13 Most Dramatic Royal Wedding Moments EverPublished on May 23, 2018. Updated April 29, 2019
It is no secret that weddings are often stressful and, when it comes to royal weddings, there is more pressure than ever to put on a perfect event. Of course, no matter how much money and help you have at your disposal, there are always surprises and, over the years, members of royalty around the world have had some pretty dramatic moments when it came to their weddings. From shocking scandals to family feuds, throughout history almost every royal wedding has been at least a little dramatic, so here are 13 of the most dramatic and controversial royal wedding moments over the years:
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13. Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson
Back in 1937, Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor, caused quite the stir when he insisted on marrying an American socialite and divorcee, Wallis Simpson. In early 1938, Edward became the King, but only months into his reign he threw the monarchy into chaos when he decided to marry Simpson who was deemed unacceptable as a prospective Queen consort. In the end, Edward chose love over his title and abdicated the throne which meant his younger brother George VI became King. Following his abdication, he married Simpson on June 3, 1937, and because of the drama he created in Britain, the ceremony was held in France and no members of Edward’s immediate family, who were the British royal family of the time, attended. Despite the scandal, Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson remained married until Edward’s death in 1972.
12. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip
If anyone thinks that Queen Elizabeth II was upset by the drama surrounding the most recent royal wedding between her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it may have reminded her of the drama she went through! Over 70 years ago, she was still Princess Elizabeth and chose to marry Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, but upon announcing their engagement, many eyebrows were raised. Many were incredulous that Elizabeth had chosen someone who was foreign-born as her husband, but what caused the most controversy was his family’s ties to the Nazis. Philip’s sisters had married German nobleman with ties to the Nazi party, and early reports indicate that Elizabeth’s mother did not initially approve of the marriage. British biographer Marion Crawford wrote, “Some of the King’s advisors did not think him good enough for her. He was a prince without a home or kingdom. Some of the papers played long and loud tunes on the string of Philip’s foreign origin.” Through the controversy and drama playing out around them, Prince Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles and adopted the last name of his mother’s British family, and the two were married on November 20, 1947.
11. Princess Margaret and Peter Townsend
The drama surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister Princess Margaret was so great that Margaret didn’t even get to walk down the aisle to her own prince charming. Back in 1955, it was still out of the question for a member of the British royal family to marry a divorcee, so when Princess Margaret fell in love with the divorced Peter Townsend, her sister swiftly stepped in. The Church of England refused to agree to the marriage, and the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II had to give her consent, so she asked her sister to wait a year as she began her reign, but as time went on Britain was unrelenting in the idea that Margaret could not marry a man who was not only divorced but was also 16 years her senior and a father of two. In the end, Elizabeth was forced to give her sister an ultimatum: she does not marry Townsend or she renounces her rights to the throne. In the end, Princess Margaret chose the throne and in October 1955 issued this statement: “I would like it to be known that I have decided not to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend. I have been aware that, subject to my renouncing my rights of succession, it might have been possible for me to contract a civil marriage. But mindful of the Church’s teachings that Christian marriage is indissoluble, and conscious of my duty to the Commonwealth, I have resolved to put these considerations before others. I have reached this decision entirely alone, and in doing so I have been strengthened by the unfailing support and devotion of Group Captain Townsend.”
10. Prince Charles and Princess Diana
On July 29, 1981, Lady Diana Spencer officially became Princess Diana in what was viewed as a fairytale wedding, but behind the scenes, things were far less idyllic. In the weeks leading up to their marriage, both Diana and Prince Charles had second thoughts but were each told separately there was no way they could call it off. Additionally, Princess Diana’s eating disorder had gotten out of control as rumors of Charles and Camilla’s ongoing relationship swirled and, by the time they made it to the altar, it was clear both were not looking forward to their future together. If all of that wasn’t dramatic enough, Princess Diana suffered a blunder when she said the wrong name during the vows. She called him “Philip Charles Arthur George” instead of “Charles Philip Arthur George.”
9. Princess Stephanie and Daniel Ducruet
Princess Stephanie of Monaco was always a wildcard who never failed to stray from what was expected from Monaco’s royalty and was known as the “black sheep” of the family, but that didn’t stop her relationship with Daniel Ducruet from causing a lot of controversy. Princess Stephanie first caused drama when she began dating her bodyguard, Daniel Ducruet, but that only intensified when they welcomed two children out of wedlock and it was very reluctantly that her father, Prince Rainier III, agreed to let them marry on July 1, 1995. While many were skeptical about the marriage to begin with, it didn’t take long for controversy surrounding the couple to continue as, shortly after their first anniversary, the paparazzi released images of Ducruet cheating on Princess Stephanie with a woman who was known for winning the title of “Miss Bare Breasts Belgium.” Unsurprisingly, the pair were divorced shortly after on October 4, 1996.
8. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles has been a long-standing source of drama when it comes to the British royal family, and their wedding wasn’t any different. According to reports, Charles tried to persuade his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to give her blessing for the pair to marry long before they announced their engagement in 2005 because he was sick of hiding the relationship, but the Queen had some really negative feelings about Camilla. When they finally wed on April 8, 2005, Prince Charles became the only member of the Royal family to have a civil wedding instead of a church wedding, and the Queen caused more drama when she did not attend the ceremony, but later attended the blessing and reception.
7. Princess Sayako and Yoshiki Kuroda
Over the years, many royal families around the world have changed some rules when it comes to marrying outside of royalty or marrying someone who has been divorced, but that cannot be said for Sayako Kuroda’s family. Up until 2005, Sayako was known as Princess Nori, but when she wanted to marry commoner Yoshiki Kuroda, she was forced to give up the title. Since no one had forfeited their royal title for love before, the engagement and wedding shocked many especially as it also required her to leave the Imperial Family, and on November 15, 2005, Yoshiki Kuroda became the first non-aristocratic commoner to marry an Imperial princess. Sayako had to give up so much because Imperial Household Law requires females of the imperial family to relinquish their title from birth, as well as official membership in the imperial family, and allowance from the state upon marriage, and despite the implications and drama, Sayako’s parents, the Emperor and Empress, still attended the wedding. Of course, the fact that she married at 35 meant she had lived quite some time in the comforts of the Imperial family and in order to adjust to her new life as a commoner she reportedly took driving lessons and had to practice shopping at the grocery store.
6. Peter Phillips and Autumn Kelly
On May 17, 2008, Peter Phillips, the son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s only daughter Princess Anne, married his longtime love Autumn Kelly at St. George’s Chapel but, from beginning to end, the whole thing was shrouded in controversy. The royal family was appalled when they learned that Phillips and Kelly had agreed to sell photos of their wedding to Hello! Magazine for 500,000 euros. If that wasn’t bad enough, the two then struck another deal with Tuningi, a South African safari lodge, where they honeymooned in which they got a discounted rate in order for the lodge to release photos of the newlyweds there and promote their stay. Phillips’ family never commented on the deals the couple made to earn some extra money, but reports stated that the royals “thought it was downmarket and tacky. A lot of noses were put well and truly out of joint.”
5. Duchess of Alba and Alfonso Diez Carabantes
Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the 18th Duchess of Alba, never cared what others thought and always lived by her own rules, and, for royalty, that meant she stirred up quite a bit of drama. Over the course of her life, the Duchess married three times, but it was her last marriage that shocked everyone. On October 5, 2011, she married Alfonso Diez Carabantes, a civil servant who also happened to be 24 years younger than her. When the Duchess first expressed her wishes to marry Alfonso, she was met with objections from her children and from King Juan Carlos and, in 2008, the House of Alba even issued a statement downplaying the pair’s relationship. Although the two were married after Alfonso formally renounced any claim to her massive wealth, her children were still not impressed, and two of them refused to attend the wedding.
4. Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock
Not long after Kate Middleton and Prince William’s gorgeous wedding, another royal wedding took place when Prince Albert II of Monaco wed South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock; unfortunately, their majestic wedding was overshadowed by scandal. Shortly before their wedding was set to take place, reports came to the surface that Albert cheated on Wittstock multiple times and had fathered multiple children as a result of his affairs. Rumors then swirled that Charlene attempted to run away three times in order to avoid marrying Prince Albert, but on July 1, 2011, the three-day $55 million wedding went ahead and the pair said, “I do.” The scandal and controversy shrouded their actual marriage even as they denied rumors that she tried to flee before the wedding and filed a lawsuit against the magazine that published them. During their wedding day, Wittstock cried throughout the entire ceremony and reportedly even recoiled when Prince Albert tried to kiss her, and many outlets commented on how “downcast” and sad the ceremony was. Regardless of the drama, the pair have remained together and share twins, Gabriella Therese Marie and Jacques Honore Rainier.
3. Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip was one of the most sought after royal bachelors with his stunning good looks and charm, so when he decided to marry a former reality star, he caused a lot of drama. The Prince ended a 10-year relationship when he met Sofia Hellqvist in a Stockholm club, and although times had changed, there were many who frowned upon a former reality star and bikini model marrying a prince. As soon as they went public with their romance, publications plastered Sofia’s past everywhere, going into detail about her time on the reality show Paradise Hotel where she made out with adult film star Jenna Jameson, and revealing she had posed topless for the Swedish men’s magazine Slitz. The pair were determined not to let the publicity tear them apart, and Sofia was coached on how to deal with the press who only wanted to talk about her scandalous past. In 2015, the pair were married at the Royal Chapel of Stockholm Palace and honored their nontraditional relationship by straying from the norm for their big day. “They came down the aisle to an instrumental version of Enya’s ‘Athair ar Neamh’; then, during the ceremony, Swedish singer Al Fakir sang Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’ and David Pagmar performed a Swedish version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella,’ called ‘Paraply,’” reported the BBC. “To top things off, the couple exited the church to the hymn ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,’ which suddenly dropped into Janet Jackson’s ‘What Have You Done for Me Lately,’ just as it does when Lauryn Hill sings it in the finale of Sister Act 2. The Duke and Duchess left out the rap, though.”
2. Prince Ernst August Jr. of Hanover and Ekaterina Malysheva
Prince Ernst August Jr.’s wedding to fashion designer Ekaterina Malysheva was all kinds of dramatic thanks to an epic feud between the Prince and his father, Prince Ernst August Sr. Only days before the wedding, Prince Ernst’s father denounced the nuptials saying, “The decision was not easy for me because it concerns my son, but I am constrained to preserve the interests of the House of Hanover and the property, including cultural property, which has been its property for centuries. . . I continue to hope that my son will eventually think of the best interests of our family and yield. I am ready for discussion and reconciliation.” As it turns out, back in 2004, Ernst Sr. had deeded some properties which included the Marienburg Castle and forestland in Lower Saxony to his son for tax purposes, but then wanted them back which Ernst Jr. refused. Despite his father’s refusal to consent to his wedding and refusal to attend, Prince Ernst August Jr. and Ekaterina Malysheva went ahead with their big day and were married on July 6, 2017, in a civil ceremony and held a church ceremony on July 8, 2017.
1. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
The days leading up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding day on May 19, 2018, became very dramatic very quickly with matters concerning her family. As soon as the pair went public with their relationship, Markle’s estranged family took to the media to tarnish her name, and more drama ensued when her father, Thomas Markle, announced he would not be attending the wedding or walking his daughter down the aisle. Thomas Markle’s announcement came after he admitted that he and his daughter, Samantha, had set up photo opportunities with the paparazzi. At the same time, he revealed he had suffered a heart attack days prior and his health had therefore also become an issue. The very next day, Thomas then took back his statement about not attending but explained it would be dependent on his health, all the while Samantha Markle continued to speak out about Meghan despite the fact they hadn’t had a relationship or really spoken in over 10 years. Prince Harry and Meghan handled the family drama very well, however, and after it was decided Thomas Markle could not travel to England because he needed heart surgery, Meghan asked Harry’s father Prince Charles to walk her down the aisle.
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