The Truth About The Wildest Royal Partiers

Correction 8/25/22: An earlier version of this article misstated King Edward VII's mother as Queen Elizabeth II. His mother is Queen Victoria.

If there is one word that is synonymous with the British royal family, it has to be "proper." The royals — dating back generations — have been known for their lavish lifestyles, dedication to public service, pomp and circumstance, and of course, castles. But they've always managed to keep things prim and proper on all occasions. Not only does the British stiff upper lip play into their behavior, but the royals have followed a number of protocols over the years, dictating what they can wear, when they can leave the dinner table, how they should greet each other and members of the public, and more — there are so many steps and routines to remember, making royal life seem a little bit more like a fancy prison sentence rather than an unbarred way of lavish life.

For all the daily habits and unofficial laws that the royals have to follow, some have made it their mission to step out of line, with some even getting into a bit of trouble as a result. While significant and disturbing scandals — such as the allegations lodged against Prince Andrew — have exposed a disturbing underbelly of the royal family, other members of the firm have simply been known for a wild night or two. This is the truth about the wildest royal partiers.

Surprisingly, Kate Middleton was a staple on the London nightclub scene

When we think of Kate Middleton, all we see is sophistication, a calm demeanor, and service to the crown. But before she was a royal, Kate was a bit of a party girl — and as noted by the Standard, she was a regular on the London bar scene.

Though she engaged in these habits before she was a royal, since Kate was linked to Prince William dating all the way back to their St. Andrews days, she was definitely on the family's radar, given her proximity to the future king of England. With that in mind, Kate's club outings definitely take on a different tone, and to be honest, we love this look for her.

The Standard detailed that Kate was often seen at hot spots in Chelsea and Mayfair, with the famous West-End club, the Cuckoo Club, being a favorite. At one point, she was even spotted leaving the establishment with William and Prince Harry at 3 a.m. — go queen, go. To add even more surprising detail into the mix, Kate was the co-founder of St. Andrew's female-only drinking society, and we can only hope she's stayed in touch with her former society members over the years.

Queen Elizabeth was not fond of Kate's partying habits

Given that a young Kate Middleton was Prince William's very public romantic interest, she was certainly on the royal family's watch list. And while the 20s-version of Kate was simply enjoying the high life of London, Queen Elizabeth was less than thrilled regarding her grandson's girlfriend. What exactly was the issue Elizabeth had? Not only did she not like that Kate didn't have a job, but her gallivanting across London and hitting the nightclubs and high life was not a look the monarch took a liking to.

"[The queen] is one of the hardest working royals, despite her age, and that a future member of the royal family was without a full-time job was unacceptable to her," royal biographer Katie Nicholl noted, as reported by The Sun. "Swanning from one five-star holiday resort to another is not the prerequisite for a young woman possibly destined to be Queen."

Nicholl further noted that at the time, Britain was experiencing a financial recession. As such, Kate's nightclub life — in Elizabeth's eyes — was tasteless. "If [Kate] was not with William at Balmoral then the couple were skiing or holidaying on Mustique," Nicholl wrote (via the Standard). "Britain was now in recession and such frivolous displays of wealth were unpalatable to The Queen."

A drunken night landed Ed Sheeran in the hospital and Princess Beatrice in trouble

Here's something we didn't expect to come across when diving into the world of royal partiers — as it turns out, Princess Beatrice got into a bit of a sticky situation with famed singer Ed Sheeran at a party, and his manager Stuart Camp broke his silence on the matter in an interview on the "Straight Up" podcast.

Here's what went down: A reportedly very drunk Beatrice decided to "knight" singer James Blunt, using a sword to tap him on the shoulders, similar to the official knighting ceremony. But, sharp objects and alcohol never mix well, and Beatrice's swing clipped Sheeran across the face. "Certain people said, 'Oh, you should lie and say it wasn't her and say it was someone else,'" Camp revealed. "I said, 'well, we're not telling anyone anything. I'm not lying, just because someone's a f***ing idiot and they've been waving a sword around when you're all drunk. It's not safe!"

For his part, Sheeran stayed quiet on the matter, telling host Graham Norton during his talk show, "I can't talk about it. I don't know what will happen if I do!" as noted by Town & Country.

Prince Harry was a regular on the nightclub scene back in the day

We'll have to dedicate a number of sections to Prince Harry, because while the married man and father of two is a lot calmer these days, his party years were something else. As noted by Honey, Harry garnered a reputation as the "party prince" way back in the day, engaging in some pretty questionable behavior while he was still in secondary school (for us here in the United States, that is about the equivalent of your junior and senior years in high school). Royal expert Katie Nicholl recalled that when she first met the young prince, he should've been prioritizing his school work, but instead he was hitting the club scene.

"The first time I ever met Prince Harry he was at a nightclub. It was the years of his A-levels and he was meant to be revising," she said in the documentary "Prince Harry: The Troubled Prince." A-levels, for those needing a quick explanation, are subject tests that U.K. high schoolers prep for over a two year period of time, Honey explained, but Harry definitely didn't seem to be partaking in any such studying.

"He was at the Kensington Roof Gardens knocking back vodka shots, smoking Marlboro Lights surrounded by a group of gorgeous blondes," Nicholl said. "That was Prince Harry."

The young prince was taken to a rehab facility during his partying years

If you're a teenager subscribing to the Southern California way of life, smoking a joint here and there might not sound like a big deal. But if you're a prince in line to the British throne and the world's eyes are on you, you might want to think twice. During Prince Harry's partying years, things got a little too out of control for Prince Charles' taste, and things escalated when a then-16-year-old Harry was drinking alcohol and smoking weed on a regular basis.

As noted by The Guardian at the time, Charles was having none of that and "confronted" his son about his behavior. Furthermore, the direct heir to the throne arranged for Harry to be taken to the Featherstone Lodge rehabilitation center to get an idea of what kind of impact drug use can have on peoples' lives. Of the visit, Harry was said to have experienced a "short, sharp shock," but didn't stay for treatment.

Shortly after, the palace released a statement about Harry's behavior and the visit to rehab, saying, "This is a serious matter which was resolved within the family and is now closed."

2004 marked a new low for Prince Harry's partying habits

We all have moments in our lives that we're not particularly proud of, nor do we look back on without cringing a little bit, and it might be fair to say that an altercation in 2004 is Prince Harry's regretful moment. As reported by The Guardian at the time, Harry was partying at a London nightclub when things took a turn for the worse. They say that nothing good happens after 2 a.m., and this was pretty accurate in the prince's case. As it happened, Harry — who had a pretty invasive paparazzi following at that point — got into it with a photographer while leaving the club, who ultimately got hit in the face. At the time, a spokesperson for the prince said that he was "defending himself," and claimed that Harry was hit in the face with a camera first, but the photographer revealed a much different story.

Photographer Chris Uncle, who was following Harry at the time, recounted that when the prince was leaving the Pangea nightclub in London, he got into a vehicle outside — and that's when things got messy. As Uncle was trying to snap a photo, Harry reportedly "lashed out." "Suddenly he burst out the car and lunged towards me as I was still taking pictures," the photographer claimed. Apparently, the altercation was severe enough that Uncle reported what had happened to the police and even thought about filing a formal complaint.

Prince Harry's choice costume for a 2005 party landed him in hot water

Sorry to keep bringing up the less than ideal looks, Prince Harry, but 2005 wasn't much better for the prince than the year prior. We've all seen photos of politicians and public figures wearing costumes that really aren't politically correct (we're thinking of you, Justin Trudeau, and your "Arabian Nights" Halloween costume dating back to 2001), and Harry can certainly be included on that list. As noted by Honey, the young prince was seen wearing a choice armband to a costume party in 2005 — and before you think it was something like the armband Michael Jackson used to don, you might want to wind the clock back a few more decades. Harry's armband, unfortunately, had the Swastika on it, the well-known Nazi symbol that continues to stand for hatred, racism, and oppression to this very day. It was not a good look for the prince, and royal expert Katie Nicholl weighed in on the choice.

"That was an episode that happened when he was fully protected by the royal machine and yet it still happened," Nicholl said, as noted by Honey. "It was a grave error of judgement and one wonders why there wasn't someone looking out for him telling him: 'Actually, sir, this is a really bad decision — don't wear the Nazi costume.'"

Risque photos of the prince partying in Las Vegas hit the headlines in 2012

After a couple eyebrow-raising moves in the early 2000s, Prince Harry seemed to calm things down a bit on the partying front and joined the United Kingdom's armed forces. But by the time 2012 rolled around, the "party prince" was back in the headlines thanks to some Las Vegas area fun and the pesky paparazzi outlet that is TMZ. As noted by CNN, Harry was on the iconic strip enjoying what can only be described as a bit of unfiltered fun when a photographer snapped photos of him, with TMZ publishing said photos shortly thereafter. In a look that wasn't great for a royal, the snaps showed a bare-skinned Harry wearing nothing by a watch, covering his nether regions with his hands. More photos showed the prince embracing a female, who also happened to be naked — overall, it just wasn't the PR stunt that the palace was known for.

Speaking of the palace, the royals released a statement saying that Harry's Las Vegas escapades were a "private holiday" before he was set to return to his work in the military. At the time the photos were released, more questions about Harry's security were also posed, given the access that the photographers had to the royal.

Prince Harry later recalled that his partying lifestyle was in part due to his grief

You'd truly have to be living under a rock to not know about Prince Harry's now-fractured relationship with the royal family, and the married dad of two is now out in California living his best life. A huge element of that move has come in the form of Harry's openness and candor when speaking about his life in the royal establishment. He's shared both in his tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey and in the docu-series, "The Me You Can't See," that royal life is not nearly as ideal as people may think it is.

Specifically speaking about his party days in the docu-series, Harry shared that his wild years were symptomatic of his trauma, recounting that his use of drugs and alcohol were his attempts to numb the pain that stemmed from his mother's death.

"I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling," Harry admitted. "But I slowly became aware that, okay, I wasn't drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week's worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night" (via HelloGiggles). 

Prince William used a Royal Air Force helicopter to fly to a bachelor party

Don't think that Prince Harry is the only royal boy who got up to some trouble in his younger years. As it happens, his older brother and second heir to the throne, Prince William, also got into some rougher territory when it came to partying — and got into some significant trouble over one such instance. As noted by the Standard, William served in the Royal Air Force and gained his "wings"– i.e. his official capacity to fly planes — ahead of his cousin's bachelor party. When the stag weekend was upon him, William flew a Royal Air Force helicopter — worth about $12.3 million — to said weekend, and picked up his younger brother on his way.

Trying to cover their own potential press nightmare, the Royal Air Force publicly stated that the flight was part of William's training, as he did require hours flying over water (the bachelor weekend was located on the Isle of Wight, for reference). However, behind closed doors, commanders were said to be "furious" over William's decision, especially given the optics — British forces stationed in Afghanistan at the time were seriously low on helicopters. Not a good look for the prince, that's for sure.

Princess Eugenie's 2009 party was shut down by police

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie seem to be a package deal, but they weren't aligned when it came to intoxication levels during a wild night in 2009. As noted by the Daily Mail, a Halloween-centered party hosted in West London was well underway when the police were called due to the noise — it was about 1:30 a.m., and the officers on the scene told the hosts that they needed to call it a night. Still, about 100 people stayed behind, and about two hours later, Beatrice and Eugenie walked in the front door with their security detail in tow. The Daily Mail noted that the princesses stayed until about 5 a.m., reveling in the wild party that simply wouldn't die down.

Of the amount of booze ingested during the evening, a partier revealed, "Beatrice was very low key, staying downstairs chatting to her boyfriend and steering clear of alcohol, but Eugenie was really enjoying herself, she was partying hard." Contributing to the partying were about 45 bottles of vodka consumed, as well as an additional $600 spent having alcohol delivered after the stock was running low.

The princess continued to make headlines in 2009 with an expensive night out on the club scene

There must've been something in the air in 2009, because Princess Eugenie was back in the headlines when an evening out at a lap dancing club made waves. Not only was the look a little off-color for the royal, but taxpayers soon became enraged that their money — funneled into the princess' security detail — was used for such an evening. It's reported that over £500,000 of taxpayer money (or about $600,000) was spent on protecting Eugenie and her sister, Princess Beatrice, per year – a service that lasted all the way until 2011. As such, Eugenie's wild night out was not looked upon favorably, and New Idea noted that club patrons were equally as shocked that the princess would turn up at such a venue.

As far as details of the night are concerned, Eugenie scored about a $250 bar tab, ordering both cocktails and a bottle of Bollinger Grande Annee Vintage 1999 champagne, per New Idea. Of course, more spectators were concerned about the money being dropped on her security, a staple of her royal life that Scotland Yard reportedly wanted to roll back four years prior, but the idea was shot down by her father, Prince Andrew.

We're going all the way back to King Edward VII's days to present a truly bizarre royal partier

Don't think that just the more modern royals have gotten up to some wild partying and truly bizarre experiences. We're taking a little trip down history's lane for this one, and if you're at all modest (or just not really here for sexy talk), you might want to skip down. Now we should establish off the bat that we're absolutely not here to kink shame, but King Edward VII's habits were certainly ... unorthodox. As noted by Curbed, the royal had a very specifically designed chair to help him ... get positioned. Known as the "love chair," Edward's threesome throne was specifically designed for his larger stature, and it still throws us a little bit for a loop to think about.

King Edward VII was Queen Victoria's son, and as noted by Curbed, she was known for being incredibly prudish, often sending her son to France so he could sow his wild oats. By the time it was hit turn to rule, Edward had ... specifications that, according to historian Tracy Borman, "[boggle] the mind." Sorry.

Mike Tindall racked up a huge bachelor party bar tab before marrying into the royal family

We can't exactly imagine what it'd be like to marry into the royal family, but it's safe to say that it might be a more stressful than not kind of experience. Mike Tindall, husband of Zara Tindall (Princess Anne's daughter), may have been feeling the pressure during his bachelor weekend, because he definitely went a little crazy while partying in Florida.

As noted by the Daily Mail, Mike had a "marathon" of events — nightclubs, bars, hotels, limousines — the works, and racked up quite a tab while tearing through the Sunshine State. During one night on the town, Mike and his crew managed to spend $20,000 at one bar alone, consuming 1,500 units of alcohol while doing so (if you're feeling a secondhand hangover coming on, you're not alone). From there, the gang went to South Beach where they continued to live lavishly, flirting with pretty women and ordering drink after drink while doing so. Was he blowing off some pre-wedding jitters? Perhaps.