Royals Who Allegedly Had Secret Lovers They Tried To Keep Hidden

The following references sexual assault and suicide.

With the rise in popularity of racy period dramas such as "Bridgerton" and "The Borgias," there's arguably never been so much interest into the sex lives of the aristocracy. There's a reason why "bodice-ripper" has entered the cultural lexicon. Undeniably, audiences have developed an insatiable appetite for all things royal and risqué — almost as insatiable as the appetites of real life nobility, the likes of which transcends anything we see on the small screen.

History has been full of royal romps and, indeed, the gossip that follows. For instance, although long dubbed the Virgin Queen due to her unmarried status, Elizabeth I has been subject to incessant rumors that she had a secret lover in Robert Dudley. Meanwhile, King James I is believed to have had male lovers. And, of course, there's Edward VIII and his lover-turned-wife Wallis Simpson, whose dalliance led to the monarch's abdication and eventual downfall, paving the way for the current royal line of ascension. 

Royal scandals like these tend to stir our curiosity. Perhaps this is due to the fact that passion and lust appear inharmonious with the stoic image that royals project to the public. But, as with anyone in the spotlight, public and private personas are often totally at odds. Moreover, affairs may prove tantalizing fare, but, as we'll see here, they can have devastating consequences for the partners and extended family of those involved. Get out your finest tea set as we spill the tea on royals who allegedly had secret lovers they tried to keep hidden.

Princess Anne and the bodyguard

Princess Anne's marriage to Mark Phillips was far from a royal fairytale. The couple's 1992 divorce contributed to Queen Elizabeth II's annus horribilis. But it appears that Anne and Mark were having marital problems long before this. In the late '70s and early '80s, the princess allegedly began an affair with her bodyguard, Peter Cross.

In a scene straight out of "Lady Chatterley's Lover," Anne apparently confided in Cross that she was sick of having to adhere to a royal lifestyle and longed to live as a regular person away from the constraints of royal protocol, per the Daily Mail. These lonely longings allegedly led to Anne making the first move on her bodyguard, with the pair embarking on an intense affair thereafter. According to Andrew Morton's book "The Queen," Cross was abruptly relieved of his royal duties when suspicions arose regarding the affair. This didn't stop the lovers from seeing each other, however, with the two reportedly meeting for clandestine rendezvous. Anne used the alias Wallis, a cheeky reference to Wallis Simpson, to avoid being caught when she met up with her lover.

Although Anne confided in Cross, he did not afford her the same level of confidence. In 1984, he began spilling the deets of the alleged tryst to the tabloids, hoping to sell his story for a whopping £600,000 (equivalent to almost $2 million today). "He always said he'd never hurt her. But in the end he betrayed her," his ex-partner, Gillian, told the Daily Mail.

Prince Harry tried to keep his older lover a secret

Before tying the knot with Meghan Markle, Prince Harry was linked to numerous women, including Cressida Bonas and the late Caroline Flack. But there was one lover whose identity he tried to conceal from the public. When he was just 16, he had a fleeting affair with an older woman, to whom he lost his virginity. 

In his best-selling memoir, "Spare," he described the tryst, which took place in a field outside a pub, as a "quick ride, after which she smacked my rump and sent me off to graze." Moreover, he insinuated that the relationship was unequal and problematic, noting that there was a more than troublesome aspect to the encounter. However, he declined to name the older woman.

In a surprise move, the woman in question ended up disclosing her own identity to the press. After much online speculation, Sasha Walpole came forward as the person who took Harry's virginity, telling her side of the story to The Scottish Sun. Walpole, who was 18 when she slept with 16-year-old Harry, said that she had decided to break her silence out of fear of being outed by the press, and insisted that she was not seeking fame or fortune. She also dismissed notions that the encounter was inappropriate. "When you're 16 and somebody is nearly 19, you probably are seen as the older woman," she conceded. "Maybe he was trying to throw people off the scent a bit in the way that he described me."

Princess Margaret's lesser known love affair ended in tragedy

Queen Elizabeth II's younger sister, Princess Margaret, is well known for her brief yet colorful life. The rebellious royal engaged in a number of affairs, including a rumored rendezvous with Mick Jagger. Although her most well-known lover was Peter Townsend, whom she was forbidden from marrying due to his status as a divorcé, she also had another ill-fated affair.

In the swinging '60s, Margaret fell for Robin Douglas-Home, a jazz pianist and author who was the cousin of Princess Diana's father and nephew of Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home. The affair was kept secret for many years until 1994, when the News of the World (via The Herald) published letters that the lovers had sent each other. The pair, who were initially just good pals, began an intimate relationship in 1966; Margaret was married to Antony Armstrong-Jones, aka Lord Snowdon, at the time, while Douglas-Home was newly divorced.

After a passionate romance, Margaret reluctantly told Douglas-Home that she could no longer see him. In a heartbreaking goodbye letter, she wrote, ”Promise you will never give up, that you will go on encouraging me to make the marriage a success, and that given a good and safe chance, I will try and come back to you one day." In the British documentary "Rebel Without a Crown" (via Express), royal biographer Anne De Courcy claimed that it was Margaret's husband who forced her to break up with her lover. Tragically, Douglas-Home died by suicide eighteen months later. He was just 36.

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)​.

Princess Diana kept her romance with Hasnat Khan under wraps

After a tumultuous and, by all accounts, toxic marriage to King Charles, Princess Diana decided to live her truth. Subsequently, she dated a number of men who reportedly gave her the love that her ex-husband never could. One of those men was Dr. Hasnat Khan, whom Di affectionately termed "Mr. Wonderful." According to The Guardian, Diana fell head over heels in love with Khan, a heart surgeon, when she was visiting one of her friends in hospital in 1995. However, the pair opted to keep their relationship a secret to avoid media scrutiny, with Di contacting her lover under a pseudonym and concealing her identity with wigs.

Although they kept it a secret, Diana and Khan's two-year relationship was serious; the lovers had hoped to tie the knot and even considered moving to Pakistan or Australia. Over a decade after Di's tragic and untimely death, Khan broke his silence when appearing at her inquest in 2008. He told the inquest that the princess had broken up with him to be with Dodi Al Fayed, whom he suggested provided her with greater protection and security than he, a lowly surgeon, could, per the Daily Mail.

In an interview with the outlet in 2021, Khan reflected fondly on the pair's relationship. "She was very ordinary in many ways, a normal person with great warmth," he recalled. "She was very good at judging people. When she met my patients and their families, she... had a natural quality of empathy."

Did King Charles have a thing with Barbra Streisand?

Throughout the years, King Charles has been linked to numerous high profile women. For instance, there have long been rumors that he dated Sheila Ferguson of The Three Degrees, though she maintains that they're nothing more than friends. However, there's one alleged Chuck lover who has managed to stay under the radar: none other than Miss Barbra Streisand.

In 2016, royal biographer Christopher Andersen published a book, "Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate and the Throne," in which he alleged that Charles and Streisand had an affair. "Charles as a young man had an immense crush on Barbra Streisand," Andersen told Inside Edition. "Even at Cambridge University he had a poster of Barbra Streisand on the wall of his room." According to Andersen, the then Prince of Wales had an intimate encounter with Streisand at a Bel Air hotel room in the '90s. "Diana knew all about it," he claimed.

During an appearance on British talk show "Lorraine," Streisand said that Charles personally asked to meet her when she was recording for Warner Brothers. She ended up spending time at his private residence and he even sent her flowers picked from his garden. Contrary to claims that the pair didn't meet until the '90s, Streisand said that she befriended Charles before he met Diana. "If I played my cards right I could have wound up being the first Jewish princess!" she quipped. However, she did not explicitly state whether the two had been more than friends.

Prince Albert of Monaco had two secret lovers

The son of Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly (the latter of whom ditched Hollywood to wed royalty), Prince Albert of Monaco is no stranger to a royal scandal. Soon after ascending the throne following his dad's death, the prince acknowledged having fathered a daughter, Jazmin, with Tamara Rotolo, a waitress he met in 1991, per CBS News. He kept the fleeting affair under wraps until 2006, when suspicions arose that he was harboring a secret love child. 

Taking a page out of her tight-lipped father's book, Jazmin told Harper's Bazaar that, upon discovering that she was Albert's daughter, she kept her royal heritage a secret from her classmates at school, hoping to retain a semblance of normality. "I was 14, getting ready to go to high school, when it hit the media that my father had a daughter, and it was me," she recalled.

But Tamara wasn't the prince's only secret dalliance. He also had an affair with Nicole Coste, a flight attendant. The lovers met in 1997 and managed to keep their relationship a secret for five years. It wasn't until 2005 that details of the affair were made public, when Paris-Match magazine revealed that Albert had fathered a son, Alexandre, with Nicole. The prince sued the magazine for publishing the story despite him urging its owner not to. He won the case and was awarded $68,000, a ruling that was later deemed a violation of freedom of expression by the European Court of Human Rights, per the BBC.

Prince Philip was allegedly in love with Daphne du Maurier

Prince Philip stood dutifully by Queen Elizabeth II's side for 73 years, until his death in 2021. When the queen died the following year, many deemed it a symbolic testament to her love for Philip. Despite their seemingly picture-perfect marriage, Philip allegedly had a secret lover. And his devotion to this supposed lover meant that he almost didn't marry Elizabeth.

According to Ingrid Seward's book "Prince Philip Revealed," Philip was in love with the author Daphne du Maurier, best known for her works "Rebecca" and "The Birds" (both of which were adapted into Hitchcock films). Although du Maurier allegedly inflamed Philip's crush by posing topless in front of him, the pair's bond was apparently platonic, but an intense emotional affair nonetheless. Seward claims that Philip yearned for du Maurier, to the point that he was supposedly doubtful about marrying Elizabeth, begging his platonic paramour to let him stay with her when the big day approached. "Not on your life," came du Maurier's blunt response. "For a start I am fourteen years older than you. Second, I am married and third, your country needs you. Get on that train."

Discussing Philip's relationship with du Maurier, Seward told the Mayfair Times that she doesn't rule out the possibility that the twosome were physically intimate. "It's quite possible," she said. "I don't think Daphne du Maurier was a shrinking violet. Her husband worked for Philip... and Philip admired du Maurier for her strength. He likes very strong women."

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia hid his lady love from the public

King Fahd was the ruler of Saudi Arabia until his death in 2005. Polygyny is legal in Saudi Arabia and, as such, the royal was married multiple times. But he hid one of his wives from the public.

When she was 20, Palestinian Christian Janan Harb met 45-year-old King Fahd, who quickly became besotted with her, per The Times. Fahd began wooing Harb, sending her $20,000, diamond-encrusted jewelry, and treating her to opulent meals. But she rejected his advances, objecting to sex out of wedlock. Subsequently, he asked for her hand in marriage. "He said that he wanted to marry me but it would have to be done secretly, I would have to convert to Islam and there would be no children," she recalled. In 1968, the couple wed discreetly, due to Harb's Christian faith (Saudi royals are forbidden from marrying non-Muslims).

However, the couple soon began experiencing marital problems due to the constraints of their religious differences. The king refused to father a half-Palestinian child and forced Harb to have an abortion. Two years later, she was banished from the Saudi kingdom. Following the king's death and after decades of secrecy, Harb came forward with her story and said that her late husband had promised to provide for her for the rest of her life, per The Guardian. Subsequently, she won a pay-out of over $20 million from Fahd's son, Prince Abdul Aziz. However, Abdul successfully appealed the decision in 2016.

Prince William allegedly was in a love triangle in college

In his college days, Prince William was allegedly quite the lothario, to the point that his sexcapades have become the stuff of legend. Although he fell in love with and ultimately married Kate Middleton, there was another woman who apparently came between the couple during those early courting days.

During his first year at the University of St. Andrews in 2001, William formed a close bond with Middleton. However, his eye soon wandered elsewhere — to the striking Carly Massy-Birch, per the book "William and Harry," an excerpt of which was published by Vanity Fair. The two began dating, but the prince wanted to keep the romance a secret; as such, the press didn't find out about the relationship until many years later. The following year, Williams returned to Kate, apparently after seeing her pose in her underwear at a student fashion show, where he exclaimed to a pal, "Wow, Fergus, Kate's hot!"

But Massy-Birch remained a ghost in Wills and Kate's relationship. According to the book "The Making of a Royal Romance" (via Express), a shady Massy-Birch taunted Kate during a college game of "never have I ever." "When it was Carly's turn to play she announced, 'I've never dated two people in this room,' knowing full well that William was the only one who had because Kate was sitting next to him," an onlooker claimed. Thereafter, Middleton allegedly called off her friendship with her beau's ex.

Prince Andrew's affair with Koo Stark was mired in controversy

Due to his shady ties to Jeffrey Epstein and questionable finances, Prince Andrew remains the most controversial royal. But his indiscretions generated headlines long before that disastrous Newsnight interview.

Back in the '80s, Andrew dated American actor Koo Stark, who had appeared in a number of risqué nude roles. Due to the moral code of the era, the pair attempted to keep their romance a secret, per the New York Post. But following Andrew's service in the Falklands War, tabloids inevitably caught on to the relationship. "He was a Royal romantic hero – so, everyone wanted to know, who was his girlfriend?" Stark told the Daily Mail. "All hell broke loose. Before we attracted any media interest, we'd enjoyed a wonderful period of grace. We used to be able to walk around London without much attention... After the screaming headlines began, our lives were consumed by the fabricated scandals." Despite the media frenzy, Andrew and Stark tried their best to keep their relationship low-key, before calling it quits in 1983.

Following the allegations that Andrew was a close confidant of Epstein and used the financier to procure and abuse young girls, Stark defended her ex. "My view is clear: I believe him to be a good man," she told the Mail. Insisting that her former lover is innocent, she claimed that the sexual misconduct allegations levied against Andrew triggered painful memories of the media attention the couple received in the '80s.

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).

Fergie, John Bryan, and those scandalous snaps

Like husband, like wife. Prince Andrew may have been involved in some alleged royal impropriety, but so has his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson. In 1992, Fergie was found in a compromising position with her extramarital lover.

In an infamous snap, a topless, sunbathing Fergie was caught having her toes sucked by John Bryan, ostensibly her financial adviser though in fact her secret lover. The photo was the catalyst for the breakdown of her marriage, exacerbating the queen's aforementioned annus horribilis. Appalled by Ferguson's behavior, Princess Margaret wrote her a scathing letter. "You have done more to bring shame on the family than could ever have been imagined," Margaret wrote, per The Telegraph. "Not once have you hung your head in embarrassment even for a minute after those disgraceful photographs."

In an interview with the Daily Mail thirty years after the scandal erupted, Bryan gave a decidedly different — and family-friendly — account of what really went down during that fateful day at the beach. "Yes, Sarah was topless, but this was the South of France for heaven's sake," he said. "And we were in private – or so we thought." According to Bryan, he was simply playing Cinderella with Fergie's kids, and the game entailed a segment entitled "let's kiss Mummy's toes." "It was part of the game," he insisted. "I did it first and then I think one of the girls, probably Beatrice, did it. It was totally innocent; a beautiful family moment of love."

Mark Phillips had a secret New Zealand lover

Princess Anne may have been accused of having an extramarital affair with her bodyguard, but her husband, Captain Mark Phillips, was reportedly no innocent bystander. In 1991, it was revealed that Phillips also had a secret lover: New Zealand teacher Heather Tonkin. Even more scandalous came the news that he had fathered a love child with her.

According to the Daily Mail, Tonkin fell pregnant after getting intimate with Phillips, whom she had met briefly in Auckland, in 1984. When she told Phillips that she was expecting his child, he allegedly urged her to have an abortion, though she refused. Subsequently, she gave birth to their daughter, Felicity. For many years, Phillips denied fathering Felicity and ordered his erstwhile lover to keep quiet about their rendezvous. However, he was forced to admit paternity when Tonkin threatened legal action. Accordingly, he paid out £350,000 ($427,000) to Tonkin. These days, Phillips' daughter leads a quiet life in New Zealand with her son and husband, incidentally a British expat.

In an unusual twist, the scandal was apparently welcome news for Anne, who had been wanting a divorce for some time. "This is all the excuse she needed to get Mark out of Gatcombe," a source dished to People (via Express). "Mark has had it... Anne's hand will be strengthened significantly." Anne was granted a divorce in 1992 and went on to marry her second husband, naval officer Timothy Laurence, that year.