The Biggest Reported Skeletons In The Royal Family's Closet

The following article contains references to child abuse, eating disorders, and mental illness 

With Prince Harry's memoir, "Spare," having hit bookstores in January 2023, a number of royal bombshells have entered the public consciousness. And while Harry was keen to dish on his brother's alleged propensity for violence and his troubled relationship with his dad, he ultimately stopped short of divulging anything that would destroy the firm's reputation for good. "There are some things that have happened, especially between me and my brother, and to some extent between me and my father, that I just don't want the world to know. Because I don't think they would ever forgive me," he told The Telegraph.

One can only wonder what shocking secrets Harry omitted from his book, but his claims shine a light on the notoriously sequestered nature of the royals. Although King Charles has sought to instill the once-furtive firm with a sense of personability, there's still an undeniable undercurrent of mystery to the monarchy.

What dark secrets lurch in the royal palaces? Although "The Crown" is a thoroughly classy affair, it seems that the clandestine shenanigans of the royals belong in outlandish soap opera plots rather than an esteemed period drama. From throwing shade at the queen to cavorting with criminal gangs, messy doesn't even begin to describe the antics of certain royals behind closed doors. Shady lies the head that wears the crown: let's dig into the biggest reported skeletons in the royal family's closet.

The Queen lobbied to conceal her private wealth

Due to the popularity of Queen Elizabeth II, few questioned what she did with her money. The queen, in turn, was highly secretive when it came to her finances. However, the royal family is paid for by the public through the Sovereign Grant. It's often been reported that the institution costs the British taxpayer around £102 million ($126 million) a year. However, the anti-monarchy organization Republic has long argued that the true cost of the firm is far greater than this; when taking into account revenue from security, merchandise, and businesses, the monarchy actually sets the British taxpayer back £345 million ($428 million). But it seems that even this figure doesn't represent the true wealth of the royals.

In 2021, The Guardian revealed that the queen had lobbied parliament to prevent her private wealth from being made public. Liz began lobbying in 1973 when the government introduced transparency legislation to company shareholdings, as she apparently felt it would be humiliating for the public to know the extent of her private riches. Utilizing a parliamentary procedure dubbed Queen's Consent, she was successful in her campaign to implement the change, which would make heads of state exempt from the legislation. The outlet quotes a civil servant, CM Drukker, who spoke to the queen's lawyer about the matter. "He justifies this not only because of the risk of inadvertent or indiscreet leaking to other people, but more basically because disclosure to any person would be embarrassing," Drukker said.

Prince Philip almost killed two women

In order to protect the public, the U.K. government has implemented legislation that requires anyone over the age of 70 to renew their driving license. Despite both being in their 90s, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip continued to drive.

In 2019, a then 97-year-old Philip was involved in a car crash near Sandringham. After apparently being dazzled by the sun, Philip crashed his Land Rover into another vehicle, which was occupied by two women and a baby, before his car went spinning and rolling along the road. Although Philip left the crash unscathed, the two women had to be hospitalized due to cuts and broken bones. Thankfully, the baby was unharmed.

Philip faced backlash for continuing to drive in his late 90s. Moreover, he began driving again just two days after the crash. Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist in the accident, told "This Morning" (via The Guardian) that the prince should be liable for prosecution, and also slammed him for continuing to drive. He eventually apologized, which Fairweather accepted, though she disputed his claims that the blazing sun was responsible for the crash, telling The Mirror that it was, in fact, an overcast day. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute Philip, which led to accusations of preferential treatment. "For such a serious accident, it seems to be a curious response," said anti-monarchy campaigner Graham Smith, per The Guardian.

Edward VIII allegedly had Nazi sympathies

Although Queen Elizabeth II was revered for being the U.K.'s longest reigning monarch, it was a twist of fate that led to her holding this esteemed title. Her father, King George VI, was crowned in 1936 after his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the woman he loved, American two-time divorcée Wallis Simpson.

Following his abdication, Edward had a bitter falling out with the rest of the royal family and essentially became a pariah. He and Simpson settled in France before the outbreak of WWII and also traveled to Germany, where they mingled with Hitler. Simpson, in particular, was known for her Nazi sympathies, so the couple's meeting with Hitler understandably enraged the British government. It's been alleged that Edward shared his lover's Nazi sympathies. For instance, he strongly believed that the allies had no chance of winning the war, suggesting that Britain should instead acquiesce to Germany. According to classified documents, it was Edward's belief that he would thereafter be reinstated as King of England with the help of Goering.

Historian Andrew Lownie, who penned the book "Traitor King," told Vanity Fair that Edward was a Nazi collaborator, rather than an unsuspecting victim of the axis. "He saw a concentration camp," Lownie explained. "He inspected the SS ... He must have seen even before the war there were all sorts of terrible things going on. I don't think he could have had any misconception about what the Nazis were about."

Prince William's alleged affairs

Prince Harry has long been perceived as a royal rebel, a rabble rouser disrupting the House of Windsor's status quo. As such, he's attracted much media scrutiny, while his brother, William, has often been perceived as the virtuous prince. In contrast to the arguable vitriol faced by Harry and Meghan, Wills and Kate have long been perceived as the squeaky clean, upstanding royal couple. "They were manicured to the nth degree," branding expert Eric Schiffer told Business Insider. "And played their public persona with a Buckingham Palace excellence, out of the playbook that's been mastered for centuries."

However, William's rep is not as pristine as his PR team would have us believe. For years, he has been dogged by rumors of an affair with Rose Hanbury, Marchioness of Cholmondeley. In 2020, it was reported that Kate Middleton was feuding with Hanbury, and was seeking to cut her out of her life. "It is well known that Kate and Rose have had a terrible falling out," a source dished to The Sun. Allegedly, William and Kate attempted to prevent the British press from publishing the story.

Moreover, there are allegations that William has a wandering eye. In 2007, it was reported that Middleton was intensely jealous of William's alleged flirtatious dalliances with a woman named Isabella Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe. And in 2017, Wills left his wife and kids at home to go on a bros' ski vacation, where he was snapped cavorting suggestively with women in a nightclub.

Jeffrey Epstein paid off the Duchess of York's debts

Much has been made of Prince Andrew's friendship with pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. In his now-infamous car crash interview with the BBC, Andrew insisted that he had long broken off his friendship with Epstein, and also downplayed the extent of their closeness. However, testament to their familiarity, Epstein once saved the Duke's family from financial hardship.

In 2011, it was reported that Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, accepted the financial aid of Epstein when she found herself riddled with debt. Andrew allegedly pleaded with Epstein to help get his wife out of debt. Subsequently, the shady financier gave Fergie £15,000 ($18,500) to settle a debt with her ex-personal assistant, Johnny O'Sullivan. "The Duke and Jeffrey, they want to do this so badly," Ferguson allegedly told a friend (via The Telegraph).

Following the revelations, Fergie told the Evening Standard that she deeply regretted ever getting involved with Epstein. "I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me," she admitted. "I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf ... Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again." However, she also noted the positive outcome of her deal with the pedophile financier; thanks to Epstein's loan, she confessed that she was free from debt for the first time in her life.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Louis Mountbatten was allegedly a pedophile

In 1979, Prince Philip's cousin and King Charles' mentor, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was killed in an IRA bombing. Although tributes poured in for Mountbatten and he was awarded a grand funeral procession, an alleged darker side to the seemingly benevolent war hero was later exposed.

In 2019, unearthed FBI documents revealed that Mountbatten was allegedly a pedophile. As reported by The Times, the FBI dossier described the royal and his wife, Edwina, as "persons of extremely low morals," noting the former's supposed "perversion for young boys." Indeed, Mountbatten himself once admitted that he and his wife "spent all our married lives getting into other people's beds."

Andrew Lownie, who wrote a book exposing Mountbatten's apparent pedophilia, condemned the government for seemingly refusing to discuss the aristocrat's alleged sex trafficking of young boys from Kincora House, a children's home in Ireland. In 2022, Arthur Smyth, a former resident of Kincora House, claimed that he was sexually abused by Mountbatten when he was just 11 or 12. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Smyth said that he was frequently trafficked to London, where Mountbatten raped him, though he only identified the aristocrat as his abuser after seeing news coverage of his death. "You don't forget who abused you," Smyth said. "Trust me. You block it out but you don't forget." Smyth is currently pursuing legal action against the authorities for ignoring widespread abuse at Kincora House.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Princess Beatrice's criminal ex-boyfriend

Princess Beatrice is known for being one of the more relatable royals. And like the best of us, Beatrice has dated some bad apples in her time. In 2006, when the princess was 17, she began a romance with Paolo Liuzzo, a 24-year-old American. But the sketchy side of the princess' first love was soon exposed.

In 2002, Liuzzo was charged with manslaughter after 19-year-old student Jonathan Duchatellier was beaten to death by a group of fellow students. Despite her daughter's dalliance with a criminal, Fergie gave Beatrice her full support. "As any parent will know, the most important element in a relationship with your child is trust," Fergie said, per the Independent. "Beatrice is a sensible girl, soon to be 18, with many friends including Paolo. We must trust her judgment." Although the manslaughter charge against Liuzzo was dropped when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery, he soon found himself in trouble with the law again. In lieu of jail time, he was sentenced to probation, which he broke in 2006 when he went on a ski trip with Beatrice and her parents. Subsequently, his probation was extended.

Although Beatrice broke up with Liuzzo following the scandal, the couple reportedly kept in touch via email and text. They were then reunited in the summer of 2006 and allegedly engaged in flirtatious behavior — though Beatrice denied this.

The Royal Family has been dodging their taxes

Scandal beset the royal family in 2017 when it was revealed that they were utilizing various dodgy loopholes to avoid paying taxes. It was reported that the queen's private wealth was being invested in offshore tax havens through the Duchy of Lancaster. Among the companies the duchy invested in was the rent-to-own firm BrightHouse, which has faced accusations of exploiting the poor by offering high-credit loans for essential everyday items such as washing machines.

Moreover, King Charles, who owns the Duchy of Cornwall, has not paid any corporation tax on the £762 million ($940 million) estate. Subsequently, politicians called for Charles to pay his fair share of tax in 2013. "The Duchy is not a company and is not therefore liable to pay corporation tax," Charles' reps explained, per the BBC, noting that he does pay a voluntary income tax of 50%.

When Queen Elizabeth died in 2022, the royal family came under fire once again for not being liable for inheritance tax. In the U.K., all beneficiaries must pay taxes of 40% on estates worth over £325,000. However, despite the queen being worth over $400 million, Charles was not liable for any inheritance tax due to government policy that exempts royals from having to pay. "This is just one of many examples of how very wealthy people can pay low levels of tax and legally avoid paying what is due to the Exchequer," argued Tax Justice UK, per Express.

Prince Philip allegedly cheated on Queen Elizabeth

Despite being the loyal husband who always stood by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip allegedly had a wild side to him. There have long been allegations that he engaged in extramarital affairs, comparable to similar accusations against his son, Charles, and grandson, William. 

One of Philip's earliest known alleged affairs was with the British actor Pat Kirkwood. Philip reportedly became romantically involved with Kirkwood in 1948, when Elizabeth was heavily pregnant with Charles. The prince wrote several romantic letters to his alleged paramour. Despite helping the nation through the blitz, Kirkwood was never honored by the queen; she attributed this to rumors of the affair and subsequently blamed Philip for ruining her life.

According to the book "Prince Philip Revealed," the Duke of Edinburgh had doubts about marrying Elizabeth. At the time, he was allegedly having an affair with author Daphne du Maurier. When Philip told his rumored lover that he wanted to stay with her rather than wed Elizabeth, du Maurier convinced him to return to his fiancée. Another of Philip's alleged mistresses was nightclub hostess Helene Cordet Foufounis. In her book "Elizabeth," royal biographer Sarah Bradford claims that the queen deliberately ignored her husband's affair with Foufounis and numerous other women, believing that preserving the sanctity of the firm was more important than her husband's wandering eye. When a maid attempted to tell Liz all about Philip's supposed infidelity, she fired her. The maid later died by suicide.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Prince William has killed many animals

From Henry VIII hunting wild boar to the queen's dad killing 60 tigers and rhinos in Nepal, hunting has long been a royal tradition. One of the most avid hunters in the modern royal family is Prince William. Indeed, Princess Diana once famously nicknamed her sons "Killer Wales."

Like his father, William has been active in conservationist causes. In 2014, for instance, he campaigned against illegal wildlife hunting. But just one day before launching the campaign, he had been on a trip to hunt wild boar, leading to widespread condemnation. The BBC's royal correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, argued that the timing of the hunt was bizarre, but noted that it was entirely legal.

Two years later, William caused further outrage when he argued that so-called ethical trophy hunting could be utilized for conservationist efforts. "There is a place for commercial hunting in Africa, as there is around the world," he told ITV News. "It's not everyone's cup of tea. The argument for regulated properly controlled commercial hunting is that the money that goes from shooting a very old infirm animal goes back into the protection of the other species." The charity Lion Aid condemned William, highlighting that there's no such thing as ethical trophy hunting when there exist less than 15,000 lions in Africa. Writing for the Daily Mail, Piers Morgan also slammed William, branding the would-be conservationist a hypocrite for his avowed penchant for hunting.

King Charles allegedly exacerbated Princess Diana's eating disorder

It's no secret that King Charles and Princess Diana had an acrimonious marriage blighted by infidelity. But in addition to his years-long extramarital affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, Charles was allegedly an emotionally abusive husband to Di.

When Diana got engaged, she was just 19, while Charles was 32. The future princess was at an impressionable age. Subsequently, as she revealed in a recording, she suffered from an eating disorder, which was exacerbated by her allegedly body-shaming husband. In the lead-up to her wedding, an increasingly anxious Di lost an alarming amount of weight. "Bulimia started the week after we got engaged," she recalled. "My husband put his hand on my waistline and said, 'Oh a bit chubby here, aren't we?' And that triggered off something in me." Moreover, her illness was reportedly worsened by Charles' affair with Camilla. For instance, the night before her wedding, Diana found a bracelet that her fiancé had bought his mistress, leading to her making herself sick.

Turning her pain into a positive, Diana would later go on to advocate for mental health awareness, encouraging numerous women to seek help for the ailments from which she suffered. As her biographer, Andrew Morton, explained in his book "Diana: Her True Story — in Her Own Words" (via Daily News), "Whatever happens to her personally, it must be heartening for her to know that thousands of women have gone for help as a result of the publicity."

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Prince Philip's sisters were Nazis

Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, was an esteemed humanitarian. During WWII, she saved a Jewish family from the Holocaust and has since been honored as Righteous Among the Nations in Israel. While Philip's mother may have abhorred the Nazis, his sisters did not follow in her footsteps.

Unfortunately, all but one of Philip's sisters ended up marrying Nazis (Theodora being the only one who didn't). The Duke of Edinburgh's eldest sister, Margarita, married Gottfried, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and the couple joined the Nazi Party in 1937, per "The Duke." That year, Philip's middle sister, Cécilie, and her husband, Georg Donatus, followed suit in pledging their allegiance to the Nazis. Meanwhile, Philip's youngest sister, Sophie, married Prince Christoph of Hesse; the pair were friendly with Hermann Göring and even went on to meet Hilter, whom Sophie admired despite distancing herself from Naziism later in life. "As Göring was insistent that we should meet Hitler personally we decided to ask him to lunch ... I have to say that though Chri [her husband] and I changed our political view fundamentally a few years later we were impressed by this charming and seemingly modest man," Sophie once remarked.

Although his sisters harbored Nazi sympathies, Philip did not share their views. In fact, he actually fought against his SS officer brother-in-law, Christoph, in WWII. Moreover, in 1994, he became the first British royal to visit Israel.

The Countess of Wessex threw shade at the queen

Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie of Wessex, are arguably the most media shy of the Windsor royals. Perhaps this is because the couple learnt their lesson after a PR disaster in 2001. In an infamous tabloid sting, Mazher Mahmood, an undercover reporter for the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, met with Sophie for an ostensible business meeting, per The Guardian. Mahmood pretended to be a sheik recruiting Sophie for a business deal; Sophie acquiesced despite Queen Elizabeth's staunch and avowed opposition to royals exploiting their titles for financial gain.

The countess ended up causing immense embarrassment to the royal family when she began insulting its various members. For instance, she joked that people deemed Charles an eccentric "quack," though she went on to praise him for his innovative ideas. Thereafter, she lamented that Charles would be unable to marry Camilla for as long as the Queen Mother were alive. She also insulted the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and his wife, Cherie. "He's ignorant of the countryside," she exclaimed. "His wife is even worse, she hates the countryside. She hates it!" Moreover, she threw shade at the nation's beloved queen, calling her the "old dear," according to the BBC

Although the palace denied that Sophie had insulted the royals and Blair family, she did offer an apology, which gave credence to the News of the World's claims. Following the scandal, Sophie and Edward decided to give up their business interests.

Princess Anne's dog killed the Queen's corgi

Queen Elizabeth was famed for her love of corgis. From her childhood to her final years in the public eye, her beloved pups were always by her side. Tragically, it took her daughter's savage pooch to destroy the equanimity of her furry family.

Princess Anne typically keeps a low profile, but she generated headlines in 2003 when it was revealed that her bull terrier, Florence, killed her mother's corgi, Pharos. Both Florence and Anne's other terrier, Dotty, were known for their violent tendencies. Tragically, Pharos was savaged and had to be put to sleep. This left Elizabeth, who was looking forward to spending Christmas with Pharos, in severe distress. "His death has left her deeply saddened," an insider told The Sun (via Evening Standard). "Everyone knows what the Queen's corgis mean to her. They are loyal, faithful and cherished. The incident has certainly put a damper on the Christmas holiday." The insider added that the queen already had to contend with a difficult year, with Pharos' death being the most tragic punctuation of the year.

Queen Elizabeth had longed for her daughter to follow in her footsteps and adopt a corgi, but ever the rebel, Anne opted for terriers, once declaring, "This will give the Palace corgis a run for their money." Florence was spared being put to death and was instead ordered to see a pup psychologist.