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PRINCE HARRY, THE ROYAL WHO WALKED AWAY

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Prince Harry

Harry Windsor, the prince who walked away from the British Royal family in 2020, has been the subject of newspaper front pages since he was a child. Originally an innocent bystander as the press tried to take pictures of his parents, his own behavior became newsworthy in time, often for the wrong reason.

Harry’s had an eventful journey so far, and with his recent delve into family life, it’s just the beginning. He’s spent time as a soldier, spokesman, and philanthropist, just like his late mother was. Read on to find out how young Harry survived the traumatic tragedy and what kind of a man he is today.

Born to a Long Wait in Line

Prince Harry entered the world with the title, The Duke of Sussex, and also, Henry Charles Albert David Windsor, in 1984 at St. Mary’s Hospital, London. With so many titles, comes great responsibility. The burden of being born to one of the most observed and scandalous families in the world showed itself from when Harry was just a child.

VENICE, ITALY - MAY 5:  (FILE PHOTO) (L-R) Diana the Princess of Wales holds her son Harry, whilst looking at Prince William held by his father Prince Charles on May 5, 1985 in Venice, Italy.  Prince William will celebrate his 21st birthday on June 21, 2003.  (Photo by Georges de Keerle/Getty Images)

On July 1st  Diana, Princess Of Wales would have celebrated her 50th Birthday
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Harry and his family were at times celebrated by the public, and sometimes they would need to hide from and run away from the paparazzi all through the day. He inherited this misfortune from his ever-scandalous parents then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Both parents had affairs and there were many rumors about Harry’s “real” father being James Hewitt, Will Carling, and others.

Diana Tried to Maintain Balance

Harry was very close with his mother, Princess Diana. But, Diana and Prince Charles’s rocky marriage soon turned into a public chaotic mess, making for a tough environment for any child, let alone a child royal who was famous before he was even born. Diana knew that her sons had more of everything than other kids, so she tried to instill some grounded values in them.

MAJORCA, SPAIN - AUGUST 10:  Diana, Princess of Wales with Prince Harry on holiday in Majorca, Spain on August 10, 1987.  (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)
Georges De Keerle/GettyImages

Diana took Harry and William to McDonald’s to dine with regular kids, and to homeless shelters to see how the less fortunate live. But, in 1992, when Harry was 8, his parents separated and eventually divorced in 1996. Bouncing between his parents, there was very little stability in his family. Harry felt that he didn’t get enough time with either of his parents. Little did he know how much worse it would get…

His Real Father

In 2023, Harry released a tell-all autobiography, finally addressing the infamous rumor that he is in fact the child of Princess Diana’s former lover, James Hewitt. Prince Charles was the first to joke about it. ‘Pa liked telling stories, and this was one of the best in his repertoire,’ he writes that his father would say, ‘”Who knows if I’m really the Prince of Wales? Who knows if I’m even your real father? Maybe your real father is in Broadmoor, darling boy!”‘

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 10: Prince Harry
Scott Olson/GettyImages

“It was a remarkably unfunny joke, given the rumor circulating just then,” Harry writes. “One cause of this rumor was Major Hewitt’s flaming ginger hair, but another cause was sadism,” Harry continues. ‘Tabloid readers were delighted by the idea that the younger child of Prince Charles wasn’t the child of Prince Charles. Harry then goes on to deny the rumors, admitting “the story was simply too good to drop”.

A Child’s Worst Nightmare

Only a year and a week after the divorce, the shocking and tragic news of Princess Diana’s death came. Harry was staying in Balmoral with his brother and father when he heard the news, and things went from bad to worse. Harry was just twelve years old, he’d lost his mother to a car accident, and the vultures of the tabloids descended on him and his family.

PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 31:  Iconic photos, flowers and messages dedicated to pay homage to Lady Diana to the 20th anniversary of her death adorn the plinth of the Flame of Liberty statue on August 31, 2017 in Paris, France. Princess Diana died in a car crash on August 31, 1997 near the Pont de l
Thierry Chesnot/GettyImages

It would have been one thing for the press to have just hounded Diana’s ex-husband, then-Prince Charles, but Harry and William were caught in the crossfire too. Looking back, Harry has since stated that he struggled during this part of his life. He suffered from nightmares for years and even the sound of a camera shutter or the sight of a flash threw bad memories into his mind.

He Walked Behind the Coffin

Millions of people around the world watched Princess Diana’s funeral with tears in their eyes for the loss of the Princess of Wales, but especially, the heartache everyone could see in her grieving sons. Harry and William escorting her coffin were enough to make a grown man cry. Prince Philip reportedly told his grandsons, “If you don’t walk, I think you’ll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?”

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 6:   Princess Diana
David Levenson/GettyImages

Harry and William did their mother proud and the image of them on that day became iconic and was burnt into many people’s minds. In memory of his mom, Prince Charles took Harry on a trip that mirrored many visits that Diana made. Harry also took on a number of causes that were close to Diana too.

His Past Came Back to Haunt Him

The trauma Harry suffered when his mother died in 1997 is still present to this day. But back in 2002, when the wound was still rather fresh, something was about to tear it back open. Just before Christmas that year, Harry was horrified to hear that his friend Henry van Straubenzee had also been killed in a car wreck.

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Anthony Harvey/GettyImages

Losing a close friend at that age is hard enough, but when the cause of death mirrored the demise of his own mother, that hit three times as hard. Harry showed his mettle and provided support to his friend’s family in their time of need. He also paid tribute to Henry by becoming a patron of a charity that was set up in van Straubenzee’s honor.

He Was Sent Away for Some Privacy

Harry was first educated at Jane Mynor’s nursery school and the pre-preparatory Wetherby School in London. When he was just seven years old, he was then sent off to Ludgrove School, a boarding school in Berkshire. Next, Harry passed the entrance exams and was admitted to Eton College, just as his brother William was, but controversy lurked around the corner…

ETON, ENGLAND - MARCH:  The youngest son of the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry poses next to a skeleton in Eton College
Getty Images/GettyImages

Harry completed his education at Eton in June 2003, but one of his former teachers made allegations that the “weak student” had cheated on his exams with the support of a “conspiracy” of Eton staff. The resulting panel didn’t clear up these accusations; it in fact “accepted the prince had received help in preparing his A-level ‘expressive’ project, which he needed to pass to secure his place at Sandhurst,” and discussion of the matter ended.

He Had a Plan

Harry had developed an interest in the military while he was at Eton, but he was in no rush to join before having a little fun and character-building first. Harry took a gap year and spent three months in Australia working on the ranch of Annie and Noel Hill, who were friends of his mother’s.

SANDHURST, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21:   HRH Prince Harry (C) takes part in the Trooping Of New Colours alongside his fellow officer cadets at the Royal Military Academy on June 21, 2005 in Sandhurst, England. HRH Queen Elizabeth II was due to present the new colours military awards for the first time since 1991, but has cancelled the engagement with her grandson due to a cold.   (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)
MJ Kim/GettyImages

Harry also visited Lesotho in South Africa and produced the documentary The Forgotten Kingdom, as well as taking a qualifying course to become a rugby coach. When he was ready to get back on with it, Harry entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on May 8th, 2005. He was known as Officer Cadet Wales and he joined the Alamein Company.

He Met a Party Girl

While Harry was in Africa, he met a young woman by the name of Chelsy Davy. The daughter of a Zimbabwean landowner, Chelsy shared Harry’s interest in sport, adventure, and partying until all hours of the night. The newspapers immediately picked up on the relationship and did their usual thing of following people around.

EGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 30: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy sit in the Royal Box as they attend the Cartier International Polo Match at Guards Polo Club, Smith
Max Mumby/Indigo/GettyImages

Harry didn’t help matters when he’d get himself into trouble and bring the wrong attention his way while boozing the night away, but the fact remains people should have some privacy. Around the time of his 21st birthday, Harry said in an interview that he “would love to tell everyone how amazing she is but once I start talking about that, I have left myself open…There is truth and there is lies and unfortunately I cannot get the truth across.” After five years, the pair split up in 2009.

He Partied Like It Was a Competition

Thanks to all of his drunken stupors, Harry earned himself a reputation as the “wild child” of Princess Diana’s sons. Not only was he constantly being caught on camera guzzling booze and smoking weed, but he also got into fights with the paparazzi who were following him around. Many have attributed this behavior to his mother’s passing, but he was no stranger to partying before that.

CIRENCESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 22: Prince Harry plays during the  polo day at Cirencester Park Polo Club on July 22, 2006 in Cirencester, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Matt Cardy/GettyImages

While still studying at Eton, Harry had been caught drinking and smoking by the staff. Prince Charles decided the best course of action was to send Harry to Featherstone Lodge, a rehab center, but Charles was concerned about how that would look if anyone found out. Instead, Harry spent a total of one day there learning about the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol, before being sent on his merry way. Obviously, nothing was learned at this time.

Nobody Saw the Funny Side

Much to his family’s dismay, Harry had quite the history of infamous intoxicated nights on the town. But in early 2005, Harry attended a costume party, where he may have upset the most people in one go. The shindig in question had a fancy dress theme of “Natives and Colonials,” and Harry responded by arriving in a full Nazi Germany Afrika Korps uniform.

NEW YORK - JANUARY 13:  Copies of the New York Post lie on display at a newstand featuring a
Stephen Chernin/GettyImages

Pictures of Harry and his armband were taken and published almost before the party had ended, causing the royal family to sigh in disbelief for the hundredth time. Harry issued a statement in apology for the choice of outfits, but some politicians felt that wasn’t enough. They insisted on an official (and public) apology, but the Lord Chancellor deemed it unnecessary.

He Was Deployed to Afghanistan

After joining the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in May 2005, Harry did manage to find the time in between parties to advance his military career, and in 2006, he was faced with deployment overseas to an active war zone. The public found out that Harry was being sent to Iraq, saying there was no need for such a high-profile figure to enter combat. The British Army gave in to the public.

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN - NOVEMBER 09:  Prince Harry salutes as the Last Post is played as he joins British troops and service personal remaining in Afghanistan and also International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel and civilians as they gather for a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield November 9, 2014 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. As the UK combat mission in Afghanistan draws to an end in 2014 this year, which also marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, 70 years since the D-Day landings will be the last time British service personal will gather in any great numbers in the south of the country.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Matt Cardy/GettyImages

Harry wasn’t happy with the decision, stating that he wouldn’t have signed up if he knew he wouldn’t be allowed to fight. He got his wish in 2007 when news broke that he’d been serving in Afghanistan for the last 10 weeks. When he returned home, Harry admitted that he’d battled the Taliban while over there, and this his instructors had called him an “instinctive flyer” while performing as a copilot gunner.

He Was Still One to Party

Harry found himself in another spot of bother in 2012 during a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. He and a group of his friends got incredibly, yet unsurprising legless, and photographs of them naked were circulated. A mystery photographer used their cell phone to take the snaps after Harry and an unknown female had finished their losing game of strip billiards, and another royal outrage ensued!

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 08:  Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry leave the King Edward VII hospital after visiting their grandfather Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on June 8, 2012 in London, England. The Prince is undergoing further treatment for a bladder infection, which caused him to miss the latter stages of the Queen
Matthew Lloyd/GettyImages

As you’d expect, TMZ had no problems publishing them stateside, but no publications in the UK were willing to print the pictures of Harry in his birthday suit. The palace even sent the vague threat of the Press Complaints Commission’s wrath, saying that Harry was a victim and his privacy had been invaded. It was all redundant though, as The Sun went ahead and printed them anyway.

She Seemed Like the One…on Paper

After Harry and Chelsy Davy split up, he spent a few years enjoying the single life. Then in May 2012, Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie introduced him to a friend of hers, an actress and model named Cressida Bonas. Just like before, the tabloids caught wind of the courting couple, especially since Cressida is the granddaughter of Edward Curzon, 6th Earl Howe.

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Many people, including Harry, held their breath at what they thought would lead to a future royal wedding, but it wasn’t meant to be. Harry was smitten as a kitten with his new lady, but when Cressida came face to face with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s family, she decided the role of wife and mother wasn’t for her. Harry asked Cressida to reconsider, but she ended the relationship in April 2014.

Second Deployment

On September 7th, 2012, Harry arrived in southern Afghanistan to start a four-month combat tour as an Apache helicopter co-pilot and gunner. Just three days later, Harry’s life was publicly threatened. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Reuters, “We are using all our strength to get rid of him, either by killing or kidnapping. We have informed our commanders in Helmand to do whatever they can to eliminate him.”

CAMP BASTION, AFGHANISTAN - SEPTEMBER 07:  Prince Harry climbs up to examine the cockpit of an Apache helicopter with a member of his squadron (name not provided) on September 7, 2012 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Prince Harry has been redeployed to the region to pilot attack helicopters.  (Photo by John Stillwell - Pool/Getty Images)
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Harry faced “the same risk as any other Apache pilot” while there, and he safely and successfully qualified as an Apache aircraft commander. When Harry returned home, he was asked how he jumps between his roles. He described his “three mess,” set up as, “one in the army, one socially in my own private time, and then one with the family and stuff like that. So there is a switch and I flick it when necessary.”

Wannabe Princesses

As a royal, wealthy man in uniform, Harry was no stranger to having a line of admirers trying to live out their dreams of becoming a real-life Disney princess. This idea became a reality in 2014 when an American reality TV show called I Wanna Marry “Harry” aired. Quite simply, twelve women competed for the affections of Prince Harry…or so they thought.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 18:  Actor Matthew Hicks arrives at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage)
Gabe Ginsberg/GettyImages

The truth of the matter was that it was all a ploy, and that “Harry” was actually an impersonator called Matthew Hicks. The show was canceled after airing only four episodes, and the remaining four were released on a few streaming platforms. UK channel ITV2 broadcast the whole series, but the ratings were nothing to get excited over.

Now That You’re 30…

Harry turned 30 in 2014, and one of his gifts was utterly heartbreaking. Little did he know, but Harry’s mother Princess Diana had stated in her will that Harry would receive something of hers on his 30th birthday: her famous wedding gown.

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 1:  Princess Diana
William Thomas Cain/GettyImages

Although it wouldn’t be the strangest item of clothing Harry had been seen in, the dress wasn’t directly for him and obviously handed down to Harry’s future wife, whoever that may be. That wasn’t all that he got – he also cashed in a sweet £12.9 million inheritance, too.

Trust No One

Throughout his entire life, the tabloids had made Harry’s life hell. One way or another, they’d gotten in the way, been caught following people in places they shouldn’t be, and of course, they were involved in the death of Princess Diana, Harry’s mom. This was something Harry would never be able to un-see, and it all came to a head in 2014 when Harry and his brother Prince William suspected there was a mole in their social group.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 13:  (L-R) Prince Harry and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge listen to speeches by foreign leaders at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House on February 13, 2014 in London, England. It is hoped that following discussions at the conference, nations will sign a declaration that will commit them to a range of goals to combat the poaching that is threatening animals such as tigers, elephants and rhinos. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty images)
WPA Pool/GettyImages

Apart from discovering their friends hadn’t betrayed them, the truth was even worst than their suspicions. The reason that the media was getting ahold of information that nobody should have had access to was that reporters for the News of the World had tapped both Harry and William’s cellphones. Their concerns and momentary paranoia may have subsided around people, but they’d understandably be cautious around technology in the future.

When Harry Met Meghan

In July 2016, Harry started a relationship with an actress from America, Meghan Markle. By that November, Harry was using his then-princely powers to have his communication secretary release a statement regarding people talking about Meghan online and in the press. Harry was known for trying to avoid getting press, whereas his new lady was an actress by trade, so getting attention is a huge part of her job.

2016 U.S. Open - Day 10  Actress Meghan Markle watching Serena Williams of the United States in action against Simona Halep of Romania in the Women
Tim Clayton – Corbis/GettyImages

Despite their clash in this area, Harry and Meghan grew closer by the day, and they were thankful to the mutual friend who introduced them. That period between July and November had been nice for them to get to know each other. You know, before the tabloids were all over them constantly.

They Moved Fast

During their first date, Harry had already asked for a second meeting with Meghan Markle. She agreed, and on that next meeting, Harry invited her on a trip to Botswana with him. With what sounded like the start of a Disney Princess movie, the pair vanished abroad for some alone time. However, that wouldn’t last…

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 30:  Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are seen at the Closing Ceremony on day 8 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 at the Air Canada Centre on September 30, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.  The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for the Armed Forces.  (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
Karwai Tang/GettyImages

The media were relentless with their coverage of Harry and Meghan; it was like they knew where they were going to be and at what time. Finally, Harry had enough and he released a statement pleading with the press to cease its “wave of abuse and harassment.” Other royals raised an eyebrow at this behavior, as Harry urgently and informally addressed the people in this manner. To the observant, it was obvious that Harry’s priorities were shifting.

Wedding Bells

The lovebird’s engagement was announced on November 27th, 2017. Although catholic, Meghan was baptized to become a Roman catholic. She was also divorced, but the Anglican Church has permitted marriage to divorced persons with a living former spouse since 2002. They married on May 19th, 2018. With the combination of royalty and Hollywood, came a very glamorous wedding guest list…

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 19: Britain
WPA Pool/GettyImages

Amongst non-royal notable guests were George and Amal Clooney, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, James Corden, Sir Elton John, David and Victoria Beckham, James Blunt, Marcus Mumford, and wife Carey Mulligan. Meghan’s Suits co-stars were there as well as Serena Williams and Oprah Winfrey. Two of Harry’s ex-girlfriends, Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy, were also invited. That was a nice gesture, as long as it wasn’t just to rub their noses in it!

Falling For Meghan Through Diana (And Her Jewelry)

Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with their mother’s former engagement ring. However, the ring wasn’t originally meant for Willam’s future bride, as it was initially left to Harry. Meghan didn’t have to worry about missing out though, because Harry proposed to her with something just as fancy. The central piece in Harry’s engagement ring to Meghan was from Botswana and the two other diamonds were from Prince Diana’s collection

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England.  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Monday 27th November 2017 and will marry at St George
Christopher Furlong/GettyImages

But that may not be the only way Harry chose to honor his beloved late mother. According to Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, Harry might have fallen for Meghan in the first place because of her and Diana’s similar personalities. “Harry went for and married Meghan because she’s like Diana,” he reportedly said claimed. “Both women who would always stand up for what they believe in and wouldn’t be pushovers.” Still, Paul doesn’t think that means they’d be besties. “I think, possibly, they would have clashed,” he continued. “I imagine it would have been two strong, independent women with different views on things—it would have been a battle between Meghan’s way and Diana’s way.”

They Had Roommates

Harry and Meghan were going to have to wait a little while if there were expecting to jump straight into their own lives together. Their first official home was on the grounds of Kensington Palace, and they weren’t alone. Harry and Meghan had to share living space with Prince William, Kate Middleton, and their children!

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, pose with their newborn son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor during a photocall in St George
WPA Pool/GettyImages

Although this sounds like someone’s pitch for a new sitcom, as the upcoming years would prove, nobody in attendance was laughing. Harry and Meghan continued with their marriage regardless and had their first child on May 6th, 2019. He was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, and his parents made their first of many controversial decisions. Instead of taking one of Harry’s titles and making their son an Earl, Harry and Meghan decided against it and chose to raise him as a public citizen.

Who’s to Blame?

In time, cracks began to emerge in the relationship between Harry and Prince William. Maybe it was the time they spent living together. Perhaps it was the fact that their wives could never seem to hit it off properly. Or maybe they’d both just gotten older and drifted apart. Only they’ll ever truly know the answer, but there was one incident that might hold some of the blame.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 10: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge attend the annual Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph on November 10, 2019 in London, England. The armistice ending the First World War between the Allies and Germany was signed at Compiegne, France on eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - 11am on the 11th November 1918. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Max Mumby/Indigo/GettyImages

In 2019, a rumor began to make the rounds that William was having an affair with a woman named Rose Hanbury. When Harry heard the news he confronted his brother and was furious with him. Harry was recently married and he still remembered all the problems his parents’ cheating ways caused, so it’s no wonder he was so emotional. All parties denied the affairs and falling out, but there was now an obvious rift between the brothers.

They Dumped the Queen for Oprah

In January 2020, Harry and Meghan announced that they were leaving the royal family! They moved to America in an effort to ensure their privacy, saying “This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend The Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House on March 5, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Max Mumby/Indigo/GettyImages

They also boasted big things in their future including a podcast, documentaries, and TV shows. However, they got a bit too excited and forgot to tell the Queen about their decision before they went public. Due to how quickly Harry and Meghan appeared in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, there’s a good chance that Oprah knew what was going on before the Queen did.

He Torpedoed His Relationship With The Royals

The palace released a statement saying they accepted Harry and Meghan’s choice, but sources, say that as of 2023, the former prince and the royal family are not on good terms. Harry, along with six other claimants, including Sir Elton John, are suing Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), publisher of the Daily Mail, of invading their privacy by using private detectives who intercepted their calls and voicemails and even put tracking and listening devices on cars and in homes. 

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attends a press conference at the Merkur Spiel Arena during the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 - One Year To Go events on September 6, 2022 in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Invictus Games will be held in Germany for the first time in September 2023. (Photo by Patrick van Katwijk/Getty Images)
Patrick van Katwijk/GettyImages

Harry testified as a witness saying: “The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN’s phone hacking and that has only become clear in recent years as I have pursued my own claim with different legal advice and representation.” He made similar claims in his memoir, Spare Netflix documentary, alleging his family colluded with the press, sometimes selling him out to win favors for themselves. A friend says: “Harry has torpedoed any remaining bridges with this statement. It is just six weeks until the coronation and the last thing Charles needs.”

They Plan to Tell All

Harry and Prince William had drifted further and further apart by this time, and there was even an ITV documentary made on the story. Although, after their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, died on September 8th, 2022, Harry and Prince William were seen together again. The future is uncertain between the two brothers, but their shared loss may be a bittersweet bridge to get back into each other’s lives.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Catherine, Princess of Wales, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex pay their respects in The Palace of Westminster after the procession for the Lying-in State of Queen Elizabeth II on September 14, 2022 in London, England. Queen Elizabeth II
Christopher Furlong/GettyImages

On the other hand, too much water may have passed through that bridge, and it may only be a matter of time before we all find out the details. Harry (and to an extent, Meghan) has a book called Spare due out revolving around their marriage and new life together away from the royal family. It was originally due for release in August 2020, but several delays have disappointed fans and they must now wait until 2023. And it’s not just fans that are waiting – according to Esquire, the royal family is apparently “shaken up” and “nervous” about what might be contained inside…

British Royal Family Scandals That Took the World By Surprise

The British Royal Family has been one of the most influential families in the history of pop culture all over the world. Be it for good or bad reasons, the Royal Family has been a regular in media headlines. Unfortunately, being a royal has gone hand in hand with constant scandals for centuries, challenging the idea that being a princess, queen or king is a fairytale.

From royals who have abandoned their royal duties to queens who have never been married and worldwide cheating scandals, here’s a list of the most controversial scandals in British Royal history.

Prince Charles, Diana And Camilla’s Triangle

One of the most detrimental and publicized love triangles in royal history, and worldwide history in general, is the love triangle involving Princess Diana, Prince Charles, and Camilla. As media reports have shown, Prince Charles was already head over heels for Camilla when he married Princess Diana in 1981. 

Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Archive Photos)
Express Newspapers/GettyImages

Charles and Diana’s wedding was watched by more than 50 million people from around the world and quickly became the media’s favorite topic to speculate about. After a tumultuous marriage and affairs by both parties, the couple finally separated in 1992. And in 1995, Diana famously shared with the entire world that a marriage with three people was a bit too crowded to work. 

The Affair Between Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend

A tragic love story that was chronicled with detail in Netflix’s The Crown, Princess Margaret, and Peter Townsend’s relationship was another huge scandal that the British Royal Family had to endure. Princess Margaret fell completely in love with Peter Townsend, who was sixteen years older than her at the time. 

400806 32: (FILE PHOTO) Princess Margaret (L), Princess Elizabeth and Group Captain Peter Townsend gather June 13, 1951 in the Royal Box at Ascot. In 1955 Princess Margaret was refused permission to marry Townsend, a divorced Royal Air Force captain. Buckingham Palace announced that Princess Margaret died peacefully in her sleep at 1:30AM EST at the King Edward VII Hospital February 9, 2002 in London. (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/GettyImages

Townsend was a royal equerry and a very trusted team member of the royal house. Unfortunately, the Royal Family didn’t take the romance very well, as it forbade the couple from marrying each other unless Princess Margaret gave up all of her royal privileges. 

The Cousins Who Were Sent Away and Forgotten 

This royal scandal is an even less glamorous one, in fact, it’s very sad. In the first half of the 20th century, mental disability was looked down upon, especially if you came from a royal family. The mentally disabled were seen as an embarrassment and a threat to families of royal descent. It was a sign that something was wrong with the family.

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The women in the picture are Nerissa and Katherine Bowes-Lyon, the Queen’s first cousins. In 1941, they were sent to the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Mental Defectives. According to reports, they were left there and forgotten, not receiving visitors. This was the fate of mentally challenged royal members, at least in their era.

When Edward VIII Gave Up on the Throne

Prince Harry is not the first, and probably not the last royal who has decided to give up on their royal status. In 1936, King Edward VIII wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, who was a divorced American socialite. Unfortunately, according to the royal family, the government, and the church rules of England, King Edward wasn’t allowed to marry a divorcee.

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As much as he fought, he didn’t manage to convince the royalty of his right to marry whoever he loved. For that reason, Prince Edward chose to abdicate the throne, which passed on to his brother George VI. His marriage to Wallis lasted until his death in 1972. 

That Time Prince Harry Wore a Nazi Costume

Over the years, Prince Harry has had his fair share of controversial moments both in his family and in the media. So when, in 2005, he arrived at a costume party dressed as a Nazi, complete with a swastika armband and a desert uniform, the world was completely shocked.

LONDON - JANUARY 12:  A man is seen reading a copy of The Sun newspaper in front of Buckingham Palace on January 13, 2005 in London, England.  Prince Harry made the headlines again this morning with the news that he arrived at a friends birthday party dressed in Nazi outfit just a fortnight before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The Prince, who has been fiercely criticised for his actions, has apologised for his choice of costume.  (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)
Bruno Vincent/GettyImages

Someone took a photo of him which was circulated in several newspapers and magazines around the world. Later on, Prince Harry issued an official statement agreeing that he had chosen a terrible costume, for which he apologized. 

William II Was Assassinated on a Regular Hunting Day

As much as the royal family has been loved by thousands of people over the years, they’ve also had a large number of haters. Hence, their security is one of the most expensive and enforced security systems in the world. 

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Sadly, in 1100, William II was hunting in England’s New Forest, until he managed to catch something with an arrow. As he ran towards whatever he had managed to hunt, a man named Walter Tirel killed William with an arrow of his own. Although it wasn’t confirmed if it was an accident or a murder, everyone was pretty sure William had been murdered. 

Sarah Ferguson’s Trade Scandal

Sarah Ferguson’s scandal was one of the biggest cash scandals in the history of the royal family. Apparently, in May 2010, the Duchess of York was caught red-handed after she agreed to give access to her ex-husband in exchange for £500,000. 

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22:  Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson attends the
Neilson Barnard/GettyImages

What she didn’t know was that she was being filmed by an undercover news reporter who was posing as a fake businessman. She was exposed a couple of days after, causing an incredibly huge embarrassment and scandal surrounding the royal family. She later apologized for her lapse in judgment.

The Controversial Relationships of Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria didn’t just embark on one controversial relationship, but two! She became completely infatuated with an Indian attendant with the name of Abdul Karim. Although he started as a servant, he was quickly promoted to be a part of her inner circle. 

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Although it’s believed that their relationship was merely platonic, after Queen Victoria died, her family deported him back to India and did everything they could to erase his existence. Before Karim though, she liked another servant who was of Scottish descent. Some people actually believe that they secretly married.

When Princess Margaret Was Accused of Doing Drugs

Another scandal that involved Princess Margaret was shared in her 2002 biography, written by Noel Botham. In the book, Noel claims that the Princess allegedly did cocaine at a Rolling Stones concert back in 1967. According to her story, Princess Margaret was invited by Mick Jagger to the concert, and the drug was provided by Keith Richards. 

Princess Margaret meets Lithuanian-born actor Laurence Harvey (1928 - 1973) and actress Mia Farrow at the Royal Film Performance of the film
Douglas Miller/GettyImages

The Princess wasn’t so scandalized with the idea of taking some, and allegedly went to the bathroom and did it. When she returned to the room, it is said that she shared how much more she was going to enjoy the concert after that. The story was naturally never confirmed by the princess, though.

Henry VIII Created a Whole Church 

It seems like this king was ready to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon way too soon, but no church allowed him to do so. After the annulment was strictly denied by the Catholic Pope, Henry decided that the only solution would be to create a church of his own. 

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Yes, folks, Henry VIII created the Church of England in 1534 and blatantly appointed himself as the church’s head. He then annulled the marriage, married five more times throughout his time, and even managed to have two of his wives beheaded. Quite the remarkable king we’d say!

The Queen of Scots, Mary, Plans to Assassinate Queen Elizabeth I

After the 1568 uprising, Mary Queen of Scots had to abdicate her throne and subsequently flee to England. There, Queen Elizabeth I decided to hold her captive, as she believed that Mary was a threat to the English throne. Apparently, her worry wasn’t completely without cause, since Mary and others had plotted to kill Queen Elizabeth. 

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At some point, one of Queen Elizabeth’s spies managed to intercept a letter written by Mary that ordered her assassination. After that happened, Queen Elizabeth ordered Mary’s beheading. 

Someone Manages to Break Into the Queen’s Bedroom

Believe it or not, even with the crazy amount of security in the Royal Palace, a man once managed to break into Queen Elizabeth II’s room in 1982. He was a British man named Michael Fagan who was unemployed and unknown at the time. He somehow climbed up the drainpipe located in Buckingham Palace and got into the Queen’s room. 

WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 16: Queen Elizabeth II takes a photograph with her Leica camera at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 16, 1982 in Windsor, England.  (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Anwar Hussein/GettyImages

The room was unguarded at that split second because a guard had left before he should have (and probably never came back again!). When the Queen woke up and saw the man, she apparently engaged in a conversation with him for 10 minutes until he asked for a cigarette. That was her opening to ask for help. 

Princess Anne’s Dog Suddenly Bites Two Children

In this unfortunate event, Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter, had a dog that bit two young boys who were twelve and seven. The Princess was walking with her bull terrier when it attacked them. 

STROUD, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 08: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Anne, Princess Royal takes her bull terrier dog for a walk as she attends the Whatley Manor Horse Trials at Gatcombe Park on September 8, 2018 in Stroud, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Max Mumby/Indigo/GettyImages

The boys were rushed to the hospital right away and needed stitches. Princess Anne became the first senior member of the entire British Royal Family to be convicted and was ordered to pay a whopping £500 fine. She also had to provide additional compensation to the families of each child for the sum of £500.  

Prince Charles Bad-Mouths a Reporter and is Caught

While this one also became a pretty huge scandal, we can’t really judge Prince Charles for his attitude. In the middle of a pose next to his two sons at a Swiss ski resort, Prince Charles was asked to share some thoughts on his upcoming wedding to Camilla. 

DURHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 15:  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales visits the new Emergency Service Station at Barnard Castle on February 15, 2018 in Durham, England.  (Photo by Chris Jackson - WPA Pool /Getty Images)
Chris Jackson/GettyImages

Prince Charles replied to the BBC reporter in a sarcastic tone: “I am very glad you have heard of it anyway”, and right after, whispered to William and Harry that he hated those “bloody” people, and couldn’t bear that particular reporter. He also added that he was an overall awful person. Unfortunately, he was being recorded at the time. 

The Fire at Windsor Castle

Some might have forgotten that in November of 1992, Windsor Castle caught fire. The disaster started in the queen’s private chapel because the room’s curtains were pressed close to the spotlight. After that, the fire spread at the speed of light, and everyone feared for their lives. 

Flames lick the roof of the Queen
Richard Baker/GettyImages

In just a couple of minutes, around 250 firefighters were deployed to the scene and eventually managed to shut down the fire. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but at least 115 rooms in the castle were completely destroyed. Restoring it cost approximately $60 million.

Prince Philip Compares a Plane Crash to Water Damage

In 1988, a terrorist attack resulted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland, which killed 259 people on board, in addition to 11 others in Lockerbie, the location where the plane fell. When Prince Philip visited the location five years later, he compared the fire that had happened the year before at Windsor Castle to the crash. 

WINDSOR - MAY 28: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh takes part in carriage driving at Windsor Horse Show on May 28, 1988 in Windsor, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
David Levenson/GettyImages

Although the fire didn’t cause the loss of any life, he literally said that they were still trying to dry out Windsor Castle, after referring to the water damage that comes after putting out a fire. 

Prince Philip Says Something Offensive About Aboriginal Australians

In another of Prince Philip’s offensive remarks, the Prince made an uncalled-for comment towards a tribal leader. It was in the middle of a visit with Queen Elizabeth II to the Tjapukai Cultural Park in Queensland, in Australia. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 26:  Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh board a plane on October 26, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are on a 10-day visit to Australia and will travel to Canberra, Brisbane, and Melbourne before heading to Perth for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. This is the Queen
Pool/GettyImages

When he met tribal leader William Brin, he asked if they still threw spears at each other. The racist comment wasn’t taken so offensively by the tribe leader, who was most surprised that the Prince would say something like that. He just replied that they no longer did that, but many people took great offense to the comment. 

Prince Harry Smokes Pot

While Prince Harry is still in the news for different reasons, he was a regular feature in British tabloids back in the days. One of the famous scandals involved the Prince being caught smoking pot. 

WILTSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 13:  Britain
UK Press/GettyImages

He was on the cover of several papers in 2002 after someone saw him smoking a joint at the age of 16. He also had a drink at a pub next to his home. That resulted in Harry being sent to rehab for one day so that he could be ‘rehabilitated’ from his terrible ways.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Leave the Queen in the Dark

Prince Hary and Meghan Markle have not been strangers to controversy. Their marriage may have displeased certain family members and their exit from living a royal life turned many heads. Perhaps, by seeming more human and by being more similar to the general public, they are winning more hearts. Regardless of how the public perceives them, they know how to cause drama in the royal household.

WELLINGTON, NZ - OCTOBER 28: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex lay ferns and a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the newly unveiled UK war memorial and Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, on October 28, 2018, in Wellington, New Zealand. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. (Photo by Rosa Woods - Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/GettyImages

Many people wondered what this lovely couple would do once leaving the comfort of the royal family life. Well, it seems that they are quite capable of taking care of themselves. They signed a deal with Netflix for a reported amount of $150 to produce documentaries and children’s programming, among other productions. However, they seemed to forget to inform the Queen about this deal. As you can imagine, Her Majesty was not too pleased – for not being informed and with the deal in general. After internal discussions, it was decided that the couple will stop using their royal titles.

Prince Charles Was Heard Ordering a Cherry Brandy

Yes, folks, Prince Charles ordering a cherry brandy in a pub was also on the news. The “scandalous” moment was caught by a tabloid reporter who was somehow camouflaged in the pub, who went back to the publishing station to run the story. 

Princess Anne and Prince Charles arriving at a special service marking the 900th anniversary of the consecration of London
Fox Photos/GettyImages

Prince Charles was only 14 at the time and was in the middle of a sailing trip to Scotland organized by his school. Although Buckingham Palace staff tried really hard to deny the story, they later had to admit it publicly to the entire world.

The Infamous War of the Roses

All the way back in the 15th century, a war took place that led to an incredible amount of bloodshed and pain. The War of the Roses was characterized by a violent battle between two houses that descended from the same family. 

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In a battle for the throne, the House of York and the House of Lancaster fought like crazy, with the House of York claiming their victory a little bit before they should. The Lancasters managed to win the battle in the end, thanks to King Henry VII, who then married Elizabeth of York and ended up uniting both houses. 

William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings is one of the most controversial battles in royal history. William the Conqueror, also known as William the Bastard, was the only son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, who was not married and had had the child with his mistress, Herleva. 

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Because of his illegitimate status, William the Conqueror had a pretty hard time during his youth. But in 1066, Wiliam killed and defeated Harold II. But why was it such a huge deal? Because Harold II was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England at the time, which allowed William to finally get his hold on England. 

Gilbey Calling Princess Diana “Squidgy”

One of the most gossipy British tabloid magazines, the Sun, revealed in 1989 that they were in the possession of a phone call recording between Princess Diana and James Gilbey, her good friend. 

James Gilbey, a Lotus Motor Executive and former suitor of Diana, Princess of Wales leaves Norwich magistrates court after facing speeding charges, in Norwich, Norfolk, UK, on Monday, Sept. 13, 1993.  (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)
Bryn Colton/GettyImages

During the phone call, Gilbey continuously referred to Diana as “Squidgy” while telling her how much he loved her, and referred to Charles as “His Nibs”, a mocking title. The two were also heard discussing several topics like how the Queen looked at Diana and her fear of becoming pregnant, amongst others. Princess Diana later explained that Gilbey was a very affectionate person – hence the nickname, and though she emphasized that the two had never had a romantic relationship, it was difficult to look past her telling him that he made her go “all jellybags”.

When Princess Anne Was Almost Kidnapped

In 1974, Princess Anne went through one of the scariest moments of her life when a man called Ian Ball attempted to kidnap her. The 26-year-old man was allegedly mentally ill and had waited for Princess Anne to exit a film screening to overtake her limo. 

BADMINTON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Princess Anne competes in the Badminton Horse Trials in April, 1974 in Badminton, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Anwar Hussein/GettyImages

He was driving a Ford Escort and managed to position the vehicle in a way that the limo had to stop. He had two guns with him, and while running to the limo, he shot the bodyguard on the shoulder. But because there were so many people around, he failed to kidnap her and ran away. He was later found by the police. 

Mark Philips’s Love Child

The failed kidnapping wasn’t the end of some of the struggles that Prince Anne had to endure. Her husband, Mark Philips, had a love child with an art teacher called Heather Tonkin in New Zealand. 

British equestrian Captain Mark Phillips, wearing a tweed blazer, and his fiancee, British Royal Anne, Princess Royal, wearing a ribbed sweater, over a blouse with a wide collar, and a neckerchief, at the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, an equestrian centre in West Sussex, England, July 1973. (Photo by McCarthy/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
McCarthy/GettyImages

The art teacher filed a paternity suit against Philips in 1991 which later confirmed that her child was, in fact, Captain Mark Philips’ child. Thankfully, Princess Anne was already with one foot out the door as the couple was in the process of separating by the time the scandal happened. Their divorce was only finalized in 1992. 

Edward VIII Gives a Nazi Salute

Edward VIII became the Duke of Windsor in 1937 after he abdicated the throne the year before. In one of his visits under duty, he visited Adolf Hitler and was apparently seen giving the dictator a Nazi salute. 

Royal cricketers at Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, 1911 (1912). Featured are Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein, Edward, Prince of Wales, WG Grace and Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. From Imperial Cricket, edited by P F Warner and published by The London and Counties Press Association Ltd (London, 1912). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Print Collector/GettyImages

Later on, telegrams actually revealed that the Germans were planning to kidnap the Duke with the aim of reinstating him as the king. That way, they could create some sort of puppet that would ideally help them with whatever they wanted. But that didn’t end up happening as the Duke became the governor of the Bahamas. 

Charles II’s Various Illegitimate Children

During his reign in the 1600s, Charles II got a little bit crazy with the number of women he had ‘a thing’ with. But back then, he failed to protect himself and ended up illegitimately fathering about 12 children outside of marriage. Yes, he was married during that time to Catherine of Braganza. 

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Their marriage contract was signed in June 1661 and had several benefits written for both families. Catherine was only 23 years old at the time, and apparently, neither Charles II nor his father ‘like her face’ very much. Ironically, he didn’t have any children with his wife despite fathering a dozen children with other women. 

Princess Michael’s Choice of a Racist Brooch

Most of us will remember this recent scandal since it takes place in the Meghan Markle era. Just recently, Princess Michael of Kent was in several headlines after she wore a “blackamoor” brooch to a royal lunch. The brooch carries extremely racist undertones, as it bluntly exoticizes African people. 

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 23: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Princess Michael of Kent attends a National Service of Commemoration to mark the Bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the death of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson at St. Paul
Max Mumby/Indigo/GettyImages

This was especially problematic because Meghan Markle was present in the lunch, and had shared her difficulties growing up as the daughter of a black woman and a white man. After the scandal, the Princess released a statement apologizing for the offense she had caused. 

The Plot to Assassinate King James I

Sadly, queens and kings were never short of plots to be killed throughout history. While some of these were plotted by enemies who wanted the throne, others simply wanted to see them gone. That’s what happened in 1605 when a man named Guy Fawkes tried to execute an entire plan to assassinate King James I. 

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His plan consisted of blowing up the entire House of Lords as soon as the Parliament session began. Sadly for him, someone sent an anonymous letter to the authorities informing them of the 36 barrels of gunpowder hidden in the cellars. 

Prince Harry is Helped By Art Teacher on Cheating Spree

Easily one of Harry’s most insignificant scandals, in 2004, the prince was accused by an art teacher of having cheated on his art exam. The teacher was a former arts educator at Eton College named Sarah Forsyth. 

WINDSOR, ENGLAND - MAY 2003: (FILE PHOTO) Prince Harry relaxes in his room at Eton College in March 2003.in Windsor, England. The Royal Family on October 9, 2004 denied allegations that the Prince had cheated in his art A-level.  Sarah Forsyth, a former teacher of Harry at Eton, made the allegations as she prepared to take the college to an industrial tribunal claiming for unfair dismissal. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Anwar Hussein/GettyImages

This apparently came up in a court case against Sarah, who had been fired by the school at the time. She claimed that she had been ordered by the head of the department, Ian Burke, to ghostwrite the project that would be submitted by Harry. Although no evidence of Harry’s cheating was found, there was an acknowledgment of him receiving help in one art project. 

George IV Had a Secret Wife

Before King George IV married his beloved wife Caroline of Brunswick in 1795, he had allegedly already married someone else. Although the marriage was completely illegal, he had married Maria Fitzherbert, who was a commoner and considered unfit to marry a king. 

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The couple was madly in love, and King George had made the decision to secretly marry the love of his life 10 years prior to his official royal wedding. When he passed away years after, he was buried with a tiny portrait of Maria. 

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History

SECRET SOCIETIES THAT LEFT THEIR MARKS ON HISTORY

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on

Throughout history, men and women have formed secret groups, gathering behind closed doors in pursuit of shared ideals. They might have used unexpected methods to get what they wanted.

Some attempted magic, others turned to violence, and many, in fact, got caught and persecuted for the things they did. Yet still, secret societies continue to meet in private today — perhaps there’s even one in your hometown.

20. The Knights of Malta

Not every secret society is about the occult, magic, or the dark arts. The Knights of Malta — founded in the year 1048 — had noble aims from the start.

20. The Knights of Malta

Whitworth Porter/Wikimedia Commons | {{CC-PD-Mark}}

Members would take care of anyone making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, regardless of the person’s faith. The Pope ordered them to aid any Christians who needed protection along the way, too. Things have changed somewhat since 1048, though.

The Knights of Malta is still going strong today

Nowadays, the Knights of Malta have a much different focus. Its 13,500 members across 120 countries focus on charitable causes in general.

The Knights of Malta is still going strong today

Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Their motto is “Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum” — nurturing, witnessing, and protecting the faith and serving the poor and the sick. Considering their focus on charity, it makes sense that Nelson Mandela was once part of the organization.

19. Freemasons

So many rumors surround the Freemasons — possibly the least secret “secret society” in history. This makes sense, considering how old and storied the organization is. The Freemasons emerged in Europe in the midst of the Middle Ages, a time when craftspeople were arranged into regional guilds.

19. Freemasons

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

It wasn’t until 1717 that the Freemasons morphed into its current iteration. That’s when four branches from London joined together, and the group expanded to the rest of the continent and the Americas.

The Freemasons’ secret handshake

What started as a fraternity for craftsmen is now a bit more mysterious to non-members. The Freemasons are ostensibly about charity work and social networking. However, rumors swirl that the group is plagued with bullies, nepotism, and a refusal to change with the times.

The Freemasons' secret handshake

Gracie Films

People also suspect that the Freemasons have a secret handshake, but they won’t show it to anyone outside of their six million members. The Freemasons were given the honor of being parodied by The Simpsons in an episode that saw Homer join the “Stonecutters.”

18. The Molly Maguires

An organization made up of Irish immigrants in 19th-century America might sound innocent enough. But the Molly Maguires had sinister aims that the all-male membership carried out while dressed as women — hence the name.

18. The Molly Maguires

Tamm Productions

In the 1870s they allegedly completed their most notorious job of all: assassinating 24 foremen and supervisors working in the Pennsylvania coal mines. The subsequent investigation led to 20 suspected members of the Molly Maguires getting convicted.

The Molly Maguies came to a bloody end

The Molly Maguires supposedly had their hand in arson and threat-making as well — but it was the two dozen murders that finished the organization off. A mole infiltrated the group, leading to the arrests of the 20 suspected members.

The Molly Maguies came to a bloody end

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

All of the men received death sentences and were hanged. As time has gone on, though, some remember the Maguires positively as being dedicated to labor and unions despite their unforgivable alleged crimes.

17. The School of Night

London in the late 16th century set the scene for some of humankind’s greatest writers to create their finest works. But they didn’t spend all of their time at their desks with pens in hand. Instead, some authors gathered in the School of Night.

17. The School of Night

duncan1890/Getty Images

It was a society that explored atheism and alchemy, all illegal subjects of conversation at the time. In fact, if you didn’t believe in God back then, you could have found yourself charged with treason.

The School of Night was once called The School of Atheism

Playwright Christopher Marlowe — the top tragedy writer of his time and an inspiration to William Shakespeare — was said to be a member of the School of Night. Other members supposedly included Sir Walter Raleigh, George Chapman, Matthew Roydon, and Thomas Harriot.

The School of Night was once called The School of Atheism

Corpus Christi College

Marlowe faced charges for writing a text deemed to be heretical, but before he could face any kind of trial, he died under suspicious circumstances in 1853. After that, no one knows what happened to the School of Night.

16. Order of the Temple of the East

The Order of the Temple of the East — or Ordo Templi Orientis — used the Freemasons as its inspiration, but it operated on a completely different belief structure. Its eventual leader was occultist Aleister Crowley, who taught members the tenets of Thelema, an ideology he created himself.

16. Order of the Temple of the East

Arnold Genthe

He incorporated mysticism, contributing to some very strange rituals performed by the society — supposedly to this day. A gathering of the Order of the Temple of the East incorporates two components — gnostic mass and magic ceremonies.

Ordo Templi Orientis

Gnostic mass mimics Catholic mass, but attendees don extravagant get-ups to worship. And then there are the rituals, which range from conjuring spirits to tantric love-making and encouraging out-of-body experiences called astral projections.

Ordo Templi Orientis

Hereward Carrington, Sylvan Muldoon

Perhaps even more surprising, the society still exists today, although the locations of their lodges remain largely unknown to non-members. The latest branch to continue Crowley’s teachings is the Caliphate O.T.O., which was incorporated in 1979.

15. The Calves’ Head Club

To understand The Calves’ Head Club, you need to brush up on English history. Here’s the basics: King Charles I married a Roman Catholic French princess in 1626, a union that angered his Protestant subjects. In response to rising opposition, he dissolved Parliament and eventually incited civil war in England.

15. The Calves’ Head Club

Anthony van Dyck/Wikimedia Commons | {{PD-Art}}

Headed up by Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentarians later defeated the monarchy and in 1648 Charles I was facing charges of treason. The following year, King Charles I was executed by beheading, and Oliver Cromwell seized power.

Games of Thrones in real life

The highly controversial Calves’ Head Club came to be after Charles I’s execution. On the anniversary of his slaying, the group gathered for a grotesque celebration of his demise. Members would first decapitate a calf — a representation of the former king — then prepare it and eat it.

Games of Thrones in real life

Gonzales Coques/Wikimedia Common | {{PD-Art}}

Their behavior was treasonous to the monarchy, which returned to power in 1659. Eventually, the Calves’ Head Club disappeared, with the last record of its existence coming in 1734 when a riot about their tasteless ways brought an end to proceedings.

14. Bilderberg Meetings

The Bilderberg Meetings started in 1954 when 11 Americans traveled to the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek in the Netherlands. There, they met with 50 people from 11 Western European nations.

14. Bilderberg Meetings

Pvt pauline/Wikimedia Commons | {{CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED}}

Among the attendees, apparently, were a prime minister, a royal, and a one-time CIA leader. As its website describes, “The Bilderberg Meeting is a forum for informal discussions about major issues.” The meetings are exclusive, invitation-only affairs,

The Bilderberg Meetings happen every year

The latest Bilderberg Meeting took place in Lisbon, Portugal, in May 2023. The list of attendees was published on its website, and the topics discussed during the meeting included AI, banking systems, and the situation in Ukraine. But historically, the details of the meetings were kept secret from the public.

The Bilderberg Meetings happen every year

Jean Beaufort | {{CC0 Public Domain}}

Naturally, the secrecy around the meetings has made for many conspiracy theories about the organization. Some people wonder if the group gathers to plan for world domination, or even to sway the global economy.

13. Priory of Sion

The Priory of Sion — or Prieuré de Sion — is and is not a secret society. A man named Pierre Plantard founded the fraternal organization in France in 1956. The idea was that was forming a neo-chivalric order — meaning the Priory of Sion was an order of knighthood.

13. Priory of Sion

Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

So far, so normal. The problem was that Plantard claimed that the Priory of Sion was actually formed as a secret society in 1099 by a knight named Godfrey of Bouillon on Mount Zion in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The history of the Priory of Sion was bogus

To back up that claim about a secret history, Plantard faked a bunch of documents and had them inserted into the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. He also had two encrypted medieval parchments created, complete with references to the Priory of Sion.

The history of the Priory of Sion was bogus

Columbia Pictures

The whole thing was later found to be an elaborate literary hoax, of course. You might even recognize parts of the story from Dan Brown’s famous novel, The Da Vinci Code.

12. The Rosicrucians

The abbreviated tale of the Rosicrucians goes something like this: legendary Founder Christian Rosenkreuz apparently traveled from his native Germany into the Middle East so that he — a mystical philosopher — could gain some esoteric wisdom.

12. The Rosicrucians

T. Schweighart/Wikimedia Commons

According to the story, his studies gave him a greater perspective on the natural world and the universe at large. Upon getting back home, they say, he wanted to share his wisdom with others and set up the Fraternity of the Rose Cross.

The Rosicrucians and the occult

It’s possible, however, that Christian Rosenkreuz never existed and the story is just allegorical. Still, some people were taken in by the idea of a “universal reformation of mankind” via “esoteric truths of the ancient past.” Yet rumors plagued the Rosicrucians since its foundation in the 15th century.

The Rosicrucians and the occult

Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

Many especially thought this “universal reformation” would actually be via occult methods. Conspiracy theorists have also said the Rosicrucians were behind some of history’s modern uprisings as well as the founding of other prominent secret societies.

11. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn — often shortened to just the Golden Dawn — began gathering in 19th-century London. Group members shared an interest in the occult, magic, and mysticism.

11. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Wikimedia Commons

If that sounds familiar, it’s no coincidence. Some say that Golden Dawn was the precursor to other supernatural-focused groups on this list, such as the Order of the Temple of the East.

Golden Dawn had its origins in the Freemasons

The Golden Dawn was actually founded by three Freemasons: William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott, and Samuel Liddell Mathers. But unlike other groups, the Golden Dawn also allowed women into their inner circle.

Golden Dawn had its origins in the Freemasons

Bettmann/Getty Images

Famous former members of the Golden Dawn include Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and W. B. Yeats. And in 1937 author Israel Regardie published The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order — an influential tome that dives deep into the society’s practices.

10. Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World first cropped up on the scene in 1868. Then, just over three decades later, a pair of African-American men weren’t permitted entry into the club’s ranks — and decided to form a splinter group.

10. Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World

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B. F. Howard and Arthur J. Riggs formed the fittingly titled Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World in 1897. The group is still going to this day.

Moving into the modern world

The founders of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World ended up creating a club that would become central within Black communities during segregation. It was, apparently, one of the only places where African Americans could gather.

Moving into the modern world

Antler Guard

As society started to integrate, however, the order’s influence faded. But they still fund scholarships, participate in parades, and host community events today. The fact that the fraternal order has a website also suggests they’re not really a secret society, either.

9. The Black Hand

History buffs may be familiar with the work of the Black Hand. In the early 20th century, this revolutionary group hoped to bring together the Slavic people into a single country.

9. The Black Hand

via Wikimedia Commons

To do this, they’d need to break Serbia free from the rule of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which had earlier taken control of the small country by annexation. The official name of the group was Unification or Death.

Unification or Death

The Black Hand decided to free Serbia from Austria-Hungary through military campaigns, but they didn’t plan for the conflict they would arguably create. Their plan was supposedly to assassinate Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand — which Gavrilo Princip did in 1914.

Unification or Death

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Right away, the monarchy declared war on Serbia, but each country’s allies decided to join in, and this inter-country war soon became World War I. Because of its alleged connection to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Black Hand may have caused that war.

8. Order of Gimghoul

Peter Droomgole, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student in the mid-19th century, inadvertently inspired the start of a very creepy on-campus society. He vanished from campus in 1833, and legend has it that he died after losing a duel.

8. Order of Gimghoul

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Not only that but his body is said to be entombed on the school grounds. Robert Worth Bingham, Shepard Bryan, William W. Davies, Edward Wray Martin, and Andrew Henry Patterson started the secret society in 1889.

Peter Dromgoole lives on

In the student’s honor, this secret society was first called the Order of Droomgole, but changed the last part to Gimghoul “in accord with midnight and graves and weirdness.” The group supposedly meets on campus at a very creepy, enshrouded castle.

Peter Dromgoole lives on

THE evil fluffyface

Photo evidence of their activities seems to show satanic references, making them even more off-putting. The castle allegedly sits close to Peter Dromgoole’s final resting place — and his ghost supposedly haunts it.

7. Skull and Bones

It’s no secret that some of the brightest minds in the country end up studying at Ivy League institutions. And Yale University just so happens to be one of the most selective — with an acceptance rate of just 4.46 percent in 2022.

7. Skull and Bones

Pictures of Yale clubs and societies (RU 692). Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Therefore, the amount of brilliance packed into the school’s secret Skull and Bones society should be enough to scare the rest of us. Other names for the group include The Order, Order 322, and The Brotherhood of Death.

Bonesmen in the Tomb

No one outside of Skull and Bones really knows the purpose of this society, but there are plenty of theories. Some say that the Bonesmen — who have gone on to become Supreme Court justices, CEOs, and presidents — might influence the CIA or strive for global control.

Bonesmen in the Tomb

Universal Pictures

Making things even creepier, the group meets in a building called the Tomb, a building without windows. This group is now possibly the least-secret secret society as it has been popularized in movies such as The Skulls and The Great Gatsby and TV shows such as The Simpsons.

6. The Grand Orange Lodge

The Grand Orange Lodge drew its name from William of Orange, the Protestant king who defeated the Catholic King James II and took over as ruler of Scotland, England, and Ireland in 1689. Almost 200 years later, the Northern Irish Protestants still revered Orange’s leadership.

6. The Grand Orange Lodge

Godfrey Kneller

So, they formed the Lodge to better protect their fellow worshippers. Its full name is the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland or the Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland. They are still going strong after forming in 1798.

The Grand Orange Lodge marches on

Had Lord Lieutenant of Ireland George William Frederick Villiers not supported the group, the Grand Orange Lodge’s aims might have flown under the radar. Ireland had always been a Catholic stronghold, so having a leader support a Protestant society ruffled some serious feathers.

The Grand Orange Lodge marches on

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These days, the Order is most visible during its yearly marches. The largest of these gatherings usually occurs on July 12, as “The Twelfth” is an Ulster Protestant day of celebrations.

5. Veiled Prophet Organization

A long time ago, business executive and one-time Confederate soldier Charles Slayback had an idea. In 1878 he gathered fellow St. Louis businessmen to build his own secret society. He wanted his city to have a festival like New Orleans did with Mardi Gras.

5. Veiled Prophet Organization

Missouri Historical Society

They just needed a reason to party — and the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan could be a reason for a celebration. This was a mystic based out of St. Louis — or, at least, that’s what Slayback decided to tell people.

The Veiled Prophet Parade and Ball

In reality, the Veiled Prophet story was just meant to be an excuse to celebrate — and to mask negative social realities. At the time, laborers demanded socioeconomic equality and fair working conditions.

The Veiled Prophet Parade and Ball

Harpers Weekly/Wikipedia

So the citywide gathering would perhaps appease them while exalting the elite’s way of life. The first Veiled Prophet Parade and Ball took place in 1878. Perhaps surprisingly, the Veiled Prophet Organization still has parties to this day.

4. The Hashshashin

In the 13th century, a small group of Shia Muslims split from a larger group of their religion’s practitioners because they wanted to create a utopian state. Yet they didn’t have the manpower to make their vision a reality.

4. The Hashshashin

New Regency Productions

So the secret society had to use much more shocking methods to get what they wanted. There is a reason why this group is otherwise known as the Order of Assassins or just the Assassins.

The Order of Assassins

The Hashashin made a name for themselves by staging political assassinations as well as by sending spies over enemy lines. But these operatives had great discretion — enemies would wake up with daggers on their pillows and notes warning them of impending death.

The Order of Assassins

New Regency Productions

Eventually, though, the group was squashed by the Mongols. This group has naturally inspired plenty of popular culture figures and stories, including Assassin’s Creed, Angels and Demons, and the Faceless Men in Game of Thrones.

3. Knights Templar

Things started out well for the Knights Templar. They had a simple mission when founded in the 12th century — to protect Christians as they traveled to the Holy Land. Templar Enlistees had to vow to a chaste lifestyle, which meant they couldn’t swear, gamble, or drink.

3. Knights Templar

Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps this left their heads clear enough to come up with a more lucrative idea. The Knights opened a bank where people could deposit money at home and take it out when they arrived at their pilgrimage destination.

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon

Once the Crusades ended, the Knights Templar decided to set up in Paris and make their banking business the main focus of their operation. However, they made the mistake of denying King Philip IV of France a loan.

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon

C. Balossini/De Agostini Picture Library via Getty Images

He then had some society members arrested and tortured. The Knights began making false confessions, implicating themselves in depraved acts. So, the French monarch had dozens burned to death for their supposed wrongdoings.

2. The Knights of the Golden Circle

The Knights of the Golden Circle first formed in 1854 because they wanted the United States to take over the West Indies and Mexico. This would then make the slave states stronger against any threats from the North.

2. The Knights of the Golden Circle

Harpers Weekly

However, the Civil War kicked off in 1861, and the society’s members switched gears. They sided with the Confederacy, so they started organizing themselves into guerrilla armies and ambushing Union soldiers.

The Golden Circle

Interestingly enough, the Knights of the Golden Circle had a bigger impact in Union states, where people pointed the finger at anyone who seemed to sympathize with the South. Even President Franklin Pierce faced accusations of being a secret member of the organization.

The Golden Circle

Mathew Brady

Despite everything, though, none of the Knights’ aims ever came to fruition. Their main objective was to see in the formation of a new country, known as the Golden Circle.

1. The Illuminati

The Illuminati formed on May 1, 1776, bringing together the era’s most forward-thinking politicians and intellectuals. Unlike many other secret societies on this list, though, the Illuminati didn’t require its members to believe in any sort of deity.

1. The Illuminati

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This made it a popular society among non-believers. Their inclusion made people wonder if the group actually formed to get rid of religious organizations. The group claimed, “The order of the day is to put an end to the machinations of the purveyors of injustice, to control them without dominating them.”

The Illuminati was outlawed

The Illuminati was eventually outlawed, and it subsequently crumbled internally when a new leader had to replace its founder, Adam Weishaupt. But some believe that the society didn’t actually collapse in the late 1700s.

The Illuminati was outlawed

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Instead, they believe the Illuminati still operates — and controls all of the governments dotted around the globe. According to this conspiracy theory, the Illuminati now goes by the name of the New World Order.

This article was originally published on WMoneyVersed

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History

SPONTANEOUS CHRISTMAS TRUCE THAT TEMPORARILY HALTED WORLD WAR

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Spontaneous Christmas truce that temporarily halted world war : ‘The war, for that moment, came to a standstill’

During the bleak winter of 1914, amid the mud, blood and chaos of World War One, an extraordinary series of ceasefires spontaneously occurred along the Western Front. In the 1960s the BBC spoke to some of the men who, over that exceptional Christmas period, decided to lay down their arms.

On Christmas Eve 1914, Rifleman Graham Williams, of the 5th London Rifle Brigade, stood out on sentry duty staring out anxiously across the wasteland of no man’s land to the German trenches. He had already endured months of the brutal violence, bloodshed, and destruction that would come to characterize World War One when something remarkable happened.
“All of a sudden, lights appeared along the German trench. And I thought this was a funny thing. And then the Germans started singing ‘Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht’. And I woke up, and all the sentries did the same thing, all woke up the other people to come along and see this and what the Earth is going on,” he recalled, in the BBC radio show Witness History.

The voices carried across the desolation of no man’s land, familiar songs bridging the barrier of language, a musical reminder of a shared humanity. “They finished their carol and we applauded them and we thought we should retaliate in some way. So, we replied with The First Noel.”

It is hard to pinpoint the exact origins of the 1914 Christmas Truce. It seemed to emerge spontaneously in multiple locations along the Western Front. There wasn’t one uniform Christmas Truce but rather several localized events. For some soldiers in trenches, it lasted a couple of hours, in some areas until Boxing Day, and even in isolated pockets to the New Year. While in some parts of the Western Front, it didn’t happen at all. Some 77 British soldiers were still killed in fighting on Christmas Day 1914.

For Col Scott Shepherd, then a junior officer, fighting near the town of Armentières in northern France, it seemed to begin almost by accident. At dawn on Christmas morning, no man’s land was covered in a heavy fog. “The fog was so thick that you couldn’t see your hand in front of you,” he recalled when he returned to the battlefield with the BBC in 1968.

The decision was made to take advantage of the cover provided by the weather to repair their crumbling trenches. But as the soldiers worked filling sandbags and trying to restore the trench parapet, the fog suddenly began to dissipate.

“It lifted astoundingly quickly. And along that line we were suddenly able to see Germans doing exactly the same thing all out in the open. And we just looked at each other for some time and then one or two soldiers went towards them. They met, they shook hands, they swapped cigarettes. They got talking. The war, for that moment, came to a standstill.”

General Walter Congreve, who led the Rifles Brigade, wrote to his wife on Christmas Day, describing the ceasefire as “an extraordinary state of affairs”. Because the trenches were so close, soldiers were able to shout greetings to each other, initiating conversations. “A German shouted out that they wanted a day’s truce and would one come out if he did,” wrote the general. “Very cautiously one of our men lifted himself above the parapet and saw a German doing the same. Both got out, then more… they have been walking about together all day giving each other cigars and singing songs.”

The ceasefires allowed soldiers some respite to recover their dead from no man’s land and give proper burial to fallen comrades. Men who just hours earlier had been trying to kill each other exchanged cigarettes, food and souvenirs from home. There are even reports of impromptu games of football breaking out, with soldiers having a kick about in barren space between the opposing trenches. Col Johannes Niemann, a second lieutenant with the 33rd Saxon Regiment, was one of the soldiers who took part.

“Suddenly a Tommy came with a football… And then began a football match. We marked our goals with our caps. Tommy did also. And we had much kicking. And then, after all, the Germans won the football game 3-2.”

The war resumes

Nothing like this truce would happen again during World War One. Military leaders, who had been caught by surprise by the ceasefires and the unexpected camaraderie that flourished during them, feared they would erode their troops’ willingness to fight, and would undermine the war effort.

On both sides there were orders issued to stop “fraternisation with the enemy” with threats of court marshals. Officers were told to open fire on enemy soldiers who approached the trench and gradually shots began to ring out again along the line. The war resumed its brutality, and as its relentless horrors escalated, the bitterness between opposing nations deepened. The following Christmas, machine gun barrages were deliberately timed to drown out any sound of carol singing to prevent spontaneous truces happening again.

For a brief moment, soldiers on different sides saw each other as fathers, brothers and sons who just longed to go home and return to loved ones

The 1914 Christmas Truce may not have ultimately altered the course of the war, but as historian Dan Snow says in the BBC podcast Voices of the First World War, the fact that it happened at all is miraculous. “The truce was a brief tantalising flash of individual humanity, in a war of bureaucracies, machines and high explosives.”

And it had a profound effect on the men, such as Col Scott Shepherd, who experienced it. For a brief moment, soldiers on different sides saw each other as fathers, brothers and sons who just longed to go home and return to loved ones, rather than as faceless enemies to be killed.

“Several of them spoke English. They rather expressed their dislike… for the whole war in fact. They weren’t aggressive at all. Some of them said they had been to London, been to England, in fact, they gave every indication of being glad to meet us,” he said.

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History

THE BEER FLOOD THAT KILLED MANY IN THE STREET OF LONDON

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While the concept of a flood of beer filling the streets of your city does not sound frightening at first, the London Beer Flood of 1814 was a terrifying disaster that took eight people’s lives.

The streets of London and many other cities during this period were narrow and cramped. Many people also lived below the street level, which means that during the beer flood, their homes filled with beer in a matter of minutes.

The London Beer Flood of 1814 led to reforming some safety considerations in the beer brewing process. It is considered one of the first positive responses related to public safety by the industry as a whole.

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The magnitude of the flood itself is a bit staggering, and the disaster served as a cautionary tale since it occurred.

What Led to the Beer Flood?

The Horse Shoe Brewery was located at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810, the brewery had installed a 22-foot-high wooden fermentation tank to brew porter.

The vat was held together with iron rings and held approximately enough to fill 3,500 barrels of brown porter ale.

On October 17th, 1814, one of the iron rings of the vat failed. This was discovered, but there was no immediate solution to the problem.

Often the rings on beer vats slipped, and there was usually no need to fix the issue quickly. The storehouse clerk, George Crick, even noted that one of the rings had slipped and told someone to deal with it later. Everyone went about their business for an hour or so without worrying about the slipped ring since this event was so common.

Crick was standing on a platform thirty feet above the vat an hour later when the entire tank ruptured. Three hundred twenty thousand gallons of beer flooded the factory and smashed through the wall at the back of the yard.

The beer rush also pulled the stopcock from a neighboring vat, causing this even more beer to be released as well. The flood of beer rushed into St. Giles Rookery, which was, at the time, a London slum full of the poor and the needy. The wave of beer was not only hot and smelly, but it was also fourteen or fifteen feet high.

The beer flood rushed through the area, reaching George and New Street within minutes. Residents on the street were swept along by the force of the beer tsunami. Beer flooded into the basements of tenement buildings, taking the lives of Mary Banfield and her four-year-old daughter Hannah who had just sat down to tea.

An Irish wake for a two-year-old boy was being held nearby, and the flood of beer took Anne Saville’s and four mourners’ lives in their basement tenement.

The beer wave grievously damaged the Tavistock Arms pub, and teenage servant Eleanor Cooper who was washing pots in its yard, lost her life after the beer knocked a nearby wall on top of her. The brewery workers all survived, but many were severely injured.

It was rumored that people in the streets who were not injured or swept away by the flood ran about gathering the beer in whatever containers they could lay hands on and drinking it.

There are unconfirmed reports of people dying of alcohol poisoning related to the frenzy of beer drinking, but this is likely apocryphal information.

The press was no friend to the large Irish population living in the rookery area at the time, and if there had been generalized revelry, it would have been reported about in the most negative of lights.

As there is no report of any type of drunken behavior in the papers, likely, all of these stories are merely tall tales that were added to accounts of the event later.

Watchmen for the area decided to start charging a penny or two to allow people to see the disaster scene, and a stream of Londoners came by over the next few days to pay their respects and gawk at the remnants of the beer tsunami.

The pennies and shillings that were collected for the right to look at the carnage were used to pay for the funerals of those who lost their lives in the flood.

Investigation Into the Flood

The Morning Post reported that the beer flood was “one of the most melancholy accidents we ever remember.”

People who had wandered the streets listening at the windows and doors of basement lodgings, pleading with those who were rushing through the waist-high flood to be quiet so they could listen for the sounds of people trapped in their homes, no doubt hoped for some form of legal action to be taken against the brewery.

A jury was convened to investigate the accident two days later. While there might have been no such attention to a significant industrial accident of this nature in previous times, the times were slowly changing. It likely helped that many young people had lost their lives in the Beer Flood, making the case more pitiable.

The jury looked at the information presented and listened to the testimony of Crick and others who had witnessed the entire incident.

After seeing the site of the tragedy and reviewing the information that had been collected for the investigation, the Beer Flood was ruled an “Act of God.”

As a result, the brewery did not have to pay damages to the victims and was given a waiver from the British Parliament for the excise tax it had lost.

The flood cost the brewery about £23,000. This would be about £1.5 million today. The government’s reprieve regarding the excise tax and compensation that was granted for the lost beer helped save the company.

No such considerations were given to those who had lost their loved ones due to the flood. However, the use of wooden vats in brewing beer was phased out across England’s beer brewing industry within a few years.

Lined concrete vats replaced wooden ones, making the brewing industry slightly safer.

The area where the flood had taken place stank of beer for months after the incident, and cleaning up the mess took weeks. The flood events were largely forgotten by everyone except those who lived in St. Giles Rookery and those who had lost loved ones when the beer wave flooded their part of London.

The casual disregard for the lives of the poor displayed by the Great Beer Flood of 1814 indicates a social attitude that would continue until the 1960s in England.

The Legacy of the Beer Flood of 1814
The brewery did go back into production after the flood, but it closed in 1921. The brewery site has since become The Dominion Theater, which still stands at the location today. Sadly for those who suffered greatly or lost their lives due to the Great Beer Flood of 1814, there is no official memorial or observance for the day of the disaster.

Much like the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 in Boston, this event has faded from everyone’s minds over time.

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The Holborn Whippet, however, which is a local pub in the area of the flood, does brew an anniversary ale each year to help commemorate the event. But, unfortunately, the tendency of industry to want to sweep these kinds of disasters under the rug has led to many such landmark events being largely forgotten by the public.

The social impact of the unbridled greed, or at best, casual indifference, that many industrialists and businesses showed toward the people who worked for them or lived near their industrial properties cannot be overstated.

The Great Beer Flood of 1814 is just one of many examples of the callous indifference of business owners toward the lives of those they considered their inferiors.

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