(CNN Spanish) — The British family starred, in the more than 70 years that Elizabeth II reigned, who died this Thursday, multiple scandals: from the refusal to marry Princess Margaret with a divorced man in the 1950s to the accusations of sexual abuse against the Prince Andrew, we review here some of the episodes that marked royalty.
Princess Margaret and a love that could not be
Princess Margaret, sister of Elizabeth II, and Peter Townsend met when she was just 14 years old and he had been interviewed by the then King, George VI, for a position at Court as an equestrian. The romance blossomed but remained secret within the royal household. When it became clear in 1953 that the couple wanted to marry, the queen asked them to wait a year, perhaps hoping that the passion would die down. What was the problem? Townsend was divorced.
When information about a possible marriage surfaced, the queen’s private secretary warned her to send him away, and she reluctantly agreed. He was appointed air attaché in Brussels for two years, but the exile did not stop the romance.
The council of ministers strongly opposed the match and decided that if the princess insisted on going ahead, a bill would be introduced stripping her of all her rights, privileges and income.
On October 31, 1955, after conversations with Townsend and the Archbishop of Canterbury, he issued a statement that would go down in history: “I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Captain Peter Townsend. Knowing that Christian marriage is indissoluble and of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have decided to put these considerations first”.
“We had reached the end of the road,” Townsend wrote at the time. “Our feelings for each other hadn’t changed, but they had been such a burden to us that we decided, together, to leave her.”
Ironically, within a generation, divorce was accepted in the royal family: Margaret herself was divorced in 1978.
Sarah Ferguson, the controversial ex-wife of Prince Andrew
Sarah Ferguson met Prince Andrew at a party at Windsor Castle in 1985 and a year later, after a very public courtship, they were married. At that time Andres, a handsome Royal Navy pilot, was something of a bon vivant and a regular on the party circuit at the time, earning him nicknames like “The Playboy Prince” in the tabloid press.
Their lavish wedding in Westminster Abbey was followed two years later by the birth of their first daughter, Beatrice. His second daughter, Eugenie, was born in 1990.
Ferguson was initially very popular in the British media for his open and exuberant style. As time went on, and with a husband frequently away in the Navy, she began to feel increasingly unhappy and struggled with the constant media attention.
She devoted herself to charity work and began work on a series of children’s books, but the newspaper headlines began to turn negative, with reports that she was having financial problems and accusations about her relationship with male friends, especially the adviser. financier John Bryan.
In 1992, British media published photos of Bryan allegedly sucking on the Duchess’s toes. The scandal practically ended her marriage.
In 1995, the BBC reported that “Fergie”, as she was known in the press, had incurred more than 4 million pounds ($5.76 million) in debt. This prompted the queen to take the unusual step of publicly closing her purse to her daughter-in-law.
The following year, the Duchess lost her title when her divorce from Prince Andrew became official.
“We were three in this marriage, it was a bit crowded”: Diana, Carlos and Camila
In 1995, Buckingham was thrown into a deep crisis after the adored Princess Diana made an explosive statement in a BBC interview regarding her marriage to Prince Charles and his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, with who would later marry.
“There were three of us in this marriage, it was a crowd,” Diana told journalist Martin Bashir when asked if she thought Parker Bowles had been a factor in the breakdown of their marriage, unleashing an earthquake in British public life.
By then Diana and Carlos had been separated for three years, but the interview would precipitate their divorce. In that conversation, Diana also spoke openly for 50 minutes about her relationship with James Hewitt, her battle with bulimia, her role within the royal family and her mental health.
The interview took the royal family by surprise, according to Charles Anson, the queen’s press secretary at the time. “There wasn’t much we could say,” he told CNN.
In that interview she said that, although she realized she would not become queen, she hoped she could be “queen of hearts” of the British people.
(The interview, by the way, returned to the center of the debate recently after it was confirmed that the BBC journalist used deceptive methods to get Lady Di to agree to give the interview and that the chain covered it up)
Buckingham under scrutiny after Diana’s death
A year after the interview, when her divorce from Prince Charles was complete, Diana was killed in a car accident while vacationing in France with then-boyfriend Dodi Fayed.
As television broadcasts began reporting the deadly accident, the royal family issued a brief statement saying it was “deeply shocked and distressed” by the news. But “to the afflicted population, that seemed like nothing,” recalls historian Kate Williams in “The Windsors.”
As the hours passed, and as the ever-reserved Brits went into open mourning, all eyes were on Buckingham Palace for a larger gesture or statement, to spark a connection just as Diana knew how to do. .
Finally, before the funeral, the queen said that Diana was an “exceptional and talented human being”.
Harry in a Nazi uniform at a party
In his teens and early youth, Prince Harry was at the center of several public scandals. The most notorious, perhaps, was in 2015 when the newspaper The Sun posted a photo of the prince in beige pants and a short-sleeved shirt with a red Nazi badge on his left arm, the outfit he had chosen to attend a party.
Criticism quickly mounted from lawmakers and Jewish groups, in the UK and abroad. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles said it was “inexcusable for a member of the royal family to do that” and called Harry’s action “a disgrace to England”. “I think you should join the British delegation going to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” he told CNN.
The prince then admitted that he had made a poor decision and apologized: “I am very sorry if I caused any offence.”
Three years ago, when he was 17, his father had sent him to a rehabilitation clinic to warn him about the dangers of drugs after discovering that he had smoked marijuana and allegedly drank alcohol.
Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein
One of the worst scandals that the queen faced in her last stage was that of the accusations against Prince Andrew in the framework of his relationship with the convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
At the center of the accusations was Virginia Giuffre, who claimed that Epstein trafficked her and forced her to perform sexual acts with his friends, including Prince Andrew, when she was 17 years old. She also said that the royal knew that she was a minor in the United States at the time.
In 2019, Andrés gave a widely criticized interview on the BBC in which, although he denied having had sexual contact with Giuffre, he said that he did not regret it. his relationship with Epstein and not expressed no sympathy for the victims of the disgraced banker. Days later he had to retract.
He then announced that he was retiring from public duties, but that was far from the end of the controversy. Over the course of three years, and with a civil lawsuit filed by Giuffre ultimately settling, he was stripped of his military titles and his charity work. The queen also stripped him of his “her royal highness” status from him: he went into permanent exile. He had, in the words of CNN correspondents Max Foster and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, to “let it drift.”
The “exit” of Harry and Meghan, the beginning of a cycle of painful revelations
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, decided to walk away from their royal duties in early 2020. It was only a year later that they finalized the agreement with the family: they would not be active and acting members and would have their honorary military appointments revoked and royal sponsorships.
That decision was made known in February, but the real bomb that would explode before the eyes of the royal family took place a month later, when Harry Meghan, already freed from his royal ties, gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey.
In the interview, the Duchess of Sussex said that, at one point, her life as a British royal was so isolated and lonely that she “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Meghan claimed that she was forced to suppress her outspoken nature and give up her personal freedom. She said she had no access to her passport, driver’s license or keys after joining the royal family, and they were only returned to her when the couple moved.
The Duchess of Sussex, who currently lives in the United States with Prince Harry, said the situation was aggravated by the often racist “old-fashioned colonial undertones” that repeatedly appeared in coverage of the couple in the notoriously scathing British press.
And he claimed that within the royal family, there were several “concerns and conversations about how dark (his son Archie)’s skin might be when he was born.”
The prince, who is sixth in line to the throne, then said in turn that there is a culture of silent suffering in the royal family. However, Meghan’s race (she is half black) and the abuse she suffered made the situation even more difficult for the couple than it had been for other royals.
Harry claimed that this prompted him to discuss the matter with the royal family. He told Winfrey that he believed there were plenty of opportunities for the palace to “show some public support” in the face of continued racial abuse in the press. “However, no one from my family said anything. That hurts.”
Following the interview that set off another storm in Buckingham, the royal family said they were “saddened” to learn how challenging the last few years had been for Harry and Meghan, calling allegations of racism “worrying”.
Selection made by Ángela Reyes based on reports from Rob Picheta, Max Foster, Zamira Rahim, Claudia Rebaza, Breeanna Hare, David Wilkinson, Alexis Benveniste and Paul Armstrong.