Royal Fairy Tale Weddings: Royal Scandals

Updated on February 18, 2019
L.M. Hosler profile image

Linda enjoys reading, learning and writing about different things pertaining to history. She enjoys sharing her love of history with others.

The Queen Arrives at Royal Wedding

The Queen of England arrives by carriage at a royal wedding
The Queen of England arrives by carriage at a royal wedding | Source

Times Have Changed Attitudes About Royal Marriage and Divorce

At one time, divorce was not an option for the royal British family. It was almost impossible to obtain a divorce among the royal class. But over the years there were some exceptions, probably beginning with King Henry VII and his six wives. In his case, he did manage to divorce his first wife. The other wives had less fortunate endings. But divorce among the royalty was still considered taboo and likewise, they were not allowed to marry a person who was divorced. Things began to change during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Her sister and three of her children’s fairy tale weddings ended in divorce. Just recently Prince Charles the heir to the British throne and his son Prince Harry have both been allowed to marry divorced women.

The Prince and Princess of Wales

It was February 24, 1981 when Prince Charles (the heir to the British throne) introduced the world to his bride to be, Lady Diane Spencer. Lady Diana Spencer was young, only nineteen and the daughter of the Earl of Spencer, a member of royal society. The world was captivated by the beautiful young bride to be and the handsome prince. We all savored every picture and news article about the young couple. The following year on July 21, 1981, we watched their beautiful fairy tale wedding. The bride in her white gown with the long train, the prince in his bright official uniform, the royal carriages and the bride and groom coming out to the balcony to wave at their fellow British citizens. It was a beautiful fairy tale played out for the world to watch.

The fairy tale continued when on June 21, 1982, the Prince and Princess of Wales welcomed their first son, Prince William, who would now be third in the line of succession to the British throne. Two years later another son, Prince Harry, was born on Sept 15th 1984. What a lovely family the royal couple had created.


The Fairy Tale Cracks

Not long after Prince Harry was born, things began to deteriorate between the young couple. In 1986, rumors began that Prince Charles was rekindling his old romance with Camilla Parker Bowles. Then the rumors began about Princess Diana and other men. The fairy tale had become a rocky road. In February of 1989, Princess Diana had an occasion to confront Camilla and let her know that she knew what was going on behind her back. By 1990, the marriage was on very shaky ground and at some point Prince Charles admitted his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

Not long after Prince Harry was born, things began to deteriorate between the young couple. In 1986, rumors began that Prince Charles was rekindling his old romance with Camilla Parker Bowles. Then the rumors began about Princess Diana and other men. The fairy tale had become a rocky road. In February of 1989, Princess Diana had an occasion to confront Camilla and let her know that she knew what was going on behind her back. By 1990, the marriage was on very shaky ground and at some point Prince Charles admitted his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Prince and Princess of Wales

Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrive by carriage to Prince Andrews wedding
Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrive by carriage to Prince Andrews wedding | Source

Princess Margaret the Queen’s Sister

Princess Margaret had a reputation for being a rebellious royal. When she was very young and quite beautiful, she fell in love with Captain Townsend. The two privately planned on being married but the captain was not considered a good match for Margaret. He was not of noble birth but even worse he was a divorced man who was not acceptable at that time. Margaret at that time needed both the permission of her sister, the queen, and parliament to marry Captain Townsend. Privately, her sister would have granted her permission but it was well known that parliament would not give their consent. Eventually Captain Townsend and Margaret called off their romance.

On May 6, 1960, Princess Margaret married a thirty year old photographer and commoner, Anthony Armstrong Jones. It was a lavish fairy tale wedding with thousands of guests, royals and heads of states from other countries. It was also watched by millions around the world on national television. On November 3, 1961, their first child David arrived followed by a sister, Sarah on May 1, 1964. Upon the arrival of the children, it was decided that Anthony Armstrong Jones needed to be given a royal title for the sake of the children. He was given the title of Earl of Snowden and his son the title of Viscount Linley. A few years after the birth of the children, the marriage began to sour. The couple loved partying which ended up involving affairs, drugs and alcohol, all the aspects of the modern 1960s. The two separated and on July11, 1978, after eighteen years of marriage the fairy tale ended in divorce. Princess Margaret twenty years earlier could not marry a divorced man but 1960s changed attitudes so by 1978 divorce among the royals was not quite so scandalous.

Princess Margaret in her Wedding Dress

Princess Margaret in her wedding dress
Princess Margaret in her wedding dress | Source

Royal Princess Anne the Queen's Daughter

Princess Anne is the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip of England. She is their only daughter and holds the title of Princess Royal. Princess Anne had a love of horses, evening competing in equestrian events throughout England. During one of these events, she met her future husband, Captain Mark Phillips and the two fell in love. Their engagement was announced on May 29, 1973 and the two were married at Westminster Abbey on November 14th, 1973. Their marriage produced two children, Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips. Their father declined taking a royal title, so neither Peter nor Zara hold any royal title. It wasn’t long before the romance cooled off and rumors began about both Mark and Princess Anne having other romantic interests. In fact, Captain Phillips fathered a child with another woman and later Princess Anne’s letters from Timothy Laurence were made public. Princess Ann and Mark Phillips divorced on April 23, 1982. Princess Anne later remarried the same Timothy Laurence she had received the love letters from. Another royal wedding and scandals which led to the end of another royal fairy tale.

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson

Prince Andrew was formally introduced to Sarah Ferguson at a party given by Princess Diana. They immediately hit it off and began dating. On March 18th 1986, they announced their engagement. On July 23, 1986, they were married at Westminster Abbey where many of the royal family have been married.

Almost from the start, theirs was a rocky road. Prince Andrew’s position in the Royal Navy kept him from home for long periods of time for the first five years of their marriage. Sarah or (Fergie) as she was known had deep security issues relating back to being abandoned by her mother at an early age. The couple did have two daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie. Sarah was perhaps never fully supported by the royal family. She didn’t fit the mold and was bold and outgoing. At any rate, the marriage floundered and the Duke and Duchess of York announced their separation in 1992 and were divorced in May of 1996. Along the way there were scandals and other relationships as was the case in most of the other royal fairy tales. However, their story may yet have a happy ending. Prince Andrew and Sarah have always remained close friends and both were very involved in the raising of their two daughters. It seems that today they live together and there are rumors that the two may remarry someday. Let’s hope that this royal fairy tales ends like fairy tales are supposed to end and they live happily ever after.

Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson arriving by a horse drawn royal carriage to her wedding.
Sarah Ferguson arriving by a horse drawn royal carriage to her wedding. | Source

Some Fairy Tales End Happily

Everyone, including me loves a fairy tale. When we see a young beautiful prince or princess marry in a huge fairy tale wedding complete with beautiful white dresses, horse drawn carriages, famous and titled guests, we can’t help but still believe in fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast and happy endings. After all some of the royal family such as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert somehow managed to live out their fairy tale.

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