Many may think monarchies have become obsolete, nothing more than figure heads living lavishly off people’s taxes and doing nothing more than cutting ribbons and being the face of charities. In a way, these people are not wrong, since many monarchs are indeed just figure heads, with no jurisdiction when it comes to making decisions in running the country. Yet, monarchies around the world still exist.
For others, royal families serve as an inspiration to the common folk, especially when a representative of the royal family is effectively able to reach out to his or her subjects. People cheered when Diana Spencer became engaged to Prince Charles and there was equal positive feedback when Kate Middleton was to marry Prince William. And while many see those born of royal blood as made of stone, that is not the case at all. They are humans like the rest of us, experiencing ranges of human emotions. These are some of the most emotional moments of various royal families, proving that they don’t live in a happy bubble—they have their own problems to deal with.
15 The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William has been in the spotlight practically from the moment he was formed in his mother, Princess Diana’s womb. Aside from being a member of the most popular royal family in the world, he was also the son of one of the family’s most widely photographed in-laws and the heir to the British throne. So naturally, when he reached adulthood, there were perennial speculations about who he was currently dating. Tabloids had reported for years that he was dating Kate Middleton, who went to the same university as the prince. But it was only when they officially announced their engagement that everyone realized how serious the relationship was. William and Kate got married on April 2011 in a ceremony watched by millions all over the world. It was a beautiful sight to see Kate walking up to her prince at the altar and he telling her, “you look beautiful.”
14 A personal trainer and a former reality star in the Swedish royal family
Marrying a commoner was once unheard of by royal families, but today, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. But what happens when a commoner marrying into a royal family has a less-than-desirable background or occupation? Sure, it would be easy to accept a commoner who was a lawyer or a doctor or anyone else who was in a profession that required a certain amount of intelligence. But a personal trainer and a reality star? Such are the professions of two of the king of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf’s in-laws. His daughter, Crown Princess Victoria married her personal trainer at Master Training, Daniel Westling and his son, Prince Carl Philip is husband to Sofia Hellqvist, a former semi-nude glamour model and reality star. But despite many raised eyebrows, the king’s offspring have insisted that their spouses were welcomed by the family and not shunned for their comparably simple backgrounds to that of the royals.
13 Morocco’s activist prince tells all
Prince Moulay Hiccham of Morocco is often referred to as the Red Prince, due to his political activism against his own family. His disdain against the establishment is understandable, considering the circumstances of his traumatic childhood. When he was 7 years old, gunmen pointed rifles at him and his pregnant mother while they were in a car on their way to the king’s birthday party, which was disrupted by the Moroccan Army in an attempt to overthrow the monarchy. But the coup attempt failed and the king, who was Prince Moulay’s uncle, tightened his grip on his subjects and his own family. This led to the stifled prince becoming a political activist and advocate for democracy, which his country was sorely lacking. He exiled himself to the US and was promptly banned from ever being in the presence of his uncle, the king. He published a book that heavily criticizes the royals and talks about the inner workings of the family.
12 Prince William and Kate Middleton at the Taj Mahal
As part of their many official royal duties, Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton toured India and Bhutan in 2016 and on their final day in India, they visited the Taj Mahal in Agra. Their intention was to pay tribute to the prince’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, who traveled to the famous tourist spot 24 years prior, without her then husband, Prince Charles. The late princess was photographed seated alone on a bench in front of the Taj Mahal, in a pose that many interpreted as loneliness in the midst of her troubled marriage. Her son and his wife sat on that same bench, which was named “princess Diana bench” in her honor and posed for photos themselves, in an effort to create new memories. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paint a happier picture in the photographs than that of the prince’s late mother.
11 Queen Elizabeth II tearing up
She belongs to the most famous royal family in the world, so it’s no wonder that Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign has been documented and retold many times over, given the fact that many Americans have always been fascinated with anything and everything British. She is the longest reigning monarch in history and has been witness to many world events, including World War II, as well as personal events, such as the death of her parents and the breakdown of her children’s marriages. She is not made of stone, as many people are inclined to think and she has shown her human side when she was seen wiping away some tears not just once, but on several occasions: when her royal yacht The Britannia was decommissioned in 1997, her Golden Jubilee in 2002, and the unveiling of a memorial to some fallen men from one regiment in 2016.
10 Political undesirables in the Dutch royal family
In modern times, royals have taken to marrying for love rather than station or pedigree, which is a good move in ensuring a long-lasting marriage. But the Dutch royal family has had several issues in the past with its members’ choice of spouse. The former Queen Beatrix caused an uproar when in 1966, she chose as her husband, Claus von Amsberg, a German diplomat who previously had links to the Nazis. The ceremony was wrought with angry chanting and smoke bombs being thrown in the streets to protest the union. Then in 2002, the queen’s son and successor, Willem-Alexander married Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, the Argentinian daughter of a politician who had ties to the Argentinian military dictatorship. To avoid controversy, her father decided not to attend the wedding. Luckily, these in-laws eventually grew on the Dutch people.
9 Four generations in the British royal family
It’s rare to see multiple generations of monarchs and their direct descendants being alive in one lifetime and the British royal family is one of the few royals that are presently in a situation where there are four generations of them living and breathing. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch and head of state at the age of almost 91 and she shows no sign of slowing down or abdicating any time soon. Her heir apparent is Prince Charles, who is 68 and the father of two sons, the eldest of who is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the second in line to the British throne. He married Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and together, they have two children. Their eldest child (and third in line to the throne) is Prince George of Cambridge, an adorable toddler at 3 years old. The four generations of royals posed for a rare photo together for a stamp to commemorate the queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.
8 Assassination of Czar Nicholas II and his family
Czar Nicholas II was the last emperor of Russia, but his rule and life did not end well. His reign saw the fall of the Russian Empire, once considered one of the greatest powers of the world. As emperor, he was perceived to be responsible for the Russo-Japanese War, earning him the unflattering nickname of Nicholas the Bloody by his political rivals. The humiliating defeat and numerous loss of lives of Russians during World War I eventually led to the Romanov dynasty’s collapse. Nicholas was forced to abdicate and he and his family were imprisoned by the Bolsheviks. On July 1918, the family was asked to go down to the half-basement room of the house they were imprisoned in. A Bolshevik officer announced that the family was sentenced to death, prompting a stunned Nicholas to question the information. He was shot outright and the rest of his family either shot or stabbed with bayonets.
7 Abdication of King Edward VIII from the British throne
King Edward VIII was Queen Elizabeth II’s paternal uncle and if he hadn’t done what he did, she wouldn’t be queen and her direct descendants wouldn’t be in line to the throne. Edward was the eldest son and heir of George V and Mary of Teck and he became king upon his father’s death in 1936. But he caused havoc when he expressed his desire to marry Wallis Simpson, an American who was on the brink of her second divorce. Government officials opposed the marriage, saying accepting a twice-divorced woman as the spouse of the king was politically and socially unthinkable, not to mention it would go against the Church of England, of which the king was the head. So the king did what most people would not do: he abdicated, all in the name of love. That way, he was free to marry Simpson, whom he stayed married to ‘til death did them part.
6 Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s miserable marriage
Theirs was deemed the fairy tale wedding of the century. The heir apparent to the British throne marrying a young and beautiful aristocrat was definitely the stuff that fantasies were made of and as a result, everyone was teeming with excitement at the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. Unfortunately, happily ever after didn’t seem to be in the cards for the couple. While Princess Diana was said to be genuinely in love with her husband, his heart belonged to another: Camilla Parker-Bowles, his sweetheart from his youth. They were allegedly having an affair almost all throughout his marriage to his wife. As Princess Diana said in a tell-all interview, “there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.” They divorced in 1996, much to the disappointment and sadness of the people who were rooting for their love to last forever.
5 Swedish Royal Act of Succession
By tradition, the rule in almost all royal family dictates that the firstborn son of the reigning monarch is the one destined to inherit the throne, no matter if he is the youngest after several daughters. The only time a daughter can be crowned queen is if the monarch has no sons, which was the case in Queen Elizabeth II’s ascent to the throne. But in modern times and with the rise of feminism, this rule has been frowned upon as sexist because who says a female can’t be just as or more capable than her brother to rule a country? Sweden was the first country to address this issue by amending the country’s Act of Succession. In 1980, it was changed from agnatic primogeniture (firstborn son to inherit the throne) to absolute primogeniture (firstborn inherits the throne, regardless of gender). As a result, Princess Victoria of Sweden became the Crown Princess, ahead of her younger brother.
4 Death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand
King Bhumibol of Thailand became the longest reigning monarch in Thai history, as well as the world’s longest-serving head of state. He served for exactly 70 years and 126 days, having 30 prime ministers under him. His people held him in great esteem and conferred upon him the title, King Bhumibol the Great in 1987. Some of his subjects even see him as something close to divine, which is why it was with great trepidation for them when his health was reported to have started waning in 2006. He held on for 10 more years before finally succumbing to death in October 2016 at the ripe old age of 88. His people genuinely mourned his death, not just because they believed they lost a great man; but also because they felt that his successor, son Vajiralongkorn would not be able to live up to his father’s accomplishments and that the monarchy would lose prestige under his reign.
3 Princess Grace’s death
When a big Hollywood movie star marries royalty, you can bet that people would be buzzing about it for a long time. During her heyday, Grace Kelly was one of the most sought-after film stars in tinsel town, having appeared in such highly-acclaimed films as High Noon, Dial M For Murder, High Society, and The Country Girl, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress. She met Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1955 and after a whirlwind courtship, married him a year later. She gave up her film career to be the princess of Monaco and a mother to three children. On September 1982, Princess Grace suffered a stroke while driving back to Monaco from her country home, causing her to lose control of the wheel. She drove off the steep, winding road and down the mountainside. Her youngest child Stephanie was in the car with her and though the teenager survived, Princess Grace did not. She tragically died at the age of 52.
2 Emperor Akihito’s wish to abdicate
Japan’s monarchy is very low-profile compared to its European counterparts and that’s due in part to its members choosing to live quiet lives, free of controversy. Its current monarch is Emperor Akihito, who has been the head of the Chrysanthemum Throne since 1989. But due to his advanced age, the emperor expressed his desire to abdicate the throne, telling his people in a televised speech. He expressed his concern that his age and health issues have been preventing him from performing his duties to the best of his abilities as the symbol of the State. This is a poignant decision for a reigning monarch of Japan, as it will be the first abdication in 200 years. The matter is currently being discussed by government officials and the speculated date of abdication is December 31, 2018 or January 1, 2019.
1 Princess Diana’s funeral
She was the darling of the media ever since she married Prince Charles and all the attention Princess Diana received was said to have caused much resentment from her husband. But she did not condone the media’s constant intrusion into her private life, especially when it came to her time with her sons and her personal relationships. She was constantly evading the very tenacious paparazzi, who refused to grant her any privacy. Their relentlessness came to a head when they chased the former princess’ car through a road tunnel in Paris, causing the car to crash. Diana and her companions died from their injuries and the world mourned for her and the sons she left behind. Her funeral in London drew thousands of people onto the streets and millions more on television. Many tears were shed for the loss of the people’s princess.