Divorce can be a touchy topic — particularly where members of the royal family are concerned.
While few objected to
Prince Harry’s nuptials to Meghan Markle, a divorcée, the subject once ended a monarchy — King Edward VIII stepped down from the British throne in 1936 after being condemned for his proposal to Wallis Simpson, an American who had been married twice before.
“Historically the Church of England’s position was that divorce was OK, but remarriage was not,” Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of history at Boston University, told History.com ahead of Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May 2018.
A divorce also ended a loving relationship for
Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister, Princess Margaret. The royal was reportedly coerced not to accept a proposal from Group Captain Peter Townsend due to his prior marriage to Cecil Rosemary Pratt (née Pawle).
Ironically, she went on to marry Antony Armstrong-Jones, whom she would divorce in 1978 after 18 years of marriage and two children together.
Needless to say, royal families the world over have come a long way in their thought process as far as the topic of divorce is concerned.
In fact, it was reportedly Queen Elizabeth who urged
Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who separated in 1992, to agree to their early divorce in August 1996.
They certainly weren’t alone, either:
Prince Andrew and Duchess Sarah Ferguson, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and Monaco’s Princess Caroline and Philippe Juno all count themselves among the growing list of royals to end their marriages prematurely. And some have even gone on to (gasp!) remarry.
Scroll through to find out which royal couples have called it quits.
Prince Andrew and Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson
Prince Andrew and the Duchess of York were married for 10 years from 1986 to 1996. The couple began to drift apart after Andrew spent a lot of time abroad as a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy. “I married my boy, who happened to be a prince and a sailor, because I loved him — my only condition being, ‘I have to be with you,’” Fergie told
Harper’s Bazaar in 2007. “And two weeks after the wedding, the courtiers told Andrew, who thought he’d be stationed in London, ‘You have to go to sea.’ I spent my entire first pregnancy alone. When Beatrice was born, Andrew got 10 days of shore leave and when he left I cried.”
The former couple remain close, however, with Sarah moving into Andrew’s royal residence. The pair sparked reconciliation rumors in August 2013 and once more in April 2019, after they spent the weekend with eldest daughter Beatrice and her boyfriend,
Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Fergie’s spokesperson debunked the rumors to Us Weekly, however, stating that the pair “remain good friends as they have been for many years and nothing has changed.”
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Prince Charles and Princess Diana
The Prince of Wales wed English kindergarten assistant Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981. Royal correspondent
Robert Jobson revealed in his November 2018 book, Charles at 70: Thoughts, Hopes and Dreams, that the pair had only met a handful of times prior to their engagement, with Charles being pressured to marry by his father, Prince Philip.
Years later, Charles reportedly told friends that he “desperately wanted to get out of the wedding in 1981, when during the engagement I discovered just how awful the prospects were, having had no chance to get to know Diana beforehand.” The couple, who shared two sons, Princes
William and Harry, divorced in August 1996 at the urging of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Diana was killed one year later in a fatal car crash. Charles went on to marry his former love divorcée Camilla Parker Bowles in April 2005.
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Countess Alexandra of Fredericksborg and Prince Joachim
After meeting at a party in Hong Kong,
Prince Joachim of Denmark proposed to Alexandra Manley in 1995. They were married by the end of the year. Ten years later, however, the pair, who share sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, became the first couple in the royal Danish family to end their marriage since 1846.
Prince Joachim went on to marry
Marie Cavallier in May 2008, while Alexandra, who will renounce her title in 2020 when son Felix turns 18, tied the knot with photographer Martin Jørgensen in March 2007. The couple later split in September 2015.
Jerry BERGMAN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Princess Anne and Mark Phillips
Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter wed military man
Mark Philips on November 14, 1973. Though they welcomed a son, Peter, and a daughter, Zara, together, their love didn’t last, with Princess Anne making headlines for alleged infidelities with bodyguard Peter Cross and the Queen’s equerry, Commander Timothy Laurence.
The couple announced their separation in 1989. They divorced three years later, however, after it was revealed that Phillips had fathered a child with a New Zealand art teacher named
Heather Tonkin. Anne went on to marry Laurence, while Phillips wed Olympic dressage rider Sandy Pflueger. The couple announced plans to divorce in 2012 after five years of marriage.
Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images
Princess Caroline and Philippe Juno
The eldest daughter of former Hollywood star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco tied the knot with the venture capitalist in June 1978. The pair divorced just two years later. The princess walked down the aisle once more with
Stefano Casiraghi in 1993. They had three children together before Casiraghi was killed in a boating accident in October 1990. Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick became her third husband in January 1999. They have one daughter together.
Juno, meanwhile, married
Nina Wendelboe-Larsen in October 1987, with whom he shares kids Victoria, Isabelle and Alexis, only to separate 10 years later. He also shares daughter Chloé with Helén Wendel.
Patrice PICOT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
After losing her first love Townsend due to his prior divorce, the Countess of Snowden, who wed photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones on May 6, 1960, was embroiled in scandal once more when she was photographed with British baronet
Roddy Llewellyn in their swimsuits on a private island in February 1976.
She finalized her divorce from Lord Snowdon, with whom she shared two children,
Lady Sarah Chatto and David Armstrong-Jones, in July 1978. Queen Elizabeth’s only sibling died in 2002 at the age of 71. Lord Snowdon, who went on to marry Lucy Mary Lindsay-Hogg (née Davies), died in January 2017 at the age of 86.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Princess Irene and Prince Carlos Hugo
Princess Irene of the Netherlands’ marriage to the Duke of Parma and Piacenza was a controversial one due to the fact that she had secretly converted from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism in the summer of 1963, at a time when Protestant succession was traditional in the royal family.
She gave up rights of succession to the throne in order to exchange vows with her love on April 29, 1964. They divorced in May 1981, but not before having four children —
Prince Carlos, Princess Margarita, Prince Jaime and Princess Maria. Carlos Hugo died in August 2010 at the age of 80.
Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images
Princess Stéphanie and Daniel Ducruet
The youngest daughter of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III has had two marriages that ended in divorce. In 1992 she began a relationship with her bodyguard
Daniel Ducruet, a divorcée with a child from a previous union. They welcomed a son, Louis, later that year. Though Prince Rainier was resistant to the couple marrying, he conceded after the couple welcomed daughter Pauline in 1994. They married in a civil ceremony one year later.
Their marriage didn’t last, however: The pair divorced in September 1996 after photographs of Ducruet’s indiscretion with
Muriel “Fili” Mol-Houteman — Miss Bare Breasts of Belgium 1995 — were published.
After a brief fling in 2001 with elephant trainer
Franco Knie, who was married to another woman, Stéphanie found love again with acrobat Adans Lopez Peres — a member of Knie’s circus ensemble. They secretly wed in September 2003 and split in November 2004.
Francis Apesteguy/Getty Images
Prince Louis and Princess Tessy
The Prince of Luxembourg met the Professors Without Borders director, born
Tessy Antony, through her organization. They welcomed son Gabriel in March 2006, six months ahead of their September 2006 wedding date. One year later, they had another son, Noah.
The pair separated in January 2017, with Tessy citing “unreasonable behavior” in her divorce filing. Their divorce was finalized in April 2019.
Mark Renders /Getty Images
Duchess Camilla and Andrew Parker Bowles
Not only was Prince Charles divorced when he married the Duchess of Cornwall in April 2005, his bride was also embarking on her second marriage: Camilla had previously been wed to Guards officer
Andrew Parker Bowles.
The couple, who welcomed son
Tom and daughter Laura together, split in March 1995 after 21 years together.
Dave Benett/Getty Images
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