The record reign of Queen Elizabeth II was one truly fit for “The Crown.”
Before her death on Thursday, the UK’s longest-serving monarch was cherished for a stoic calm that exemplified her nation’s wartime slogan, “Keep calm and carry on.”
The same could not be said of her royal offspring, however, who packed her 70-year reign with enough sex and scandal to justify the salacious Netflix series “The Crown.”
Here, The Post recaps some of the biggest royal scandals of her era — starting from how she even became queen, through her “annus horribilis” and right up to her final years, with Brexit and the ongoing sex scandal tarnishing her middle son, Prince Andrew.
Table of Contents
HOW SHE EVEN BECAME QUEEN
Queen Elizabeth was an accidental queen thanks only to the biggest royal scandal of her generation when Edward VIII abandoned his short reign as king for the love of an American divorcée, Wallis Simpson.
“Edward realized he had to choose between the Crown and Mrs. Simpson who, as a twice-divorced woman, would not have been acceptable as Queen,” the royal family’s own website notes.
Edward, who had yet to even be crowned, stepped down after only 325 days. His abdication also ended his children’s places in the line of succession, opening the path to Elizabeth’s historic reign.
“People forget that she came to the throne because of a scandal,” royal biographer Robert Lacey has said. Edward finally wed Simpson in France in 1937, living abroad for the next 35 years until his death in Paris in 1972.
Edward’s scandals did not end with his abdication. In 1937, he and his new wife visited Adolf Hitler in his vacation home — and greeted the genocidal madman with full Nazi salutes, according to his biography.
Edward even tried to teach the despicable salute to an innocent young Elizabeth, as caught in a video shared by The Sun in 2015 under the front-page headline “Their Royal Heilnesses.”
The Sun said the images did not reflect badly on Elizabeth but reflected “the warped prejudices” of Edward. “The man who briefly became our King was already a fan of Hitler — and remained so as late as 1970, long after the Holocaust’s horrors were laid bare,” the paper said at the time.
In fact, the royal family is descended from German stock and only changed its name to the House of Windsor from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha during World War I.
In 2014, Princess Michael of Kent said she was “shocked” to learn that her father had been an officer in Hitler’s SS.
Despite this tarnished history, the queen’s then-20-year-old grandson, Prince Harry, went to a costume party in 2005 dressed as a Nazi soldier, with a red armband emblazoned with a big swastika.
“It was a poor choice of costume, and I apologize,” Harry said amid the uproar.
… AND RACISM
Elizabeth’s family has long also been blighted by accusations of racism, including the queen’s own late husband, Prince Philip.
In 2017, Princess Michael of Kent apologized after wearing a blackamoor brooch to her first meeting with Harry’s then-fiancee, Meghan Markle, who was about to be the first bi-racial royal. Princess Michael insisted she was “very sorry and distressed” that it had “caused offense.”
Markle also blamed a mystery racist royal for her need to flee the family. She and Harry have never officially identified the family member they both claim had questioned the likely color of their mixed-race children.
Ironically, Harry had himself earlier been shamed for racist remarks — getting caught in a 2009 video calling someone a “Paki” and “a rag-head.”
AN “ANNUS HORRIBILIS” OF SEX SCANDALS
While Elizabeth’s marriage lasted 73 years, some of her kids’ philandering sparked scandals throughout the 1980s and 90s that many feared could end the monarchy.
Her middle son, Prince Andrew, was long dubbed Randy Andy before his 1986 wedding to Sarah Ferguson — but it was this wife who would spark the biggest headlines, most notably in 1992 when she was snapped having her toes sucked by US financial adviser John Bryan.
That same year, then-Prince Charles’ seemingly fairytale wedding to Princess Diana led to separation amid rumors of cheating by both.
Diana would later famously blame her ex for cheating on his now-wife, Queen Consort Camilla, saying there were “three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.” Diana’s own cheating led to unfounded rumors that her kids, Princes William and Harry, were not with Charles.
As the queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, also got divorced in 1992, the queen officially dubbed it her “annus horribilis” — Latin for “horrible year.”
PRINCESS DIANA’S DEATH
In 1997, Princess Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris sparked an outpouring of grief around the world — but no word from the queen.
In what is widely seen as one of her biggest missteps, Elizabeth remained holed up in Balmoral, waiting days to finally address the nation in a televised address.
The monarchy’s popularity plummeted during this turbulent period, but Queen Elizabeth’s steadfast presence eventually won back the populace.
HARRY AND MEGHAN’S MEGXIT
Prince Harry’s decision in early 2020 to formally quit life as a senior royal sparked an unprecedented crisis for the monarchy — one only exacerbated by Harry and wife Meghan Markle’s explosive interview accusing them of bullying and racism.
The queen responded by saying that “the whole family is saddened” and that the “issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning” and would be addressed privately by the family.
However, they lingered sharply until her death. Markle continued her criticism in interviews this month — and she and Harry were snubbed during a rare visit home to the UK, one that left them close when the queen fell mortally ill. As the family raced to be by her side, Markle was notably absent, despite seemingly planning to go.
THE PRINCE AND THE PEDOPHILE
The queen’s last years were also rocked by Andrew getting dragged into the biggest sex scandal of recent history, that involving his late pedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew struggled to justify damning photographs of him chatting it up with the perv in 2011 while staying at his Manhattan mansion — even after Epstein did jail time for child-sex offenses.
But worse was to follow when one of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, repeatedly insisted she’d been made to have sex with the prince.
The queen booted Andrew from royal duties amid a backlash over a disastrous interview he gave to the BBC in late 2019 — then stripped him of his royal titles this year while he was sued by Giuffre in Manhattan.
The lawsuit, which he settled in February, also cost him financially, with a source telling The Post he settled for $12 million.
Andrew knew Epstein through British heiress Ghislaine Maxwell — who was this year sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking young girls for him.