20 Royals Who Reportedly Had Secret Children Outside Of Wedlock

Whether they were embarking on secretive affairs or openly courting royal mistresses, many of history’s monarchs are well-known for their scandalous love lives. Indeed, countless kings, queens, princes and princesses have strayed from their vows over the centuries. And in doing so, many sired secret children. But not every royal has managed to hide their illegitimate offspring from the spotlight — and some of their stories are truly unbelievable.

20. Prince Albert II

In the early 1990s, Monaco’s current ruler had a brief fling while vacationing on the French Riviera. That three-week romance resulted in the birth of Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, Prince Albert II’s first-born daughter. However, she wasn’t the royal’s only illegitimate child. Years before he fathered twins with Charlene of Monaco, Albert had a son out of wedlock.

The prince had embarked upon a relationship in secret with flight attendant Nicole Coste, and in 2003 she gave birth to their son, Alexandre. According to Monaco’s constitution, neither of Albert’s illegitimate children can succeed him to the throne. Nevertheless, the prince stoked controversy by publicly acknowledging them both in the mid-2000s.

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19. King Albert II

The former King of Belgium, Albert II, married Queen Paola in 1959, and had three legitimate children with her. But back when he was still a prince, he allegedly embarked on an 18-year-long affair with Baroness Sybille de Selys Longchamps. And for years, artist Delphine Boël claimed she was the product of that protracted fling.

Boël spent more than a decade trying to force Albert to take a paternity test, eventually launching a lengthy legal campaign. Finally, the courts ordered the monarch — who abdicated the throne in 2013 due to poor health — to submit his DNA, or face a daily fine of almost $6,000. He capitulated in May 2019, and the results were conclusive. Eight months later, Albert finally acknowledged his illegitimate daughter.

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18. Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips wed Princess Anne — the only daughter of Britain’s reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II — in 1973. And they were still married when Phillips allegedly had a one-night stand with New Zealander Heather Tonkin in 1986, fathering her daughter Felicity in the process. Tonkin went public with the allegation in 1991, two years after Phillips and Anne had separated.

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A subsequent DNA test confirmed that Tonkin was telling the truth. But royal sources told lifestyle magazine New Idea in 2019 that Phillips has long been “in denial” over his secret daughter. Tonkin’s mother, meanwhile, told the Daily Mail in 2011 that neither the ex-army captain nor his royal children have ever attempted to contact Felicity.

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17. Prince Bernhard

Prince Bernhard lived a life of controversy in his native Netherlands, having been implicated in a bribery scandal in the 1970s. Decades later, he finally admitted to taking money from U.S. aerospace company Lockheed in an interview published posthumously. And in that very same interview, the Dutch royal also acknowledged fathering two illegitimate daughters.

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Bernhard apparently divulged the information to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, that ran the story in late 2004. While the prince had already confessed to having a daughter in France, the article revealed that he also had another daughter in the United States, a landscape architect named Alicia. According to Bernhard, she was conceived during a particularly turbulent time in his marriage to former Dutch Queen Juliana, who had fallen under the sway of a faith healer named Greet Hoffmans.

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16. Prince Carlos

Prince Carlos is only a cousin of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander, but in the late 2010s he commanded the royal spotlight. He may not have enjoyed the attention, though, given it came from a legal campaign launched by his illegitimate son. Against his father’s wishes, young Hugo Klynstra requested to have his name and title changed to reflect his noble heritage.

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The boy was conceived in the late ‘90s, during what the prince called a “no-strings-attached” relationship with his mother, Brigitte Klynstra. However, the royal resisted his request, claiming Brigitte made an “independent decision” to bear the child. But the Dutch court eventually ruled in Hugo’s favor, granting him the title of Royal Highness Prince Carlos Hugo Roderik Sybren de Bourbon de Parme.

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15. Princess Diana

The British royal family has long been plagued by rumors that Prince Harry is not Prince Charles’ biological son. That’s because Charles and Princess Diana had a famously rocky relationship, with both straying from their marriage on at least one occasion. In fact, Diana was linked to multiple lovers — including her riding instructor, James Hewitt, who some believe is Harry’s real father.

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While several suitors were linked to Diana, Hewitt was one of the few she actually admitted to having an affair with. And his resemblance to Harry is striking, from his similar facial features to their shared ginger hair. Yet no DNA test has ever been taken, and Diana’s bodyguards insist that Harry was born before she met Hewitt — so the jury is still out on this one.

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14. Marina Ogilvy

Marina Ogilvy — daughter of Princess Alexandra, who is a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II — spent most of her youth making tabloid headlines. Indeed, the royal became infamous in the late 1980s after posing for Skin Two a fetish clothing magazine. And as the decade came to a close, she made even bigger shockwaves by announcing her pregnancy.

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The news reverberated because Ogilvy wasn’t married to the father, a freelance photographer named Paul Mowatt. That meant the birth would be the first to occur out of wedlock in the British royal family in nearly a century. The pair did wed just before giving birth to daughter Zenouska — but in one last act of defiance, Ogilvy wore all black as she walked down the aisle.

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13. King Alfonso XIII

In May 2003, Spain’s royal family welcomed another member — but it wasn’t a newborn baby. Instead, this new prince was actually 74 years old, and the uncle of then-King Juan Carlos. Leandro Ruiz Moragas was born to Carmen Ruiz, an actress and former lover of King Alfonso XIII, in 1929. And while he’d known about his parentage since childhood, he’d spent most of his life out of the limelight.

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In 2002, however, Moragas published a book titled El Bastardo Real, or The Illegitimate Royal. He wrote in the memoir, “I demand recognition for the privileges to which my birth entitles me and which I will never renounce.” A judge backed his claim, and Moragas was given permission to use the family name of Borbón.

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12. King Leopold III

After the tragic death of his first wife in 1935, Belgium’s King Leopold III went on to marry commoner Lilian Baels. But in the years between, the royal allegedly fathered a daughter out of wedlock with Austrian speed skating champion Liselotte Landbeck. The revelation came in a 2011 book by Leo Van Audenhaege, which also divulged details of Leopold’s other illegitimate child.

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Yes, according to Van Audenhaege, the monarch reportedly had an affair during his second marriage. And these extramarital activities are said to have resulted in the birth of a boy. If the allegations are true, it means Albert – Leopold’s royal son, and ex-King of Belgium — has two half-siblings. However, the Royal Palace of Brussels has never responded to the author’s claims.

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11. King Edward VII

Queen Victoria’s oldest son may have worn Britain’s crown, but he’s probably better remembered for his bedfellows than his regal accomplishments. Yes, the Prince of Wales — or in his later life, Edward VII — frequently satiated his sexual appetite with a long list of lovers. Among those who passed through his bedsheets were famed actress Lillie Langtry, and Winston Churchill’s mother Jennie.

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His behavior didn’t change when he took the throne, either. At his coronation in 1901, Edward even marked out a pew for “the King’s special ladies” — that is, his royal concubines. That’s according to historian and journalist Catharine Arnold, anyway, who published a book on Edward’s scandalous activities in 2017. Given his illustrious lifestyle, then, it’s no surprise that the former King was rumored to have fathered multiple illegitimate children.

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10. Princess Louise

Officially, Princess Louise — the youngest child of Queen Victoria — had no children of her own. She defied the typical role of a Victorian princess, focusing on feminist causes and the arts. But rumors persist even to this day that she actually had a secret child. Yes, according to biographer Lucinda Hawksley, Louise may have given birth to a baby boy in the 1860s.

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In December 1867 the son of the Queen’s obstetrician, Frederick Lacock, adopted a newborn child. And the popular theory is that this was Louise’s illegitimate son. Shortly after the adoption, the royal family gifted the Lacocks an apartment at St. James’ Palace, along with a generous allowance — which Hawksley has pointed to as proof of the theory. Alas, the courts have never supported Lacock’s great-grandson’s campaign for a DNA test to settle the matter.

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9. Ernst II

Ernst II was Duke of the German dynasty Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a title that King George V ultimately replaced with Windsor when it entered the British royal family. But while Ernst’s brother Albert settled down with Queen Victoria, the duke opted to lead a more promiscuous lifestyle. And his exploits eventually led him to contract a venereal disease — one that threatened his ability to ever have children.

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Ernst finally married Princess Alexandrine of Baden in 1842 — but as predicted, the match never resulted in children. That was through no direct fault of Ernst’s, however, because he’s said to have had at least three illegitimate children. But he may have been indirectly responsible, as it’s thought he passed his disease to Alexandrine, rendering her infertile.

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8. King Henry VIII

In 1519 King Henry VIII openly admitted that he’d fathered an illegitimate son with his mistress, Elizabeth Blount. The English ruler’s decade-long marriage to Katherine of Aragon had only borne daughters, and the monarch may have been attempting to prove his ability to produce a son. But he might also have been attempting to line up a male heir, in the event that he died before fathering one legitimately.

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This theory is supported by the fact that Henry gave his child, Henry Fitzroy — with “Fitzroy” being a Norman word meaning “son of the king” — noble titles on his sixth birthday. Ultimately though, it wouldn’t matter: Fitzroy unfortunately passed away in 1536, aged just 17. A year later, Jane Seymour gave birth to Edward, and the king finally had a legitimate heir to the throne.

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7. King Louis XIV

France’s King Louis XIV sowed his oats far and wide over his 72-year reign. He had six children with his wife Marie-Thérèse, although only one lived past their fifth birthday. But he had even more illegitimate offspring with his many mistresses. In fact, it’s believed that Louis fathered more than 12 children outside of his marriage.

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One mistress, Louise de La Vallière, gave birth to five of Louis’ children. Another – Madame de Montespan, chief mistress and rival to La Vallière – bore seven. And while many of these sons and daughters tragically died in infancy, those who did survive would eventually find themselves legitimized by the king.

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6. Princess Thyra

As the youngest daughter of Denmark’s King Christian IX, Princess Thyra’s dating pool was inevitably smaller than that of her sisters. Her mother, Queen Louise, was nevertheless determined to find a suitable suitor for the princess. And while she searched, Thyra quietly fell for cavalry lieutenant Vilhelm Frimann Marcher.

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The Queen was aware of her daughter’s infatuation, but presumed it would simply fizzle out. Instead, Thyra fell unexpectedly pregnant in 1871, leaving the Danish royals with a dilemma. It was ultimately decided that the princess would give birth in Athens, and a Greek family would adopt the baby. Thyra went on to marry and have six legitimate children, but the ordeal haunted her for the rest of her life.

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5. King Charles II

King Charles II is perhaps best remembered for being ousted by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. But the 17th century ruler is also notable for the litany of illegitimate offspring he produced with his many mistresses. Indeed, the sovereign had at least 13 sons and daughters, all of whom he acknowledged and even ennobled.

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After the English monarchy was reinstated through the Restoration in 1660, Charles married the king of Portugal’s daughter, Catherine of Braganza. However, the couple sired no children of their own. It’s believed that Catherine may have suffered a string of miscarriages as the couple attempted to produce a legitimate heir to the throne. In the end, though, Charles’ only descendants had no claim to the crown, and he was succeeded by his brother, James II.

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4. King James IV

King James IV’s father, James III, had arranged a bride for the younger Scot while he was still an infant. But James III’s reign was turbulent, and a rebellion — spearheaded by his son — removed him from the Scottish throne in 1488. James IV then took the crown at just 16 years old, and abandoned his planned marriage.

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Instead, he became infamous for his womanizing, fathering at least eight illegitimate children. Because of this, his nobles believed he would never marry and produce a legitimate heir. Yet by the early 16th century, the king had settled down with Margaret Tudor, daughter to King Henry VII of England. The couple had six children together — only one of whom survived into adulthood.

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3. Philip III

The 15th century Duke of Burgundy may have been known as Philip the Good, but he was an opportunist at heart. He aggressively expanded his territory, either buying or conquering neighboring areas to build the Burgundian state, which would eventually go on to rival France. To the public, though, he was famed for his flamboyance, extravagance and chivalry.

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That side of Philip III’s personality saw him bear numerous children over his lifetime. In fact, he had so many that the bishop of Tournai scolded him for succumbing to “the weakness of the flesh.” At least 18 of these children were born illegitimately, to some of the 24 mistresses the duke’s known to have had. And he openly acknowledged his kids, giving two of his sons the title “Grand bâtard de Bourgogne.”

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2. King William IV

Britain’s King William IV long resisted a dynastic marriage, finally wedding Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen when he was 53 years old in 1818. Together, the pair had just two children, neither of whom survived beyond infancy. But that didn’t mean the monarch had no heirs. On the contrary, William had ten illegitimate children with actress and comedienne Dorothea Jordan.

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Unlike his daughters born in wedlock, all of William’s illegitimate offspring made it to adulthood. They took the surname of FitzClarence, and many of them married into British nobility, producing a family tree full of earls, viscounts and barons. There are no monarchs in William’s lineage, though — after his death in 1837, he was succeeded by his niece, Princess Victoria.

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1. Prince Charles

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles first met in 1971, and enjoyed a whirlwind romance. Their relationship ended when Charles — heir apparent to the British throne — departed for a seven-month naval voyage, and Parker-Bowles married her first husband. The pair finally wed 34 years later. That’s the official story — but according to Simon Charles Dorante-Day, the truth is a little different.

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You see, Dorante-Day is convinced that he is the illegitimate son of Charles and Parker-Bowles. The engineer claims the couple actually met in 1965, and gave birth to him in secret. He was then supposedly adopted by two of the Queen’s staff, who later informed him of his true parentage. Dorante-Day has even attempted to use the courts to force the royal couple to take a DNA test. Unsurprisingly, his allegations are not widely supported.

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