How The British Royal Family Has More Drama Than Any CW Show
For the past 20 years, I have had a fascination with the British monarchy. And by "fascination," I mean an obsession that more than one person has expressed serious concern about, and which should probably keep me from being allowed in that country ever again.
One of the first things people ask me when they find out about my hobby / discover the secret altar where I perform blood sacrifices while chanting "God save the Queen" (hey, how do you think she's made it to 90?) is what the point is of having a royal family anymore. After all, this is the 21st century, and we don't need some stupid, unqualified person to automatically lead us just because they were born into wealth and power. We elect those people now. I usually answer by explaining the role of the monarchy in government, the importance of having a living connection to history, and their extensive charitable work.
But that's all just an excuse. I want the royal family to stick around because their drama puts every soap opera to shame. No, seriously, it's nuts ...
The Characters Are Crazy
Since I know some of you might not be familiar with the cast, so to speak, here's a really quick rundown of characters. Queen Elizabeth II is the head honcho, and she is married to a guy named Prince Philip, whom she fell in love with when she was 13 and who also happens to be her third cousin AND second cousin once removed, because royalty is gross like that. They have four children, Prince Charles being the most important, since he gets to be king next. He's the one who was married to Princess Diana, and they had William and Harry. Prince William married Kate Middleton, that bitch, breaking my heart into a thousand pieces, and now they have two children of their own, but whatever I hate them.
While the Queen has always behaved with the utmost decorum, some of her family members act a lot more like you would expect people to act when they have access to almost unlimited money, palaces, drugs, and sex. Her sister, Princess Margaret, smoked 60 cigarettes a day and drank so much that it killed her ... but don't worry too much; she was 71. Their mother, who lived to a ripe old 101, had a different addiction: the ponies. She was alleged to enjoy betting on horse races so much that an MP claimed she once used the pilot's radio to place wagers while flying over the Atlantic Ocean. In her honor, probably for all the business she gave them over the years, bookmakers closed on the day of her funeral.
Currently, the big party animal is Prince Harry. At the age of 16, he did what most teenagers do and decided to experiment with drugs and alcohol. The difference was when you did it and got caught, it didn't become national news, and your dad probably didn't make you do charity work at a rehab clinic to make up for it. Four years later, he made the front page again when he showed up at a friend's "colonials and natives"-themed costume party in a Nazi uniform. In 2004, he attacked a photographer outside a nightclub. Then in 2012, we were all gifted with shots of Harry showing everything but the crown jewels (NSFW) when he played strip billiards with some women he had just met in Vegas and didn't think to take their phones from them.
Prince Philip is basically considered a national treasure because he is everyone's racist grandpa. At 95, he is old enough not to give any more fucks, but he's been like this forever. In 2002, he asked an Australian aboriginal businessman if they "still threw spears at each other." And he once asked a Scottish driving instructor how he managed to keep his pupils sober long enough to teach them. And he once pointed at a random child in a youth club and declared that he looked like he was on drugs. And ... you know what, we'll be here all day, just read them yourself.
Even the supporting characters get up to weird stuff. Princess Beatrice, a granddaughter of the Queen, was recently in the news because during a party she grabbed a sword to "knight" the singer James Blunt (as one does) and accidentally slashed singer Ed Sheeran across the face -- an event he later said he "wasn't allowed to talk about" (probably because of the kill squads I assume they have). Her father, Prince Andrew, was best buddies with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and was accused of having sex with an underage prostitute himself. This did not go to court and was never proven, but having "friend of sex-slaver" come up when your name is googled isn't great. Even Kate Middleton brought family baggage with her when she married, in the form of her thrice-divorced uncle who was caught on camera offering cocaine and prostitutes to a reporter and bragging about his friendship with Prince William.
Relationships Never Go Smoothly
Ah, soap opera love affairs. Has one ever worked out in the whole history of the medium? The same question could be asked of the royal family. Charles and Diana's disastrous union is obviously the most famous. They met when he was dating her older sister, so there's that. There's also the fact that his dad basically made him marry her since he was 32 and needed to settle down. She, on the other hand, was a 20-year-old sheltered virgin. It was doomed from the start. In their engagement interview, they were asked if they were in love, and Diana replied, "Of course!" Charles added, "Whatever 'in love' means." Yeah, try not to blow us away with the fairy-tale romance of it all, Charlie.
The problem, of course, was that he was infatuated with a woman who was already married. He is rumored to have had sex with Camilla Parker Bowles up to the night before he married Diana. He fully intended to give her up at that point, but we know by Diana's own admission that he was calling his mistress by the second day of their honeymoon. Years later, in a phone call that was leaked to the press, Charles would tell Camilla he wanted to be reincarnated as her tampon (that romance again!) After popping out the heir and the spare, Diana started having her own affairs. Honestly, it's amazing their relationship lasted as long as it did. And to throw a very soap opera twist into the works, there are people who think Harry isn't Charles' son, since one of the people we know for sure Diana was sleeping with looks whole lot like him.
They weren't the only ones having affairs. Prince Andrew's wife "Fergie" was splashed across the papers when a photographer caught her laying by the pool, getting her toes sucked by a man who wasn't her husband (and for the record, was also not Quentin Tarantino). Despite their divorce, the two remain close friends, which was great, until she was caught in a sting operation offering access to her ex for 500,000 pounds. Princess Anne's marriage fell apart when she discovered her husband had fathered a child with his mistress. Princess Margaret stepped out on her husband constantly, sometimes with men decades younger than her. Even Prince Philip is rumored to have had numerous affairs, although if he has cheated on the Queen, he at least managed to be discreet about it.
While Prince William and Kate Middleton were a love match, in true soap opera style, there is some evidence that William may have accidentally married his stalker (in which case, he could have just married me). According to friends at her boarding school, Kate had a poster of William on her wall (like I did!). She also attended the same gap year programs as him, and turned down a place at a better university for one at the school he went to. When they started dating, she began copying the distinctive style of one of his ex-girlfriends, whom he had once had a "pretend engagement" with. Oddly, he still goes on vacation with that ex-girlfriend sometimes ... without Kate.
Everyone Is Always Mad At Everyone Else
In your average soap opera, people are always angry. Someone is always screwing over someone else, and you get in a few good bitch-slaps an episode. While no one in the royal family has come to blows in public (yet), at least one member is feuding with another at any given time, usually about something ridiculously petty and using leaks to the press to make them look bad.
Currently, Prince Charles and Prince William are playing out their father-son drama for everyone to see. William has pretty much rejected his father and decided he likes his wife's commoner family better. It's gotten so bad that friends of Charles run to the media to tell them how he never sees his grandchildren. Meanwhile, William leaks back how he wants his kids to grow up differently than he did, openly calling his dad's parenting into question. Which is fair enough, considering Charles used to sell stories about his sons to the media if he thought they would make him look good.
Not content with being involved in one fight at a time, Charles is also battling with his brother Prince Andrew over the role Andrew's daughters should play in the monarchy going forward. When he couldn't get anywhere with Charles, Andrew ran to mommy, and the Queen took his side (he is her favorite child, after all).
They aren't the only brothers who might be feuding. Prince William and Prince Harry share a press office, and royal watchers have noticed that every time William and Kate are called out by the media (usually for being unbelievably lazy), a negative story immediately leaks about Harry. The theory is that William might actually be ordering his employees to make his brother look bad to distract from his own increasingly terrible press.
It also doesn't help that this is an organization where in order for someone to move up, someone else has to literally die. Prince Charles loves his mother, but he wants to be king and she is showing all the signs of living forever. This also means there is added friction between himself and Prince William, whose family is more attractive and more popular. Some of you probably vaguely remember reading "somewhere" that the crown was going to skip Charles and go directly to William. It's not true, but the fact that you think it is drives Charles nuts.
The Plotlines Can Get Ridiculous
Soap operas are unapologetic about how out-there their stories can get. It's like their own Rule 34: If you can dream it, it's probably happened on one of them. My own personal favorite was the now-canceled Passions, which included a monkey who had sexual fantasies about a human. But the royal family can give them a run for their money.
In 1974, Princess Anne and her husband were returning from a film premiere. A car forced theirs to stop, and a man jumped out, two guns drawn. The royal bodyguard stepped out to meet him and was shot in the shoulder. The bodyguard tried to return fire, but his gun jammed. Then the assailant shot the driver, a bystander who attempted to intervene, and the bodyguard two more times. He got the back door open and tried to pull Anne out of the car, telling her she had to come with him. Instead she kicked the would-be kidnapper away and replied, "[Not] bloody likely." He turned and fled. Living up to her reputation as the hardest-working royal, Anne was back on the job the next day.
The Queen was terrified by what had happened to her daughter, but when she had her own run-in with a nutcase, she stayed cool. In 1982, 33-year-old Michael Fagan climbed a 14-foot wall topped with barbed wire, shimmied up a drainpipe, and entered Buckingham Palace. The alarm went off, but it was ignored. Fagan wandered around until he found the Queen's bedroom and went inside. She woke up and chatted with him, wondering why the hell no one was showing up to remove the crazy man sitting on her bed. Finally he asked for a cigarette and she was able to ring for help. His mother later said her recently divorced son had probably just wanted to "discuss his problems" with the Queen, and really, isn't that what she's there for?
Of course, if you want to throw reality to the wind, you can have a lot of fun with royal conspiracy theories. Like Harry not being Charles' son. Or the surprisingly prevalent opinion that Prince Philip had Princess Diana killed, even though a years-long inquiry found it was a combination of paparazzi, speed, and a drunk driver. Or you could go full-on David Icke and look for signs that the royal family are all shapeshifting lizard people.
But why bother making stuff up when the real news about them is so juicy?
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
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