For a family that lives its life on public display, the Royals have an uncanny knack for getting embroiled in scandal and intrigue. Some of this plays out publicly, but some of it seems to be hidden away in some dark places. Every family has their secrets, but not every family ruled over nations and still enjoys massive wealth and influence.
10. Edward VIII was Friends With Hitler
It’s estimated that about 107 billion people have ever existed in the entire history of humankind. With all of those people, if you were tasked with making a list of the top three worst to ever be friends with, it’s safe to say Adolf Hitler would be right up there. So the fact that Edward VIII was palsy with the leader of the Third Reich is the sort of thing no one in the Royal Family wants to be reminded of.
Though Edward abdicated the throne to marry an American, there was a period when he seemed to really enjoy a friendship with Hitler. Documents indicate it may have gone further than that, including a potential attempt to overthrow the monarchy.
Edward was a fan of Hitler’s economic policies, and combined with some of his own anti-Semitic beliefs, the Nazi party held great appeal. It didn’t hurt that Hitler was keenly aware of how valuable a friend in the British Royal Family would be, so he set about charming the man as much as he could.
It was alleged that Edward’s American wife, Wallis Simpson, had also long had an affair with a high-ranking Nazi. British intelligence had her and Edward under surveillance because of the potential to be leaking secrets.
Papers discovered after the war indicated the Germans even had a plan to reinstate Edward on the throne, a clear sign that the Nazi party supported him as a favorable face in England.
9. Diana Attempted Suicide Numerous Times
In recent years, the Royal Family and issues of mental health have come to the forefront in the news. But of course these are not new things, they were just mostly kept hidden from the public over the years. The stress and demands of being a Royal can take their toll, especially for those who married into the family and were not brought up to expect the same level of scrutiny and obligation that the Family are accustomed to. Meghan Markle dealt with it recently, but Princess Diana had to endure it as well. And she did not endure it well.
Andrew Morton wrote a book entitled “Diana – Her True Story” back in the 1990s. He alleged Diana had tried to take her own life several times, and in gruesome ways as well. She tried to cut her own wrists and throw herself down stairs among others. At the time this was all considered hearsay. The allegations of an author trying to sell books. Some believed them to be true, some not. But years later, tapes of her speaking on this topic came to light, confirming that she was truly miserable and had attempted to end her own life.
8. They May Not Have Legit Claim to the Throne
Historically speaking, having a claim to the throne has been a big deal. Wars have been fought over who has the most right to rule. Today it may be less significant to everyday people, but rest assured it’s still a big deal to the Royal Family. If they were not the legitimate heirs to the throne for some reason, then they’d be just regular folks who’d have to find a house to rent somewhere.
By and large no one questions the legitimacy of the Royal Family but there has been some potential for disruption thanks to DNA analysis of a body found in a parking lot.
As it happens, King Richard III died in 1485, struck down in battle. His body was laid to rest at Greyfriars Abbey. But a lot can happen in over 500 years and the Abbey, along with the King, were more or less forgotten. So much so that his grave ended up being under an office building’s parking lot.
Other bodies had been discovered over the years on the property, and it was known to have once been the site of the Abbey. When the King’s body was excavated, DNA analysis was run to confirm the identity of the remains and it turned out to be Richard. But there was a twist, the Y-chromosomes in the DNA analysis don’t match others in the Royal line.
The maternal line was used to identify the remains of Richard. But if the Y-chromosome, passed down from the male side doesn’t match, it means somewhere in the family line there may have been an affair. Someone, at some time, gave birth to a child not of the Royal line and maybe just fudged the details to pretend the child was legit. Heck, maybe they didn’t even know.
Because we can’t know when this affair may have occurred, there’s no way to know when it affected the family line. So maybe the current Royals are the real deal, or maybe they aren’t. It could go so far back that all the Plantagenets may be questionable heirs to the throne. Or maybe not at all and they are the legit Royal family. Genetics and history can be confusing like that.
7. Prince John was Hidden From the Public
Any family in the spotlight is concerned with optics. Celebrities like the Kardashians have this down to a science, carefully crafting every message and every image that makes it into the public. But the Royal Family was arguably one of the progenitors of this method of public relations. And not always for the better. Their method of being a public entity also included keeping secrets that were more than just scandals. It meant keeping people secret too, like Prince John.
The Royal Family has always tried to present the image of strength. Any family members who didn’t meet their definition of that would be considered a liability, and such was the case with the Queen’s uncle John.
After his birth in 1905, it was determined that John had some serious health concerns. He may have been on the autism spectrum and he also had a seizure disorder. To the Royal Family, a member who could not project the desired image in public was problematic. John was never sent to formal school like his siblings had been and though he made public appearances in the early years of his life, they were fleeting. He didn’t even attend the coronation of his own father.
The boy was said to have been disruptive and insubordinate, two things no Royal should ever be, especially in the presence of others. After the age of eight, the family did not include him in any Royal portraits. When his health took a turn in 1916 he was sent away to live with a governess.
He spent little time with his family after that date. His parents were said to be busy with official duties after the start of World War One. His siblings were kept away to spare them from worrying about his condition. He died in his sleep after a seizure in 1919.
6. Prince Charles is Related to Dracula
Every so often the ruling class get compared to vampires for their habit of living off the people over whom they rule. Sucking the life out of them, as it were. So there were likely a few critics of the Royal Family, and Prince Charles in particular, who would be delighted to discover that the Prince is literally related to Dracula.
In real life, Bram Stoker is believed to have based his famous vampire in part on Vlad Tepes, the 15th century Romanian Prince. Vlad earned himself the nickname “Impaler” due to his penchant for sticking enemies on sharp poles, so the story goes. His bloodlust was legendary enough to make him forever associated with history’s greatest vampire.
Fast forward to the present and Prince Charles is a distant relative of the Romanian Prince. He’s Dracula’s great-grandson 16 times removed. Prince Charles was apparently very stoked to learn this bit of genealogy and has long had a soft spot for Transylvania, the region made famous by Dracula.
5. A Royal Was Suspected of Being Jack the Ripper
One of the greatest mysteries of the 19th century was the infamous case of Jack the Ripper. One of history’s most notorious killers, his identity was never determined and even to this day, over a century later, people are trying to piece it together. Back in the day there were no end of potential suspects. One of them was that Prince Albert Victor was the Ripper.
The Prince was no stranger to slanderous accusations. He was labelled unintelligent and incompetent though mostly harmless at first.The grandson of the Queen; he had a connection to a man arrested at a male brothel in London which was considered political poison at the time.Homosexuality was not just frowned upon; it was illegal. That the Prince knew a man involved in such a thing, even with no evidence that anything happened between them, was enough to get rumors flying.
Years later, it was suggested that perhaps the Prince had contracted syphilis from a prostitute and, with the disease infecting his brain, he started killing prostitutes out of revenge. Another theory was that the British Royal family wanted specific women killed because they knew the Prince had an illegitimate son.
Neither of these theories had much of any evidence to support it and they appeared nearly a century after the fact. The result is that it’s almost entirely unlikely but still something the Royal family is not likely to ever openly address and would rather keep on the down low.
4. A Man May Have Killed His Wife for Elizabeth I
Royalty having extramarital affairs isn’t exactly breaking news. Many Royals have been saddled with that scandal over the years. It happens so often you have to wonder why it’s considered a scandal at all. But that said, sometimes the full story is more scandalous than just two people having an affair. That was the case of Elizabeth I and her suspected lover Robert Dudley.
Dudley was the Earl of Leicester and was known to be very close to the Queen. That was enough to set the rumor mill in motion, but there was more to it than that. Dudley was also married and his wife died under mysterious circumstances.
Had the Earl not been married, he could have married the Queen easily enough. But having a wife who fell down the stairs quite unexpectedly made things look extremely fishy. His wife was found at the bottom of some stairs and suicide was at least suspected. However, the circumstances around the death didn’t all make sense and murder seemed a possible explanation as well.
Whether he did or did not have his wife killed, Dudley was in no position to have a relationship with the Queen afterwards. The optics were too poor. When he did remarry, eighteen years later, the Queen forbade the woman from ever coming to court.
3. The Duke of Kent May Have Been Assassinated
Prince George was a black sheep of the royal family. These days people make a fuss over Royals for doing some fairly mundane things. Back in the 1930s and ’40s, George was making waves for allegedly abusing cocaine and heroin on a regular basis. He was also alleged to have had a number of affairs with both men and women. At that time, for that family especially, it was absolutely unacceptable.
In 1942, the Prince was tasked with a military mission. He was supposed to head to Iceland to inspect some air force units stationed there. An official in the Royal Air Force himself, this was not unusual in any way and the mission was about as run of the mill as they could get.
George was to fly in a Sunderland Mk III to Iceland from Cromarty Firth in Scotland. The Sunderland was a beefy plane that was meant to fly over water and not land thanks to its underpowered engine. This was not a problem because the trip was mostly over water. Until it wasn’t.
For unknown reasons, the flight diverted from its established flight path. Instead of hugging the coast and travelling to Iceland, it proceeded overland. It was speculated the Prince himself may have taken control as a joke to buzz the estate of his cousin. This was never confirmed, though.
The plane was flying over the Highlands, and the weather was poor. The plane, underpowered as it was, could not reach a safe height, either. Witnesses in the Highlands reported hearing the sound of the plane’s engines just before it crashed face first into mountains. Loaded with thousands of gallons of fuel, it exploded.
Speculation has existed since the crash itself that the Royal family planned it as a way to get rid of the troublesome Duke. All evidence and inquiry that followed up with the crash has apparently been lost, so the precise details are unknown. With so many conspiracy theories, the truth is muddy at best.
2. They Travel with their Own Blood
Some celebrities are known for being ogres on the road. Most people have seen the riders that musicians place on venues sometimes, requests for creature comforts that can make them seem like divas.What they should be doing is travelling like the royal family who bring their important things with them, like bags of blood.
In case of emergencies, Queen Elizabeth as well as Princes Charles and William travel with a sack of their own blood on hand. This is according to Royal expert Duncan Larcombe. The Royals travel with their physician and a bag of their own home brew in case of a transfusion is needed.
For a good portion of her busier years, the Queen was making about one state visit per year, but Prince William was a bit more widely travelled. Blood only has a shelf life of about 42 days after it’s been bagged up, so they were probably getting fresh stuff before each and every trip.
1. Queen Victoria Hated Being a Mother
They say motherhood is a thankless job and being a mom is hard work. So maybe it’s no surprise that someone raised to never actually do work on their own would say “an ugly baby is a very nasty object.” This was Queen Victoria’s opinion on children and not exactly a resounding endorsement for her maternal instincts.
Despite having nine children, the Queen was apparently not a fan of the idea of them at all and once said she would rather have none. She described being pregnant as being like “a dog or a cow” and was staunchly opposed to the very idea of breastfeeding. Later, when her own daughters performed the act, she said it made her “hair stand on end” that her daughters had “turning into cows.” So clearly she would have been a riot on Mother’s Day.
After her second child, Victoria all but ignored her remaining children. She once spoke of checking in on them personally once every three months or so. Instead, Prince Albert, their father, took a much more active role in their parenting, which was unusual not just for royals but for any man of the time period.
Though it’s clear that she did have some affection for her children, and especially when they were older, but she was certainly not a typical mom by any means. She was also prone to childishness herself, choosing to give her youngest daughter the silent treatment from May to November of the same year when she found out her daughter was getting married.
In her own defense, the Queen once wrote it was not that she was not fond of children, she just didn’t like the noise they made.