Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up

Alli - October 31, 2021

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
William II Met His End while hunting. History Extra.

William II Met His End while Hunting in the forest – Accident or Assassination?

On the 2nd August 2, 1100, the New Forest became the grounds of a controversial event. Nearly a thousand years later, historians are still arguing about the conclusion – was it an accident or was it a planned attack on the king? The incident of course is the demise of Rufus the Red, more properly known as King William II. He passed after a hunting ‘accident’. The King shot a stag and made his way toward it. A deflected arrow, supposedly fired by Sir Walter Tirel, struck the King in the chest. Also in the hunting party was Rufus’ younger brother, Henry. On learning of his brother’s end, Henry galloped off with indecent haste to Winchester to take possession of the royal treasury and from there on to London to become crowned King Henry I. It was the speed of this decision that has given rise to speculation that the accident was in fact premeditated regicide.

King William II was confident that he was one of the most powerful rulers in Europe. He prevented the dissolution of political ties between England and Normandy. Still, Rufus the Red’s strong-armed rule earned him a reputation as a brutal, corrupt tyrant. Like many other powerful people, he had his share of enemies. William also had difficult relations with the church. He kept bishoprics vacant to make use of their revenues and had numerous arguments with Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093. When Anselm left for Rome in 1097 to seek the advice of the pope, William seized his estates.

Queen Victoria’s Two Controversial Relationships

Queen Victoria took a strong liking to an Indian attendant named Abdul Karim. Karim was a servant who eventually was promoted into her inner circle. Queen Victoria’s unusually close friendship with her Indian servant began at the 1887 celebration and spanned 14 years, a period captured in the new movie Victoria & Abdul, starring Judi Dench as the titular queen. Karim was the queen’s beloved munshi, the teacher who gave her daily Urdu lessons, educated her on Indian affairs, and introduced her to curry. Queen Victoria in turn showered him with gifts, titles and honors, much to the resentment of the royal family. When Victoria passed in 1901, her family members deported him back to India and attempted to erase his existence from history.

But Victoria had more than one controversial relationship. Prior to Karim, she put her trust in a Scottish servant named John Brown following her husband’s demise. There is, however, no evidence that Brown and Victoria were lovers. By 1866 gossip about the relationship between the Queen and her extremely informal servant had started. Brown was the only person around Victoria prepared to “tell it like it was”, and he often proved abrasive with members of the Royal Household: even, it is said, on at least one occasion giving the Prince of Wales the rough edge of his tongue. Rumors soon spread more widely, and Brown was featured in the satirical magazine Punch on 30 June 1866, and Queen Victoria came to be referred to by some members of her household (behind her back) as “Mrs. Brown”. Meanwhile, a Swiss newspaper went as far as suggesting that the two had actually married. “Mrs. Brown” became the title of a 1997 film about the relationship, starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Billy Connolly as John Brown.

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
King Henry VIII. Lisby/Flickr/English History.

Henry VIII Creates the Church of England

King Henry VIII desperately wanted to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, but that was strictly forbidden by the Pope, so Henry went and created the Church of England in 1534 and appointed himself it’s head. However, this bold move came at a cost. Already infatuated with Anne Boleyn, who was known to have taken a keen interest in Luther and the Reformation, Henry had exhausted his options for remarrying within the church and decided excommunication was a fair price to pay for independence from the pope and the potential of fathering an heir. The Catholic Church, who maintained anti-divorce stances at all costs, excommunicated King Henry VIII.

Of course, the love and devotion of Henry VIII was mercurial at best. He married Anne Boleyn after divorcing and exiling his first wife, Catherine. But the romance between him and Anne was short-lived. Henry’s marriage to Anne lasted only 3 years and 3 months. Henry’s second queen is often known as ‘Anne of the Thousand Days’. She produced only a single child in their short marriage, Elizabeth I. But that was of no concern to the King. He believed scandalous rumors about Anne Boleyn and multiple men, including her own brother. So he decided to do away with Anne. She met her end at the end of a skilled swordsman. Now free to do as he pleased, he married four more times, which ended tragically for almost every woman involved.

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Michael Fagan. Wikimedia.

A Man Breaks into Queen Elizabeth II’s Bedroom

In 1982, an unemployed British man named Michael Fagan climbed up a drainpipe at Buckingham Palace and snuck into Queen Elizabeth II’s bedroom, which was unguarded because a police officer left before his replacement arrived. Somehow he managed to walk around the private chambers 15 minutes before anybody noticed. He found an ash tray and smashed it to pieces. Then proceeded to the queen’s bedroom with a large shard of the ash tray. He reportedly planned to slash his wrists in front of the Queen. The Queen was sleeping, and when she woke up and found him there, they reportedly chatted for ten minutes. However, this appeared to be untrue. When he asked for a cigarette, she was able to call for help. Fagan himself has clarified the pair never actually spoke during his visit. But did they have an Fagan replied: “Nah! She went past me and ran out of the room, her little bare feet running across the floor.”

In the official report, it says while waiting for the police to arrive Her Majesty managed to attract the attention of the maid, and together they ushered Fagan into a nearby pantry on the pretext of supplying him with a cigarette. They were joined by a footman before the police arrived. The piece of glass was subsequently found on the Queen’s bed alongside a bloodstain from a cut on Fagan’s hand. Fagan was arrested and charged with burglary at the palace. Trespassing into the Queen’s bedroom was only a civil offense at that time, not criminal (it became criminal in 2007 as part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005). So Fagan was charged with theft (of some wine) but charges were dropped when he was committed for psychiatric evaluation.


Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Princess Anne found guilty over dog attack. Wikimedia.

Princess Anne’s Dog Attacks Two Children

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, became the first member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offense as she pleaded guilty to a charge under the dangerous dogs’ act. One of her dogs, a three-year-old English bull terrier called Dotty, bit two children as they walked in Windsor Great Park on April 2002. Under the name Anne Elizabeth Alice Laurence, and pitted against Regina (her mother), the princess was charged with her husband, Commodore Tim Laurence, being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control in a public place. Princess Anne, was ordered to pay a £500 fine and provide an additional £500 in compensation to the families of two children who were bit by her unruly English bull terrier, Dotty. The boys, aged 12 and 7, were both taken to a hospital, but neither needed stitches. The incident gave Anne the notorious honor of being the first senior member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offense.

The court heard from dog psychologist Roger Mugford that the three-year-old should not be put down. Dr. Mugford, who also treated some of the Queen’s corgis after they bit her, said Dotty was “an utterly placid, playful dog”. The district judge, Penelope Hewitt, spared Dotty’s life but said it must undergo training and be kept on a lead in all public places. She also warned the princess that her dog would be destroyed if there were any further incidents. Passing sentence, she said the children did not suffer considerably from the incident but she regretted that it had put them off dogs. “It was a very, very unfortunate episode and I can only hope that the children, as time goes by, will become more amenable to dogs,” she said, explaining that “dogs enhance family life considerably”. The charges against Commodore Laurence were dropped when the princess admitted the offense.

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Windsor Castle Fire 1992. Royal Collection Trust.

The Windsor Castle Fire

An enormous fire overtook the royal home in November 1992 after beginning in the Queen’s private chapel, where a curtain was pressed against a spotlight. The fire began in the Queen’s Private Chapel at 11:15 in the morning when a curtain was ignited by a spotlight pressed up against it. Agents of the Royal Household were in the chapel at the time inspecting works of art. A fire alarm went off in the watch room of the castle fire brigade, manned by the Chief Fire Officer, Marshall Smith. The location of the fire was shown by a light on a grid map of the castle. Initially, the Brunswick Tower was lit up, but lights soon began to flash indicating that the fire had quickly spread to neighboring rooms. A major part of the State Apartments was soon ablaze. Building contractors working in a nearby room attempted to tackle the blaze using fire extinguishers.

Apart from the several hundred firemen directly involved in the fire-fight, staff and tradesmen helped the castle’s fire brigade and volunteer salvage corps move furniture and works of art from the endangered apartments, including a 150-foot (46 m) long table and a 120-foot long carpet from the Waterloo Chamber, to the safety of the castle’s riding school. It was an enormous operation. The major loss was to the fabric of the castle. The false ceiling in St George’s Hall and the void for coal trucks beneath the floor had allowed the fire to spread. It burned as far as the Chester Tower. Several ceilings collapsed. Apartments burnt included the Crimson Drawing Room (completely gutted), the Green Drawing Room (badly damaged, though only partially destroyed by smoke and water) and the Queen’s Private Chapel (including the double-sided 19th century Henry Willis organ in the gallery between St George’s Hall and Private Chapel, oak paneling, glass and the altar).

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (c. 2017). Jeff Spicer/Getty Images.

Prince Philip Compares Lockerbie Plane Crash to Water Damage at Windsor Castle

Tragedy struck Scotland in 1988 when terrorists bombed Pan Am Flight 103, ending in the demise of 259 people on board and an additional 11 in Lockerbie, where the plane landed. In 1993, Prince Philip visited the location, where he made a cringe-worthy comparison to the previous year’s Windsor Castle fire, which took no lives. “People usually say that after a fire, it is water damage that is the worst,” he said. “We are still trying to dry out Windsor Castle.” But this isn’t the first time the former Duke of Edinburgh put his foot in his mouth. He was known for being racist and problematic as well.

Philip, who passed away at 99, was the longest-serving consort in the history of the British monarchy. While he’s remembered for his work with charity organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature, he’s repeatedly made offensive statements. In 1986, while on a visit to China, Philip described Beijing as “ghastly.” He also told British students: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” That same year, while speaking at a World Wildlife Fund meeting, Philip made an insensitive comment on Cantonese cuisine. “If it has four legs and is not a chair, has wings and is not an airplane, or swims and is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it,” he said. This doesn’t even begin to show the tip of his problematic iceberg.

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Princess Diana. James Gray/Daily Mail/Shutterstock/RD.


In 1992, The Sun revealed the existence of a recording of a 1989 phone call between Princess Diana and her friend James Gilbey. Gilbey repeatedly used “Squidgy” as a term of affection when speaking to Di, as the two discussed topics including her fear of becoming pregnant, the way the Queen looked at her, and the show EastEnders. Diana eventually denied that the relationship was romantic, saying, “He is a very affectionate person. But the implications of that conversation were that we’d had an adulterous relationship, which was not true.”

The tape was very revealing for the two, however: “Kiss me, please (sound of kisses). Do you know what I’m going to be imagining I’m doing tonight, at about 12 o’clock? Just holding you close to me. It’ll have to be delayed action, for 48 hours!” Gilbey says. During the call, Gilbey calls Diana “darling” 53 times and “Squidgy” 14 times. Later he tells her: “No, I haven’t played with myself, actually. Not for a full 48 hours.” Meanwhile, in Oxfordshire, Cyril Reenan, a 70-year-old retired bank manager was out for the night. The ham radio enthusiast claimed on January 4, four days after Gilbey and Diana’s scandalous chat, to have heard and recorded the conversation via his home set-up. Then, on January 8, he contacted The Sun, selling the tape for about $10,000.

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Queen Elizabeth II. Getty Images.

Annus Horribilis

The year 1992 will forever go down in history as Queen Elizabeth II’s “annus horribilis” (horrible year). That year, three of the Queen’s four children (Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, and Princess Anne) took steps towards ending their respective marriages. If that wasn’t bad enough, later that same year, Anne remarried despite that her ex-husband was still alive. Perhaps even more scandalously, this episode marked the first – but not the last – time a British monarch’s child remarried after divorce.

The tension between the media and the royals came to a head several times throughout the year through events such as the publication of Princess Diana’s tell-all memoir which exposed scandals within the family and reporting of the Duchess of York’s affair with her financial advisor. Hit after hit against the royal family culminated in the Queen’s speech and her remarking, “there can be no doubt… that criticism is good for people and institutions that are part of public life… But we are all part of the same fabric of our national society and that scrutiny, by one part of another, can be just as effective if it is made with a touch of gentleness, good humor and understanding.”

Royal Scandals that No Amount of Money Could Cover Up
Captain Mark Phillips and Princess Anne on their wedding day. Wikimedia.

When Captain Mark Phillips had a Lovechild

Hidden for almost four decades, intimate details about an affair involving Princess Anne’s former husband, Captain Mark Phillips, were revealed by New Idea. Over 30 years ago, Phillips fathered a secret love child with New Zealander Heather Tonkin. An art teacher. Her name is Felicity Tonkin. While still married to Princess Anne, Captain Mark Phillips had a one-night affair with the art teacher. She became pregnant and had the baby, who is now the half-sister of Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips. It was reported that Phillips asked the woman to end the pregnancy. However, according to royal sources, Mark has been “in denial” about his daughter since the day she was born.

Mark secretly paid his one-time lover a meager $12,000 a year in child support but refused to have anything more to do with his secret daughter. When the payments trailed off, Heather sought to secure a better deal for Felicity, however, Mark refused to be named on her birth certificate. In 1991, a court-ordered DNA test proved he was the father. Defending her decision to make the matter public and threaten Phillips with court action, Tonkin said in a previous interview, “I am doing what I am doing for my child. I hope and pray Mark will do the right thing and make a proper and legally binding settlement on her. “I wish I could wake up one morning in the knowledge that the record had been put straight and I don’t have to worry any more. Nothing can compensate for the tears I have cried while trying to plan for Bunny’s future when at any moment I could find myself penniless.”

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Wikipedia – Mary, Queen of Scots

Encyclopedia Britannica – Philip IV

Insider – Princess Diana said she was seen as a ‘threat’ by Camilla-Parker Bowles from the moment they met

History Extra – Death in the New Forest: how King William II met his demise

BBC – William II (Rufus) (c.1056 – 1100)

The Washington Post – Princess Anne Is Fined Court for Dog Attack

The History Press – The Windsor Castle fire: 25 facts