(CNN Spanish) — In the more than 70 years of reign of Elizabeth II, who died this Thursday, the British family played out numerous scandals: from the refusal to marry Princess Margaret to a divorced man in the 1950s to the allegations of sexual abuse against Prince Andrew, we review here some of the episodes that marked the royals.
Princess Margaret and a love that cannot be
Princess Margaret, sister of Elizabeth II, and Peter Townsend met when she was just 14 years old and he was interviewed by then-King George VI for a position at court as a horseman. The romance blossomed but remained a secret within the royal family. When it became clear in 1953 that the couple wanted to marry, the Queen asked them to wait a year, perhaps in the hope that the passion would die down. What was the problem? Townsend was divorced.
When word of a possible marriage emerged, the Queen’s private secretary warned her to send him away, and she reluctantly agreed. He was appointed air attaché in Brussels for two years, but exile did not stop the romance.
The Council of Ministers strongly opposed the match, and decided that if the Princess insisted on continuing, a bill would be introduced to deprive her of all her rights, privileges, and benefits.
On October 31, 1955, after talks with Townsend and the Archbishop of Canterbury, he issued a statement that will go down in history: “I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Captain Peter Townsend. Knowing that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and out of my duty to the Commonwealth, I decided to put these considerations first.”
“We had reached the end of the road,” Townsend wrote at the time. “Our feelings for each other hadn’t changed, but they were such a burden on us that we decided together to leave her.”
Ironically, within a generation divorce was accepted in the royal family: Margaret herself divorced in 1978.
Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s controversial ex-wife
Sarah Ferguson met Prince Andrew at a party at Windsor Castle in 1985 and a year later, after a very public courtship, they married. At the time, Andres, a handsome Royal Navy pilot, was sort of bon vivant and a regular party-goer at the time, earning him nicknames such as “The Playboy Prince” in the tabloid press.
Their lavish wedding at Westminster Abbey was followed two years later by the birth of their first daughter, Beatrice. Their second daughter, Eugenie, was born in 1990.
Ferguson was initially very popular in the British media for his open and boisterous style. As time went on, and with a husband who was often in the Navy, she began to feel increasingly unhappy and struggled with the constant media attention.
She devoted herself to charity work and began work on a series of children’s books, but newspaper headlines began to turn negative, with reports of financial problems and accusations of her relationship with male friends, particularly adviser financier John Bryan.
In 1992, British media published pictures of Brian allegedly sucking the Duchess’s toes. The scandal effectively ended their marriage.
In 1995, the BBC reported that “Fergie,” as she is known to the press, had run up debts of more than 4 million pounds ($5.76 million). This prompted the Queen to take the unusual step of publicly closing her portfolio for her daughter-in-law.
The following year, the Duchess lost her title when her divorce from Prince Andrew became official.
“There were three of us in this marriage, it was a bit crowded”: Diana, Carlos and Camila
In 1995, Buckingham was thrown into deep crisis after the adored Princess Diana made an explosive statement in an interview with the BBC about her marriage to Prince Charles and his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he would later marry.
“There were three of us in this marriage, it was a crowd,” Diana told journalist Martin Bashir when asked if she thought Parker Bowles was a factor in the break-up of their marriage, unleashing an earthquake in British public life.
By then, Diana and Carlos had been separated for three years, but the interview would hasten their divorce. In this conversation, Diana also spoke openly for 50 minutes about her relationship with James Hewitt, her battle with bulimia, her role in the royal family and her mental health.
The interview caught the royal family by surprise, according to Charles Anson, the Queen’s press secretary at the time. “There wasn’t much to say,” he told CNN.
In that interview, she said that although she realizes she won’t be queen, she hopes she can be the “queen of hearts” of the British people.
(The interview, incidentally, returned to the center of debate recently after it was confirmed that the BBC journalist had used fraudulent methods to get Lady Dee to agree to give the interview and that the network had covered it up.)
Buckingham under scrutiny after Diana’s death
A year after the interview, when her divorce from Prince Charles was finalized, Diana died in a car accident while on holiday in France with her then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed.
After TV shows began reporting the deadly incident, the royal family issued a brief statement saying they were “deeply shocked and alarmed” by the news. But “to the affected populace it seemed like nothing,” historian Kate Williams recalls in The Windsors.
As the hours ticked by and as the ever-reserved Britons fell into open mourning, all eyes were on Buckingham Palace for a bigger gesture or statement to spark a relationship, just as Diana knew how to do.
Finally, before the funeral, the Queen said that Diana was an “exceptional and talented human being”.
Harry in Nazi uniform at a party
In his adolescence and early youth, Prince Harry was at the center of several public scandals. The most famous was perhaps in 2015, when in The sun posted a picture of the prince in beige trousers and a short-sleeved shirt with a red Nazi badge on his left arm, the outfit he had chosen to attend a party.
Criticism quickly mounted from lawmakers and Jewish groups in the UK and abroad. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said it was “unforgivable for a member of the royal family to do this” and called Harry’s action “a disgrace to England”. “I think you should join the British delegation going to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” he told CNN.
The prince then admitted he had made a bad decision and apologized: “I’m very sorry if I caused anything offensive.”
Three years ago, when he was 17, his father sent him to a rehab clinic to warn him about the dangers of drugs after discovering he had been smoking marijuana and allegedly drinking alcohol.
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein
One of the worst scandals the Queen faced in her last years was the allegations against Prince Andrew over his relationship with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
At the center of the allegations was Virginia Giuffre, who claimed that Epstein trafficked her and forced her to perform sexual acts with his friends, including Prince Andrew, when she was 17 years old. She also said the royal knew she was a minor in the United States at the time.
In 2019, Andres gave a widely criticized BBC interview in which, although he denied having sex with Giuffre, he said he had no regrets. his relationship with Epstein and no expressed no sympathy for the disgraced banker’s victims. Days later, he had to withdraw.
He then announced that he was retiring from public duties, but that was far from the end of the controversy. For three years, and with a civil suit brought by Giuffre that was eventually settled, he was stripped of his military titles and charities. The queen also stripped him of his status as “her royal highness”: he went into permanent exile. He had to, in the words of CNN correspondents Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, “let things flow.”
Harry and Meghan’s ‘coming out’, the start of a cycle of painful revelations
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, decided to leave their royal duties at the beginning of 2020. Only a year later, they finalized the agreement with the family: they will not be active and active members and will have their honorary military appointments are royal sponsorships also cancelled.
This decision became known in February, but the real bomb that will explode before the eyes of the royal family happened a month later, when Harry Meghan, already released from his royal ties, gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey.
In the interview, the Duchess of Sussex said that at one point her life as a British royal was so isolated and lonely that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore”.
Meghan claims she was forced to suppress her outspoken nature and give up her personal freedom. He said he did not have access to his passport, driving license or keys after joining the royal family and they were only returned to him when the couple moved.
The Duchess of Sussex, who currently lives in the United States with Prince Harry, said the situation was made worse by the often racist “old-fashioned colonial undertones” that repeatedly appeared in coverage of the couple in the notoriously scathing British press.
And he claims there have been several “concerns and conversations within the royal family about how dark (his son Archie’s) skin might be when he’s born”.
The prince, who is sixth in line to the throne, said in turn that there was a culture of silent suffering within the royal family. But Meghan’s race (she’s half black) and the abuse she’s endured have made the situation even more difficult for the couple than it has been for other royals.
Harry claims this prompted him to discuss the matter with the royal family. He told Winfrey he believes there are many opportunities for the palace to “show public support” amid continued racist abuse in the press. “However, no one in my family said anything. It hurts me.”
After the interview, which sparked another storm in Buckingham, the royal family said they were “saddened” to learn how challenging the past few years have been for Harry and Meghan, calling the allegations of racism “disturbing”.
The selection was made by Angela Reyes based on reports from Rob Pichetta, Max Foster, Zamira Rahim, Claudia Rebaza, Brianna Hare, David Wilkinson, Alexis Benveniste and Paul Armstrong.