There are times when being a royal is less than awesome. Many everyday things us commoners take for granted are off limits to them, and that includes anonymity. The royals are swimming in a pool of traditions, wearing the undersized thong of a royal title, all while living under the magnifying glass of the media — so when they do something dumb, or even something just slightly normal for anyone else, they’re on the front page. Here are a few surprising royal scandals that you may not have heard of.
Kate goes topless
In September 2012 while on holiday at a private french chateau, Kate Middleton made the decision to sunbathe topless — but that isn’t the scandal. Unknown to her, there were photographers on a road five hundred yards away with telephoto lenses, and they caught the whole thing on film. The photos were quickly published in the French magazine Closer and the Italian magazine Chi. Ordinarily a woman sunbathing topless wouldn’t be noteworthy, but Kate is royalty, and royal boobs are front page news. In this instance, the French courts quickly imposed an injunction preventing further publications, and started criminal investigations.
Prince Philip’s mouth
The Duke of Edinburgh puts his foot in his mouth so often he must have installed a shoe rack by now. Lucky for him, it usually gets put down to his age and a « quirky » sense of humor. But it’s actually not a surprise that a man born in 1921 forgets how far and fast an offhand remark can travel. Here are just a few of his less offensive gaffes: In 1981, during a recession in the UK, he was heard to say, « Everybody was saying we must have more leisure. Now they are complaining they are unemployed. » In 1995, he was having a conversation with a Scottish driving instructor when he asked, « How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test? » In 2000, he commented on the British class system: « People think there’s a rigid class system here, but dukes have been known to marry chorus girls. Some have even married Americans. »
Harry picks the wrong costume
Harry has been a fairly common sight in the scandal columns, mostly as a result of his « boisterous » teenage years, but this error of judgement stands out. In January 2005, Harry was photographed at a private costume party wearing a World War II German uniform with a swastika armband. An inappropriate costume for anyone, it could be argued, but especially so for Prince Harry. It seems that Harry didn’t take long putting his costume together, but causing offense never takes much effort. An apology was quickly issued, but that didn’t stop people like the Israeli Foreign Minister, and members of parliament, from expressing their displeasure.
Charles says what he thinks
During the run up to his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles made the mistake of voicing his opinion a little too loudly near a microphone. While enjoying a skiing holiday in Switzerland in 2005, Charles agreed to do a brief photocall with his sons. Fifty journalists were invited to the event with the agreement that the royal party would afterwards be left in peace to enjoy their holiday. But it wasn’t long before Charles started voicing his displeasure, commenting under his breath, « I hate doing this, » and then, « I hate these people. » Unfortunately Charles had no idea his whispers could be heard and it only got worse when a question was posed to Charles about his forthcoming nuptials. Nicholas Witchell, the BBC’s royal correspondent, was given permission to ask the question, but all he got in response was undisguised sarcasm. The Prince of Wales then turned his head and muttered, « Bloody people. I can’t bear that man. He’s so awful, he really is. »
Cash for access
Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, a.k.a. Fergie, was married to Prince Andrew (Queen Elizabeth’s second son) for ten years before they divorced in 1996. She didn’t get much in the divorce, and when her American businesses failed in 2009, she was left struggling for money. Despite the breakdown of their marriage, Fergie and Prince Andrew were known to be on good terms, and in 2010 she tried to cash that friendship in. Prince Andrew was working as a British trade envoy at the time, and in an attempt to make some money, she offered to help a foreign businessman to gain access to Prince Andrew and his influence in exchange for 500,000 pounds. What she didn’t know was that the businessman was an undercover reporter working for the News of the World. Pretty soon her offer was front page news, and a giant headache for the Royal family.
Prince Andrew’s ill-advised bromance
Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has a private island in the Caribbean and spends a lot of money funding science research and education. But he’s also a registered sex offender. Meanwhile, Prince Andrew had been friends with Epstein for a number of years, and stayed on his private island and at his New York mansion on numerous occasions. So it’s no wonder that when the muck started flying at Epstein, some of it hit Andrew. Andrew was even named in a lawsuit against Epstein, claiming he took part in orgies with underage girls. Although the accusations were struck from the record by the presiding judge, Andrew’s name is now irrevocably smeared by his connection to Jeffrey Epstein.
What happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas
Prior to his second deployment to Afghanistan, Prince Harry spent some time in Las Vegas, but the royal probably trusted in that old saying a little too much. While there, he was seen chatting to celebrities and sunning himself by the pool, but the party didn’t stop there. At one point during the trip, Harry invited some people back to his room for a private party, and, if reports are accurate, a game of strip billiards. Unfortunately for Harry, one of his guests took a photo, and his bad boy reputation got an unwanted boost. Speaking later about the affair, Harry was quoted as saying, « It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. »