6th February 1952, a woman was vacationing peacefully in Kenya with her husband, free from worldly stress. However, peace and her job never went hand-in-hand, and from that day her long-distance relationship with peace was going to get even more distant. Her father, incumbent to the top office, had died. This young woman had no idea that her dearest father never woke from his sleep until her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, broke the news to her. She became leader of multiple nations and peoples overnight and in that capacity Her Majesty swore to her job– ‘till death do us part’.
It has been 70 years since British people have been singing “God Save The Queen”. At 96, Her Majesty has become the longest-reigning British monarch and longest-reigning female monarch in history. Her reign of exceptional growth and development was, however, not free from drama. Who knew even the title of The Queen cannot save you from all this drama, here’s to you a compilation of seven controversies that Our Good Gracious Queen had to endure.
- Sister Issues
A lovely, young, and charismatic woman with an excellent sense of humour, HRH The Princess Margaret was absolutely devastated by the death of her dearest father. Life, however, had planned more losses than the young royal would have expected. Her Royal Highness fell in love with Group Captain Peter Townsend shortly after her father’s death, and their affair became public when the princess was seen picking fluff off his coat at her sister’s coronation. Falling in love was not her sin – being a royal was. Peter Townsend was already married to Cecil Rosemary and had filed for a divorce due to her infidelity. The Church of England (The Queen heads the church) strictly prohibited marrying a divorcee. (Sounds like Romeo Juliet, doesn’t it?) Prime Minister Churchill refused to allow the marriage, but the public was in favour and The Queen squished in between. In the end, she was unable to give her blessing and Townsend was positioned in Brussels. Their affair and his banishment made headlines and later caused an amendment in a constitutional article. (A tad more dramatic than Shakespeare, I guess)
- When she broke her silence
A finger on your lips is not a punishment but The Queen’s governing principle. Constitutionally, she cannot issue any public political statement. EVER. As a compliant human, she never broke her law. That is until she found a woman who nudged her to break her unbreakable vow — Margaret Thatcher. An exceptionally strong, opinionated, and powerful Prime Minister, she always did what she wanted to do. During the Apartheid Regime in South Africa, the entire Commonwealth agreed to impose sanctions in order to put an end to this inhumanity. Forty-eight countries signed, however, one did not. Guess who? The UK. Baroness Thatcher downright refused to sign any kind of sanction that was against Britain’s economic interests, and the rift caused The Queen to say something she may still regret. Sunday Times published that her majesty believes Thatcher to be “unkind, uncaring”, and that “she was dismayed by her behaviour.” Margaret was furious with the statement and its publication and the palace apologised.
- Son gone rogue
Adultery– The church condemns it. The opinion of the Head of the Church is not too difficult to conclude, she condemns it as well. Children, however, usually end up doing what their parents despise the most. Royal children are no different. Charles, The Prince of Wales, never moved on from Camilla Parker-Bowles (née Shand). He admitted to the public about his affair and brought the much needed public disapproval his family needed. This is common knowledge, but what many do not know is that The Boss already knew what her son is up to. According to sources, one of her employees told her about her son’s affair with the wife of a brother officer. The Queen later admitted to Princess Diana that “He is hopeless” (Ouch) so we do know her opinion on infidelity after all. The public acceptance of the affair and the queen’s not so altruistic behaviour brought a lot of negativity for the family.
Need I say more? The name is itself legendary. Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales, colloquially, Princess Diana, is a woman who cannot be justified in words. Diana, the people’s princess, was a gift to the public. She was a soft corner among the harsh-cold royalty, the showstopper– but also a trouble-maker. “I follow from the heart” were Diana’s words on her work and actions. Her heart, however, was usually at odds with the royal protocols and the rules of the institution. From writing her own vows to putting family before duty, the beloved princess was a royal rebel. Her fashion and clothing always had some hidden message from the black sheep sweater to the iconic revenge dress. The biggest turmoil on her ledger comes from the famous 1995 interview she gave to Martin Bashir, where she said, “We are three in this marriage, so it’s a little crowded.” The Royal Family’s mistreatment and her death painted the institution in black, forever.
- Keeping Up with The Kueen
Long before Keeping Up with The Kardashians aired, Prince Philip hired BBC to create a documentary on how “hard” the family works to keep their dying reputation from crossing to the other side. Cameras were installed, the palace was cleaned and the royals were called. The film emerged as a commercial success in terms of the number of views but was criticised heavily. David Attenborough said the documentary was “killing the monarchy”. The Queen ultimately banned the documentary and it never saw the light of day again. Recently it was leaked on YouTube, however was quickly pulled off. HRH The Princess Royal once said, “I never liked the idea of the royal family film. I always thought it was a rotten idea.”
- The American Influence
May 2018, a fairytale event took place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. His Royal Highness Prince Harry married Rachel Meghan Markle, and everything seemed picture-perfect. Though, as they say, too much of anything is hazardous, and too much perfection brought its own fair share of imperfections. The British Media was after Meghan’s life, her colour, moves, words – everything was criticised. History was repeating itself. Prince Harry always blamed the paparazzi and media for his mother’s death, and now his wife was being targeted. The lack of support from his family, images of Diana’s death, and continued molestation by tabloids, ultimately pushed the prince away. They broke precedent, and Prince Harry and Meghan left the family. The decision shook the institution to its core, with The Queen and The Prince of Wales caught off-guard. Additionally, The Oprah Interview became a major cause of trouble for the family, where the Royals faced allegations of racism and of not showing enough support– the latter of which was also a matter in the case of Princess Diana. The Royal Family was put on a public trial after the interview, receiving mixed remarks and judgements.
His Royal Highness PrinceAndrew
Virginia Gruffe is a name that Queen Elizabeth will not forget in her lifetime. An American national who was once allegedly assaulted and lent out to powerful men by hedge fund manager Jeffery Epstein, has put forward her charges against
His Royal Highness Prince Andrew. Andrew, a friend of Epstein, has been charged with sexually assaulting the woman (as a minor) when she was “lent out” to him by Epstein. Though Andrew denies such allegations, The Queen has withdrawn all of his military and royal titles till the battle prevails. Earlier, he voluntarily stepped down from all his royal duties but the evolving nature of the criminal charges forced the monarchy to withdraw all kinds of support. Andrew might be guilty or not but his actions have caused enough damage to the reputation of the institution and earned him the title of a private citizen. The case got settled on February 15 2022, with Prince Andrew praising Virginia for her bravery.
Lakshya Sharma is a first year undergraduate student at Ashoka University. He is an economics and media studies student. Apart from his academic interests, he has keen interest in writing and fashion.
Picture Credits: Daily Star
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