From nude snaps to sexy safaris – have the past 12 months been especially rough for European royalty?
In many ways, it would seem not. In Britain, support for the royalty remains high, despite a year of compromising pictures of Prince Harry in Las Vegas and illicit shots of a topless Kate, snapped by paparazzi while she was on holiday.
A man holds a copy of the French magazine Closer showing pictures of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain's Prince William are displayed in a newspaper kiosk in Nice. Credit: REUTERS
And royal families in other parts of Europe do not seem destined to hand in their crowns, despite bad news ranging from a controversy over the Spanish king’s safari to rumours of bad behaviour by Sweden’s king.
And for every bad headline, there is a good one to match, keeping the royals in the hearts of their people. The excited reaction to the news that Prince William’s wife, Kate, is pregnant showed that there is plenty of goodwill for the royals.
Other highlights, like Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at 86, reinventing herself as a Bond Girl – by “parachuting” into the Olympic stadium – also kept spirits high. And that was only the capper to a year in which the queen celebrated the dual milestones of her 60th throne anniversary and 65 years of marriage to Prince Philip.
Indeed, from that perspective, the worst setback for the queen might have been the death of Monty – the Corgi featured in the James Bond Olympic video.
But that’s ignoring Prince Harry – third in line to the throne – who infuriated his grandmother with his naked frolicking with party girls in a Las Vegas hotel room, producing pictures that aroused huge internet curiosity around the world, but were widely shunned by newspapers.
Just weeks later, another scandal – the publication in a French gossip magazine of Kate, snapped topless during a private holiday with William in France – caused waves.
William, reminded by the episode of the “worst excesses of the press and paparazzi” during the life of his mother, Princess Diana, launched immediate legal action against the magazine, Closer. That effectively stopped the pictures’ further circulation. At least one editor who chose to ran the pictures, in Ireland, lost his job.
It only proves that, despite their ability to sometimes land in hot water, Britain’s royals still maintain the loyalty of their people.
After all, less than two years into her royal marriage, Kate has become the real star of the royal family, and its most-photographed member.
“Kate has become a greatly desired, but well-behaved celebrity,” royal commentator Peter York said.
York believes the royals – as underlined by opinion polls – have had their “best year in a long time”, and that even Harry’s antics have not harmed their image.
Judging by the public’s response, Harry had been forgiven for having a bit of “high-level fun,” said York.
But such lowering of the tone, said York, did not mean that a drop in royal standards had become generally acceptable, or that royal scandals were no worse than those involving so-called commoners.
“It depends who it is. The queen will always be dignified and never behave like ordinary people. All royals fulfil roles, assigned to them by the public, and they must not play outside those roles,” said York.
Those rules have seemed stretched, at times, in other royal households.
In Spain, King Juan Carlos had his own “Annus Horribilis” in 2012, with scandals and rumours swirling around the royal family. Journalist Pilar Eyre published a book claiming that Juan Carlos had a long string of extramarital affairs, arguing that the king and Queen Sofia had not had a real marital life for decades.
And, in perhaps the biggest blow of all, the king was found out to have gone on a no-expense-spared trip to hunt elephants in Botswana – reportedly in the company of his mistress – while his subjects were mired in a deep economic crisis.
The trip sparked such outrage that the king finally offered an unprecedented apology.
Sweden’s royal family were buoyed by the birth in February f Princess Estelle, the daughter of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. But, in October, scandal resurfaced over an unauthorised biography of King Carl Gustaf, published in 2010.
The palace criticised the publication of a photomontage titled A Royal Dinner, which suggested that a nude woman shown in the work was a former pop artist who apparently had an affair with the king.
The biography, based largely on heavily discredited testimony from nightclub owners, claimed the king had risked security by visiting sleazy nightclubs in the company of scantily clad women. – Sapa-dpa