Royals run riot: tales of excess to rival Harry’s

We don’t envy the hangover (complete with dawning realisation that girls on a hen do you meet in a hotel bar just might sell naked pictures of you if you’re a member of the Royal family) Prince Harry must have woken up to in Las Vegas, but to offer some comfort to the Party Prince, the behaviour of these royals may put his night of strip billiards (although perhaps not his penchant for Nazi fancy dress) in perspective.

We don’t envy the hangover (complete with dawning realisation that girls on a hen do you meet in a hotel bar just might sell naked pictures of you if you’re a member of the Royal family) Prince Harry must have woken up to in Las Vegas, but to offer some comfort to the Party Prince, the behaviour of these royals may put his night of strip billiards (although perhaps not his penchant for Nazi fancy dress) in perspective.

The Prince might also take comfort from the fact that his own grandmother is estimated to have consumed on average 70 alcoholic beverages a week (the recommended amount for a woman is 14 units), although citing his father’s scandalous attempt to order a cherry brandy at the age of 14 on a school trip probably won’t grant him much leverage when granny summons him to the drawing room.

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Charles II

Loveable rogue Charles II was known as the Merrie Monarch, for his hedonistic court, and presumably the contented glow gleaned from maintaining several mistresses, who bore him 12 illegitimate children. The Duke of Buckingham said of him at the time: “A king is supposed to be the father of his people, and Charles certainly was a father to a good many of them.” Princess Diana was descended from two of them, making Prince William likely to be the first monarch descended from Charles II, and going some way to explaining Prince Harry’s love of a jape or two.

One of Charles’ first acts on his restoration to the throne was to re-open the country’s theatres, which Cromwell had closed down in his 18 years of Puritan rule, and at the King’s encouragement Restoration Comedy, characterised by bawdy and sexually-explicit entertainment, took over. The era saw the first professional actresses appear, among them Nell Gwyn, who joined the ranks of the King’s mistresses. Writer and wit John Wilmot said of the King: “Restless he rolls from whore to whore, a merry monarch, scandalous and poor.” One such lady, Barbara Villiers Palmer, unhappy with the King’s infatuation with a young lady-in-waiting, found an ingenious way to keep Charles interested, arranging a royal threesome and a mock lesbian wedding between herself and the young lady.

Maha al-Sudairi of Saudi Arabia

Saudi princess Maha al-Sudairi, former wife of Crown Prince Nayef ben Abdel Aziz, did a runner in June this year from a £5 million hotel bill at the Shangri-La hotel in Paris. She had been occupying an entire floor of the hotel since 2011, and presumably making the most of room service. The princess was previously grounded for two years in a palace by King Abdullah after racking up 15 million euros-worth of unpaid bills for jewellery, clothes and hotel rooms in Paris in 2009. She headed straight back there this year and attempted to flee the Shangri-La in the middle of the night, although trailing an entourage of 60 behind her probably wasn’t the stealthiest way to go about it. The police were called but, thanks to good old diplomatic immunity, no charges were brought.

George IV

George IV was known for his heavy drinking and numerous mistresses, but more than anything his passion, it seemed, was for lavish interior design. Upon turning 21 in 1783 he obtained a grant of £60,000 (equal to £5,744,000 today) from Parliament and an annual income of £50,000 (equal to £4,786,000 today) from his father, but found this wasn’t quite covering his costs (his stables alone cost him £30,000 a year) and plunged himself into debt to maintain a presumably exorbitant lifestyle. He fell in love with a twice-widowed Catholic commoner six years his elder named Maria Fitzherbert and married her illegally in 1785, a union he kept secret in order to obtain a parliamentary grant to clearhis debts after his father refused to do so. The decision paid off, literally, and he received £161,000 (equal to £16,775,000 today) to pay his debts and a nice bonus of £60,000 (equal to £6,252,000 today) for improvements to his home, Carlton House.

Princess Stephanie of Monaco

In 2002, Princess Stephanie, with a slightly embarrassing failed music career already behind her, left her elephant tamer-boyfriend for a married father-of-two, who also happened to be a member of her father’s household staff. Her sister Caroline banned her from all official functions, although Princess Caroline’s own husband was apparently partying his way round Europe with a 22-year-old Romanian ex-dancer who modelled for brothels in Austria (no, we’re not sure why brothels need models either).

Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei

Prince Jefri, full name His Royal Highness Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Jefri Bolkiah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, embezzled £14.8 billion during his time as chairman of the Brunei Investment Agency. He denies the charges, and yet for some reason in 2000 agreed to turn over his holdings to the government in return for avoiding criminal charges, and somehow managed to fund a lifestyle that included a harem of 40 women, a private Boeing 747, 2000 cars, an art collection that includes 21 Degas works, several hotels, luxury goods company Asprey, and a yacht named Tits, with lifeboats named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2.