Royal Family Members That Are Nothing Like They Seem

The British royal family is synonymous with dignity, nobility, and decorum. Without a doubt, the many members of the regal clan enjoy the innumerable perks that come with being central to a grandiose institution, one that reflects the quintessential image of Great Britain. The pomp and pageantry of the various ceremonies the royals participate in, which have been enacted since the very formation of the esteemed institution, regale spectators, who flock from all over the world to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

But throughout the years, the royal family has been rocked by numerous scandals and misfortunes. From the tragedy of Princess Diana to the recent horrifying revelations regarding Prince Andrew, many of the family's key players are far from what they seem. How these individuals appear in public and how they conduct themselves in their personal lives are often diametrically opposed. Although a private family, every so often all it takes is a slip of the tongue or a kiss-and-tell story to resonate the truth of the secretive Firm.

To delve into the true personas of the royal family members is to unlock a box of secrets, with tales of inspiration, personal sacrifice, and shocking deceit. Some royals develop pristine reputations that are completely antithetical to who they really are. Meanwhile, others are derided and viewed as unsavory characters, while actually being nothing of the sort. Keep reading to find out which royal family members are nothing like they seem.

Queen Elizabeth: an auto mechanic with a wild sense of humor

Elizabeth II may appear passive and dutiful, but she's actually one Killer Queen. During WWII, she worked as an auto mechanic. As noted by the National WWII Museum, the then-teen Princess put her gown aside and trained as a servicewoman to help the war effort, leading to her being dubbed "Princess Auto Mechanic." To date, she is the only woman in the royal family to have ever served in the armed forces, per The Washington Post.

When the war came to an end, the queen did what many teens would do: she snuck out of the house to celebrate VE Day on the bustling streets of London, going incognito with her sister Margaret. "I think it was one of the most memorable nights of my life," she recalled in a 1985 BBC Radio 4 interview (via Evening Standard).

And forget any notions of Elizabeth being a stuffy old royal; she has a wicked sense of humor. Royal author Adam Helliker told The Sun about an instance in which the Queen tickled ribs when hosting Charles and Yvonne de Gaulle. "A guest asked Madame de Gaulle what she was most looking forward to in her retirement, which was imminent," Helliker began. "With great elaboration (as she didn't speak much English) she replied: 'A penis.' An awkward silence ensued for some time, until the Queen herself came to the rescue, and she said with a broad grin: 'Ah, happiness.'" Liz making penis jokes? Slay, queen!

Prince Charles allegedly cheated on Diana and was allegedly verbally abusive

Prince Charles loves to portray himself as a devoted conservationist and climate action advocate. He was also praised for condemning the U.K.'s role in imperialism in 2021. However, his compassionate pursuits, while admirable, cannot shield him from criticism. For instance, his aforementioned anti-slavery remarks were sullied by allegations that he was in fact the person who questioned whether his grandson Archie would have dark skin. In his book "Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan," royal author Christopher Andersen named Charles as the person who uttered the racist remark, though the Prince of Wales firmly denies this, per Page Six.

Charles apparently cheated on Lady Di with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles (read the Esquire transcript of their toe-curling phone sex conversation at your own peril, including one particularly graphic tampon metaphor) and pretty much admitted that he never really loved his sadly departed ex-wife. During a 1981 interview in which the newly engaged couple was asked whether they were in love, Diana replied, "Of course," while Charles coldly uttered, "Whatever love means."

Moreover, he allegedly contributed to Diana's eating disorder by making fatphobic jibes about her weight mere days into the couple's engagement. As the Princess recalled in a recording, "Bulimia started the week after we got engaged. 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."

If you are struggling 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).

Despite his mishaps, Prince Philip supported progressive causes

Prince Philip, who died in 2021, was notorious for his numerous offensive gaffes, per CNN, which remain a damning reminder of Britain's colonial past. But beneath Philip's politically incorrect exterior lay a complex man who, surprisingly, championed various causes.

During World War II, 83% of Greece's Jews were murdered by the Nazis, though Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, managed to save an entire Greek-Jewish family from the Holocaust, per The Guardian. Following in his mother's footsteps, Philip was a passionate ally of the Jewish people. As noted by The Times of Israel, Philip became the first royal to visit Israel when he attended a ceremony honoring his mom and often gave speeches at Jewish events. "The Holocaust was the most horrific event in all Jewish history, and it will remain in the memory of all future generations," he said in 1994, per The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

Moreover, while what CNN described as his "casual racism" made him seem like a relic of the past, the Duke of Edinburgh was woke in some respects. He was, in fact, a staunch environmentalist and spoke passionately about climate action. "If we've got this extraordinary diversity on this globe it seems awfully silly for us to destroy it," he told the BBC. "All these other creatures have an equal right to exist here, we have no prior rights to the Earth than anybody else and if they're here let's give them a chance to survive."

Prince Harry is ridiculed for being stupid, but he's highly articulate

Much has been made of Prince Harry's intellect or supposed lack thereof. In the British satirical sitcom "The Windsors," Harry is depicted as an illiterate prince whose favorite reading material consists of children's coloring books. These myths largely stem from his less than impressive performance at school, but Harry proves that one doesn't need a college degree to be intelligent. 

Since leaving royal duties behind, Harry has given numerous inspiring speeches and interviews, showcasing his undeniable eloquence. In particular, his insight into bullying during Dax Shepard's "Armchair Expert" podcast attracted immense praise. "Hatred is a form of projection –- we're not born to hate people," he told Shepard. "It manifests itself over a period of time, and of course it can come from unresolved pain ... but ultimately, there's a source to it." When dealing with internet trolls, Harry revealed that he thinks about what might be spurring their bad behavior and tries to "have some compassion for them." 

Moreover, interviewing BLM activist Patrick Hutchison for GQ, Harry was brave enough to acknowledge both his race and class privileges. "Unconscious bias, from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was. ... And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realise it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife's shoes," Harry revealed.

Is Prince William a secret bad boy?

While his little brother is often viewed as the black sheep of the family (Remember that apology for sporting a Nazi costume?), Prince William is largely seen as the upstanding royal who can do no wrong. But is he really Prince Charming? Allegations of infidelity have haunted him for years, with Rose Hanbury having long been rumored to be his mistress. 

In 2019, In Touch (via The Daily Beast) published an exposé on the pair's alleged affair. Hanbury and Kate Middleton had actually been close pals, but a source told the mag that they had a major falling out in the wake of cheating rumors. "They come across as a perfect couple who can do no wrong," the insider claimed. "But the reality is, most couples have their issues and William and Kate are no different." The Daily Beast reports that the palace denied the allegations and attempted to suppress the British tabloids from reporting them. It seems that these attempts were largely successful, with many publications merely alluding to a falling out between Middleton and Hanbury. Where there's a Will, there's a way.

Per "William and Kate: A Royal Love Story," William's alleged bad boy behavior doesn't end there. Early on in their relationship, William and Kate were growing apart, which led a sullen Wills to allegedly grope a woman's breast at a nightclub. "I felt something brush my breast," the woman explained. "I thought it couldn't be the future king, but now that I've seen the picture, it's no wonder he's got a smile on his face!"

Prince Andrew lives a billionaire lifestyle, but he isn't that rich

It may appear that Prince Andrew is filthy rich, but that simply isn't the case. He lives the life of a billionaire, yet he receives around $360,000 a year, per The Sun. Although that's a substantial amount of dough, it's certainly not enough to explain the means of his billionaire swag, which includes yachts, a ski chalet worth around $17.3 million, swanky vehicles, and designer watches. So how exactly is he sustaining this life of luxury?

According to an investigation by the Daily Mail, Andrew's dodgy dealings with multimillionaire tycoon David Rowland may explain his mysterious wealth. During "official trade missions meant to promote UK business," the Prince allegedly ended up secretly "plugging a private Luxembourg-based bank for the super-rich, owned by Rowland and his family." But there's more to Andrew's shady dealings. His ex-wife was severely in debt at one point and it was partly paid off by convicted pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, per the Evening Standard.

Andrew was frequently photographed with Epstein, with whom he has admitted he was friends. During a disastrous Newsnight interview, Andrew addressed rumors that he sexually abused girls who had been trafficked by Epstein, claiming that one accuser was lying because he supposedly has a rare medical condition in which he cannot sweat. He also said that he "never [has] really partied." However, the Daily Mail published photos and videos of Andrew partying with women while "looking decidedly sweaty."

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).

Kate Middleton is so much more than a doting royal

Despite appearing like a compliant, dutiful royal wife, Kate Middleton has a surprising edge to her. According to Carol Lieberman, the Duchess was a party girl at university and loved donning skimpy outfits.

"Kate is a good girl that used bad girl techniques to get her prince," Lieberman told Radar Online, adding, "Then came the see-through dress! Kate wore it when she walked the catwalk in a fashion show and not surprisingly her mega-sexy get-up caught Prince William's eye. They started dating shortly afterwards, but he was kind of non-committal and spent a lot of time clubbing with his boys."

What's more, Middleton let out her inner mean girl when she allegedly made Meghan Markle cry. That's not so fetch, Kate. Speaking with Oprah (via ET), Meghan said that past notions that she had acted inappropriately towards the Duchess of Cambridge were a cover-up for the truth. The "Suits" star said it was in fact Middleton who reduced her to tears, claiming, "What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn't do, but that happened to me." During the lead-up to her big day, Meghan said that she and Middleton had a dispute, which "made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings." 

Perhaps the Duchess was preparing for her future role within the royal family by queening over Meghan. Either way, if Meg's claims are true, then Kate better "reign" in that snide behavior.

King Edward VIII the Nazi sympathizer

The man who would be king, but then wasn't. Edward VIII reigned for just 325 days before his brother George VI, Queen Elizabeth's father, took over in 1936. Famous for abdicating to be with the woman he loved, the American socialite Wallis Simpson, Edward was no admirable king of kings. It has now been revealed that he was a Nazi sympathizer who encouraged an adolescent Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret to do the Nazi salute.

The Sun first published footage of the queen and Margaret being taught how to perform the "Sieg heil" pose as children by their Uncle Edward. The Queen Mother can also be seen joining in with the shocking shenanigans. As The New York Times highlights, Edward actually met Hitler in 1937 and posed for a friendly snap with him. The publication notes that "the visit to Germany, a deep embarrassment to Edward's brother, King George VI, served to confirm Hitler's view that the Duke of Windsor was an advocate of the Nazi cause and could be of future use."

There was even a Nazi plot to try and bring Edward back on the throne, as reported by The Guardian. While his little brother George was soothing the nation during wartime with his inspiring speech, Edward was reportedly corresponding with the Nazis via problematic telegrams, which he later claimed were "complete fabrications." But if screenshots had existed back in the 1940s, perhaps the former King would have been swiftly canceled.

Zara Tindall is a down to earth royal

The Queen's granddaughter, Zara Tindall (née Phillips), may come across like a stuffy, pompous royal, but she's quite the opposite. The acclaimed equestrian has little concern for aristocratic airs and graces. Famously, she showcased her tongue piercing at the age of 17 and is also rumored to have had her belly button pierced, too. Truly, she was born with a silver, er, stud in her mouth.

She is married to Mike Tindall, a rugby player from a lower middle-class background. As Mike told Hello!, Zara is anything but a passive princess and her fiery temperament is just what he loves about her. "If something goes wrong –- say a parcel doesn't turn up –- I don't get angry. Even when I broke my leg, and couldn't play in the last World Cup, I accepted it," he explained. "Zara isn't like that. She's not scared of saying how she feels. But I wouldn't want a doormat."

The untitled royal is also pretty relatable when it comes to her meal of choice. Rather than indulge in caviar and champers, the equestrian celebrated winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics by eating at McDonald's, per The Argus. When queried about her daily routine by 1News, Tindall highlighted just how plain ordinary her life is. "Pretty normal. I mean, just getting up and training, doing the horses. Having Mia (her daughter), you know, it's great to be able to do them both so closely. It's a good lifestyle to have," she divulged.

Margaret was a hard partying, hard drinking Princess

With her elegant attire and graceful demeanor, the stunning Princess Margaret expertly played the part of a dignified royal in photo ops, but behind the scenes, she was highly troubled and led a turbulent life. A party girl, she gained a reputation for drinking hard and eventually developed health problems. When she was still a teen, the Princess began smoking. Her habit was exacerbated by her father's death in 1952, which was "also smoking-related," as reported by Wales Online.

Her party girl ways were largely shaped by the royal hierarchy, which placed Margaret firmly below her bethroned elder sis. "Margaret often felt that she was in Elizabeth's shadow," royal biographer Andrew Morton explained to Vanity Fair. "She was four years younger, and tried to make up for the age difference by wearing the same clothes and doing the same things as her older sister, but there was a hierarchy and Margaret always came behind the Queen."

As for her love life, she had the hots for a hunky writer, Roddy Llewllyn, who began dating Margaret when he was 26 and she was 43, as Llewllyn told The Telegraph. She is also rumored to have had an affair with rocker Mick Jagger. "She found him sexy and exciting. If you saw them laughing together, dancing, the way she'd put her hand on his knee and giggle at his stories like a schoolgirl, you'd have thought there was something going on," an insider told Jagger biographer Christopher Andersen, per the Daily Mail.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Princess Charlotte the mini rebel

Don't be fooled by her cherubic countenance: Princess Charlotte is a royal rebel in the making. On numerous occasions, the brazen youngster has pretty much told photographers, "IDGAF." From insulting reporters to being domineering over her brothers, Charlotte is no goody two shoes.

During her baby brother Louis' christening, she trolled the paps by telling them, "You're not coming," a hilarious dig captured by The Sun. Ouch! Making it clear just how much she really doesn't care for having her photo taken, Charlotte got super cheeky on another occasion. At a regatta charity event, she boldly stuck her tongue out at photographers, as her mom seemingly attempted to assuage the situation, per Express. Sticking her tongue out at the paps seems to be her modus operandi, as she also cheekily made the gesture at Harry and Meghan's wedding, while dressed in her angelic flower girl ensemble. We're surprised she didn't pair that dainty dress with combat boots.

On many occasions, she appears to dominate her big brother, George. As reported by ABC News, the queen admitted that Charlotte likes to boss George around. When chatting to a little girl at Sandringham, the child's mother revealed that her younger sister "looked after" her, to which the queen replied, "It's like that with Charlotte and George." Additionally, Kate Middleton has said that Charlotte is "the one in charge," per People. Considering the arguably sexist history of the royal family, maybe Charlotte has decided it's time to smash the patriarchy.

Princess Diana's surprising hobbies and interests

The disconnect between Lady Di's public and private life is truly astonishing. One of Princess Diana's most noble acts was her embrace of AIDS patients at a time when homophobic falsehoods surrounding the virus were shamefully widespread. 

Margaret Heagarty cared for children with AIDS in a New York hospital and recalled a poignant encounter between Diana and a patient. "She did it spontaneously," Heagarty told The New York Times. "But she also did the human thing. He was 5 or 6 years old, and she just picked him up and hugged him." Considering that there was so much misinformation disseminated about the disease during the '80s and '90s (many people erroneously thought they could catch the virus merely through being in the presence of a sufferer), Diana actually making physical contact with AIDS patients was testament not only to her compassionate nature but also to her commitment to causes deemed taboo for many parochial royals.

She also loved pop music. As DJ Pat Sharp told Entertainment Daily, "It's strange, but she just seemed like a pop fan, which you wouldn't expect her to be being a royal." Moreover, Diana enjoyed hanging out in gay clubs with her pal Freddie Mercury, according to the book "The Power of Positive Drinking" (via Tatler).

Additionally, her taste in food was equally plebeian (in the best way possible). In an interview with Marie Claire, the royal family's chef, Darren McGrady, revealed that Diana loved taking her sons to McDonald's.

Eugenie isn't the pampered princess she appears to be

Born into a life of wealth that others can only dream of, the Duke and Duchess of York's youngest daughter, Princess Eugenie, may appear toffee-nosed and obscenely privileged. But she has an altruistic side to her that is seldom seen. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she volunteered to help feed the homeless. Although some people believe that the Salvation Army is a problematic charity, per BBC News, she nevertheless teamed up with them for a noble cause. At the height of lockdown in 2020, she helped package deliveries for food banks. "We helped pack trolleys of food that are then taken and distributed to the Army's hugely important and much needed food banks that feed thousands across the UK," she wrote on Instagram below images of her volunteering in a high-vis jacket.

What's more, Eugenie's life has not been as easy as it may seem. She was diagnosed with scoliosis as a child and now campaigns for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust. "During my recent visit to the hospital's Stanmore site, where I was treated, I was reminded of how remarkable a place it is," she wrote in a blog post for the RNOH. "I met a young cancer patient who had had a bone removed from his leg and replaced with a 'bionic' prosthesis which grows at the same rate as his leg. This amazing technology was invented by specialists at the RNOH in 2003 and is now used all over the world."

Prince Michael of Kent and his dodgy deals

On the surface, Prince Michael of Kent, who is the queen's first cousin, seems like a respectable businessman. As his official website highlights, he gives money to numerous reputable charities and served his country in the armed forces.

But an exposé by The Times and Channel 4 Dispatches revealed that he is far from the man he presents to the public. According to the investigation, he was selling Kremlin access. Undercover reporters (under the guise of representing a fictitious organization) caught Michael in a compromising position whereby he claimed he could enable access to the higher echelons of the Kremlin. He then said that, for a fee of $200,000, he would give the bogus organization his royal seal of approval.

"I've been connected with Russia for a long time," Michael told the reporters, before his pal, the Marquess of Reading, interjected, "If I can say this ... We're talking relatively discreetly here because we wouldn't want the world to know that he is seeing Putin purely for business reasons, if you follow me." When a reporter mentioned that it seemed rather unusual that Michael is friendly with Putin, considering the U.K.'s strained relationship with Russia, the Marquess went on to claim that Putin "regards Prince Michael as a friend of Russia." 

Following the exposé, Michael staunchly denied that he had a close friendship with Putin, claiming that he hadn't met up with him in 18 years.