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Throughout history, a number of royal couples have been surrounded by controversy.
In 2020, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made headlines after they "stepped back" from royal life.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana faced scandal after scandal throughout their relationship.
Although it might seem like royal controversy is at an all-time high these days, it's not necessarily anything new.
Throughout history, Europe's royal families, in particular, have been plagued by scandals, controversy, and bad press. And in many of these situations, the scandals often revolved around love and relationships.
Read on for some of the most controversial royal couples of all time.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made headlines after they issued legal proceedings against British tabloids and later "stepped back" from royal life.
The couple wrote they would split their time between the United Kingdom and North America and that they planned to be financially independent.
This announcement was released after months of reports that the couple was actively distancing themselves from the monarchy. These rumors seemed to get even stronger after they spent Christmas in Canada with their son, Archie, instead of with the rest of the royal family.
Following this announcement, the queen seemed to imply she didn't approve of the couple's decision.
A statement from the royal communications office obtained by Insider reads, "Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through."
On the couple's website, the pair also stated that they would be changing their relationship with the media going forward.
This doesn't come as a surprise since months earlier, in October 2019, the couple spoke out against the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which published excerpts from a private letter that Markle had written to her father that year.
At the time, Prince Harry released a statement saying that the publication "strategically omitted select paragraphs" from the letter to manipulate its readers.
The Daily Mail previously issued a statement to Insider that denied that "the Duchess's letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning."
Although it's quite rare for the royal family to pursue legal action against media outlets, both Markle and Prince Harry issued legal proceedings against British tabloid owners in October 2019, filing claims that consist of things like misuse of private information.
In addition, Markle is a divorcée and an American, which has previously been viewed as scandalous or unfavorable in royal relationships from the past.
That said, she reportedly received the royal family's blessing to marry Prince Harry anyway — and is not the first divorcée nor the first American to marry into the royal family.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently sat down for a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey where they shared how their treatment by the royal family led them to step down from their positions.
Some of the biggest bombshells from the interview included unnamed members of the family expressing concerns about how dark Archie's skin would be when he was born and Markle being "silenced" and told never to comment on false reports in the media.
King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn's romance caused the entire United Kingdom to split from the Vatican.
At the beginning of King Henry VIII's reign in 1509, the British Crown showed no signs of wanting to leave Catholicism.
But when Henry VIII fell in love with his mistress Anne Boleyn, he made the unprecedented decision to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The Catholic Church does not recognize divorce, so Henry decided to create his own religion.
Forcing an entire nation to switch religions for your marriage is controversial enough, but Henry and Anne weren't done yet. He later beheaded his wife for reportedly cheating on him.
He went on to marry four more times.
Prince Andrew dated an erotic film actress in the 1980s.
Back in 1981, Queen Elizabeth's son Prince Andrew fell for Koo Stark, an American actress and photographer who'd done a few mildly provocative photoshoots and appeared nude on film.
Echoing early media reports about Meghan Markle's acting career, in which she's filmed sex scenes, the press treated Stark badly. When the media got wind of her past in "blue films," their relationship was treated like a major scandal.
According to a 1982 article in People magazine, Andrew even introduced Stark to the queen, and the palace had to issue a statement, saying: "We do not know if the Queen was aware of the girl's acting career before she was invited to Balmoral."
Despite the fact that they were serious about each other, their relationship ended after 18 months, and Prince Andrew went on to marry Sarah Ferguson.
Prince Andrew and Ferguson faced scandal after scandal.
Shortly after he and Stark broke up, Prince Andrew decided to settle down with someone who seemed like a more appropriate royal fit in the eyes of the public — Ferguson, a girl from the English countryside.
As it turned out, Andrew and Ferguson were ill-suited to each other, and the scandals and bad press they brought upon the Crown were almost too numerous to name.
One of the more shocking scandals was when she was caught on vacation having her toes sucked by her "financial planner," John Bryan, as she and Prince Andrew's young daughters played nearby.
In 2010, decades after their 1996 divorce, Ferguson tried to sell information about Prince Andrew to the press, according to ABC.
Today, she reportedly still lives with Prince Andrew, and their relationship has regularly been called "strange," according to Express.
Princess Sofia was a "lad-mag" model and reality TV star before meeting Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.
Similar to Stark, Sofia Hellqvist had posed provocatively — most notoriously as Slitz Magazine's "Miss Slitz" — before meeting Prince Carl Philip of Sweden.
Reports surfaced that Prince Carl's sisters were wary of Sofia because of her past, but the prince shot them down.
Sofia and Carl have been married since 2015.
Edward VIII gave up the British throne for Wallis Simpson.
Queen Elizabeth II never would've been crowned Queen of England if it wasn't for her uncle abdicating so he could marry an American divorcée.
King Edward VIII rocked the monarchy when, after less than a year on the throne, he signed his abdication papers so that he could marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite and divorcée.
This put the future of the monarchy in jeopardy, and members of the royal family were said to loathe Simpson ever since, according to E!
But Edward VIII's early letters suggest he was never wild about the idea of being king, anyway.
Princess Charlene of Monaco reportedly tried to flee before her wedding to Prince Albert.
South African-born Charlene Wittstock is 20 years younger than her husband, Prince Albert of Monaco, and she reportedly got cold feet three times before their 2011 wedding.
Charlene reportedly hid out in Paris' South African embassy while trying on her wedding dress. Then she tried to escape during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Finally, shortly before her wedding day, she reportedly tried to flee to Nice, France, before Monegasque officials "confiscated her passport."
Per Vanity Fair, French weekly L'Express reported that before her first attempted escape, Charlene discovered that Prince Albert had a third illegitimate child during their courtship.
She was eventually "persuaded" to go through with the wedding, and she and Prince Albert are still married today.
Queen Victoria fell in love with a younger man.
Late in her life, the widowed Queen Victoria sequestered herself in the Scottish highlands and fell in love with a horse equerry who was seven years younger than her, according to The Sunday Post.
Her diaries and letters from the time were full of flowery language about his "strong, powerful arms" and his utter devotion to her.
News of their reported relationship wasn't publicly known while they were alive.
Princess Margaret was forbidden from marrying her first love.
As recounted on season one of "The Crown," Queen Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret, also fell in love with one of the men working in the Queen's stables, Peter Townsend.
Because she was under 25 years old, she had to ask for Queen Elizabeth's permission to marry him. But since he was previously divorced, Queen Elizabeth refused as head of the Church of England.
Parliament, led by Winston Churchill, was also reportedly against the match.
She later tried again to marry him after she turned 25 and would no longer need the queen's permission, but Parliament said they'd revoke her royal privileges if she married a divorcé.
According to the BBC, she later issued a public statement where she called off her plans to marry him.
Princess Margaret finally married in 1960, but it ended in divorce.
Princess Margaret tied the knot with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, despite palace officials' protests. They would've preferred she marry a titled aristocrat instead of a working man, according to Town and Country magazine, but the royal family did approve of the match.
Reports also circulated that Armstrong-Jones, known after his marriage as Lord Snowdon, was bisexual.
He had many affairs when his and Princess Margaret's marriage began to fall apart, but she was the one with the most scandalous dalliance, according to Express. She was caught on camera canoodling with gardener Roddy Llewellyn, who was 17 years younger than her.
After Margaret's affair with Llewellyn hit the papers, her husband asked for a divorce and was surprisingly approved by the Crown.
Princess Anne also fell for her equerry - and married him.
Called "A Royal Scandal" on a 1989 People magazine cover, Queen Elizabeth's daughter Princess Anne took a page out of Queen Victoria's book and fell for one of the palace equerries.
Anne was married at the time, and the affair was discovered because someone had stolen some of her love letters from her home.
Following this PR crisis, Anne divorced her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, and later went on to marry the equerry, Captain Timothy Laurence. They've been together ever since.
Many thought Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer seemed perfect on paper.
After dating many titled women in the UK, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer.
A 19-year-old with noble blood and zero dating record, she seemed like the perfect no-drama choice for a bride. But their marriage would end up delivering scandal after scandal, thanks mostly to Charles' continued infidelity.
For example, Charles was reportedly jealous of Diana's fame and social acumen, Diana reportedly spread a rumor that Charles got their children's aide pregnant, and both of them were caught in embarrassing steamy conversations with their lovers on separate occasions.
Diana's tapped phone call fiasco was called "Squidgygate" because of her then-boyfriend's pet name for her. But Charles seemed to top her when he was caught in an illegally recorded phone conversation telling his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, that he wished he could "be her tampon."
Perhaps the final nail in their marriage's coffin was Diana's infamous televised interview with Martin Bashir, which was conducted behind the royal family's backs.
In it, she said her marriage had driven her to self-harm, bulimia, and infidelity on the part of both her and her husband —and she ushered in a new era of confessional TV interviews.
The year after their divorce in 1996, Diana died after being injured in a car crash.
Prince Charles and Parker-Bowles had a scandalous start.
Prince Charles married Diana and not Parker-Bowles because, as heir to the British throne, he was expected to marry someone of noble blood with an unblemished dating record.
But the prince was reportedly unfaithful during his marriage to Diana, and had a long affair with Parker-Bowles.
But divorcing Diana, he continued dating Parker Bowles until finally receiving permission to marry her in 2005, decades after they first met in the 1970s.
At their wedding, they were both forced to apologize for their previous adulterous actions before they could seal the deal, according to The Guardian.
The public reaction to their wedding was nowhere near the levels it usually reached.
"It is pretty clear that people are not enormously enamoured by Camilla," royal biographer Robert Lacey said at the time. "People in the future will say that when you compare her style with Diana's, it is very different."
Read the original article on Insider