Royal Family

Who needs ‘The Crown’? Meet the royals with love secrets, family plots, deleted selfies, and a shaman

When it comes to royal scandals, the Brits have really streaked ahead this year.

Thanks to privacy-loving Prince Harry’s documentaries, biopic, and podcasts, the dirty laundry has well and truly been aired — from pet names to drugsfrostbitten penises to romps behind a pub — and to who really hates who (spoiler alert: Harry doesn’t like any of them) and even a racism scandal.  

But the British monarchy is far from the only embarrassing European royals.

There is nothing like palaces, fortunes, thrones and titles to make some people behave badly.

Who needs “The Crown” when you have this lot around — who make any television drama look positively tame? 

Did Spain’s queen cheat with her brother-in-law? Or is bitter ex-king smearing her?

Television-reporter-turned-Queen Letizia is claimed not only to have had a romance with businessman Jaime Del Burgo before he married her sister Telma Ortiz, but there are new allegations that they continued their relationship after she married King Felipe VI. 

Queen Letizia of Spain is at the center of a mystery over whether she cheated on her husband, King Felipe, with her own brother-in-law after a mirror selfie of her surfaced. Getty Images
Del Burgo published this picture of his former sister-in-law, claiming that he romanced her when they were both single — and that they continued to be lovers after he married her sister, Telma Ortiz, and she married then-Prince Felipe, now King Felipe VI. He claimed it said: “Love. I wear your pashmina… I count the hours until we see each other again.” JaimeDelBurgo/Twitter

Del Burgo, 53, recently contributed to a book about Letizia, 51, called “Letizia y Yo” (Letizia and I). In it he makes the claim he was dating her when she married Felipe and they continued to be involved after her fairytale wedding to the then Spanish Prince in 2004. 

As “proof” of his allegation Del Burgo, who separated from Telma in 2014, posted and then deleted on X a photograph of Letizia wearing a black pashmina which he said belonged, strangely, to him.

He claims the accompanying message said: “Love. I wear your pashmina. It’s like feeling you by my side. It takes care of me. It protects me. I count the hours until we see each other again. Love you.” But he was laughed at for offering no proof, while the Spanish royals have offered no comment on the claims. 

Del Burgo was mocked for having no proof that the picture of Letizia really did accompany a message about loving him. But his claims rocked the monarchy. Jaime Del Burgo/X

Incredibly the latest rumor is that the whole scandal was concocted by Felipe’s disgraced father Juan Carlos.

Spanish radio host Federico Jimenez Losantos said it was being stirred up by the former king’s circle.

Juan Carlos reigned from 1975 to 2014, heralding the return of democracy from the fascism of General Franco, but was forced to abdicate in favor of his son when he became involved in his own sex and corruption scandals and went into exile in Abu Dhabi. 

What has made the scandal even more intriguing is a rumor that it was spun up by King Juan Carlos, the Queen’s father-in-law, who had to abdicate over his own sexual and financial scandals. Exiled for a while to Abu Dhabi, he is back in Spain but some are blaming him for trying to smear Queen Letizia. Europa Press via Getty Images

While the charge that he was taking bribes from the Saudi royal family for lucrative building contracts was dropped, it is clear that he is still a kryptonite figure for his son who knows the royal family are not universally adored in Spain.

Last year Carlos returned to Spain for a brief visit making just one appearance with his son, and has not commented on claims he is behind the smear. 

Will the royal family survive?

Popularity has dipped in the wake of this latest scandal but it is offset by excitement about the heir to the throne, the photogenic heiress to the throne, Crown Princess Leonor of Asturias, who caused “Leonormania” last month when she pledged allegiance to the Spanish constitution on her 18th birthday.

She is only young, so thankfully scandal free, and with 3 years in military academy ahead of her she remains a bright hope for this troubled monarchy. 

Spain’s monarchy’s future now lies with Crown Princess Leonor, Princess of Asturias, who swore loyalty to the constitution on her 18th birthday in October. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Did Denmark’s king-in-waiting have an affair with a woman really named Casanova?

Prince Frederik, heir to the Danish throne, has been accused of having a secret romance with the aptly-named Mexican socialite Genoveva Casanova.

The news broke, coincidentally enough, during a state visit by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia who were weathering their own scandal.

Reports began to surface after photos of Frederik and Genoveva enjoying a night out in Madrid, Spain, were published.

The improbably named Mexican socialite Genoveva Casanova was rumored to be having an affair with Prince Frederik, the heir to the Danish throne. Getty Images
After the claims of an affair emerged, Crown Princess Mary headed to her native Australia with two of their children, her husband following with one of the other two a few days later.

Spanish television presenter Susanna Griso revealed that a friend of Casanova said the pair had met during a skiing holiday.

“They know each other and have friends in common and usually meet several times a year,” she said.

“They tell me they are private meetings with friends of the group, some members of royalty. They meet and sleep in private houses.”

The royal family has refused to comment on the rumors while Genoveva has flatly denied them.

Awkwardly for the Danish royal family, the rumors of an affair first surfaced as the Spanish royals, themselves facing possible scandal, visited Denmark. via REUTERS

It certainly appears to have put a strain on the royal house; the Australian born future-Queen Mary flew to New Zealand with two of the couple’s children earlier this month while the Crown Prince followed a few days later with their daughter Princess Isabella.

Their eldest child, Prince Christian, remained in Denmark but all returned in time to be seen on Christmas Day going to church — although the crown prince and princess were not hand in hand — after Mary issued a Christmas message about “loneliness,” and was reported to have shed a tear leaving New Zealand.

This scandal couldn’t come at a worst time for Queen Margarethe II who has fallen out with her second son Prince Joachim when she stripped his four children of their royal titles saying she wanted to streamline the monarchy.

The couple were seen attending church on Christmas Day, arriving with their four children, but notably not hand in hand. AP
Queen Margarethe of Denmark has had her own issues, stripping her younger son Prince Joachim and his four children of their royal titles, prompting to him to move to the US. Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

He is now living in the US. This may be a decision she comes to regret. 

Will this royal family survive?

Queen Margrethe’s popularity levels at around 77 per cent in favor make it one of the most loved monarchies in Europe. It should be able to weather this scandal.

Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise is to marry a shaman who shilled fake Covid cures

Pity the spare; as soon as Princess Märtha Louise’s little brother Haakon was born two years after her, she lost her place in the succession as heir to the Scandinavian throne.

Now Oslo’s answer to Prince Harry is 51, and like him, has found love with a Hollywood figure. But the similarities end there.

Princess Märtha Louise’s partner is Hollywood shaman Durek Verret. They met in 2019; unsurprisingly, perhaps, he is a favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow.

Durek Verret (born Derek) is a self-proclaimed shaman from California who became engaged to Princess Märtha Louise of Norway this year. He sold bogus Covid cures and claimed childhood cancer was caused by unhappiness. Getty Images
Princess Märtha Louise’s relationship has survived unpopularity in Norway. But when she marries her American shaman, he will not gain a royal title. AFP via Getty Images

Their romance has weathered all sorts of challenges – not least the initial disapproval of her parents King Harald V and Queen Sonja – as well as the suicide of Märtha Louise’s ex-husband, Ari Behn, and a fair degree of racism.

And there was the revelation that Verrett had both an ex-wife and an ex-boyfriend, as well as a spell in prison.

But the pair’s love has overcome all and after Verret proposed this summer, King Harald declared that he would be “delighted to welcome” the shaman when they wed in August 2024 in the village of Geiranger.

Verrett will not gain a title but he has accompanied Märtha Louise to royal events, changing into formal dress from the shaman’s robes he usually sports. NTB/AFP via Getty Images
Märtha Louise’s ex-husband, Ari Behn, took his own life after she had begun her romance with the shaman, casting another shadow over the relationship. Getty Images

The plan is for Verrett to move to Norway and become part of the royal family, although he will not have a title. 

But to say Verrett is unpopular in his future home country is an understatement.

The general consensus that he is a charlatan (he changed his name from Derek to Durek in 2014) was aided when he had a book published which claimed among other things that children get cancer because they are unhappy and that he foresaw 9/11.

In 2022 he was criticized for selling a medallion he claimed cured Covid-19. 

Will this royal family survive?

It is a saving grace that Märtha Louise has dropped down the line of succession behind her brother’s children.

This is one of the most popular royal families in Europe — with an approval rating of over 80 per cent — but the proposed marriage is said to have led the royal family’s popularity rate to plummet by as much as 17 per cent. 

King Harald and Queen Sonja, seen attending church on Christmas Day, have overcome initial reluctance to say that they will welcome their shaman son-in-law but are not extending him a title. They brought Märtha Louise’s daughter Emma Tallulah Behn with them to church, who does not have a royal title either.

The disappearing princess who returned to a ‘ceremonial relationship’

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco’s relationship is a perennial for weird monarchical goings-on.

In August it was reported the prince, 65 — who unlike most of the constitutional monarchs in other European nations wields real power — had separated from his South African former Olympic swimmer wife, 45, and that she had relocated to Switzerland. They had been seen together at a Red Cross ball in July.

This was after her staying away from Monaco for an entire year from 2021-2022 due to a series of what were said to be health issues.

Days after this appearance of Albert and Charlene at a Red Cross ball in Monte Carlo, reports surfaced that she had fled to Switzerland. AFP via Getty Images
When Albert (second right) celebrated his son Alexandre’s (third right) 20th birthday without Charlene, but with his daughter Jazmine Grace (third left) and Alexandre’s mother, Nicole Coste, speculation of a rift mounted. Instagram

Speculation was fueled when Charlene deleted her Instagram account and Albert was without her at the 20th birthday celebrations for his eldest son Alexandre Grimaldi, who was the result of an affair before the prince married. He also has daughter Jazmin Grace, 31, now a Hollywood singer and actress, from another affair.

But by November there was a joint appearance for the principality’s National Day, doing nothing to diminish rumors that they have agreed on a “ceremonial” relationship.

Certainly, they looked the picture of the perfect royals for their latest Christmas card which featured them with their nine-year-old twins Jacques — first in line to his father’s throne — and Gabriella. 

Charlene and Albert appeared with their twin children, Prince Jacques (the heir to the throne, left) and Princess Gabriella in November, for the principality’s national day, an apparent show of their relationship not being on the rocks.

And their older sister posted a photo of all four half-siblings together.

But given this year’s twists were the latest installment in a royal relationship which included Princess Charlene going missing before their wedding, this saga is set to run and run. 

Will this royal family survive?

The Grimaldi family are the oldest dynasty in Europe and with Prince Albert owning around a quarter of the 0.81sq mile of the tax haven known as “the rock,” they aren’t going anywhere soon. As a bonus, he’s Europe’s only remaining absolute hereditary monarch.

Jazmine Grace Grimaldi (second right) posted this Instagram photo of all of Albert’s four children captioned “sibling love,” showing Prince Jacques (left) and Princess Gbriella (second left) with her and Alexandre Grimaldi. jazmingrimaldi/Instagram

Secret Belgian royal love child: I want to be up front at official events with my siblings

Delphine Boël, now 55, had a court battle to be recognized as the daughter of the former king of Belgium Albert II after her aristocrat mom Sybille de Selys Longchamps had an 18-year affair with the monarch.

King Albert II of Belgium (center) recognized Delphine Boel (right) as his daughter in 2020 after she won a court battle to become a princess. She also met Queen Paola (left), Albert’s wife, but now wants the same status as their children. Getty Images
Delphine (right) was seated with her half-brother Prince Laurent (left) and sister-in-law Princess Claire (center) for the Belgian National Day event in July but wants guarantees that she will be seated in a place of honor at all royal events — which the government says she is not entitled to because she has no official role. AP

For years her presence was kept secret and when she was 16 the King distanced himself from her, even after his abdication in 2013 for health reasons.

But after she was recognized by a Belgian court in 2020 as his daughter and began to be known as Princess Delphine, she has increasingly begun to get to know her half siblings, including the current King Philippe, 63, his sister Princess Astrid and brother Prince Laurent, 60, better.

The artist is not requesting the annual $250,000 her half-siblings get, but has penned a legal letter to the government asking to be invited to more events and to be treated the same as other members of the royal family. 

King Albert II’s son King Philippe is now Belgium’s reigning king, and at an end-of-year reception with his wife Queen Mathilde and children (from left) Prince Emmanuel and Princess Elisabeth, the heir apparent, and Princess Eléonore.

Her lawyer claims it is “simply a question of respect” but the Belgian government has claimed that while the other royals have official duties, she doesn’t — so she can’t get better seats at official functions. 

While just 58 per cent of Belgians are in favor of the monarchy, this minor scandal is unlikely to dent their popularity. But it will certainly make their get-togethers more awkward.