We Americans typically focus our attention on the British royal family, but let's not forget there are 29 other monarchies around the world. For centuries, they've dealt with their fair share of scandals, particularly when members of the family have children out of wedlock—often a big no, no. Click through to see all the kings, queens, princes, and princesses that have broken the royal rules by birthing illegitimate children.
King Albert II of Belgium
It's apparently an 'open secret' (though a paternity test has never been done) that Belgian sculptor Delphine Boël is the daughter of King Albert II of Belgium. The daughter is said to be the result of an affair the King had with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps.
Delphine says her mother didn't tell her who her father was until she was 18 years old, and she's been trying to get in contact ever since. She's currently in court, trying to prove that he's her father. As of May 2019, King Albert II has agreed to submit a DNA test.
King Leopold III of Belgium
When the book Dramas in the Belgian Royal House came out, it suggested that King Leopold III, who's the father of Albert II, had an illegitimate daughter.
As the story goes, Leopold got in a car accident in 1935 and lost his wife because of it. After the incident, he then started a relationship with Austrian skating legend Liselotte Landbeck, which brought their daughter Ingeborg Verdun into the world.
The Royal Palace in Brussels has yet to comment.
Prince George, Duke of Kent
The Duke of Kent, Queen Elizabeth's uncle, is rumored to have two illegitimate children.
The first, Michael Temple Canfield, was born from an affair with American socialite Kiki Preston in 1926. He was adopted by Cass Canfield, an American publisher. Prince George's brother, Edward, the Duke of Windsor, and Laura, Duchess of Marlborough, whom Canfield married in 1960, have hinted to the press about this.
The second child, born in 1929, Raine McCorquodale, is the daughter of author Barbara Cartland, who was still married to her husband Alexander McCorquodale. If the last name McCorquodale sounds familiar to you, that's because Raine is the stepmother of Princess Diana.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales
In 2016, a man named Simon Dorante-Day claimed to be the secret son of Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla. His adoptive grandma, who worked for the Queen and Prince Philip, told him repeatedly that Charles and Camilla gave him up after he was born. Doronate-Day believes that Camila became pregnant with him in 1965, the year she became close with Charles (long before he married Princess Diana). Charles would have only been 17 at the time, so while it's possible he could have fathered a child, the theory seems unlikely.
Camila reportedly disappeared for roughly nine months at the same time Charles was sent to Australia. Was this coincidence or very well planned? At this time, there’s no evidence that Doronate-Day is their child.
Prince Albert II of Monaco
Jazmin Grace Grimaldi is Prince Albert’s oldest daughter. Her mother Tamara Rotolo met the prince in 1991 while vacationing on the Côte d'Azur. The couple had a brief relationship, but when she became pregnant with Jazmin, Rotolo decided she wanted to raise their daughter away from royalty. Jazmin didn’t have contact with Prince Albert until she was 11 years old.
"I wanted that moment to connect with my father, to get to know him, and to have him get to know me," Jazmin said in her first interview in 2015. "Not having had that figure around, I missed that. It's wonderful that it happened when it did, and we've been enjoying a great relationship ever since."
Prince Albert II of Monaco
Prince Albert reportedly romanced flight attendant Nicole Coste for six years, and she gave birth to his second illegitimate child, Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste. The prince used to be very hands-on with his only son, but since he married his wife, South-African born Princess Charlene in 2011, he’s been much more distant.
A man named Robert Brown believes Princess Margaret secretly gave birth to him on January 5, 1955, hiding the later stages of her pregnancy with a body double. He claims he was sent to Kenya to be raised because, at the time, the princess was unmarried and getting over her breakup from Peter Townsend. Brown has never been confirmed as the son of Princess Margaret, but even if he was, he’d still have no chance to take the throne.
Juan Carlos I of Spain
Spain’s former King Juan Carlos has three kids—Felipe, Princess Elena, and Princess Cristina. Felipe recently took the throne after his father abdicated it. Just a year after Carlos’ abdication, a man and woman—Alberto Sola and Ingrid Sartiau—came forward to say they believed they were his illegitimate children. The two had been campaigning for years and just wanted Carlos to acknowledge them. Carlos claims to have never cheated on his wife, Queen Sofia.
There’s been speculation that Prince Harry’s father is not actually Prince Charles. It's believed that Princess Diana was having multiple affairs while still married to the Queen’s oldest son Charles (but he was too). In an interview she’d even confessed to an affair with army officer, James Hewitt, whom people think Harry bears a resemblance to. Then again, Harry also looks quite a bit like Diana's brother, Charles Spencer. If it were ever confirmed that Charles wasn't Harry's father, that would make him an illegitimate royal.
Marina Ogilvy almost tore the British royal family apart with the announcement that she and photographer Paul Mowatt were expecting. Ogilvy’s parents Sir Angus Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra (the Queen's cousin) told her she could either have an abortion or marry Mowatt immediately. The parents-to-be were married in February 1990, and their daughter Zenouska was born a few months later. While she wasn’t born out of wedlock, Zenouska was most definitely conceived out of it.
Captain Mark Phillips
Princess Anne’s husband Captain Mark Phillips had an affair with a New Zealand woman named Heather Tonkin. The one-night stand resulted in a love child named Felicity Tonkin. Phillips reportedly asked Heather to get an abortion. Felicity is the half sister of Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, Mark and Anne’s two children.
King Alfonso XIII of Spain
Leandro Ruiz, born in 1929 as the illegitimate son of King Alfonso XIII, finally received recognition as a member of the royal family...74 years later. In 2003, a judge ruled that Ruiz was a Bourbon, making him the uncle of Spain’s former King, Juan Carlos. The House of Bourbon is a longstanding European royal house of French origins.
Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Ernest II and Princess Alexandrine of Baden had a childless marriage, though he did have several illegitimate children that were not identified. He is said to have produced three offspring total out of wedlock.
King Henry I of England
Robert FitzRoy, the 1st Earl of Gloucester, is one of the few confirmed illegitimate children of King Henry I. Henry I only had one legitimate daughter named Matilda, but was said to have fathered at least 22 other children while not married. The surname FitzRoy was often used by the illegitimate sons and daughters of a King or Queen.
King Henry VIII of England
Henry FitzRoy, the first Duke of Richmond and Somerset, was the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII and his mistress Elizabeth Blount. FitzRoy died when he was 17 years old, and the cause of death was never confirmed, though it was speculated that he could have been murdered.
Louis XIV of France
While he was married to Maria Theresa of Spain, he fathered four children with a woman named Catherine-Henriette Bellier, a daughter with Claude de Vin des Œillets, and seven kids with the Marquise de Montespan. In addition to those 12 children born out of wedlock, he had six with his wife.
Princess Thyra of Denmark
The Danish princess and her royal aid Vilhelm Frimann Marcher were romantically involved, and she wound up pregnant with his baby. Since marriage to him was out of the question, Princess Thyra’s mother devised a plan for her to deliver the baby in Greece. Thyra gave birth to a baby girl, Maria, in 1871. Her name was later changed to Kate after she was adopted by a Greek family.
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
Bernhard was originally born in Germany, but he married Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, becoming a prince consort. They had four children together. But he wasn't faithful. Alexia Grinda was the prince's first known daughter born out of wedlock. Unlike her illegitimate half-sister Alicia (click next to read more), Alexia had a relationship with her father.
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
Right before his death in 2004, Prince Bernhard admitted to having a second illegitimate daughter. When the news broke, his daughter Alicia de Bielefeld was 50 years old and working in America as an architect. In the revealing interview, the prince said the affair happened during a “major crisis in his marriage.”
King Charles II of England
Taking the crown (pun intended) for most potential children born out of wedlock was King Charles II. He was married to Catherine of Braganza, but they never had any kids together. All 14 to 17 (the number was never confirmed) of his offspring came from his many mistresses.
King Edward VII of England
It's been reported that King Edward VII, who ruled the United Kingdom from 1901–1910, had more than 50 affairs, including with Winston Churchill's mom. He's presumed to have fathered many children outside his marriage, though he never acknowledged them. He had six legitimate heirs to the throne with his wife Queen Alexandra, including Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather George V. Sadly, one of the six died as a child.
King James IV of Scotland
The Scottish King got around, and because of it, he fathered at least eight illegitimate kids. His favorite mistress of all time was supposedly Margaret Drummond, though it's not know how many of those eight children are hers.
King Leopold I of Belgium
Though Prince Albert was raised as the son of Duke Ernst and Princess Louise, there were rumors that his actual father was his great uncle, King Leopold I. The possible affair between Louise and Leopold is drawn out in the TV show Victoria. There’s been no indication that the rumors are true, but if they were to ever confirm them, Prince Albert would be an illegitimate royal child.
King Leopold I of Belgium
While it was only a rumor that King Leopold I was Prince Albert’s dad, it was confirmed that the king fathered two other children out of wedlock—George and Arthur. Leopold’s mistress Arcadie Meyer gave birth to George in 1849, and Arthur just three years later in 1852. Both sons were granted the title “Freiherr von Eppinghoven” in 1862 by the king’s nephew Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Prince Carlos, Duke of Parma
Hugo Klynstra is the son of the Dutch Prince Carlos and Brigitte Klynstra, a friend from childhood with whom he had a relationship. Carlos is the cousin of King Willem-Alexander. When Hugo was born, the couple reportedly agreed that he would be given no royal title, but after a lengthy legal battle, he has finally been accepted as a member of the Dutch royal family.
Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll
Queen Victoria’s sixth daughter, Princess Louise, was said to have given birth to a son named Henry. The father was reportedly the tutor of Louise's brother Prince Leopold. Henry was said to have been adopted by the Queen’s OB-GYN, Frederick Locock.
Everyone thinks of Queen Victoria as the daughter of Prince Edward and Princess Victoria, but in 2003 biographer Andrew Norman Wilson thought he found evidence that she was illegitimate and that her actual father was an Irish soldier and close confidante of Edward named John Conroy. Wilson noted that none of Victoria’s many descendants suffered from porphyria, a hereditary disease caused by “buildup of certain chemicals related to red blood cell proteins.” Prince Edward's father, George III, suffered from the condition. Years later, Wilson took it back, saying he doesn't think Queen Victoria is illegitimate after all.
King Richard I of England
Philip of Cognac was the son of Richard the Lionheart, King of England and a woman who was never identified. It has been said that Philip is depicted as “Philip the Bastard” in William Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John.
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Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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