PR Mishaps That Rocked The Royal Family


The royal family has experienced its fair share of PR issues over the years, some big and some small, and a number of them have turned into real problems that required immediate attention. Check out these 16 PR mishaps that rocked the royal family:

Want exclusive Royals content (news, fashion, lists & more) delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our Exclusive Fame10 Royals Email!

16. Meghan And Harry Step Down From Senior Royal Roles

In one of the most unprecedented moves in royal history, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced in January 2020 that they would be stepping down in their roles as senior members of the royal family. They wrote, “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.” They also shared they would be splitting their time between the UK and North America, which is a move that’s never been done in royal history.

(Yui Mok/PA via AP)

15. Princess Fergie Caught Accepting Bribe

Princess Fergie was caught on video in 2010 accepting a bribe for $60,000 in cash and a wire transfer for $750,000 from an undercover reporter in exchange for access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew. Once the video was released, Fergie met with Oprah and tried to do some damage control. She called the situation a lapse in judgment and revealed that she was deep in debt. She also insisted that Prince Andrew was not in on it, but that seemed debatable, especially considering that she was living with him at the time. While it eventually blew over, Fergie still is not in the royal family’s good graces. She was not invited to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and was only invited to Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding service but not the reception.

Press Association

14. Prince Andrew’s Exorbitant Travel Expenses

When he was Britain’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, Prince Andrew garnered himself the nickname “Air Miles Andy” for his outrageous travel budget. He would travel with five officials in first class on chartered planes and they would all stay in five-star hotels. One trip to the U.S. in 2008 cost $126,195 while another to the Far East cost taxpayers $37,858. In 2009, his travel expenses amounted $176,673. For 2010, he spent $782,254, with $154,000 being for hotel accommodation and then $586,690 for food and hospitality. After mounting complaints, Prince Andrew resigned from his position as Britain’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment in 2011.

Press Association

13. Prince Harry Escapades in Las Vegas

In 2012, Prince Harry made headlines for all of the wrong reasons when photos of him during a wild night in Las Vegas were leaked all over the internet. He and some other partygoers were reportedly playing a game of strip billiards when the photos were taken. After the photos were released, the royal family didn’t place any blame on Harry but instead pointed the finger at his personal security team, arguing that they should have known to confiscate the ladies’ phones once they arrived in Harry’s VIP suite. A couple of years later when Prince Harry was asked about the situation, he said, “It was probably a classic case of me being too much army and not enough prince. It’s a simple case of that.”

© Kevin Dietsch/Pool/DPA via ZUMA Press

12. Princess Anne Gets a Criminal Record

Princess Anne became the first member of the royal family to get a criminal record in 2002 after one of her dogs, a bull terrier, bit two children in Windsor Great Park. She was charged with being responsible for a dog that was dangerously out of control in a public place and fined £500 for the attack and ordered to pay £250 in compensation and £148 in costs at a magistrates court. She was also warned that if there were any more incidents that the dog would be put down.

Abaca Press

11. Prince William Landed His Helicopter at Kate Middleton’s House

In 2008, during his courtship with Kate Middleton, Prince William made headlines for landing a multi-million dollar Chinook helicopter in her backyard. A Ministry of Defense spokesman defended William’s decision to land the helicopter in his girlfriend’s parents’ yard, claiming that it was “a routine training sortie that achieved essential training objectives.” Another military source, however, admitted that it wasn’t appropriate given current military budget constraints and shortages of Chinooks in Afghanistan. He claimed that William was only able to do this because he is the Prince of Wales.

Press Association

10. Prince Harry and Meghan’s $3 Million Renovation of Frogmore Cottage

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle came under fire for using $3 million of taxpayer money to renovate Frogmore Cottage. The couple could have taken up residence in a large already refurbished apartment at Kensington Palace but chose not. Some of these renovations at Frogmore included replacing floors and adding new bathrooms, as well as a kitchen in the 19th-century cottage. According to the Daily Mail, all of the work has yet to be completed and will cost an additional $763,000. Twitter users blasted the British family, who are already wealthy, for using taxpayer money so frivolously. “It doesn’t sound like a cottage as much as it sounds like a mansion, given that pricetag for renovations,” one user tweeted. “How many real family cottages would that amount of money build for people really in need of (accommodation)?”

(Chris Jackson/Pool Photo via AP)

9. Prince Philip’s Car Accident

Prince Philip was involved in a car accident in 2019 that left a woman, Emma Fairweather, with a broken wrist and both cars totaled. Following the crash, Fairweather was upset with how Buckingham Palace handled the accident and that she had not received an apology from Philip. To make matters worse, one day after the crash, Philip had a new Range Rover delivered to Buckingham Palace and a day after that he was caught driving it without a seatbelt on. It took another week for Philip to send a personalized letter of apology and another two weeks after that for him to surrender his driver’s license.


8. Squidgeygate

In 1992, a phone conversation between Princess Diana and James Gilbey was made public. The conversation was recorded in 1989 and became known as “Squidgygate” because Gilbey kept referring to her as “Squidgy” and “Squidge” in the conversation. Many believed that the two were having an adulterous relationship; however, in her interview with Martin Bashir in 1995, she denied this, claiming that he was just “a very affectionate person.”

(Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images)

7. Camillagate

Shortly after Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated in 1992, an intimate conversation between the Prince and his longtime mistress Camilla Parker-Bowles from 1989 was released to the public. The tapes were dubbed “Camillagate” by the press and included one particularly embarrassing moment when Charles made a tampon reference.

Press Association

6. Meghan Markle’s Lavish Baby Shower

Meghan Markle received some harsh criticism for the baby shower that her friends held for her in New York City in 2019. The five-day trip cost a reported $430,000 and included a roundtrip from London to New York on a private jet with the party taking place in The Mark Hotel Grand Penthouse Suite, which costs $75,000 per night and was rented out by Markle and her friends for two nights. Also, two Royal protection officers joined her for the trip, which cost approximately $86,316, and Markle opted to stay in a one-bedroom suite at The Mark Hotel for the five nights that she was there, which cost an estimated $9,982.05


5. Windsor Castle’s Fire 

In 1992, a fire broke out at Windsor Castle, which lasted for 15 hours and caused $86 million worth of damage in today’s dollars. Following the fire, it emerged that the property wasn’t insured and, since it was the property of the state, British taxpayers would be responsible for paying for its restoration. The British public was adamantly against this and the press argued that the Queen should pay for it with money from her private income. In response, the Queen offered to open Buckingham Palace to the public for an entry fee and then use that money to pay for the restoration.   

Press Association

4. Princess Fergie Gets Caught Getting Her Toes Sucked

Princess Fergie was kicked out of the royal family for this. In 1992, she was photographed while on holiday having her toes sucked by her financial advisor, John Bryan. She was at Balmoral when the pictures made the front page of The Daily Mail. Even though she and Prince Andrew were separated at the time, royal family members like Prince Philip and Princess Margaret wanted nothing more to do with her.

Press Association

3. Mark Phillips’ Love Child

Princess Anne – Queen Elizabeth’s only daughter – and her husband Captain Mark Phillips had a seemingly loveless marriage, which became especially apparent after news broke in 1991 that a New Zealand art teacher named Heather Tonkin had filed a paternity suit against him, claiming that he was the father of her six-year-old daughter Felicity. While Phillips insisted on countering the paternity suit, Princess Anne wasted no time divorcing him and then married the Queen’s equerry, Commander Timothy Laurence.

Press Association

2. Prince Andrew’s Association with Jeffrey Epstein

In 2011, Prince Andrew found himself in hot water for his friendship with convicted U.S. criminal Jeffrey Epstein. Despite Epstein going to prison in 2008, Andrew remained friends with him following his release in 2009. Then, in 2015, in a civil suit filed against Epstein, Andrew was named in the papers. A woman by the name of Virginia Roberts alleged that she was forced to have relations with the Prince when she was just 17 and that she was paid $15,000 for doing so by Epstein. Both Buckingham Palace and Andrew have denied the allegation.


1. When the Queen Took 5 Days to Address Diana’s Death

After Princess Diana died suddenly in 1997 after a car accident, the world went into mourning. While people across the globe paid their condolences, one person was conspicuously silent – Queen Elizabeth. She remained at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with Prince William and Prince Harry without issuing any kind of statement regarding her former daughter-in-law’s death. It was only after Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened that she came back to London and gave a live address to the nation where she acknowledged the public’s grief and paid tribute to Diana.

Want exclusive Royals content (news, fashion, lists & more) delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our Exclusive Fame10 Royals Email!




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.