'Tampon-gate' and six other British royal family scandals

It hasn’t been a good start to the New Year for the British royal family, as Prince Andrew,...

12.09 5 Jan 2015

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'Tampon-gate' and six other British royal family scandals


12.09 5 Jan 2015

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It hasn’t been a good start to the New Year for the British royal family, as Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has been forced to refute fresh allegations that he had sex with an underage girl.

30-year-old Virginia Roberts (then aged 17) claims she had three sexual encounters with Prince Andrew and was kept as a sex slave by convicted sex offender and American investment banker Jeffrey Epstein, a former friend of the duke.

Buckingham Palace has categorically denied the allegations but this isn’t the first time the Windsor family has been rocked by scandal over the years.


From a king who gave up power for a married American to a prince who dreamed of becoming a tampon one day (no, really), the British Royal family have been involved in some intriguing affairs.


We’ve become used to seeing Charles and Camilla carry out their duties at official functions with aplomb, but you’d be forgiven for being unable to shake off the memory of "Camilla-gate," aka "tampon-gate".

As the couple carried on a romantic relationship from the 1970s and into their marriages to other people, a flirty conversation between Camilla and Charles was caught on tape and published in 1992.

The tapes included an exchange in which Charles said he wanted to be Camilla's tampon:

Charles: "Oh god. I'll just live inside your trousers or something. It would be much easier!"

Camilla: (Laughs.) "What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers?" (Both laugh). "Oh, you're going to come back as a pair of knickers."

Charles: "Or, God forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck!" (Laughs.)

Camilla: "You are a complete idiot!" (Laughs.) "Oh, what a wonderful idea!"

Needless to say, it was mortifying for the royal family and Charles’s wife at the time Princess Diana, as well the heir to the throne and Camilla.

Lovechild for Captain Mark

Around 500 million watched in 1973 as Queen Elizabeth's only daughter, Princess Anne, married Lieutenant Mark Phillips. (Random fact: Anne's first boyfriend was Andrew Parker Bowles, who would become Camilla's ex-husband. Anne couldn't marry him, because he was Catholic.)

Mark went on to have an affair, fathering a child in 1985 with a New Zealand woman. In 1989, Anne and Mark separated, and they divorced in 1992. Later that year, Anne became the first royal divorcée to remarry since Henry VIII, as she married Commodore Timothy Laurence in front of 30 guests.

Perhaps hoping they'd have more normal lives, Anne's two children, Peter and Zara Phillips, do not carry titles - the first grandchildren of a reigning monarch to not do so in over 500 years.

Sisterly love

Princess Diana met her future husband, Prince Charles, at the age of 16 - when he was dating her older sister! You would think his prior romance with a Spencer sister would raise eyebrows, but after his royal relatives' penchant for divorcés, Charles found a socially suitable bride in the noble, virginal and English Diana.

No fairytale Princess

Princess Margaret was the younger and more laid-back sister of the future Queen Elizabeth and had a glamorous and controversial reputation.

Around the time of her sister's coronation, Margaret fell in love with a divorced man, Peter Townsend, who was 16 years her senior. The Church of England, the royal family, and the government made it clear she would have to give up her royal life if she chose to marry him - she ultimately decided not to.

Instead, she married photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, who became the Earl of Snowdon, but quickly the marriage collapsed amid rumours of affairs, drug use, and heavy drinking as well as questions about his sexuality.

When the princess was photographed with a young lover, her husband took it as a chance to divorce, playing the victim. It later came out that Lord Snowdown may have fathered a child months before their marriage.

Foot fetish

In August 1992, cameras caught Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, with her toes in the mouth of Texas businessman John Bryan. The princess had already announced her separation from Prince Andrew, but the embarrassing shot brought the royal family undignified attention.

Andrew and Sarah divorced in 1996, but she caused a scandal again in 2010, offering an undercover reporter access to the prince for £500,000.

An affair to remember

In a 1995 tell-all interview, Princess Diana admitted to her highly reported five-year affair with military man James Hewitt, whom she said she had loved. Following her death, he caused another scandal by trying to sell her love letters.

James was back in the news in 2011, admitting he contemplated suicide following the affair and denying rumours he could possibly be Harry's father, as his relationship with Diana started after Harry's birth.

What happens in Vegas...

In case you thought the younger generation of Royals was immune to scandal, Prince Harry hit the headlines in August 2012 after being pictured naked at a Las Vegas hotel room.

Two pictures of the then 27-year-old appeared on US website, showing Harry playing strip billiards with six young women. The 'Party Prince' was, at the time, enjoying a break in Sin City before heading off to serve in Afghanistan.

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