Five Royal Sibling Rivalries That Put William and Harry to Shame

Pop quiz: what do you think of when someone mentions the royal family fighting? Most people immediately think of Prince William and Prince Harry’s ongoing beef, one that was made much worse by “Megxit” and the subsequent interviews and media deals that involved Harry airing the family’s dirty laundry out in front of the world.

However, William and Harry aren’t the first royals to ever rumble like this, and they won’t be the last. In fact, there are many royal rivalries throughout history that put their little tiff to shame. Keep reading to determine how everyone from the Japanese emperor to the Queen of England dealt with sibling rivalry at its worst!

Queen Elizabeth clashed with Princess Margaret

When Queen Elizabeth died last year, there was an almost universal outpouring of love and support. One reason for this is that, when she was alive, Elizabeth was the master of making as few enemies as possible. When she was younger, though, this didn’t keep her from clashing with her sister, Princess Margaret, in a big way.

It all came to a head after Margaret fell in love with Royal Airforce Captain Peter Townsend. Because Townsend was divorced, both the Church of England and Prime Minister Winston Churchhill didn’t approve of the marriage, and this caused Elizabeth to refuse it (as Queen, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 gave her the right to approve or disapprove of royal marriages). She refused again two years later, and only relented due to a complex plan to remove Margaret and her kids from the line of succession.

Ironically, Margaret went on to marry someone else entirely: British filmmaker and photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. This means the Queen of England spent years beefing with her own sister for no real reason.

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Cleopatra the sibling killer

We’re all familiar with the old phrase “history is written by the victors,” and nobody understood this better than the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra. Most people now only know about Cleopatra due to her reputation for having both great beauty and great wisdom. Outside of scholars of Egyptian history, very few people about the role Cleopatra had in the death of her own siblings.

The sibling death we definitively know about was that of Ptolemy XIII, Cleopatra’s brother who was supposed to rule Egypt alongside her. After he exiled her from the country due to a power grab, Cleopatra went to war against her brother, causing him to ultimately drown to death in the Nile.

Some scholars feel like Cleopatra may have been involved in the death of two more siblings. This includes brother Ptolemy XIV, a man she married but some speculate she may have had killed so she could rule Egypt alongside Julius Ceasar instead. And in a movie straight out of Game of Thrones, there are rumors that Cleopatra saw her sister Arsinoe as a threat and had her killed to eliminate that threat.

Mary and Anne Boleyn

Few royal relationships have ever been quite as messy as that of Mary and Anne Boleyn. They didn’t feud over the affections of King Henry VIII, and Anne married the king after he eventually got divorced from Catherine of Aragon. Instead, the beef between these sisters began after Anne was queen and Mary secretly married a commoner named William Stafford upon the death of her husband.

Previously, the Boleyn sisters had used romance to strategically secure a prominent place for their family. Since Mary married a commoner, Anne had both Mary and her new husband banished from court, and Anne ended up raising Mary’s child. Eventually, Mary was sentenced to death after a series of fantastic accusations ranging from conspiracy against the king to adultery and incest with her own brother. 

Anne never did go to meet with her sister or her husband-in-law after they were both scheduled for execution. And in a cruel karmic twist, Anne would later be sentenced to death by King Henry VIII for many crimes, including allegedly having sex with her brother.

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Emperor Naruhito and his brother

Japan is a country renowned for being extremely civilized and polite in most of its dealings. It only makes sense, then, that the clash between Emperor Naruhito and his brother Akishino was milder than some of the other examples on this list, but no less bitter in its own right.

Several months before Naruhito was going to be coronated, his brother floated the idea that the royal family should pay for all the expenses rather than the Japanese government. Before that, he had suggested that a special religious ceremony tied to naming a new emperor also be paid by the royal family due to the country’s separation of church and state.

Ultimately, Naruhito won this family squabble (it’s good to be the emperor), and the two ceremonies which, combined, cost about $47 million, were fully funded by public tax dollars instead of the royal family fortune.

King Charles and his royal rumbles with Prince Andrew

Few royals have embarrassed themselves quite as much as Prince Andrew. This royal was disgraced when his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein was made public, and things reached a real head when Virginia Giuffre accused the royal of sexually assaulting her at Epstein’s mansion when she was underage.

The matter briefly went to court, and Andrew settled with Giuffre for the tidy sum of $500,000. But that didn’t keep the royal family from stripping Andrew of his various royal patronages and military titles. Behind the scenes, all of this seemingly disintegrated Andrew’s relationship with his brother, King Charles. In fact, royal guru Neil Sean told Fox News that “the relationship is virtually nonexistent” between the two siblings.

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