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writing for godot

Scandal and the British Royal Family: A Brief History

Written by Steven Jonas   
Thursday, 15 April 2021 09:03

Introduction: I originally published this column about a month ago, following the "Meghan & Harry" interview with Oprah Winfrey.  I was not going to post it here because I thought that the interest in the subject matter in this country, even about British Royal Family scandals  especially among the readership of this webmagazine, would quickly fade away.  But then Prince Phillip of the UK passed away, and much information of a political/historical nature and some of the British Royal Family's less-attractive sides (e.g., racism) has come up.  So I thought that it would be appropriate to publish the column here.  We shall see if the readership agrees.

For many months now, myself and many of my readers as well as the readers of virtually anything "Political" in the U.S., have been consumed with the subjects of Trump, fascism, Republicans, the Trumpidemic2020©, (recently) the U.S. elections, Republican cheating, the Trumpsurrection2021©, and even the new (phew!) President. And so, when something comes along that grabs world-wide attention that does not have in it the words "Trump' and a selection of others in the list just above, especially when it emanates from the British Isles, as someone who is a quarter-English myself, and who has always had a fascination with British history, I jump at the chance to jump right into it. (Of course, this incident does happen to have a political element to it, but it is not party political).

I do have to say right here that the "one quarter," my maternal grandfather Jacob Kyzor, was only technically English. His parents were Russian Jews who somehow were able to get out of Czarist Russia sometime in the 1860s, and emigrate to the East End of London, where Grandpa Jacob, ridiculously poor (he had no shoes), was born in 1876. With the help of an older brother, he was able to emigrate to the U.S. at the age of 19 in 1895. So my connection to England is tenuous. But as I said, I have always had a fondness for the British and their rich and varied history, in part because of Grandpa Jacob, regardless of his background. And so, the subject of this column: scandal and the British Royal Family.

Right now, of course the topic is Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and their incredible interview with Oprah Winfrey. In terms of "royal scandals" (which happen to occur like clockwork) the current scandal has nothing to do with anything they have done. Since Meghan arrived on the scene, rather "the scandal" has been about who they are. In general, there has been ongoing commentary (generally unfriendly) about Meghan, her mixed-ethnic ancestry, her status as a divorcee, and her past career as an actress. At this time, it is in particular about the racist comment about the possible skin color for the then-forthcoming baby Archie (for whom the Palace has managed to make sure that neither a royal title nor the lifetime security service that accompanies such will be forthcoming), and what that means about racism in the Royal Family and in Great Britain as well.

Let me emphasize that the recurring "scandals" concerning the couple, as they are characterized by certain folk in the UK, have nothing to do with any of their behaviors (other than simply choosing first, to live outside of the official "Royal family," and then to leave the country because of all the hate that descended on them because they made that choice). The "scandal" have been created out of whole cloth by certain elements of the British press, especially the Murdoch-owned tabloid-sector of it. As we will see below, this type of media-created (see the execrable Piers Morgan) "scandal" has nothing in common with the usual type of Royals scandal, which has always been related to what one or another of them has done, most often related to their sexual behavior.

So right now, we have the racism-in-the-Royal-family-and-related-matters scandal, which came out in the interview with Oprah. But in my view, the "special status" of the Duchess, as promoted over-and-over again by the Right-wing British media, relating to her parentage, her being divorced, and being a former actress, has also been used politically, and not by "The Palace." Just about a year ago, I wrote a column in which I speculated that a particularly vicious series of attacks on the Duchess was being authored in an attempt to cover up, or at least diminish, the assault on the British Constitution that was being orchestrated by the ruling Tory Party just as Brexit was being implemented.

What is fascinating to me is again that this promoted scandal, and the related ones manufactured by the British (Murdoch) tabloids around the Duchess, has nothing to do with any personal behaviors of either the Duchess or the Duke. They have everything to do with who she is. The scandals (or sets of behaviors, whether considered scandalous by some observers and not by others) concerning members of the Royal family, going back to the 16th century, which we are going to briefly list and discuss below, have everything to do with personal behaviors they exhibited. And before we get to that list, do note how many scandals are associated with various royals just in the 20th and 21st centuries. And they complain about Meghan? Oh boy. Racism? Oh yeah!

And so, briefly, more or less in reverse chronological order, is a listing of some of the Royal Family scandals, in re behavior committed by one family member or a family member's relative, or another, we have:

Prince Andrew, younger brother of the heir to the throne Prince Charles (titles being complex things in the British Royal Family, he is also known as the Duke of York) most recently has been possibly linked to the serial/massive sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Regardless of how far that linkage went, the Prince has withdrawn from all "Royal activities". Once upon a time he was married to one Sarah Ferguson, "Fergie" in the popular press, who carried her own whiffs of scandal from time-to-time.

Princess Anne, daughter of the Queen, Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, has had whiffs of scandal about her and her relationships, from time-to-time, but nothing major.

Prince Charles, eldest son of Elizabeth II, is of course the heir to the throne. Scandal has wafted about him for decades, the most serious and open having been about his marriage to the Princess Diana. They both had affairs whilst married, Charles' being the most prominent. Diana once famously referred to her marriage as "a threesome." Diana was a very popular figure around the world, despite the scandals that trailed her and Charles, and her tragic death was widely mourned.

Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth, had numerous affairs before during, and after her marriage. She liked the Caribbean, and there have rumors that nude photos of her in that region exist.

Historically, THE Prince of Wales was of course the never-crowned King Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor. He was surrounded by sexual scandals before his marriage, and his marriage to a to be twice-divorced commoner, the famous Mrs. Simpson, at that time was considered a scandal of its own. But the real scandal of the Prince --- a years-long admirer of Hitler --- was his flirtation with the Nazis, even after the start of the Second World War, about possibly holding a position in a German puppet government should Great Britain have fallen. Now THAT would have been a real scandal, had it been known at the time, and even after the war, when some damning documentation about the negotiations found in captured German files came out, both Labour and the Tories did their best to suppress it. The news was suppressed in Great Britain.

An earlier 19th century Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria's eldest son who became Edward VII, whilst married was a notorious roust-about before he assumed the throne, having one rather open romance after another. In fact, he was known as "The Playboy King."

Speaking of Queen Victoria, she of course among other things gave her name to series of supposedly "correct" behaviors governing relationships, when to have sexual relations, behavior in marriage, and so-on-and-so forth. It can be seen in the list above, that among her various descendants and their various relations, these "Victorian" strictures were followed only in the breech. As for the Queen herself, it has been speculated that after the death of her beloved Prince Consort, Albert, she had at least two affairs, and with servants no less, one English and one Indian. Stories of both relationships were made into movies.

We can then go back close to 300 years to Queen Elizabeth I. Not that the Kings and Queens who reigned between her and the accession of Queen Victoria did not have affairs. A) Surely, they did and B) it is not worth the time to delve into them because a) they were likely to have been pretty conventional ones and b) they did not, to my knowledge, make it into the common literature. But here we have this great monarch, known among other things as "The Virgin Queen," who actually wasn't (a virgin, that is). Over the years, countless books, novels, plays and films have depicted Elizabeth I's relationships with figures such as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and the Duke of Anjou. In the absence of conclusive proof one way or another, the question 'did they or didn't they?' will always linger. Yet what is clear is that, both at home and abroad, rumors about Elizabeth's love life - real or imagined - circulated throughout her reign. For some hostile observers, Elizabeth, far from being the Virgin Queen was described as the "whore of Europe."


As I said above, the difference between the "scandals" surrounding Meghan and to a lesser extent Harry and the list provided above, are that those current scandals are not concerning anything they have done. Rather, with one exception, they are manufactured scandals, around who they are, manufactured to reflect British prejudices, to distract from various government activities and serious problems that they have caused, and to sell tabloid newspapers. The one exception to the almost entirely sexual nature of royal scandals over the centuries? Why that would be the historico-politico-traitorous one, that a member of the Royal Family, indirectly, was actually negotiating with the Nazis, during the darkest days of World War II for Great Britain, that is in the summer of 1940, about possibly being either a restored monarch of a German puppet kingdom or the puppet President of a German "republic," in either case constituted of the British Isles. And that was the one, since the time of Queen Victoria, that the British politico-governmental system did its level-best to hush up.


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