What's come out about Prince William's cheating scandal

Since Kate Middleton met Prince William while studying at the University of St. Andrews, the Duchess of Cambridge has seen nary a scandal. The biggest controversy Middleton ever drummed up was during the brief period where her and Wills split. She allegedly got drunk on white wine, wore Playboy bunny ears to a nightclub, and fell down while roller skating in a gaudy, sequined halter top. Basically, she was doing normal breakup stuff.

As the kind of woman who poses in heels directly after giving birth, it's pretty safe to say that whatever scandal would eventually envelope the royal couple wouldn't come from her end — and she'd smile gracefully through it. That's exactly what ended up happening when In Touch floated a cover story claiming that Prince William had cheated on the duchess with her friend Rose Hanbury.

Middleton found herself navigating similar cheating rumors to those that Princess Diana faced decades before her, but this time the rumors were oddly thin. They came from a single American tabloid and were left virtually untouched by the British media. Somehow, they still went absolutely viral, and it wasn't long before Prince William was trending worldwide.

The big question that remains is where exactly the rumors came from. On the surface, it looks like the whole thing started with a bizarre, unsubstantiated girl fight and snowballed into the ultimate betrayal.

Who is Rose Hanbury?

To fully understand what's going on with the salacious royal rumors du jour, it's important to understand who Kate's "rural rival" Rose Hanbury actually is. According to The Sun, Hanbury is the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, which is, for some inexplicably British reason, pronounced "Chumley." How do so many silent letters exist in a word? According to The Cut, a Marchioness is the wife of a Marquess, which is an aristocratic title ranking slightly below Duke. In other words, if the rumors are true, Hanbury indeed punched up — but how close is she actually to Middleton?

Hanbury is part of Kate and Wills' Norfolk friends group dubbed the "Turnip Toffs." The Toffs are basically the UK real-life reboot of Dynasty based on their sheer amount of wealth and drama potential. Hanbury is a former model who made headlines for posing in a bikini next to former prime minister Tony Blair. Her husband David Rock­savage, an Eton-educated former filmmaker 23 years her senior, inherited an estate worth an estimated £112 million. They're mega-rich and have floated closely in royal circles for generations. Hanbury's grandmother was a bridesmaid at the Queen's wedding, and Hanbury herself was voted best-dressed at Kate and Wills' royal nuptials.

According to The Sun, the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley live in a 106-room mansion three-and-a-half miles away from Kate and Wills' Anmer Hall residence, and their kids are playmates. Does a stronger bond exist between parents of high society?

Middleton and Hanbury reportedly had an epic falling-out

According to The Daily Beast in April 2019, rumors of a royal affair had been floating around for the better part of a year, but the first whiff that something wasn't quite right with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerged in a report from the Daily Mail that claimed Middleton saw Hanbury as her "rural rival."

A similar sentiment was echoed days later in The Sun. The tabloid claimed the Duchess of Cambridge wanted Hanbury "phased out" of their friends group following a massive falling out, and Prince William was trying to mediate the situation. Think of all those posh double dates he'd miss out on as his unequivocally cooler little brother was hanging out with Hollywood celebs. Still, the reason for the alleged spat was wholly unclear.

Since 2018, Middleton and Prince William have worked their way around quite a few rumors of alleged in-fighting. Mostly, the tabloids have incessantly focused on Kate's relationship with sister-in-law Meghan Markle. Some reports claimed the royal couple wanted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex out of England so they could remain in the spotlight. Others alleged (the likely non-existent) royal rift was squashed on Easter with a "peace offering." This time around, reports of Middleton's girl fight have been notably thin. According to The Daily Beast, not a single publication could explain specifically what happened, if it even happened at all.

William raised suspicion by nixing royal protocol

History is not on Prince William's side. His father, Prince Charles, found himself embroiled in a similar scandal — one that actually happened — when his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles rocked headlines while he was still married to Princess Diana. Today, Parker-Bowles is the Duchess of Cornwall, but history doesn't always repeat itself as much as the tabloids would hope that it did. While Hanbury might have been crowned best-dressed at the royal wedding, there's no real evidence she was vying for the actual crown. So, why did Prince William allegedly act so weird about it?

A rumor with virtually no evidence should be the kind of thing Wills and Kate can laugh about over Sunday night Yorkshire puddings. They've got to be used to it. According to The Daily Beast, it's even official royal protocol to ignore untrue stories at absolutely all costs, but Wills flipped the script much like when Meghan Markle shut her own car door. The Daily Mail reported that Prince William allegedly considered legal action before news of the supposed affair was even brought into the mix. So, could his reaction mean there was something actually there? Why else would he care?

The Daily Beast reported that Prince William did follow through with legal action eventually. He allegedly sent at least one legal warning to a publication that circulated rumors about the affair.

The first mainstream report of the affair

Though affair rumors have been in the subtext of some smaller blogs and British tabloids, In Touch became the first mainstream magazine to publish a report on Wills' alleged romp with his Turnip Toff pal. According to The Daily Beast, the report claimed Prince William did the deed while Middleton was pregnant with their third child — a slap in the face for someone who was already a doting mother of two and had waited seven years for her royal title. Not to mention, the alleged affair, had it happened, could have served as the unsettling, overwhelming proof that we all become our parents (at least if it's true, which courtiers who spoke to the The Daily Beast claim is not the case).

According to In Touch (via The Daily Beast), Middleton "immediately confronted" Wills when she heard about the rumors and "ordered" him to "stop socializing with the Cholmondeleys," hence the previously reported fall-out. Since then, her trust in her royal husband has allegedly wavered. The news apparently "rocked the palace and their marriage."

Kensington Palace didn't comment on the rumors, following typical royal protocol, but it's no secret that In Touch has a complicated relationship with credibility. According to The New York Times, In Touch runs a false story about Jennifer Aniston being pregnant several times a year — and that's just one celeb.

A prominent reporter confirmed the rumors on Twitter

If there's one thing that gave the rumors of the royal affair wings, it was when Giles Coren, a staff writer at The Times of London, confirmed the reports on Twitter. According to Parade, Coren tweeted, "It is an affair. I haven't read the piece but I know about the affair. Everyone knows about the affair, darling." He swiftly deleted the tweet, but Parade claims other well-connected sources have been backing up the claims.

Still, Coren might not be the most reliable narrator in this instance. The journalist has a habit of stirring up controversy, and it's not unusual for him to pen a reportedly racist restaurant review or make an ill-advised joke. One Vice writer claimed the columnist "basically gets paid to swill scotch around a glass and say the most f***ed up thing he can think of." A devastating rumor surrounding two of Britain's most beloved icons seems about right then.

Other than Coren, almost no mainstream British tabloids have perpetuated the rumors (though, the Daily Mail did shut them down). This could be because of Britain's strict libel laws and William and Harry's recent propensity to actually go after publications. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once won $115,000 after taking a French magazine to court over topless, sunbathing photos. Harry, on the other hand, wound up getting a retraction from The Daily Star after they published a report about rumors of an affair with Pippa Middleton in 2016.

William reportedly laughed off the rumors

Here comes the side of the story that seems most plausible — at least for aristocracy who are rarely caught even so much as frowning at each other in public. According to the In Touch story (via The Daily Beast), Prince William wasn't too bent out of shape about the rumors even if his wife might have been annoyed. The Duke of Cambridge reportedly actually did laugh off the headlines "saying there was nothing to it" when Middleton brought it up. Hollywood Life reported that Middleton doesn't believe the rumors, but it still hurts her to hear them. The royals are human. Who would have thought?

Though William and Kate might not be sweating their marriage — despite the bold-faced In Touch cover — the pair are worrying about the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. She is, after all, not exactly used to the kind of insidious fame afforded to alleged, high-profile homewreckers. We saw it with the the Duchess of Cornwall, who claimed she could barely leave her house when news of her affair hit headlines, and that could be the very reason the Duke and Duchess are concerned.

According to Hollywood Life, Hanbury is "not used to this kind of public scrutiny," so the royal couple are "very concerned" for her well being, especially because she's such a close family friend.

Meghan Markle has been by Middleton's side

The alleged feud between Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton has been a tabloid favorite for a while now. It started with a March 2018 comment from Vanity Fair's royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, who told InStyle the royals weren't close friends but weren't fighting. It was also the first time someone highlighted the differences between the two duchesses, which became a major focus in the tabloid stories that followed. By November 2018, the floodgates were open and the royal rift became a thing of tabloid infamy, though Middleton tried to squash it by saying she was excited for Markle's baby later that month.

These days, it seems like whatever rift the two duchesses might have is not as big as the rift that's allegedly between Middleton and the Marchioness of Cholmondeley. According to Hollywood Life, Markle has been supporting her sister-in-law through the cheating rumors even though she was busy preparing for the arrival of her firstborn.

"She's loyal so of course she's sticking by her family during this tough time for them," a source told the rag.

That other Prince William scandal...

Perhaps the reason the affair rumors hit the tabloids with such fervor was because Prince William has been caught in a morally questionable position at least one time before. A video captured by British tourists in 2017 reportedly depicted Wills gyrating on Australian model Sophie Taylor and flirting with another woman.

According to The Sun, the incident occurred during a lads' ski holiday in Switzerland. Wills was allegedly "dancing so wildly" that one onlooker didn't believe it was even him (dancing is an apparent scandal in both the world of Footloose and British royalty). While that might have only warranted an eye-roll from the Duchess of Cambridge, Wills happened to be "dirty dancing" with not one, but two different women. He reportedly put his hands on the waist of one of them and "flirtatiously" stole the cowboy hat of the other, who was thought to be Taylor. During the club excursion, Taylor reportedly performed a dance move called "the Sl*t Drop" (because that's apparently a thing). Onlookers were allegedly "astonished" by the Prince's behavior, apparently forgetting that his brother once wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party.

Vanity Fair royal expert Katie Nicholl told the tabloid, "It's safe to assume that Kate will be far from happy about this." The pair apparently managed to work through the incident, and Middleton announced her third pregnancy a year later.

Happy anniversary?

Prince William's cheating rumors couldn't have come at a worse time for the couple, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary on April 29, 2019. To honor the big day, Kensington Palace shared a tweet with some photos of the pair's 2011 Westminster Abbey wedding, a seeming denial of the cheating allegations though they didn't officially comment on them. Needless to say, the Internet went wild in response. Cue the onslaught of memes.

Through the gifs of Beyoncé laughing and that guy blinking his eyes repeatedly while looking totally perplexed, some users mused whether or not Kensington Palace was joking (which isn't something the royal family is known for). Others thought it was "too soon" to post wedding photos following In Touch's report. Really, they kind of walked into this one.

Tabloid fodder and jokes aside, Kate Middleton got a huge anniversary gift from Queen Elizabeth II. Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen made the duchess a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. If you're unfamiliar with the title, Today reports that it's basically the female equivalent of being made a knight. As a result of her new honor, she gets to wear a blue sash to formal events to let everyone know she's a total boss — scandal or not.