly juicy tales from way back in the day, and be sure to SHARE with your friends!

[H/T: BBC America, Mental Floss]

Thumbnail source: Wikimedia Commons / Gryffindor

1. King Edward VIII's Brief Time On The Throne

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Following the death of his father, George V, Edward reigned as king for less than a year (just 326 days) before giving up the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American woman.

He was named Duke of Windsor while his younger brother Albert took over as King George VI. Edward and Wallis remained together until his death, retiring to France after World War II.

2. Princess Margaret's Eyes For A Married Man

2. Princess Margaret's Eyes For A Married Man

Captain Peter Townsend was a member of the British Royal Navy who acted as an attendant for the royal family, known as an equerry. That’s how he met and fell in love with Margaret, daughter of George VI and sister of the future Queen Elizabeth II.

Peter divorced his wife and the two went as far as getting engaged, though family pressure ultimately convinced Margaret to call the whole thing off.

3. Queen Victoria's Boudoir Painting

3. Queen Victoria's Boudoir Painting

The “shocking” painting was unheard of for someone of her stature and deemed so indecent that it was kept hidden in Prince Albert’s office.

Of course by modern standards, the Prince’s favorite photo of his wife is actually quite modest.

4. Princess Margaret's Historical Divorce

Princess Margaret and Antony

After suffering the heartbreak with Peter, Margaret married a photographer named Antony Armstrong-Jones, shown above with President Lyndon B. Johnson and wife. However, the couple had a notoriously rocky marriage.

In 1978, Margaret became the first royal to get a divorce since Henry VIII in the 1500s.

5. Prince George's Wild Lifestyle

5. Prince George's Wild Lifestyle

The Duke of Kent had many affairs behind his wife’s back, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. The “forgotten son” of British monarchy also reportedly had a problem with drug abuse, particularly morphine and cocaine.

His death also sparked controversy, with many speculating whether the plane crash that killed him was orchestrated by his embarrassed family.

6. Queen Victoria's Scottish Affection

6. Queen Victoria's Scottish Affection

After she was widowed, the Queen secluded herself in a Scottish country estate where she grew close to one of the servants, John Brown.

A priest admitted on his death bed that he performed a secret marriage ceremony for the two. Supposedly, Victoria was so devastated when John passed away that she erected a statue in his image. Upon her own death, she allegedly requested to be buried with a lock of his hair, his photograph, and a ring he had given her.

7. Princess Anne Following In Her Aunt's Footsteps

7. Princess Anne Following In Her Aunt's Footsteps

She was married to an Olympic athlete, Mark Phillips, but they were apparently never really that fond of each other. Like her aunt Margaret, she also fell for a member of the royal equerry, Timothy Laurence.

However, Anne had much better luck and was able to divorce her husband and marry Timothy. The pair remain happily together today.

8. King Henry VIII's Many, Many Wives

King Henry VIII

Henry infamously went through six different wives throughout his reign. First, there was Catherine of Aragon, whom he cheated on with his soon-to-be second wife’s sister, Mary Boleyn, and likely had two sons from the affair. After breaking from the Catholic church in order to obtain an annulment and marry Anne Boleyn, he had Anne executed after she miscarried three potential male heirs and was accused of several affairs.

Jane Seymour, one of Anne’s ladies in waiting, was next and died after a difficult childbirth that finally supplied him a male heir. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was executed after he accused her of affairs with two men.

His last wife, Catherine Parr, luckily outlived him.

9. King George IV's Indecent Proposals

King George IV

Though many think of his father, George III, as the tyrant of the family, it was his son who not only had a notorious gambling habit but also attempted to woo women by offering them copious amounts of money, only to deny them the cash after they relented.

George IV was apparently very lacking in the looks department. He also threatened to kill himself in a 42-page suicide note when his main mistress, Maria Fitzherbert, refused him. She eventually agreed to be with him, but only if they were married.

Because she was Catholic and a commoner, the pair were married in secret until he was forced to abandon her (and their children) for a political marriage. However, his reputation remained forever tarnished.

10. King Edward VII's Sneaky Military Escapades

King Edward VII

As the son of the famously prudish Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward VII made up for their modesty by reportedly bedding thousands of women in his time.

It was his first foray into the frisky lifestyle, however, that caused his parents to be taken aback. At 19, they had sent him to a military camp where he was happy to be introduced to the “camp prostitute.”

Though he had many chaperones watching his every move, Edward managed to make his way to the woman three times before being caught. Victoria and Albert were so shocked and ashamed that when Albert became sick and died shortly after, Victoria blamed her son for her loss.

11. King Charles II's Feuding Mistresses

King Charles II

Apparently, restoring the monarchy after ousting Oliver Cromwell didn’t keep the king too busy, as he was known to have dozens of mistresses and to have fathered several illegitimate children.

It was the women themselves, though, who caused a ruckus when they warred for Charles’ affection. Actress Nell Gwynn and the Duchess of Portsmouth, Louise de Kérouaille, were known to get especially snippy with each other.

Did we miss any not-so-modern royal scandals from back in the day that you’ve heard about? Let us know below, and be sure to SHARE with your friends!