12 Most Scandalous Royal Relationships

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Some people assume that every royal relationship is a fairy tale in the making, but that isn’t always true. In fact, some of these romances come with controversy and scandal. From affairs and secret love children to commoners with questionable pasts, here are the 12 most scandalous royal relationships:

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12. Princess Stephanie of Monaco and Daniel Ducruet

Princess Stephanie of Monaco – daughter of Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly – was always a bit of a rebel. In 1992, she began a relationship with her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, and had two of his children out of wedlock. In 1995, the two got married, but their wedded bliss was short-lived, as the following year he was caught by paparazzi engaging in foreplay with a cabaret singer in Villefranche. This wasn’t her only scandalous relationship. In 2002, she began dating an elephant trainer, Franco Knie, and she moved, along with her children, into his circus caravan. When that relationship ended, she married a Portuguese acrobat who was part of Knie’s circus ensemble in 2003, but that relationship ended in divorce the following year.

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11. Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

Before her marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret had an affair with Peter Townsend, who was 16 years her senior. She was reportedly just 17 when they fell in love in 1947 when he was working for her father as an equerry. Although they wanted to get married, they were ultimately unable to do so because he was divorced. Margaret was informed that if she were to marry him, she would have to forfeit her royal rights and income and would also have to leave England for at least five years, so she decided to put her duties to the commonwealth ahead of her love for Townsend.

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10. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

When Sarah Ferguson was married to Prince Andrew, she was reportedly Queen Elizabeth’s favorite daughter-in-law; however, that changed when she was caught in photos sunbathing topless and getting her toes sucked by American businessman John Bryan while she was separated from Andrew. Since then, Ferguson has been a persona non grata in the royal family. In 2010, her reputation took another blow when she was captured on film by a British tabloid offering access to Andrew in exchange for cash.

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9. Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia

When Prince Carl Philip of Sweden got involved with Sofia Hellqvist, a bikini model who had appeared in a men’s magazine topless with a snake and had also been on the controversial reality show Paradise Hotel, a scandal ensued. The Swedish Royal House of Bernadotte was reportedly disappointed in Carl Philip’s choice and didn’t think that Hellqvist was a suitable partner. To win the public and the royal family over, Hellqvist set about toning down her public image and putting more of a focus on her charity work, which ended up winning everyone over. In 2015, she married Prince Carl Philip and now they have two children together, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.


8. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ affair during his marriage to Princess Diana became one of the royal biggest scandals of the second half of the 20th century. The two had dated during the ‘70s but had broken up when Charles joined the Royal Navy. She then got engaged to Andrew Parker-Bowles, much to Charles’ dismay. He, in turn, married Princess Diana, but began an affair with Camilla less than five years into his marriage. In 1992, intimate phone conversations between the Prince and his mistress were released to the public and then two years later Charles confessed in a national television interview to adultery, confirming that Camilla was his mistress. After divorcing Diana in 1995, he and Camilla went public with their relationship in 1999 and then were married in 2005.

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7. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prince Claus

When Queen Beatrix of the Netherland’s engagement to Prince Claus was announced in 1965, sections of the Dutch population weren’t happy because Claus had been a member of the Hitler Youth as a child and had fought for Germany in the Second World War. On the day the couple was married, violent protests erupted and a smoke bomb was thrown at their wedding carriage. It took some time, but Claus was eventually accepted by the public and, during his later years, he was considered by some to be the most popular member of the Royal family. Sadly, in 2002, he passed away as a result of Parkinson’s disease and pneumonia.


6. Prince Haakon of Norway and Princess Mette-Marit

When Prince Haakon of Norway got involved with Mett-Marit, she didn’t have a great reputation. She was a commoner and a single mother with an ex who was a convicted drug dealer. She also had a reputation for attending raves and taking drugs. Many Norwegians felt that she wasn’t a suitable partner for a prince. Prior to their wedding, she was able to win the people of Norway over by apologizing for her youthful indiscretions and she’s now considered a model princess.


5. Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene

Back in 2011, when Prince Albert of Monaco was about to marry Charlene Wittstock, a South African swimmer, there were rumors that she had been attempting to flee Monaco after she discovered that he had fathered a third illegitimate child during their five-year relationship; he had already had two prior to this. According to L’Express, she made three attempts, her last one taking place in France where she was trying to catch a flight to South Africa and was reportedly stripped of her passport. While she did end up staying in Monaco and married Albert, they spent their honeymoon in separate hotels. The two are still are married, however, and share twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques.

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4. Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon

Many believe that Princess Margaret’s one true love was Peter Townsend but, when she couldn’t marry him, she settled for photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who upon marrying her in 1960 became Lord Snowdon. The two were happy during the first few years of their marriage, but as time went on, they drifted apart. He began having affairs while he was away on photographic assignments while she had an affair with Roddy Llewellyn, a landscaper who was 17 years her junior. She was caught by the press on vacation with him in Mustique and photos of them made the front pages of U.K. newspapers. Less than a month later, the couple announced they were separating and divorced two years later in 1978. Their divorce was the first in the royal family since King Henry VIII’s in 1540.


3. Princess Caroline of Monaco and Prince Ernst

Prince Ernst was married when he began his relationship with Princess Caroline of Monaco. They were photographed kissing in the South of France back in 1997 and Ernst left his wife of 16 years, Chantal Hochuli, to be with her. The saying, “Once a cheater always a cheater,” rings true in this scenario because, in 2010, while Caroline took the kids skiing in Switzerland, he was caught on camera canoodling with an unidentified woman on a beach in Thailand. The couple has yet to divorce but has been living apart for quite some time.

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2. Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips

Princess Anne – Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s only daughter – seemed to get her fairytale romance when she married Captain Mark Phillips, but it didn’t take long for cracks to show in their marriage. Before the couple separated in 1989, they had been living separate lives and when traveling abroad together would check into separate hotels. He had also been linked to a number of different women including British TV personality Angela Rippon, stable girl Zena Pilgrim and Toronto PR consultant Kathy Birks, while Anne was reportedly involved with the Queen’s equerry, Commander Timothy Laurence. Intimate letters he wrote her were acquired by The Sun and published in 1989. The marriage officially ended a couple of years later when news broke that Mark had fathered an illegitimate child with a New Zealand woman. Within months of the divorce, Anne went off and married Laurence.

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1. Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson have one of the most controversial romances of all time. When they began their relationship, he had just become King of England and she was still married to her second husband and had already divorced her first. His desire to marry her nearly caused a constitutional crisis in Britain, as she was considered politically, socially and morally unsuitable as a prospective queen consort. Edward ended up abdicating less than a year after he took the throne, as he could not marry Wallis and still remain King.

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Cate has a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature and has been the Managing Editor of Fame10 for more than 6 years. Despite having a love for the works of Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy and Lord Byron, she also has an intense fascination with pop culture. When she isn’t writing for Fame10, she’s planning her next big adventure in Southeast Asia.