The Royal Family has historically been a magnet for strange hoaxes and pranks. Some of these are pretty basic. Others, however, are downright strange!
On paper, hoaxes involving the royals are meant to be cheeky reminds that these rulers are just as human as the rest of us. But some of these hoaxes go way too far, and at least one has managed to get a person killed.
Which hoaxes are we talking about, and how did they change royal lives forever? Keep reading to discover the most bizarre royal hoaxes of all time!
A phone prank involving Kate Middleton took a tragic turn
The worst prank in royal history happened to Kate Middleton back in 2012. She was suffering serious morning sickness and was staying at the King Edward VII Hospital. As The Telegraph reports, this was when two DJs from Australia, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, decided to call her hospital as part of a prank.
The prank was pretty simple: Greg imitated the Queen when speaking to nurse Jacintha Saldanha. She believed it really was the Queen and transferred Greig to another nurse who disclosed private details about Middleton’s health.
When it was revealed as a prank, nobody took the news harder than Saldanha. She ended up committing suicide over what the Telegraph reports as her “guilt” and “humiliation” over the matter. Meanwhile, Greig pledged to not perform any more pranks and apologized to Saldanha’s family.
Prince Charles insured counterfeit paintings for $134M
A much lighter prank concerned Prince Charles. The prince is a collector of art, but his critical eye failed to spot the fact that he was hanging up counterfeit paintings in his own home!
After Charles restored Dumfries House in Scotland, he hung up three paintings loaned to him by disgraced British socialite James Stunt. The three paintings were allegedly created by Dali, Picasso, and Monet, and the Daily Mail reports they were insured for $134 million.
Unfortunately, the paintings were all creations of expert American art forger Tony Tetro, who made and gave them to Stunt for fun. In turn, Stunt gave them to Prince Charles. There was no real legal fallout to this prank, though many raised their eyebrows at the fact that Charles was working with someone as suspect as Stunt, who recently plead not guilty to money laundering and forgery charges.
Princess Diana was pranked called by “Stephen Hawking”
Some pranks only came to light decades after they happened. For example, veteran British radio personality Victor Lewis-Smith called Princess Diana in 1996 pretending to be Stephen Hawking. He recorded it for a series of spoof interviews for Radio 1, but didn’t end up releasing it in its entirety until nearly 20 years later.
The Telegraph reports that the prankster had to leave a message the first time but that Diana called back days later. In Hawking’s robotic voice, Lewis-Smith pretended to tell a PR person, “Get the Princess on the line now or I’ll knock your teeth so far.”
When Diana confirmed she was on the line, the fake Hawking asked her if she had read his book A Brief History of Time. When she said yes, the hoaxer asked her, “In that case, do you agree with the proposition that the unassailable sine qua non for a quantum physicist is that the quintessential homogeneity of his theory should not be entirely challenged by academic empiricists in absentia?”
Diana pauses for a long time before saying, “Yes, I entirely agree with that” and then can be heard dropping an F-bomb.
Eventually, Lewis-Smith ended the call by pretending Stephen Hawking had exploded.
A radio DJ convinced the Queen he was Canada’s prime minister
Getting pranked by radio DJs may seem pretty embarrassing. But it can happen to anybody, including Queen Elizabeth!
In 1995, Canadian radio host Pierre Brassar called Buckingham Palace and pretended to be Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The Associated Press reports that the palace contacted the Canadian Governor General’s office, which verified the plausibility that the PM was trying to reach the Queen.
Eventually, they spoke for 17 minutes about topics ranging from Canadian unity to the royal family’s plans for Halloween. While the prank was likely intended to make the Queen look bad, Brassar ended up being very impressed by how likable she was. And when he pretended that his English wasn’t good and requested to speak in French, the Queen proceeded to have a fluent conversation in another language for the next five minutes!
Prince Harry had a phone conversation with “Greta Thunberg”
Prince Harry is famous as a passionate activist on various issues. And perhaps this is why he fell for a prank thinking he was speaking to outspoken young activist Greta Thunberg.
In late 2019 and early 2020, Russian DJs Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexey Stolyarov managed to call Harry when he was staying in Canada. One pretended to be Greta Thunberg and the other pretended to be her father Svante Thunberg.
According to The Telegraph, Harry really opened up to “Greta.” He discussed being happier living in Canada than serving as a royal in England and that he felt Donald Trump had “blood on his hands” due to his views on climate. Harry also defended himself and Meghan using private jets for their security needs and praised “Greta” for her ability to “reach into his soul and get him to feel.”
An Australian man claims he is the love child of Charles and Camilla
For royals, few things are as important as genealogy and lineage. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the biggest royal hoaxes involve secret children!
One supposed hoax involves an alleged love child between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Since 2016, a 56-year-old man named Simon Dorante-Day has claimed to be the secret son of Charles and Camilla. He was adopted at age eight by a couple who formerly worked as a cook and a gardener for Charles.
But the proof Dorante-Day provides is dubious at best; he says his adopted parents told him he was Charles’ son and that he has early memories of a blonde woman who might be Camilla. He even claims he was named “Simon” after a dear friend of Charles and Camilla. Unsurprisingly, the two royals never even bothered to acknowledge his claim.