9 of the Most Scandalous, Controversial Royal Weddings of the Past 100 Years
PRINCE ERNST-AUGUST JR. & EKATERINA MALYSHEVA
What could keep a parent from their child’s wedding? Well, for Prince Ernst-August of Hanover (who is the estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco), a few missing castles will do the trick. The royal, who is head of the deposed House of Hanover in Germany, opposed his son (Prince Ernst-August Jr.)’s wedding, because he wanted the property (including multiple castles!) that he deeded over to his son in the mid-'00s for tax purposes. “The decision was not easy for me because it concerns my son,” the elder Ernst-August told Handelsblatt, a German newspaper. “But I am constrained to preserve the interests of the House of Hanover and the property, including cultural property, which has been its property for centuries.” Despite his father's displeasure, the wedding went on, with crowds lining the streets outside Hanover's Market Church. Though Caroline herself didn't attend, all four of her children did, including Princess Alexandra of Hanover, Ernst-August's half-sister.
PRINCE CHARLES & CAMILLA, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL
Perhaps the most scandalous royal relationship of the past 50 years, Charles and Camilla first met back in the 1970s and dated for a brief period of time. The formal relationship ended, with Camilla marrying someone else (Andrew Parker-Bowles), but the affection between the two never went away. Charles even begged Camilla not to marry Parker-Bowles just before their wedding. Charles, of course, went on to marry Princess Diana, but less than five years into his marriage, began an affair with Camilla. This infidelity was revealed to the public in the early '90s, putting both Charles and Camilla at the center of international scorn and disapproval. (Looking back, Camilla has called this time in her life "horrid.") Even after Charles and Diana divorced, and later, after Diana's 1997 death, it seemed as though there was no hope for a future for Charles and Camilla — especially if Charles wanted to be able to remain in his position as heir to the throne. Against what seemed like insurmountable odds, however, the two debuted a new relationship in early 1999, and eventually, wed in 2005. However, in a nod to the past controversy that clouded their relationship, Camilla goes by the Duchess of Cornwall, not the Princess of Wales — a title, that, though technically hers, is still closely associated with Princess Diana. It is also unknown if she will take the title of Queen Consort upon Charles's succession to the throne.
KING EDWARD VIII & WALLIS SIMPSON
The most scandalous royal romance in modern history belonged to Prince Charles's great uncle. Edward met Simpson, a still-married, already-divorced American, in New York in 1934 while he was still the Prince of Wales, and began an affair that progressed quickly. Two years later, his father King George V died, making Edward King Edward VIII — but his reign was to be short-lived. He announced his intentions to marry Wallis, who was then in the midst of her divorce from her second husband, Ernest Aldrich Simpson. The British government, however, didn't see Wallis as a fit consort for a king — who doubles as the head of the Church of England. Wallis left England for the South of France while the scandal continued, but Edward was undeterred. To marry Wallis, he abdicated the throne after less than a year, leaving the throne to his younger brother, the Duke of York, who then became King George VI. Wallis's divorce still took a few more months to finalize, which it did in May 1937. They married that same month and remained married until Edward's death in 1972.
KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER & QUEEN MAXIMA
Maxima and Willem-Alexander met under relatively ordinary circumstances: At a fair in Seville, Spain, where Willem-Alexander didn't even admit that he was a royal at first. (When he finally told her, Maxima thought he was joking.) They announced their engagement two years later, in 2001, but there was controversy before they were able to walk down the aisle. Maxima's father, Jorge Zorreguieta, was an Argentinian cabinet minister during the National Reorganization Process and the early years Dirty War, a period of dictatorship and mass death in the country. An inquiry was led by a Dutch professor into Zorreguieta's involvement in the Dirty War (he claims that he had none, as he was a civilian for the bulk of the crimes.) The inquiry found that while he wasn't involved, the professor was nearly certain Zorreguieta had been aware of it. Because of this, Maxima's father was not permitted to attend the wedding, and her mother chose not to attend without her husband.
QUEEN BEATRIX & PRINCE CLAUS
Willem-Alexander's mother, Beatrix, opted to marry a man with a highly controversial past: Prince Claus, who died in 2002, had been a member of the Hitler Youth as a child growing up in Germany and later fought in the German army at the tail end of World War II. When the two announced their engagement in 1965, the memory of WWII was still fresh in the minds of the Dutch people. Protests erupted, with Swastikas painted around Amsterdam and a petition against the marriage gaining more than 65,000 signatures. Thanks in large part to the support of her parents, Queen Julianna and King Bernhard, parliament approved the marriage, and Claus went on to become a beloved member of the Dutch royal family.
PRINCE JOHAN FRISO OF ORANGE-NASSAU AND MABEL WISSE SMIT
It seems that scandal and royal weddings go hand in hand in the Netherlands — and this one was the most talked-about of all. But in the case of Wisse Smit, these two polar opposite worlds collided when she became engaged to Beatrix's second son (and second in line to the throne), Prince Friso. Wisse Smit had always been open that she had a connection to Klaas Bruinsma, a Dutch gang leader drug baron who had been executed in 1991. However, after they were engaged, it was revealed that her connection to Bruinsma was greater than she first admitted. As such, the marriage was not even put before parliament for approval, which would have been necessary for Friso to retain his place in the line of succession. He lost his place in the line, and after their wedding, Smit became a member of the Dutch Royal Family, but not the Dutch Royal House. Friso died in 2013 following a skiing accident in 2012.
PRINCE CARL PHILIP & PRINCESS SOFIA
Carl Philip and Sofia's wedding was an elegant affair, but the start of their romance definitely raised some eyebrows. Sofia, a former reality star who had posed nearly nude for Slitz, a Swedish men's magazine, seemed an unlikely choice for Carl Philip, the only son of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Many in the public questioned the romance, with a Swedish journalist even remarking, "Can you imagine her turning up? It could be very embarrassing if the prince tries to bring her along," about the prospect of Sofia attending the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria in 2010. However, the two stuck together, announcing their engagement in 2014 and marrying in 2015.
PRINCESS STEPHANIE & DANIEL DUCRUET
The youngest child of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace long had a reputation as a rebel — an image that was cemented byher first marriage. Ducruet was Stéphanie's bodyguard, and in 1992, she announced that she was pregnant with his child — though the couple was not married. At the time of the pregnancy announcement, Ducruet had resigned his post with Monaco's police force, but he had been living with Stéphanie during his last few months on the job. Ducruet and Stéphanie were open about her pregnancy, with the former telling PEOPLE, "The first time we met, we exchanged a glance, and we couldn’t stop looking at each other. [And now] a baby is going to emerge from that lovely little belly. But the palace was less forthcoming. A palace source told PEOPLE in 1992 that there would be no official statement about the pregnancy, and the palace was even denying it as the local press was wishing Stéphanie a "Happy Mother's Day." She gave birth to their first child, Louis, in 1992, and they welcome a second, Pauline, in 1994 — but the couple didn't marry until July 1, 1995. The marriage, however, lasted for just more than a year: They divorced in October 1996.
PRINCESS SAYAKO & YOSHIKI KURODA
The Japanese Imperial family has strict regulations regarding marriage, especially when it comes to the women of the family. Men can marry commoners without losing their place in the imperial family, but women cannot. So when the daughter of Emperor Akhito, Princess Sayako, fell in love with Yoshiki Kuroda, she left her place in the family to marry him. Her niece, Princess Mako, is set to follow in her footsteps, after the Imperial Household announced plans for Mako to become engaged to Kei Komuro, a graduate student she met during her college years.