Royals You Wouldn't Want To Meet In Real Life

The following article includes allegations of sexual assault.

Royal families have always been an object of fascination for the general public, especially when their flaws and fights become worldwide news. Prince Harry proved that life with the Windsors was no fairy tale by publishing his autobiography in 2023, for example, exposing his resentment towards step-mother Camilla and the fights he had with his brother William before leaving the UK and his royal duties behind completely.

But some royals have been in the media's spotlight for much more sinister reasons than petty family drama. The younger brother of King Charles, Prince Andrew, cast a dark shadow over his own reputation through his friendship with notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. None of his attempts to move past the scandal and rehabilitate himself as a public figure have been successful, so he had to join his nephew Harry as a former working royal.

Keep reading to find out more about controversial royals from around the world who have made headlines for their worst behavior.

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).

King Juan Carlos of Spain bought multiple overseas properties throughout his affair

When King Juan Carlos abdicated from the Spanish throne in 2014, he was caught up in a myriad of scandals. An alleged affair between Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and Juan Carlos was first publicized in 2012 when they were found together in Botswana during a shady elephant hunting trip. And in 2015, she was caught on tape complaining about how the king had been taking advantage of her tax residence in Monaco and bought several properties under her name without her consent, which he wanted her to transfer to his cousin. "But if I do it, it is money laundering," she complained, according to Spanish website El Español (via The Telegraph). Corinna also insisted that he bought the properties not "because he loves me a lot, but because I reside in Monaco."

Juan Carlos has also made some enemies in the world of animal rights with his love of hunting. As the BBC reported, one trip to Russia sparked outrage in 2006 when a local hunting control official reported that the king shot a drunk bear called Mitrofan. According to the official's letter, the tame bear was given a mixture of vodka and honey. "Naturally, a heavy, drunken animal became an easy target," he explained, arguing that this wasn't fair to the poor animal. "We have no comment to make because this story is totally ridiculous and the source is sensationalist," a representative for the Spanish royal family told AP News.

Prince Andrew and the Jeffrey Epstein association

Out of all the British royals, one family member has ruined their reputation in recent years more seriously than anyone. Prince Andrew, the younger brother of King Charles, was scrutinized over his continued association with Jeffrey Epstein after the New York financial manager was convicted as a sex offender. "At no stage during the limited time I spent with [Epstein] did I see, witness or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction," he later insisted in a statement emailed to NBC News.

Allegations from Virginia Giuffre also led to a civil lawsuit over whether the prince had been guilty of "sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress" on Giuffre when she was a 17-year-old trafficked by Epstein, per ABC News. Although he tried to clear his name in a disastrous TV interview and evaded an FBI investigation, the royal ended up losing his titles and public duties. Andrew eventually settled the lawsuit by paying Giuffre and her charity for victims of sex trafficking. According to the BBC, Andrew also insisted that he "never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre's character" and that he would "demonstrate his regret for his association" with Epstein.

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 Michael of Kent infamously wore a controversial brooch

The British royal family has faced a lot of scrutiny in recent years over its racism, but one family member has been particularly shameless.

Princess Michael of Kent, who was named Baroness Marie-Christine von Reibnitz before she married Prince Michael, infamously wore a brooch of a colonial-era racist caricature to meet Meghan Markle in 2017. "The brooch was a gift and has been worn many times before," a representative told the Daily Mail in an official response to the backlash that the princess received. "Princess Michael is very sorry and distressed that it has caused offense." An ex-boyfriend of Princess Michael's daughter was quick to point out that she had also named a pair of black sheep Serena and Venus after the world-famous Williams sisters, reflecting in a Vanity Fair article that the royal was perhaps trying to shock people.

As detailed by the New York Post, back in 2004, she shocked America by telling a group of Black customers in a New York restaurant that they needed to "go back to the colonies." Princess Michael insisted that she had been misinterpreted by the diners, claiming that she couldn't be racist because of her years spent traveling around Africa. The princess also revealed that she had once dyed her own hair black to try and pass as a mixed-race African. "I had this adventure with these absolutely adorable, special people and to call me racist: it's a knife through the heart because I really love these people," she told ITV1 (via The Guardian).

King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand is known to exile his ex-wives

Thailand's King Vajiralongkorn shocked his country when he exiled his mistress for supposedly being disloyal and conniving. Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, who had previously held various prestigious military titles, was first officially named the royal consort to King Vajiralongkorn in July 2019. The public was so curious about her that the royal family's website crashed when pictures of her and the king were published, as Rolling Stone reported. But only a few months later, she was accused of trying to "elevate herself to the same state as the queen," according to an official statement published by the BBC. "The royal consort's behaviors were considered disrespectful," the statement declared in October 2019, alleging that she had been taking advantage of her proximity to the king and trying to prevent his wife from becoming queen.

Wongvajirapakdi was quickly stripped of all her official titles.The king had already dealt with his second and third wives in a similar way, before banishing them from Thailand. But Wongvajirapakdi ended up disappearing from public view entirely, prompting speculation that she had been imprisoned. In the end, she returned to court and was reinstated in 2020. "Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi is not tarnished," the Royal Gazette announced. "Henceforth, it will be as if she had never been stripped of her military ranks or royal decorations." She faced another scandal on her return, however, when hundreds of her personal pictures were leaked to the public in a revenge porn stunt.

King Carl of Sweden and his racy secret activities

The Swedish public was astonished when their king's history of attending underground sex parties and strip clubs was exposed by a biography, "Carl XVI Gustaf: The Reluctant Monarch" in 2010. King Carl had reportedly used the Swedish secret service Sapo to cover up his many affairs, ordering agents to protect his privacy by spying on these women and searching their houses for potential blackmail material. The secret service even allegedly threatened some of the women who'd been involved in his secret sex life. When the press confronted King Carl about these accusations, he insisted that they were just "things that happened a long time ago," according to The Times. He also refused to read the book that had published the speculation, adding: "I have spoken to both my family and the queen and we choose to turn the page."

In an interview with Swedish news agency TT, per The Washington Times, he later baffled the nation by declaring: "It depends what you mean by sex and strip clubs. It is a rather broad definition." It also emerged that his friend Anders Lettstrom had been caught on tape talking to a group of criminals about a sex club owner who insisted that he had lewd pictures of the king with two women and was asking for money. Lettstrom denied that the king had asked him to deal with these mobsters, one of whom was later found shot dead in 2014.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman was linked to the death of a journalist

Prince Mohammed bin Salman has proven that he doesn't take any threats to his own power lightly. Not only did the crown prince of Saudi Arabia bring treason charges against his own family members, Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and Mohammed bin Nayef, but he was also linked to the assassination of a Washington Post columnist in 2018.

Jamal Khashoggi was 59 when he was ambushed and brutally murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a group of men, as the BBC reported. After the former Saudi government adviser went to the States and started writing columns disparaging Mohammed, he had become a known dissident. US intelligence concluded that Mohammed was the one who "approved an operation in Istanbul to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," given the royal's well-known opinions on how dissenting voices should be dealt with violently. In a statement given to the Saudi Press Agency, a spokesperson pointed out that Saudi authorities had already charged five individuals with the murder. "It is truly unfortunate that this report, with its unjustified and inaccurate conclusions, is issued while the Kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime," the statement continued.

Although Mohammed later told a PBS documentary that he accepted responsibility for the death "because it happened under [his] watch," per UPI, he insisted that he hadn't ordered the assassination. And despite the US government's findings, a federal judge dismissed the legal case against Mohammed due to his sovereign immunity.

Sarah Ferguson borrowed money by Jeffrey Epstein

Sarah Ferguson is no stranger to controversy. She caused uproar in 1992 when the paparazzi took incriminating pictures of the duchess and her financial adviser, during the same year that she separated from Prince Andrew. If that's not all, her frequent money problems led to a scandal when she was caught offering access to the royals in exchange for a bank transfer of £500,000. "That opens up everything you would ever wish for," Ferguson was recorded saying to a reporter, who pretended to be a businessman needing a favor from Andrew. "Look after me and he'll look after you" (via The Guardian).

The Telegraph also discovered that she had been lent £15,000 by Jeffrey Epstein in 2011 to cover her debts. "I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me," the royal insisted, promising that she would never associate with the financier again and that she was giving the money back. "I abhor pedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf." 

When her ex-husband's friendship with Epstein got him in trouble, she later defended him by insisting that neither of them had known about the sex trafficking. "He's one of the greatest men I've ever met in my life," she insisted on "The Meredith Vieira Show," claiming that the allegations from Virginia Giuffre were unfounded. "I don't understand in this day and age how people can make salacious lies up."

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).

Prince Jefri Bolkiah's scandal with a former Miss USA

Prince Jefri Bolkiah, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, caused an international scandal when he allegedly flew a former Miss USA winner and others to Brunei in order to make them part of a harem.

In a 1997 lawsuit, Shannon Marketic accused one of the richest men in the world of pretending to hire her for promotional work in Brunei, only to have her passport seized when she arrived. She was reportedly held against her will for 32 days and expected to perform sexual favors for the prince and his guests. "It would be the biggest honor of my life if I was permitted to sleep with Jefri, because he is half-man, half-god, like Jesus Christ to the Christians," Marketic observed, per Vanity Fair, relaying how her situation was explained to her.

At the time, Prince Jefri rejected all calls for him to face justice and insisted that he had never even met Marketic. A government-run news station stated that he "categorically denies the allegation" (via The Free Lance-Star). And in the end, the prince didn't face any legal ramifications at all because an American judge ruled that he had sovereign immunity. "Permitting this action to proceed against the sultan of Brunei would be incompatible with the United States' foreign policy interests," a State Department lawyer argued, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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).

King Albert of Belgium refused to acknowledge his estranged daughter

Finding out that you're the long-lost child of a European king might seem exciting — but when your dad is King Albert II of Belgium, it's a more depressing story than it sounds. Although he reportedly had a very long affair with the mother of his extramarital daughter Delphine Boël, the king refused to meet or have any contact with Boël for over five decades.

The story was uncovered by a 16-year-old aspiring biographer, per Vanity Fair, who had been trying to interview sources close to the royal family and asking questions about the marriage between the Belgian king and queen. One court insider explained the situation with surprising bluntness: "Everyone knows Albert has a daughter with another woman." In his 1999 Christmas address, Albert spoke about the resurfaced scandal, stating: "We wish not to go into this much deeper, it's part of our private life."

When journalists started pursuing Boël and her mother, she tried to contact Albert for help. "Leave me alone with that story. You are not my daughter," he allegedly replied. In 2013, she sued him in an attempt to force legal recognition of their relationship. Finally, the court ordered Albert to take a DNA test in 2018 and after he had ignored the request for six months, the king was informed that he would be fined $5,000 euros per day while he stalled. To avoid further scandal, he took the test and Boël was finally vindicated.