10 Of The Most Controversial Moments In Queen Elizabeth's Reign

By Ellen Kershner on June 7 2020 in Society

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Image credit: Photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Image credit: Photograph taken by Julian Calder for Governor-General of New Zealand
  • Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2, 1953
  • The Queen’s husband has let a few swear words slip out over the years.
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton were put through the ringer in 2012 when she was photographed while sunbathing topless.
  • Princess Diana was connected to several “other men” while unhappily married to Prince Charles.

As the longest-reigning British monarch in history, Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on June 2,1953. She was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in London, England on April 21, 1926, and is mother to Prince Charles, heir to the throne. Elizabeth II is also grandmother to Prince William and Prince Harry, and at last count her Royal Highness had eight great-grandchildren.

Elizabeth assumed her role after her father, King George VI, passed away in 1952. She has held her position for 67 years; that is a long time! Though she has received numerous accolades throughout the decades, her reign is not without controversies – or as some put it, “unroyal moments” by her and members of the royal family. Some may be long ago and forgotten, but others are in recent memory.

10.  A Nazi Connection:

The Duke (Edward VIII) and Duchess at Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, 1937.
The Duke (Edward VIII) and Duchess at Hitler's mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, 1937.

King George VI’s brother Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Edward was also Elizabeth’s uncle. It was alleged that Edward and Wallis were Nazi sympathizers. In 1937, the couple (Duke and Duchess of Windsor) traveled to visit Hitler at his vacation spot in Berchtesgaden, Germany, where Edward gave Hitler full Nazi salutes.

Post-World War II, 400 tons of diplomatic papers were discovered at Marburg Castle in Germany. These were called the “Marburg Files,” and had potentially damaging information linked to the Royal Family. Though they have tried to erase this connection, a film released in 2015 showed Queen Elizabeth at age seven, doing a Nazi salute.

9. A Three-Week Tour

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the White House in 1965.
Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon with Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson at the White House in 1965.

Queen Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret had a wild streak, but Elizabeth sent her on a three-week tour of the U.S. in 1965 to smooth relations and help with the UK’s significant debt problems. Margaret had a grand old time, meeting Alfred Hitchcock and Judy Garland. The tour ended at a high-end dinner at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. The party went on until the wee hours, and the Princess spent a lot of additional time out partying. The bill for her trip was around £30,000, and she was later banned from visiting the U.S. in an official capacity.

8. Aberfan

Aberfan memorial. Image credit: Nick/Wikimedia.org
Aberfan memorial. Image credit: Nick/Wikimedia.org

This Welsh mining town experienced a tragedy in 1966 when a “tsunami of black sludge” came rushing down a hill into the town, destroying everything it went over. Aberfan lost 144 people, and the majority were children in a schoolhouse. Support for Aberfan came from all over the country, but the Queen did not travel there to visit the families until eight days later. She reportedly stated that delaying the trip was one of her biggest regrets.

7. James Bond

James Bond actor Daniel Craig. Image credit: www.GlynLowe.com
James Bond actor Daniel Craig. Image credit: www.GlynLowe.com

In October 2012, Elizabeth made an appearance at the London Olympics in style. She met James Bond actor Daniel Craig at Buckingham Palace, with her Corgi dogs in tow. Craig and the Queen then got into a helicopter and flew to the ceremony. Upon arriving, she was ejected from the helicopter and parachuted down. Of course, there is the strong possibility that a stunt double was used!

6. Not Getting the Picture

In 2015, The Queen visited Germany and was presented with a painting by artist Nicole Leidenfrost. The scene was awkward, as she could not figure out what was depicted in the picture. She commented that the horse was a funny color, and asked if the man in the painting was her father. The scene was actually supposed to show the Queen, wearing a pink outfit and riding a blue horse. Her father, King George VI, was shown holding the reins. The former German Prime Minister Joachim Gauck, who was with her, graciously drew her attention to something else.

5. More Fun with Margaret

Princess Margaret had an affinity for having her picture snapped with little or no clothing on. In 1971, robbers broke into a Lloyd’s of London bank, and got away with naked copies of the Princess and a man who was not her husband. This was a hard one to live down, especially when it became part of the plot for the 2008 movie “The Bank Job.”

4. Prince Philip’s Colorful Language

The Duke of Edinburgh, during a visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Image credit: Photo Credit: NASA/Paul E. Alers
The Duke of Edinburgh, during a visit to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Image credit: Photo Credit: NASA/Paul E. Alers

The Queen’s husband has let a few swear words slip out over the years. In 2015, the 94-year old Royal became impatient while waiting to have his picture taken at a meeting with the country’s Royal Air Force Club. He was filmed saying “Just take the f—ing picture,” while grandson Prince William nervously laughed.

The Prince has a reputation for not having a filter. Another example of this is from 1998, when His Royal Highness was speaking to a group of school children, who were wearing red uniforms. “It makes you all look like Dracula’s daughters!” he said.

3. Squidgy

Princess Diana was connected to several “other men” while unhappily married to Prince Charles. A phone call she had with alleged lover James Gilbey was leaked out, and during this call he was heard referring to the Princess as “Squidgy.” The tabloids picked up on this and it made for some embarrassing headlines for Queen Elizabeth and the royal family.

2. Camilla Parker-Bowles

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, greeting people awaiting for the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton, in London. Image credit: John Pannell/Wikimedia.org
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, greeting people awaiting for the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton, in London. Image credit: John Pannell/Wikimedia.org

Prince Charles was also unfaithful while married to Princess Diana. He had a long affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, which was a main cause of his marital problems. One of his calls with Camilla was also intercepted, and at the time he told her that he wished to “be reincarnated as her tampon.” The royal family was justifiably horrified.

1. Topless Sunbathing

Prince William and Kate Middleton (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) were put through the ringer in 2012 when she was photographed while sunbathing topless. At the time, the couple were newlyweds and vacationing in France. French authorities launched an investigation, and five years later, the French paparazzi who took the photos were sued for $1.9 million by the royal family.

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