Rifts, scandals and setbacks for royals since 2010

Scandals, setbacks, in-family rifts and battles with the press have all shaped the last 10 years for the royal family.

One of the lowest points for the family came in recent months with the decision by the Duke of York to step down from public duties amid the fallout from his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Earlier in the decade, a raucous road trip to Las Vegas in 2012 ended with photos of a naked Harry, who was frolicking with a woman in his hotel room after a game of strip billiards, being printed around the world.

Harry was just about to begin his second frontline stint with the military in Afghanistan.

Harry in Afghanistan
Harry races out to scramble his Apache in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in 2012 (John Stillwell/PA)

Kate was left distressed when topless photos of her sunbathing in France were printed in foreign magazines, and legal action was launched and won.

Charles sparked a diplomatic crisis with Russia in 2014 when he likened Vladimir Putin’s actions to some of those of the Nazis while speaking to a former Polish war refugee during a royal tour to Canada.

A 10-year legal battle by The Guardian led to the publication of secret letters written by Charles to government, showing the prince had tackled then-prime minister Tony Blair over the lack of resources for the armed forces fighting in Iraq and lobbied ministers over badgers and TB, herbal medicine and illegal fishing of the Patagonian toothfish.

In 2016, William was branded “workshy William” for the number of engagements he carried out in combination with his part-time air ambulance pilot role, but dismissed the criticism as “part of the job”.

Philip sparked controversy in January 2019 when he was involved in a serious car crash involving a mother and a baby.

Meghan’s new life as a royal was followed by an estrangement from her father Thomas Markle and then a reported rift, first between Kate and Meghan, and then William and Harry.

Royals attends Christmas Day Church service
There were reports of a rift between the Cambridges and the Sussexes (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Sussexes moved to Frogmore Cottage in Windsor and split from the Royal Foundation, setting up their own charity.

They faced accusations of hypocrisy in the summer of 2019 amid a row over their use of private jets despite speaking out on environmental issues.

Their taxpayer-funded official tour of southern Africa in 2019 was overshadowed when the duchess launched legal action against a newspaper group and the duke delivered a scathing attack on the British press.

Royal visit to Africa
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex depart after a visit to the Tembisa township in Johannesburg (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In an emotional ITV documentary, Meghan admitted to feeling vulnerable and Harry did little to dispel reports of a rift by saying he loved his brother William dearly but they were “on different paths at the moment” and had “good days” and “bad days” in their relationship.

It was the Duke of York’s association with convicted sex offender Epstein that caused the worst crisis through the decade.

In 2011, the Queen’s second son quit his role as UK trade envoy after photos showed him visiting the disgraced financier in New York after Epstein’s release from jail for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

It also emerged that the duke’s ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York was given £15,000 by Epstein to help pay off her debts, just 18 months after he was released.

Four years later, Andrew faced allegations in civil court papers in the US that he had sex on three separate occasions with Virginia Giuffre, when she was still a minor under US law.

The duke categorically denied the claims.

In November 2019, in the wake of Epstein killing himself in prison, Andrew’s attempts to defend himself against Ms Giuffre’s accusations and explain his friendship with Epstein in a BBC Newsnight interview were branded a “car crash” and led to him withdrawing from public duties.

He was widely criticised for failing to show remorse for his association with Epstein or empathy with Epstein’s victims.

Ms Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, gave an interview to BBC Panorama and said she was left “horrified and ashamed” after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.

She claimed she danced with Andrew in Tramp nightclub, adding he was “the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life” and “his sweat was… raining basically everywhere”.

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