Most families have topics they’d prefer not to discuss at Christmas – from drunken antics and truths best left unsaid to last year’s falling out.
And Europe’s royal households are no different – with multiple scandals rocking the institutions across the continent throughout the recent decades that they most likely won’t want discussed around the dinner table.
These include the former Spanish King Juan Carlos I’s alleged affairs, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden’s ‘wild sex parties with strippers and lengthy affair with a singer’ and Britain’s Prince Andrew’s multi-million pound out-of-court settlement with sexual abuse accuser Virginia Roberts.
Here, FEMAIL takes a look at the controversies that royal families will no doubt want to avoid mentioning this festive season…
KING CARL XVI GUSTAF OF SWEDEN
In 2010 the Swedish monarchy was rocked by the release of a new biography about the Swedish King (pictured in the ’90s with his wife) which claimed to shine a light on his ‘wild sex parties with strippers and lengthy affair with a singer’
No fewer than 14 pages detailed an alleged lengthy affair he had with Camilla Henemark (pictured), the Swedish singer and model
He was seen as the perfect 21st-century monarch, insisting Swedish law be changed to allow his eldest daughter to succeed him rather than his only son.
For years, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden’s only acknowledgement of a racier world was the stable of fast cars he enjoyed driving – while his 45-year marriage to Queen Silvia was credited as a wonderful example of partnership.
Yet in 2010 the Swedish monarchy was rocked by the release of a new biography about the King which claimed to shine a light on his ‘wild sex parties with strippers and lengthy affair with a singer’.
Titled The Reluctant Monarch, it accused King Carl – who is a third cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II – of attending underground strip clubs with his friends and having an extramarital affair.
Titled The Reluctant Monarch (pictured), it accused King Carl – who is a third cousin of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth – of attending underground strip clubs with his friends and having an extramarital affair
Following the biography’s release, King Carl offered a ‘vague’ statement, saying he and his family had chosen to ‘turn the page… and move forward because, as I understand, these are things that happened a long time ago.’
The controversial book revealed that the King and his friends had enjoyed the company of ‘coffee girls’ – women who would ‘entertain’ the group, consisting of members of the remains of Swedish aristocracy.
It also alleged that the King visited underground strip clubs. In the biography, the three investigative authors claimed the King had ‘wild sex parties involving strippers’, sometimes hosted by an infamous Mafia boss in a Stockholm club.
It was also alleged that, over many years, he had been protected by the Swedish secret service, Sapo, covering up embarrassing material in his wake and pressuring women to hand over compromising pictures.
According to the late Mafia-linked club owner Mille Markovic, who was quoted in the book, he liked having the King as a customer because it minimised the possibility of police raids.
Following the publication of the book, Markovic claimed that he had compromising photographs of the King with naked women, taken at one of his sex clubs in the 1980s.
In 2021, the author of the controversial biography, Thomas Sjöberg, appeared on a new podcast, Motive, to explore with the documentary series creator, Nils Bergman, the ‘royal scandal’.
In the descriptions of the six-part podcast, available via the Acast+ subscription service, it is said that the King and his friends, the so-called ‘royal gang’, for a few years in the early ‘90s had a standing reservation on Mondays at the underground club owned by Markovic.
In 2010, The Reluctant Monarch also accused King Carl (pictured with his wife in 2020) of having an extramarital affair with a famous Swedish singer in the 90s
‘Young women and strippers have in an almost systematic way been called into these party nights to please this elite group of powerful men,’ read the synopsis of episode two, when translated from Swedish to English.
‘The men have promised the world, modelling jobs and careers in the entertainment industry, in exchange for providing what they want.’
Several women interviewed for the book claimed they had sex with the King. After one big dinner celebrating a successful elk hunt, he is said to have enjoyed sex with two women at the same time.
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, where the King of Sweden was inevitably a VIP guest, he is said to have spent $10,000 (£7,000) in the Gold Club nightclub, including two hours in a room alone with one of the strippers.
In some instances, Sapo agents have allegedly been used to search the homes of women in order to confiscate pictures taken at the King’s private parties.
‘If the rolls of film and pictures aren’t turned over, some unpleasant things will happen,’ the book startlingly claimed.
In 2010, The Reluctant Monarch also accused King Carl of having an extramarital affair with a famous Swedish singer in the 90s.
No fewer than 14 pages detailed an alleged lengthy affair he had with Camilla Henemark, the Swedish singer and model.
Her response to the revelations following the book launch was not to deny them but merely to say her lawyer had advised her ‘not to give any comments’.
The book claimed that Queen Silvia was aware of this affair but was helpless as the King ‘had fallen in love like a teenager and, on one occasion, the King and Henemark were talking about leaving for a distant island, like Marlon Brando in Tetiaroa in French Polynesia, where they planned to live on coconuts’.
‘It’s terrible that this has all come out,’ said a courtier at the time. ‘But the Queen is a trooper. She will show nothing.’
BRITAIN’S PRINCE ANDREW
Prince Andrew is pictured in 2001 with Epstein sex trafficking victim Virginia Giuffre, then 17, who has accused him of sexual abuse. Andrew has consistently and vehemently denied the claims
Andrew (pictured in September) denied these allegations publicly, including taking part in a now-infamous interview with Emily Maitlis during which he claimed to have been at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night in question
Prince Andrew, 62, paid Virginia Giuffre, 39, a reported £12million to settle a civil case in which she accused him of sexual abuse. He has consistently and vehemently denied the claims.
Ms Giuffre alleged that he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 – while she was being trafficked by his friend Jeffrey Epstein.
But earlier this year the Duke of York agreed a £12million out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre, before the case went to a US civil trial. This settlement was not an admission of liability,
Andrew denied these allegations publicly, including taking part in a now-infamous interview with Emily Maitlis during which he claimed to have been at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night in question.
The Prince has since been stripped of his royal patronages and honorary military titles.
In October 2022, insiders revealed the shamed Duke of York binge-watches TV box sets, barely leaves home and has been left wondering how his reputation has been left in tatters by his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Friends said Andrew has finally resigned himself to playing a ‘back seat’ role and is committed to acting ‘absolutely in the background’ as a ‘supportive figure’ for ‘The Firm’.
Now living with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York at Royal Lodge, their 30-room home in Windsor Great Park, the duke is a ‘virtual recluse’ who only ventures out to go horse-riding on the estate twice a week, for the occasional swim, or to walk the royal corgis Muick and Sandy and his and Fergie’s five Norfolk terriers, insiders revealed.
A friend told the Telegraph: ‘He has a much better understanding of the challenges he faces than at any other point in his life.
‘He has a better sense of perspective – partly because he’s had these three years to reflect – to do the work, and to focus on his immediate family. The Duke of York of today is much more thoughtful and more mindful than he has ever been.
‘They added: ‘He acknowledges privately that Newsnight was by no means his finest hour. The feeling that he has been treated abysmally is held by his nearest and dearest, but the duke’s attitude is more along the lines of: It is what it is.’
Representatives for the duke declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.
JUAN CARLOS I OF SPAIN
Juan Carlos and Danish-German philanthropist Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in 2006
He was the King of Spain from 1975 until his controversial abdication in 2014 – and during that time, Juan Carlos I (pictured with his wife Queen Sofia in 2009) is rumoured to have had relationships with over 5,000 women
He was the King of Spain from 1975 until his controversial abdication in 2014 – and during that time, Juan Carlos I is rumoured to have had relationships with over 5,000 women.
In October, an ex-police chief sensationally claimed in a parliamentary hearing that the exiled former Spanish king Juan Carlos was ‘injected with female hormones to control his rampant sex drive’.
Jose Manuel Villarejo also said the disgraced former monarch, now living at a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, was given testosterone blockers by the Spanish secret service after his libido was categorised as a ‘state problem.’
Villarejo, a former Spanish Police commissioner was on trial at the time in a blackmail case, said, according to The Times: ‘[The National Intelligence Centre (CNI)] injected female hormones and testosterone blockers to control his libido because it was considered a problem of state that he was so horny.’
Danish-German philanthropist Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, Spanish singer Sara Montiel, Belgian governess Liliane Sartiau and Italian princess Maria Gabriela de Saboya are just some of the women he is rumoured to have bedded besides his wife, Queen Sofia.
News of the disgraced former king’s legendary libido are not new, however. It comes after a Spanish author and military historian Amadeo Martinez Ingles wrote a book entitled ‘Juan Carlos: The King Of 5,000 Lovers’, piecing together evidence of his sexual history and painting the king as a rampant sex addict.
Villarejo, who has been accused of spying on and working to discredit some of Spain’s most high-profile politicians as a key figure in the nation’s ‘sewer politics’, also insisted he was asked to get rid of medical documents which would have proved the medication went on.
He denied having any involvement in the effort to bring Juan Carlos’ notorious sex drive under control and said he found out about it from Corinna Larsen, a former lover of the ex-monarch now living in London.
Larsen, also known as Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 58, had an affair with the 84-year-old monarch – who is married to Queen Sofia, 84 – between 2004 and 2009.
In his explosive book published in 2016 called ‘Juan Carlos: The King of 5,000 lovers’, author Martinez Ingles dubbed the ex-king a sex addict and said he had hundreds of relationships even after marriage to his wife Queen Sofia in 1962.
The book claimed he had had 62 lovers in one six-month period alone, and during his ‘passionate period’ between 1976 and 1994, the king had slept with a staggering 2,154 women.
One of Juan Carlos’ early sexual encounters is said to be with Maria Gabriela de Saboya, daughter of the last king of Italy.
Later, Juan Carlos, who was crowned king in 1975, allegedly became estranged from his wife after the queen found him in a compromising position with Spanish actress and singer, Sara Montiel.
It is rumoured that Queen Sofia caught him in the act with Montiel just weeks after their coronation, but she denied any affair.
In January 2017 it was claimed spymasters paid a former Miss World contestant millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to stop her spilling the beans on her supposed affair with Juan Carlos when he was still King of Spain.
Former beauty queen-turned-actress Barbara Rey reportedly had the cash paid into an offshore account to make sure she kept quiet about her long-standing romance with the ex-monarch.
PRINCE LAURENT OF BELGIUM
Prince Laurent of Belgium (pictured with Princess Claire of Belgium), 59, who is the younger brother of King Philippe, has been labelled The Cursed Prince (Le Prince Maudit) due to his various gaffes and scandals
Prince Laurent of Belgium, 59, who is the younger brother of King Philippe, has been labelled The Cursed Prince (Le Prince Maudit) due to his various gaffes and scandals.
In March 2018 the former military helicopter pilot had his monthly allowance cut by 15 per cent for a year, after he attended a Chinese embassy reception without government permission.
The royal was caught out when he tweeted an image of himself at the Chinese embassy party in full naval uniform.
He also visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former Belgian colony, in 2011 without permission, and met with Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, who he said he promised him £42 million for a forestry scheme.
The black sheep of the family, the Prince has also accused his own family of ‘sabotaging’ his life and monitoring him ‘like the Stasi’.
In 2014, he was forced to pay back £14,500 after invoicing the state for supermarket bills, skiing holidays and his children’s school fees.
In 2016, it was decided that Prince Laurent’s children were not allowed to carry the name ‘of Belgium’.
Prince Laurent’s involvement in animal welfare and environmental issues, as well as him ignoring protocol, have earned Laurent the nickname of ‘ecolo-gaffeur’ (‘the eco-blunderer’).
The prince was also named in a corruption scandal and is known for his love of speed, having racked up several speeding tickets.
Prince Laurent is married to British-born Princess Claire, who was born in Bath as Claire Coombs and who worked as a land surveyor.
KATE’S UNCLE GARY GOLDSMITH
Known as the ‘black sheep’ of the Middleton family, Gary Goldsmith (pictured) has created a reputation for fun, despite a series of publicly embarrassing and scandalous incidents
Known as the ‘black sheep’ of the Middleton family, Gary Goldsmith has created a reputation for fun, despite a series of publicly embarrassing and scandalous incidents.
In 2009, Mr Goldsmith was exposed by a tabloid newspaper, cutting lines of cocaine with a razor blade while on holiday in his villa on the Spanish party island of Ibiza, which is named the Maison de Bang Bang. He later expressed remorse over the matter.
The Maison de Bang Bang has become known for its gaudiness, with gold bathroom taps and the letters GG emblazoned on the wall. There is also a mural that reads: ‘It’s Gary’s world, you just live in it.’
In one, particularly embarrassing, outburst Mr Goldsmith was alleged to have boasted of his connections to the royal family and joked ‘I’ve got my own rooms, the Goldsmith Wing’, a reference to having access to Buckingham Palace after his niece Kate Middleton was married to Prince William.
‘I’m going to be Duke of Slough,’ he is said to have added.
He was brought up on a council estate in Hounslow, West London, and started work as an IT operator before making millions with a recruitment company he floated on the stock exchange.
Mr Goldsmith – previously estimated to be worth £30million – arrived for the royal wedding at Westminster Abbey, in 2011, in a blue Rolls-Royce along with his ex-wife Luan and daughter Tallulah.
His references to the guest list also caused consternation as he bragged that Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was sat in front of him, while Rowan Atkinson was next to him ‘and the Beckhams at 11 o’clock’.
According to Mr Goldsmith, when he met Prince William in 2006, when the prince and then Miss Middleton stayed at his villa, his first words were ‘Oi you f***er’.
In November 2017, Mr Goldsmith was described by Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot Goldsmith as engaging in drunken and ‘loutish behaviour’ when he knocked his wife Julie-Ann to the ground outside their home as they returned home from a charity auction.
He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and rehabilitation sessions.
The couple began arguing in a taxi on their way home from a charity auction at Home House, a private members’ club in central London, on October 13 after Julie Ann accused her husband of taking drugs. He responded by calling her a ‘w****’ and a ‘nothing’.
After getting out of the cab Mrs Goldsmith slapped her husband on the face and he responded by punching her with a ‘left hook’, taxi driver Daniel Shepherd told police.
The multi-millionaire was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and £85 towards prosecution costs. The CPS dropped the application for a restraining order on Goldsmith.
Taxi driver Mr Shepherd said Mrs Goldsmith was left ‘unconscious and not moving’ on the ground following the punch. She remained with her eyes closed for about 15 seconds before waking up and staggering to her feet, the court heard.
Mr Shepherd said he confronted Goldsmith and said: ‘Mate, you cannot do that.’
When Goldsmith turned towards him in an aggressive manner, the taxi driver added: ‘What are you going to do, start on me now?’
Goldsmith initially told the police he had pushed his wife hard with his left hand, but denied using a hook. He issued a heartfelt apology to the court and said he was ‘deeply ashamed’ for punching his wife.
PRINCE ERNST OF HANOVER
Married in Monaco: Prince Ernst of Hanover married Princess Caroline, sister of Prince Albert II of Monaco and daughter of Prince Rainier III, in 1999. Pictured, the couple at an event in 2000
Prince Ernst of Hanover, the estranged husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco, was handed a 10-month suspended jail sentence in Austria in 2021 for drunkenly injuring a police officer and threatening another with a baseball bat.
He was also required by the court to find another home in Austria and attend psychotherapy.
His lawyers explained during the trial that he had undertaken treatment since the incidents, which they said occurred while he had been ‘isolated for years and betrayed by his own son’.
Hola! reports the instructions have since been lifted.
Ancient royal lineage: Who are the Hanoverians?
The Hanoverians trace their lineage to the Welfs, also known as the Guelphs, who were once one of the foremost medieval dynasties in Europe.
The ruled over large swathes of what became southern Germany and northern Italy, including Tuscany, Bavaria and Saxony.
Later, they were the electors and kings of Hanover and ruled Britain and Ireland from when George I ascended to the throne in 1714 to the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, at which point the personal union with the United Kingdom ended.
In 1866 they lost their last German royal title, but held on to a large portfolio of properties, with the 135-room Marienburg castle near Hanover, built in 1867, being the best-known property under their stewardship.
The castle was built between 1858 and 1867 as a birthday present by King George V of Hanover (reigned 1851–1866) to his wife, Marie of Saxe-Altenburg.
It has been likened to the famous Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, which was built two years later in 1869, which famously served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Meanwhile, in December 2021, it emerged Ernst, the great-grandson of Emperor William II, had found love with a woman 20 years his junior.
Ernst, 67, a distant cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, was spotted out and about in Madrid with Spanish-born artist Claudia Stilianopoulos, 48, whose parents were friends with Princess Margaret.
The couple reportedly met in Ibiza in July 2021 and had become close, with some European news websites at the time even hinting marriage could have been on the cards.
Ernst married Princess Caroline, sister of Prince Albert II and daughter of Prince Rainier III, in 1999 and shares daughter Princess Alexandra, 22. They split in 2009 but have never divorced.
The royal, who is caught up in a legal battle with his son, Ernst Jr, has dated a number of women in the years since, including glamorous Portuguese socialite Countess Maria Madalena Bensaude.
However ‘none have promised as much’ as his flourishing relationship with Claudia, according to Hola!, the Spanish version of glossy magazine Hello! reported at the time.
Mother-of-two Claudia is an artist known for her architectural sculptures.
Her parents were José Manuel Stilianopoulos y Estela, known as Mike Stilianopoulos, a Philippine Ambassador to Britain in the late 1970s, and Spanish socialite Esperanza Ridruejo, known as Pitita.
The couple befriended Princess Margaret and offered her use of their villa in Marbella, Spain, for a stay with then boyfriend Roddy Llewellyn in 1979, shortly after her divorce from Anthony Armstrong-Jones.
Mike and Pitita, as they were known, settled in Madrid and became fixtures of the Spanish social scene. Mike died in 2016, his wife in 2019.
Ernst, the head of a German dynasty of one of Europe’s biggest aristocratic families, has for years been in conflict with his ‘ungrateful’ son, whom he suspects of seeking to squander family properties in Germany, especially land and forests in Lower Saxony.
At the end of last year he filed a lawsuit in a court in Hanover in northern Germany in order to recover the Marienburg castle, which has become a tourist attraction.
Prince Ernst accused his son of ‘going behind his back’ in court papers filed in 2021.
He had transferred Marienburg castle and the neighbouring Calenburg estate to his son – also called Ernst August – in the mid-2000s.
The Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneberg then flogged the land and in 2018 announced that Marienburg would be sold to the government for a nominal fee.
This may have been more economic than benevolent: the castle required renovations estimated at more than £23 million and had been costing a fortune to keep open to 200,000 visitors each year.
The younger Ernst said it marked an ‘historic turning point’ for the family and would help preserve the Gothic palace for the public.
The Bundestag – Germany’s federal parliament – has already voted in favour of contributing £12 million towards the renovations, while around 100 paintings and other artefacts from the castle have been handed to Hanover’s state museum.
These were worth a total of £2 million, while a further £5 million worth of treasures have been given to an art foundation.