Royals Who've Had Run-Ins With The Law

Royals are expected from birth (or at the time of marriage into the royal family) to follow a host of strict rules. This expectation to meet the highest of standards means royalty tends to be on their best behavior most of the time, but certainly not always. Anyone with a grasp of history knows that a lifestyle of wealth and power has also led some royals far into questionable legal territory.

These royal rulebreakers are often shielded by their status and protected by centuries-old institutions, and it's likely there have been crimes committed that will never be revealed or proven (like what really happened with Princess Diana's death). But when it does come to light that royals have been prancing on the wrong side of the law, it can cause the public to lose trust in their monarchy's members. Let's take a closer look at times when royals have had run-ins with the law and suffered from legal troubles.

Prince Andrew's shady friendship cost him his public duties

Prince Andrew's reputation severely plummeted when his association with Jeffrey Epstein came to light. Unsurprisingly, it's hard to recover from a friendship with a convicted sexual predator like Epstein. But as it turns out, the royal — who is the son of the late Queen Elizabeth II — wasn't just friends with the criminal, he was reportedly aware of and participating in the crimes. At least that's how it went down according to one of Epstein's sex-trafficking victims, Virginia Giuffre, who claimed the prince had sexually abused her when she was 17, knowing full well she was underage and had been trafficked. Prince Andrew denied the allegations.

While Andrew was not convicted of any crimes, Giuffre filed a legal case against the royal in 2021 under the Child Victims Act (BBC). The case was settled for an undisclosed amount in 2022. According to The New York Times, Andrew stated that he "regrets his association with Epstein." The scandal cost him his official titles and place in the royal family. "With the Queen's approval and agreement, the Duke of York's military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties," Buckingham Palace explained in a statement (via BBC).

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 Anne's dangerous dogs got her in trouble

Princess Anne, or the Princess Royal as she is formally called, became the first senior British royal to be convicted of a crime since 1649, when in 2002, her bull terrier attacked two young boys in Windsor Great Park. It may seem like an odd thing to have a criminal record over, but the U.K. government passed the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991, and one of the clauses states, "If a dog is dangerously out of control in any place in England or Wales (whether or not a public place) the owner; and if different, the person for the time being in charge of the dog, is guilty of an offense."

The boys, who were aged 7 and 12, were riding their bicycles when the royal pet, named Dotty, attacked them, knocking them down and biting them. The princess pleaded guilty and was fined for $790. The parents of the children, however, said their boys were traumatized, and they felt the verdict wasn't just. "If the dog had been put down it would have been recognition of this and helped our children psychologically," they said in a statement (via The New York Times). The dog was spared but was ordered to undergo special training.

Dotty might have straightened up, but a year later, Princess Anne's other terrier, Florence, killed one of Queen Elizbeth's corgis and attacked a maid. Anne had to send the dog to an animal psychologist to avoid the pet being euthanized.

It seems Princess Anne also likes to drive fast

In addition to running into trouble due to her misbehaving dogs, Princess Anne has also been caught driving over the speed limit on several occasions. In 1972, she was given a written police warning for driving 90mph on the highway. In 1977, she was fined £40 for doing 96mph in a 70mph speed limit zone, and in 1990, she was fined £150 and banned from driving for one month after admitting two speeding offenses, per The Guardian. She managed to slow her roll for the rest of 1990s, but in 2001, she was once again caught driving over 90mph in her Bentley. This time, she was fined $750, and penalty points were put on her license.

When a police officer turned on his lights with the intention to pull her over, she didn't immediately obey, believing that the cop was actually attempting to escort her through traffic. Perhaps an easy mistake to make when you're royalty. "The princess was keeping to a tight schedule ... she has admitted that she was speeding at the time and she accepts that she is subject to the normal rule of the law and will be paying the fine," Buckingham Palace said in a statement at the time (via ABC News).

The allegations against Juan Carlos I cost him the trust of his people

Juan Carlos I of Spain reigns as the perfect example of what happens when a monarch loses the trust of his people. The former king was once a super popular figure in Spain and was praised for ushering the nation into a new era after it had been subjected to fascism for decades. But when Juan Carlos became the center of several controversies beginning in 2012 surrounding an elephant hunt and his mistress and then was later accused of corruption, his scandals inevitably led to his abdication in 2014 and voluntary exile in 2020.

The former monarch was accused of corruption surrounding a high-speed rail in Saudi Arabia for which it was alleged that Juan Carlos had received $100 million from the Saudi royal family in connection with the contract which he transferred to a bank in Switzerland (which had ties with his mistress). What followed was a criminal investigation that led to the Spanish government revoking Juan Carlos' military titles and stipend. He went into exile until the charges were dropped in 2022. In addition to the corruption charges he faced, his former mistress Corinna Sayn-Wittgenstein also sued Juan Carlos, accusing him of continually harassing her after they ended their decades-long relationship, per AP News.

Infanta Cristina became entwined in her husband's crimes

Infanta Cristina, Juan Carlos I's daughter and Felipe VI's sister, became the first member of the Spanish royal family to face criminal charges in 2016. Though she was ultimately acquitted from serious criminal prosecution, the accusations against her were anything but minor. Her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for embezzling money through his nonprofit and committing tax fraud. An investigation ensued over whether or not Infanta Cristina had been involved and to what extent she had benefited from the financial crimes.

After her trial in 2017, the princess was found innocent concerning the criminal charges, but she was ordered to pay a fine of €265,000 (over $280,000 U.S.) for her involvement in the scheme. However, Cristina was stripped of her title "Duchess of Palma" and the whole ordeal was a major headache for Spain's royal family, as this was another blot on their reputation, a reputation her father Juan Carlos I had already begun to sully.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia was detained for alleged corruption

In 2017, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched what he called an anti-corruption campaign which led to the arrest of several members of the royal family and high-profile businessmen. Among them were billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. A member of the Saudi Arabian royalty, he is also one of the world's richest people, having made billions in prominent investments in major companies like Twitter, Citigroup, and Apple.

According to Forbes, the prince was held in detention for months at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh due to the accusations of corruption. Many of the wealthy individuals the government detained reached settlements as high as $1 billion. Details of the charges against the prince were never quite clear. He eventually reached a presumably high-dollar settlement with the government and was freed. Prince Alwaleed described the arrest and months-long detention as a misunderstanding in an interview with Reuters, adding, "There are no charges. There are just some discussions between me and the government."

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei was accused of embezzlement

Brunei may be a small country no bigger than Delaware, but their wealth is massive due to oil. Once considered a "playboy prince," Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei (pictured above when he was a child in 1967), the brother of the Sultan of Brunei, was known for his outrageously opulent lifestyle. But things started to get tricky for the prince when the government of his home country launched an investigation into his finances and found that he had allegedly been embezzling money. According to Vanity Fair, he'd reportedly siphoned billions of dollars during his 15-year tenure leading the Brunei Investment Agency. He kept billions for himself, but a large portion of the money was never accounted for.  With that much skimming of government money, it's no wonder his toilet brushes were even said to be made of gold.

When government authorities sued the prince in 2000, he agreed to pay back many of those billions by selling properties and auctioning off assets, per ABC News.

Prince Ernst August V of Hanover had one too many angry outbursts

Finally, there is Prince Ernst August V of Hanover, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and the estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco. The prince is the head of one of the oldest families in Europe, the royal House of Hanover, and has had a couple of unfortunate run-ins with the law. In 2020, the royal reportedly called the police because he allegedly felt threatened by an employee. But once the police arrived at the scene, it was Prince Ernst who was ready to fight, reportedly threatening the officers that their families would be killed (via the Daily Mail). Only five days later, he threatened another police officer with a baseball bat.

In September of 2020, he was arrested because one of his employees felt threatened by the prince, per Hola!. All of the incidents added up to him being convicted of several crimes, including "resisting state authority" and "grievous bodily harm," according to Monaco Life. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison, received an order to undergo psychotherapy, and was banned from consuming alcohol.