10 Royals Who Have Been Problematic for Their Family's Image

10 Royals Who Have Been Problematic for Their Family's Image
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Prince Harry

At their best, royals can raise millions for charity, bring awareness to social issues, and entertain us with their jewels and clothes. At their worst, they're clueless, philandering, and even criminal. Throughout history, there have been plenty of examples of both, but nowadays, there are some real dolts when it comes to behavior that ranges from the flat-out dumb to the willfully racist or illegal.

In Europe, no royal house -- including the British one -- has been immune from scandal, and from having family members that are thoroughly embarrassing. It's true what they say: royals, they're just like us. They, too, have relatives that they'd like to cancel ... although, to be honest, most of these relatives -- with a couple of exceptions -- are not going anywhere. 

This will not come as a surprise (we hope), but just because someone is born into a wealthy, privileged family with lots of history and access to the best of everything (including education) does not mean that they won't be garbage -- or at least have moments of total garbage-ness. 

Their privilege, and things like access to excellent health care and food, make them immune from a lot of worries ... but it also creates isolation from the real world, and can mean that royals indulge their worst impulses. Those impulses, and their consequences, have made international headlines, putting the respectability of a family in jeopardy -- and sometimes landing bad royals in legal trouble.

So who are the worst offenders who are currently embroiled in bad behavior, or in recent memory tried to clean the poo off the bottom of their shoes? The royal family members range from heirs to the throne their kids, kings and princesses, and royal hangers-on. Some of them had momentary severe lack of good judgment, and others are repeat offenders. 

Find out who they are by reading about 10 royals who have embarrassed their families.  

  • Prince Andrew

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    Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

    Queen Elizabeth's second son, Andrew, Duke of York, is also said to be her favorite -- though we can't really see why. He's been the problem child for decades. Nicknamed "the Party Prince," he was known to date actresses and models -- as well as hanging out with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, of course -- before getting married in 1986. The father of Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, he's also been criticized for taking uber-posh trips.

  • Alleged Misconduct With Underage Girls

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    Davidoff Studios/Getty Images

    Allegedly, Prince Andrew has been involved in seriously shady stuff for decades. The shadiest, of course, is his association with the late pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein (pictured above). Andrew has denied allegations that a 17-year-old girl was forced to have sex with him, but at the least, pictures of him cavorting in Epstein's house and boat are gross. He also did a tone-deaf interview with the BBC in which he downplayed the whole thing, after which the Queen had him step down from his duties.

  • Princess Michael of Kent

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    UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty Images

    Born Marie-Christine Anna Agnes Hedwig Ida von Reibnitz, the daughter of a German baron who was also a Nazi SS officer, this princess is the wife of the Queen's first cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, who gave up his spot in the line of succession to marry her. (She was a Catholic, and divorced.) The Princess and Prince Michael of Kent live in Kensington Palace, where the princess spends her time writing books about European royalty. 

  • Racist Ways

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    Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

    Never mind that this royal dinosaur goes by her husband's first name so she can use the title princess. (Like Kate Middleton, she's not a princess in her own right, but because of her marriage, -- so it would be like Kate going by Princess William. So pretentious!). She's a racist who has made numerous public comments, such as talking about how she named her two black sheep Serena and Venus after the Williams sisters. Princess Michael of Kent also infamously wore a blackamoor brooch to the Buckingham Palace lunch where Meghan Markle met the extended royal family.

  • Prince Philip

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    Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

    The Duke of Edinburgh, as he is also known, was Queen Elizabeth's first and only love, and a former prince of Denmark and Greece. They began corresponding when she was still just a teen, and years later, they married when she was still a princess. Through the years, Prince Philip has been suspected of infidelity, but they've remained together for 73 years and counting. 

  • Offensive Comments

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    Paul Schutzer/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

    He may have mellowed out with age, but the Queen's husband has a long and very public history of making offensive comments that range in vibe from terrible dad jokes to full-on racist-grandpa jokes. He's ridiculed Ethiopian art, various African cultures, Chinese students, Filipino nurses, and made fun of the unemployed (during a recession), British women, singers, and a trail of others -- all to their faces -- without apology or consequences. He's pretty much the textbook definition of white privilege. 

  • Prince Harry

    Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images

    Oh, this hurts, because we love Prince Harry. Diana's younger son is an amazing father and husband with a stellar military record, as well as the founder of two nonprofits. But things haven't always been smooth going for him, despite being born in to wealth and privilege. The main reason, as Harry himself has said in the past, was the aftermath of his mom's tragic death -- which sent him into a tailspin of bad behavior when he was younger.

  • Nazi Uniform

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    Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

    Harry's 20s were a whirlwind of partying and acting out. In 2012, he was videotaped in a Vegas hotel room, playing strip billiards completely in the buff -- and that was not his most famous misdeed. In 2005, Harry was photographed wearing a Nazi uniform with a swastika armband at a costume party, a particular sore spot for the royal family -- given that they changed their name to Windsor to cut ties with their German heritage -- and the British as they sacrificed their lives and suffered immensely during World War II. Harry apologized, but not before being condemned internationally.  

  • Princess Cristina of Spain & Iñaki Undargarin

    princess cristina and Iñaki Undargarin
    Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images

    When the public got wind that Princess Cristina and Iñaki Undargarin were engaged, lots of people in Spain were happy. After all, he was the superstar handball team player who had helped lead his team to Olympic bronze twice. They met at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and were married the next year. They've remained married, despite being embroiled in the biggest scandal in Spanish royal history.

  • Financial Scandal

    Princess Cristina & Iñaki Undargarin
    Europa Press Entertainment/Getty Images

    In a financial scandal that would eventually help force his father-in-law to abdicate the throne, the husband of the Spanish princess, Cristina, was busted for tax fraud and embezzlement. Apparently, he diverted money from a foundation to offshore accounts for his own gain and illegally received government  building contracts. He's serving a five-year prison sentence, and the princess narrowly escaped being convicted herself. (She was serving on the board of one of the foundations, but claimed to be ignorant of the wrongdoing.) Nevertheless, Princess Cristina was stripped of her title, and the couple have been banned from the royal family.

  • Former King Juan Carlos I of Spain

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    Samuel de Roman/Getty Images

    When he began his reign, King Juan Carlos I was one of the most popular monarchs in Europe. He's seen as someone with the common touch, despite his royal background, and someone who was forward-looking. That's because right after taking over the throne in 1975 -- after the monarchy had been abolished for 44 years -- he renounced executive power, and paved the way for the first democratic elections in Spain since 1936.

  • Abdicating the Throne

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    Europa Press via Getty Images

    This former king abdicated the throne in 2014, because of supposed health issues, but really, because he was in the middle of a string of scandals -- including the one involving his daughter and son-in-law. (Juan himself was accused of joining an illegal elephant hunt in Africa, and having a mistress.) More recently, reports have surfaced about him benefiting from secret offshore accounts set up for him by family members ... and partially funded by Saudis. All in all, the king -- who was once Europe's most popular -- had seemingly become corrupt. His son, Felipe, who succeeded him on the throne, recently renounced his inheritance from his father, banning him from representing the royal family.

  • Former King Albert II of Belgium

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    Christophe Licoppe/Photo News via Getty Images

    King Albert II took the throne in 1993, after his brother died childless. He reigned for 20 years, until he abdicated the throne in 2013 for health reasons. The king has wealth estimated in the hundreds of millions -- much of which was amassed when the Belgians colonized Congo and committed atrocities that left 10 million people dead.

  • Child Outside Marriage

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    Christophe Licoppe/Photo News via Getty Images

    Kings fathering children outside their marriages is a tradition as old as royalty itself. But when a woman came forward in 2005, claiming King Albert was her father and the product of a years-long affair. (At first, he denied it, but then refused to take a blood test.) After battling for years, he finally relented in 2019, when a judge began fining him more than $5,000 a day until he agreed. Spoiler alert: King Albert is the father, and now, his daughter may have a claim to a piece of those bloody millions.  

  • Prince Albert of Monaco

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    Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

    He's the only son of Princess Grace (Grace Kelly, of course), so Prince Albert was born into the lap of luxury and has stayed there all his life. Monaco, for those who don't know, is tucked into the South of France, and it's basically a playground for the rich -- who hit the principality's posh casinos, the Monaco Grand Prix, and beaches. 

    Must be nice. 

  • Kids Born Out of Wedlock

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    Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

    King Albert of Belgium may have been embarrassed to admit he'd had an illegitimate child, but at least he only has one. Prince Albert of Monaco has two that we -- and probably he -- know of. Both kids (a son and a daughter) were products of different flings he had as a swinging bachelor. By law, they could have been in the line of succession to the throne if he married either of the women, but Albert was quick to say he wouldn't be doing that. He did, however, offer his daughter a chance to live and study in Monaco, all expenses paid. (Hey, at least he didn't deny they were his.) King Albert went on to marry and father twins, and though a third woman came forward with baby claims, nothing has come of it so far.  

  • Prince Charles 

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    Andrew Matthews-WPA Pool/Getty Images

    William and Harry's dad has been training to be king all his life, and that's 71 years. (Yowza.) Charles' mom is the longest reigning monarch in history, and judging from how active and healthy she is, he'll just have to keep waiting. The Prince of Wales was the first ever heir to the British throne to be educated in a school, rather than by private tutors. He's an intellectual and has a reputation for being a bit of a weirdo who likes to talk to plants and has un-royal views. He sometimes gets unfair treatment for adopting views and habits that later became popular -- such as organic farming. Charles also worked with activists in London's Black community to find ways to help reduce violence and poverty, after a 2011 police killing of a Black youth that resulted in protests and riots. 

  • Sex & Politics Scandals

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    Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images

    Charles was involved in the scandal that threatened the monarchy. We're talking about his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, while he was still married to Princess Diana, of course. Not only did Diana spill all the details, but recordings came to light in which Charles was heard telling Camilla that he wished he could be a pair of her knickers so he could, well, y'all get the idea. He also got busted a few years ago for writing letters to government officials trying to sway them on different legislative topics -- which is a big no-no for Britain's royals, who are supposed to remain neutral on political matters. 

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