While Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been making headlines for “stepping back” from their senior royal duties, the couple has not been the only members of the British monarchy completely ensnared in controversy.
From royals including Prince Philip and Prince Andrew, history has shown that the pair was not alone in distancing themselves from the monarchy. In fact, there have been royals who have either stepped back, been abdicated, or retired altogether.
Here are some royals who have pulled back from the British monarchy over the years.
King Edward VIII’s abdication, 1936
Ascending the throne following father George V’s death in January 1936, Edward attempted to gain the kingdom’s approval of Simpson — all to no avail.
In accordance with royal protocol, it is forbidden to be romantically linked to a divorcee, much less an American two-time divorcee. Aside from Winston Churchill’s approval, The Church of England and most British politicians quickly disapproved of the romance.
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986) and Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor (1894-1972) outside Goverment House in Nassau, the Bahamas, circa 1942. The Duke of Windsor served as Governor of the Bahamas from 1940 to 1945.
(Ivan Dmitri/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Edward proposed to the idea of a morganatic marriage in which Simpson would not become queen consort and their potential children would be barred from inheriting the throne following his death but was ultimately unsuccessful. When Edward realized that he could not fulfill his duties as king with Simpson by his side, he decided to abdicate — or renounce his role — the throne.
In a radio broadcast on the day of his abdication, Edward addressed his decision to abdicate and said, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.”
Edward and Simpson were then rechristened as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, respectively, by his brother and newly crowned king, King George VI. Edward married Simpson in 1937 and remained together until his death in 1972, while Simpson died in 1986. The two never had children.
Sarah, Duchess of York, 1992
Sarah, Duchess of York, has had a tumultuous relationship with the royal family.
With Andrew being gone for prolonged periods of time per his Royal Navy service, rumors of alleged infidelity were being spread by tabloids.
In 1992, the Duchess of York was embroiled in controversy when she was photographed with Steve Wyatt. The American millionaire was spotted holding royal daughter Princess Beatrice, who was 3 at the time. By March 1992, the Duke and Duchess separated.
Sarah Ferguson arrives for the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in Windsor, near London, England, Saturday, May 19, 2018.
(Gareth Fuller/pool photo via AP)
That summer, Sarah stirred more headlines after she was spotted sunbathing topless while American financial manager John Bryan sucked on her toes.
In 1995, Princess Margaret wrote a scathing letter in response to a bouquet of flowers Sarah sent as a goodwill measure. In the letter, she referenced the toe-sucking scandal and wrote, “Not once have you hung your head in embarrassment even for a minute after those disgraceful photographs. Clearly you have never considered the damage you are causing us all. How dare you discredit us like this and how dare you send me those flowers?”
Princess Diana, 1993
In 1993, Princess Diana announced that she would reduce her public engagements following complaints of media intrusion.
Princess Diana reduced her public commitments in 1993.
“I was not aware of how overwhelming that attention would become nor the extent to which it would affect both my public duties and my personal life in a manner that’s been hard to bear,” Diana said during a charity lunch in London at the time.
“At the end of this year when I’ve completed my diary of official engagements I will be reducing the extent of the public life I’ve led so far,” Diana further noted, as she desired to focus her efforts on her sons Harry and Prince William.
Almost three decades later, Harry echoed eerily similar sentiments when he announced that he and the former “Suits” star would take “a step back” from their roles as senior members of the royal family.
Prince Philip, 2017
A far less controversial departure, Prince Philip retired from the public life in August 2017 at the age of 96.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh attends the wedding of Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel on October 12, 2018, in Windsor, England.
(Alastair Grant – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Married to Queen Elizabeth II for over 70 years, the Duke of Edinburgh made over 22,000 solo appearances, given over 5,000 speeches and been involved with over 700 charities throughout his storied career.
Though Philip retired respectfully, he has had a history of political incorrectness and vocal slip-ups from time to time — asking a group of Australian Aborigines once, “Do you still throw spears at one another?”
On a visit to China in 1986, he warned a group of British exchange students, “If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed.” Years later, he defended his comment. “The Chinese weren’t worried about it, so why should anyone else (be)?”
Prince Andrew, 2019
Prince Andrew has been ridiculed over his disastrous BBC interview about his relationship with the late Jeffrey Epstein.
(Photo by AP/Sang Tan)
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” a statement posted to the royal family’s Twitter account reads in part.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
Many in the media were quick to deride the Duke of York for not only defending his friendship with Epstein but for also failing to show empathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims.