Queen Elizabeth II passed away at the age of 96, on September 8 at Balmoral in Scotland, sending the UK into a period of mourning. The longest-reigning queen of the UK was admired for having a calmness that embodied her country’s wartime motto, “Keep calm and carry on.”
However, Queen Elizabeth II’s life was not one without challenges. During the Queen’s record-long monarchy, which lasted from 1952 until her death in 2022, controversies involving Prince Charles, Meghan Markle, and others drew extra attention.
1. Princess Margaret: Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s younger sister, was at the centre of several scandals that rocked the monarchy at the outset of her reign. Margaret, a rebellious beauty, was forced to put off a prospective marriage to a dashing air force commander, Group Captain Peter Townsend, in 1955 because he was thought inappropriate as a divorced man, by the strict traditions of the time. Instead, she married Anthony Armstrong-Jones, a society photographer who took the title, Lord Snowdon. Unfortunately, that marriage ended, and it was followed by a relationship with Roddy Llewellyn, a landscape gardener who was younger than her by 18 years.
2. Elizabeth’s marriage with Prince Philip: Her decision to marry Greek Prince Philip also sparked debate. While Philip had operated with distinction in the British Royal Navy during WWII, he had sisters who were married to Nazi-supporting German aristocracy. As a result, his German family were not invited to their wedding. Queen Elizabeth was hounded by rumours of Prince Philip’s extramarital romances during early years of the wedding. While Philip was on a solo Commonwealth tour in 1957, his private secretary Mike Parker was forced to resign after his wife filed for divorce, sparking speculation about the queen’s husband himself.
3. Harry And Meghan: The royal family was thrown by surprise when the queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, and his American actress wife, Meghan Markle, resigned down from official duties in 2020 and relocated to North America. They left following an apparent dispute with Harry’s older brother William and his wife Kate. Relations deteriorated further after the couple gave a TV appearance to Oprah Winfrey in which they claimed prejudice among the royals and a rift with Harry’s father, Prince Charles.
4. Princess Diana and Camilla: During Queen Elizabeth’s reign, there was no greater scandal than the failed marriage of her eldest son Charles and his first wife Diana, as well as his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, with whom he had an affair and eventually married after Diana’s death. Charles and Diana’s wedding was followed by harsh headlines in tabloid media as their relationship crumbled at the end of the decade and into the 1990s. Their relationship was reported to be irreparable, and she was said to have suffered from eating disorders and attempted suicide. She famously remarked, in reference to Charles’ affair with Camilla, “there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” After their separation, Princess Diana revealed that she had an affair with military officer James Hewitt.
5. Prince Andrew: In 2011, his contact with Jeffrey Epstein became public three years after the American financier was convicted of child sex offences for the first time, causing Andrew to resign as Britain’s roving trade envoy. Virginia Giuffre claimed in court records four years later that she was forced to have sex with the prince when she was a child. Although Andrew disputed the allegations, they persisted.
Giuffre sued Andrew directly in 2021, alleging he had sexually abused and battered her. He was stripped of his military connections and the title “His Royal Highness” in January of the following year.
Andrew resolved the claim in February 2022 without admitting any guilt and agreeing to pay an unknown sum but avoiding the public humiliation of a trial.
6. Princess Diana’s Death: Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris in 1997 triggered worldwide mourning — but there was no comment from the queen. Queen Elizabeth stayed locked up in Balmoral for days, waiting to ultimately address the nation in a broadcast address, which is largely regarded as one of her biggest gaffes. During this chaotic period, the monarchy’s popularity plunged, but Queen Elizabeth’s unwavering presence gradually won back the population.
7. Queen Elizabeth’s Offshore accounts: The Queen reportedly has over $13 million invested in offshore accounts, according to media reports from November 2017. The “Paradise Papers” were leaked to a German publication, which then gave the information to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Even though the Duchy of Lancaster, which manages the queen’s finances, acknowledged that some of its investments were made in foreign accounts, it argued that they were all genuine.