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Royal Family Scandals That Shocked The World

Being a prince or princess may seem like a fairytale, but in real life, it’s a little more complicated.

Death and the maiden

Universal History Archive/Shutterstock

Queen Elizabeth I never married, but whether she was actually the “Virgin Queen” has long been in dispute. From the moment she ascended the throne in 1558, rumors circulated of the Queen’s “secret” lovers. The most notable was Robert Dudley. Although in 1560, Dudley’s wife turned up dead at the bottom of a staircase with her neck broken, and the question became not so much whether the Queen was a virgin as whether the Queen was a murderess. Questions persist to this day. Don’t miss these biggest royal wedding scandals throughout history.

The succession crisis of 1817

History George III in Coronation Robes. George III 1738-1820, King of Great Britain 1760-1820. Portrait by Allan Ramsay (1713-1784)Universal History Archive/UIG/Shutterstock

King George III lost the United States in 1776—and his sanity in 1810. But his most embarrassing scandal may have been his failure to persuade even one of his nine sons to marry a respectable woman in order to produce a legitimate heir. In 1795, he finally strong-armed his eldest son, the future King George IV, into marrying, but the sole child of that loveless marriage died childless in 1817, kicking off a “succession crisis,” which resulted in several of George’s sons dumping their girlfriends to marry European princesses in a race to conceive the next heir. Spoiler alert: the winner was Edward, Duke of Clarence, King George III’s third son, who in 1819 fathered the future Queen Victoria.

The trial of Queen Caroline

Historical Collection 38 Caroline of Brunswick Queen to George Iv 1768 - 1821Historia/Shutterstock

In 1820, the aforementioned son of King George III ascended the throne as King George IV. The new King had been living apart from his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, whom he detested, for more than two decades and was determined to keep her off the throne. With adultery as the sole legal grounds for divorce, George took Caroline to court, and despite his own many notorious infidelities, George arrogantly assumed the public would side with him. Instead, the public rallied behind the aggrieved Caroline.

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