THEY are known for their stiff upper lips and unflappable demeanour – but behind closed doors the royal family’s lives can be just as chaotic as ours.
From Megxit to Prince Andrew’s serious fall from grace we reveal the top eight scandals that shocked the royal family.
In January 2020 Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shocked the world when they announced that they would be stepping down as senior royals.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex became “financially independent” from the royal family on April 1 and have since relocated to Santa Barbara with their one-year-old son Archie.
The decision sent shock waves through the royal family with a new book claiming Harry tore open a rift with William when he “betrayed” the Queen by announcing his plans without consulting her.
New book Battle of Brothers claims the relationship was “utterly broken” by Harry’s “disrespect” and the pair have barely spoken since.
Robert Lacey believes their unique bond has been shattered by how the Sussexes went about Megxit.
Senior members of the family saw it as a huge mark of disrespect that Harry rushed out his plans on his website and Instagram before agreeing it with the Queen.
Lacey, author of Battle of Brothers, said: “Some say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter. It will blow over’.
“But that’s not what historians will be saying in ten years’ time.
It is fair to say that Meghan’s first year as a royal was far from smooth sailing with the former actress earning the nickname “Duchess Difficult” shortly after her wedding in May 2018.
She became the centre of rumours about her “dictatorial” behaviour and 5am emails and saw several aides quit.
The UK Sun also revealed how the Duchess of Cambridge told Meghan not to berate members of her team after she “b****cked” a member of staff.
It followed the infamous claim that Meghan made Kate cry over Princess Charlotte’s bridesmaid’s dress.
PRINCE ANDREW’S EPSTEIN SCANDAL
The Duke of York found himself in hot water over his friendship with the American financier and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who committed suicide in prison in August 2019.
Virginia Roberts Guiffre, 36, accused Ghislain Maxwell of arranging for her to have s3x with Andrew three times in 2001. She was then 17.
Almost 2,000 pages of a lawsuit were released in the defamation case where he was accused of having a sexual encounter with her in London and New York and a year later at a party on Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands.
Another document describes an alleged sexual encounter between Ms Giuffre and Andrew in a bathtub.
The Duke of York was pictured with his arm around the then 17-year-old’s waist at the home of Maxwell in London in 2001 – but the Prince strongly denies the claims.
The US Department of Justice submitted a request to the Home Office in April to speak to Andrew.
The Met has said it is willing to help. The duke’s lawyers insist they have repeatedly offered to do so.
The Duke gave what was later referred to as a “car crash” interview to Emily Maitlis on Newsnight.
During the interview the royal revealed that Epstein was invited to Windsor Castle as a “plus one” for Ghislaine Maxwell and that he didn’t regret his friendship with paedophile.
However the Duke denied he had thrown a “birthday party” for Maxwell claiming it was “just a shooting weekend”.
He did say that he regrets visiting the s3x offender in New York in December 2010 and said he went to end his friendship – when the infamous photo was snapped.
Andrew also claims he was at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, alleges she had s3x with him aged 17 and that he can’t sweat after she alleged he “sweat profusely”.
The Duke of York added he would testify under oath “if push came to shove” and described Epstein’s behaviour as “unbecoming”.
DIANA’S UNTIMELY DEATH
Perhaps the most shocking and memorable of all the royal scandals was Princess Diana’s tragic death in 1997.
The Princess of Wales – Diana Frances Spencer – died on August 31, 1997, after suffering fatal injuries in a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris.
The tunnel is located in the heart of the French capital next to the River Seine.
Her companion Dodi Fayed and driver and security guard Henri Paul were also killed in the crash.
Diana’s bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived with horrific injuries.
In the days after her death, a sea of flowers and tributes were left outside the gates of Kensington Palace in an enormous outpouring of public grief.
Diana’s funeral was held on September 6, 1997, at Westminster Abbey and was shown on British television, attracting an audience of 32.1million viewers.
An inquest held in London concluded in 2008 that the Princess had been unlawfully killed, blaming the crash on grossly negligent driving by Paul and the pursuing paparazzi.
Seven weeks before her death, Diana reportedly expressed concerns she would be killed in an establishment conspiracy.
It was after her friend, fashion designer Gianni Versace, was shot dead by Andrew Cunanan outside his Miami mansion in 1997.
On the morning after his murder, Dodi’s bodyguard Lee Sansum found Diana on the yacht’s deck gazing out to sea, the Express reported.
According to the paper, she asked him: “Do you think they’ll do that to me?”
PRINCE CHARLES’ AFFAIR
Prince Charles’ affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he married in 2005, was well-documented during his marriage to Diana.
In her ground-breaking interview, the late Princess told Martin Bashir in 1995 that “there were three people in this marriage”, adding it was “a bit crowded”.
Charles later confessed to the affair during his own TV interview with Jonathan Dimbleby, an unprecedented move by a senior royal.
He was still married to Princess Diana at the time, although the couple had separated in 1992.
In the now-infamous interview, the presenter asks Prince Charles: “Did you try to be faithful and honourable to your wife when you took on the vow of marriage?”
Prince Charles replies: “Yes. Absolutely.”
But Jonathan presses him, saying: “And you were?”
The 70-year-old then admits he was unfaithful, saying: “Yes. Until it became irretrievably broken down, us both having tried.”
Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and they welcomed Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984.
But by the early 1990s their relationship was visibly strained, and they separated in 1992, before formally divorcing in 1996, one year before Princess Diana’s death.
HARRY, THE PARTY PRINCE
Before settling down with Meghan Markle, Prince Harry had earned a reputation as the “Playboy Prince” with his wild nights out often landing him in hot water.
At the age of 18 his father Prince Charles organised for Harry to visit Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation centre after he became aware of his son dabbling with cannabis and excessive drinking.
A senior official said at the time: “We acknowledge that on several occasions last summer, Prince Harry experimented with cannabis. It is not that he had or has a serious problem, but he did take the drug.
“Prince Harry did attend Featherstone Lodge for a day to learn about the possible consequences of starting to take cannabis. The Prince of Wales thought it would be educational and shocking for him to attend.”
When he was just 20 years old, he was pictured wearing a Nazi outfit at a colonial-themed fancy dress birthday party.
And a year later he sent further ripples through the royal family when he was snapped playing strip pool in his VIP suite while on holiday with friends in America.
The Duke of Sussex is said to have stepped back from the booze after marrying Meg, and was reported to have given up drinking entirely during her pregnancy.
KING EDWARD VIII’S ABDICATION
Wallis Simpson will forever be known as the woman who rocked the Royals and plunged the monarchy into crisis.
Her marriage to King Edward VIII in 1937 meant he became the first-ever monarch to abdicate, changing the path of history – and eventually leading to Queen Elizabeth II ascending to the throne.
Their relationship allegedly started in 1934, but Edward – then a prince – denied this to his dad King George V.
By 1935, Wallis had been presented in court to the outrage of the royal family, who were shocked by her marital history with Wallis having previously been married twice.
On January 20, 1936, George V died and Edward ascended the throne.
Fears were beginning to grow that the new king planned to marry Wallis as the Church of England felt Edward could not marry a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands.
Brits were also reluctant to accept an American as a queen – prompting Wallis to flee to France to avoid the heavy press coverage.
She filed for divorce from Spencer on the grounds he had committed adultery, and it was granted in October 1936.
Two months later, Edward was told he could not keep the throne and marry Wallis, so he sent shockwaves across the world when he decided to abdicate.
Edward was forced to abdicate in December. His stammering younger brother “Bertie”, the current Queen’s father, became George VI.
He made a BBC broadcast saying he could not do the job of the king “without the help and support of the woman I love”.
The pair married on June 3, 1937, at the Château de Candé but no members of Edward’s family attended.
They became Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
FERGIE’S ‘TOE-SUCKING’ SNAPS
Photos of a topless Fergie with her toes in the mouth of John Bryan, described as her ‘financial advisor’, was one of the most shocking scandals to rock the Royal family.
Royal expert Katie Nicholls says it was the “nail in the coffin” for her marriage when snaps of her and the American hit the front page in 1992.
Fergie, now 60, had separated with Prince Andrew the previous year, but the pair were still officially married.
The incident saw her cast out of The Firm, and the York’s officially divorced in 1996.
PRINCE PHILIP’S CAR CRASH
The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a shocking car crash on January 17 2019 near the Sandringham Estate, crashing into two women and a baby and rolling his own car.
Prince Philip was pulling out of a road in his Land Rover when his 4×4 was “T-boned”.
The car flipped on the A419 at Babingley, Norfolk, at 3pm.
An eyewitness said he was pulled from the wrecked car, which had flipped over on to the driver’s door and the windscreen was smashed.
The Duke was later heard admitting to cops he had been “dazzled by the sun”.
A royal bodyguard was also in the car with Prince Philip.
The people in the other car – which was a Kia – were two women and a baby.
Both the prince and the driver were breathalysed and provided negative readings.
The independent royal was reportedly “shaken” after the crash and yelled “my legs” as he was pulled from the car.
The passengers of the other car were treated in hospital but were later discharged.
Norfolk Constabulary confirmed the female Kia driver, 28, suffered cuts to her knees and her passenger, 45, broke her wrist in the crash. The nine-month-old baby was uninjured.
A Buckingham Palace statement read: “The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident with another vehicle this afternoon. The Duke was not injured.”
Just 48 hours after the Norfolk crash, Prince Philip was given an official warning for driving without a seatbelt.
The Duke of Edinburgh was given “suitable words of advice” by officers after he was snapped driving a brand-new Land Rover without being strapped in.