Skip to main contentSkip to footer

14 most shocking royal moments that rocked us all

From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix bombshells to Princess Diana's controversial Panorama interview 

royals looking shocked
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
Share this:

The royal family grace us with their presence at official engagements and special events, but behind closed doors they are just like any other family, and they haven't been exempt from the odd scandal or two over the years.

From Prince Andrew's retirement from public life to Princess Diana's now very controversial tell-all Panorama interview, HELLO! takes a look at some of the most shocking royal events to date. 

Prince Harry's memoir Spare

Prince Harry's tell-all book has to be top of the list as it was full of shocking bombshells about the royal family. The Duke revealed there was a physical altercation between himself and his brother and he also details his father King Charles begging for his boys not to make his "final years" a misery with bad blood between them.

Prince William and Prince Harry walking© Getty
The brothers had a fight

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix docuseries

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex stunned the world in December 2022 with the release of their Netflix docuseries, which shares an in-depth look at their early romance to the couple stepping back as senior royals. 

WATCH: Biggest revelations from Harry and Meghan's Netflix show

Bombshell revelations included Harry accusing the palace of 'planting stories,' while Meghan claims that the royal family did not protect her. The Duke also revealed that his brother William screamed and shouted at him during talks of Harry and Meghan stepping down as senior royals. 

REVEALED: Prince William and Princess Kate's secret generosity in 'desperate' situation

Prince Michael of Kent

In May 2021, it was reported that Prince Michael of Kent was willing to use his royal status for personal profit and to seek favours from Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Prince Michael of Kent and Queen Elizabeth at Royal Ascot

Prince Michael of Kent and Queen Elizabeth at Royal Ascot together

Channel 4 Dispatches and The Sunday Times collaborated to set up the fake South Korean gold company called House of Haedong. It was claimed that Prince Michael responded by showing interest in working with the company, telling undercover reporters that he would give House of Haedong his royal endorsement in a recorded speech for a $200,000 (£143,00) fee and was happy to use his home in Kensington Palace as a backdrop.

Responding to the programme, Prince Michael's office said: "Prince Michael receives no public funding and earns his own living through a consultancy company that he has run for over 40 years. Prince Michael has no special relationship with President Putin. They last met in June 2003 and Prince Michael has had no contact with him or his office since then."

MORE: 17 times the royals have cried in public

The Duke of York's Newsnight interview

The Queen's second son stepped back from royal duties in November 2019, following his TV interview with BBC Newsnight, which focused on his connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Andrew's statement at the time read: "I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission. I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. 

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

Prince Andrew during his 2019 Newsnight interview

Prince Andrew was interviewed by Emily Maitlis on Newsnight in 2019

In August 2021, Virginia Giuffre began legal action against Prince Andrew for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager, allegations he has repeatedly denied. 

And in February 2022, the Duke reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre. The amount Andrew will pay Ms Giuffre will remain confidential and in a statement, it was disclosed that he will also donate to her charity in support of victims' rights. 

The settlement came weeks after the Duke was stripped of his military affiliations and royal patronages. He will also no longer use the style 'His Royal Highness' in any official capacity.

Prince Harry and Meghan's Oprah Winfrey interview

The Sussexes' tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey in March 2021 dropped many bombshells that shocked the world. While the couple shared some heartwarming anecdotes about life in the US with their son Archie, and also revealed that they were expecting a girl in the summer (royals generally tend not to reveal their baby's gender until after the birth), Harry and Meghan did make some surprising revelations.

MORE: 16 times the royals were taken by total surprise

prince harry meghan oprah

Harry and Meghan during their 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview

Among them was that the Duchess had felt suicidal during her first pregnancy, that certain members of the royal family had "shown concern" about Archie's skin colour, that Prince Charles had cut Harry off and that the Firm had refused to pay for Archie's security costs. Meghan also clarified reports from the time of her wedding, claiming that it was actually her sister-in-law Kate who had made her cry about the bridesmaids' dresses in the lead-up to the nuptials, and not the other way around.

Following the explosive interview, the Queen released a statement saying: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."

Infanta Cristina and Iñaki Urdangarin's separation

In January 2022, King Felipe of Spain's sister, Infanta Cristina, announced her separation from her husband Inaki Urdangarin after nearly 25 years of marriage.

In a statement shared on HELLO!'s sister publication HOLA!, the couple said: "By mutual consent, we have decided to end our marriage. Our commitment to our children remains intact. Since it is a private decision, we ask for the utmost respect from all those around us. Cristina de Borbón and Iñaki Urdangarin."

Infanta Cristina and Iñaki Urdangarins wedding in 1997

The couple were married for nearly 25 years 

The news came days after Iñaki was pictured holding hands with another woman. The photographs published by Spanish publication Lecturas showed the former handball player walking along a beach with his co-worker at Imaz&Asociados law firm - Ainhoa Armentia.

The Princess of Wales's privacy case

The Prince and Princess of Wales were awarded £92,000 in damages in 2017 after French Closer magazine published topless photos of Kate on a private holiday in Provence in 2012. A French court ruled that the paparazzi pictures were an invasion of the couple's privacy.

kate william scotland 2012

The photos were published during William and Kate's 2012 royal tour

A statement from Kensington Palace at the time read: "This incident was a serious breach of privacy, and their Royal Highnesses felt it essential to pursue all legal remedies.

"They wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen."

MORE: So relatable! 17 times the royals slipped up in public

Diana, Princess of Wales's Panorama interview

Princess Diana shocked the world when she sat down for an extensive interview with BBC1 Panorama in November 1995, in which she spoke candidly to interviewer Martin Bashir about the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles, her battle with bulimia and life behind palace walls.

Princess Diana during 1995 Panorama TV interview

Princess Diana's Panorama interview shocked the world 

In May 2021, Lord Dyson's inquiry into the BBC programme found that Bashir engaged in "deceitful behaviour" to secure the world exclusive, faking bank statements that suggested individuals were being paid to keep the princess under surveillance.

Princess Margaret's divorce

The Queen's younger sister shocked the nation when her separation from photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones was announced by Kensington Palace in 1976.

While the palace announced at the time that the couple did not plan to divorce, two years later Princess Margaret began legal proceedings to officially end the marriage.

Princess Margaret and her new husband Antony Armstrong-Jones leave Westminister Abbey after their wedding© Getty
Princess Margaret and her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones leave Westminister Abbey after their wedding

The couple shared two children

Although attitudes to divorce at the time were changing, a royal divorce was still considered unthinkable and it was the first divorce of a senior member of the British royal family since Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's in 1901. 

MORE: 11 royal marriages that ended in divorce

King Edward VIII's abdication

The monarch triggered a constitutional crisis in 1936 when he proposed to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The Church of England and government ministers opposed divorce at the time and so King Edward VIII chose to abdicate to wed the woman he loved.

Wallis Simpson and King Edward

Edward's abdication changed everything for the royal family

He was succeeded by his younger brother George VI – the father of the future Queen Elizabeth.

Edward and Wallis married in France and spent the remainder of their lives in the country.

MORE: The Queen's life changed forever after this royal death

King Albert II of Belgium's love child

In January 2020, the former king of Belgium, King Albert II, admitted that he is the father of an illegitimate daughter, born from an affair with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps.

Princess Delphine and King Albert of Belgium

Delphine has since been granted a royal title

The former monarch had been fighting the paternity claim by artist Delphine Boël for more than a decade.

In October 2020, Delphine was granted the title of Princess of Belgium following a court battle.

King Juan Carlos of Spain's controversies

The former king abdicated in 2014 after a number of alleged controversies, including reported extramarital affairs.

King Juan Carlos and King Felipe of Spain

The former king abdicated in 2014

In March 2020, Juan Carlos' son King Felipe renounced any future inheritance from his father due to reported connections to an alleged financial scandal. It was also declared that Juan Carlos would lose his public allowance from the state's general budget.

Iñaki Urdangarin's tax fraud case

King Felipe of Spain's brother-in-law was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in June 2018, following convictions of embezzlement and money laundering in excess of £4.5 million through his non-profit organisation, the Noos Institute. 

infanta cristina inaki urdangarin
Iñaki Urdangarin and his wife

Infanta Cristina lost her royal title

Iñaki's wife and King Felipe's sister Infanta Cristina was also investigated but acquitted of any charges. However, King Felipe issued a decree stripping his sister of the title of Duchess of Palma in 2015.

Make sure you never miss a ROYAL story! Sign up to our newsletter to get all of our celebrity, royal and lifestyle news delivered directly to your inbox.

More Royalty

See more