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10 Royal Weddings That Ended in Disaster

by Jessica Fleming-Montoya
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Weddings are generally a happy affair, full of cake, dancing, and oodles of champagne. However, some unlucky royals have had weddings that weren’t quite as fun as they had expected. Here are 10 royal weddings that sadly ended in disaster, death, or doom.

Related: 10 Shocking Scandals To Rock The Royal Family

10 Princess Mary of Teck and Prince Albert Victor

The King Who Never Was | Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale

The wedding of Princess Mary of Teck and Prince Albert Victor, the son of the Princess and Prince of Wales, was a wedding many were looking forward to. The happy couple announced their engagement in December 1891 and had planned their wedding for just two months later, on February 27, 1892.

However, it seems that this marriage was doomed from the start. Prince Albert fell ill with influenza in January of the new year. By the 14th of January, the prince had passed away, causing the wedding to be called off.

It seems, however, that Princess Mary wasn’t too heartbroken, however. Just one year later, she married her late fiancé’s brother, Prince George. The second wedding went off without a hitch, so perhaps all’s well that ends well.[1]

9 King Henri of Navarre and Marguerite Valois

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

One of the most tragic weddings in royal history is that of King Henry of Navarre and Marguerite Valois. This wedding took place in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on August 18, 1572. Despite the gorgeous venue and sunny skies that day, however, all did not go to plan.

You see, the wedding took place amid a great conflict between the Catholic church and the Protestant church. King Henry was a Protestant, which meant that many prominent Protestant figures had made the journey to Paris to see the wedding.

A staunch catholic woman, the mother of the bride, Catherine de Medici, decided this was her chance to take action. Rather than celebrating her daughter’s nuptials, she formed a plot to kill the many unsuspecting Protestants who would arrive in Paris for the wedding.

Just six days after the wedding, while celebrations were still taking place in the streets of Paris, Catherine gave the order, and mercenaries slaughtered somewhere between 3,000 and 70,000 Protestants. In fact, the violence got so out of hand that it spread to French provinces outside of Paris. Eventually, the violence was quelled, and the crown blamed the violence on a political uprising.[2]

8 King George IV and Princess Caroline of Brunswick

The Toxic Royal Marriage of George IV and Caroline of Brunswick

Prince George (later King George IV) and his bride-to-be, Caroline of Brunswick, were betrothed without ever having met in person. And, as you might imagine, this didn’t set them up for a day of joy at their wedding.

You see, George never wanted to marry Caroline in the first place. He already had a mistress that he was perfectly content with. However, his partying habits meant that he’d racked up a hefty debt that had to be paid off one way or another. When his father suggested the bright idea of marrying someone rich to pay his way out of his troubles, George agreed.

Caroline, for her part, wasn’t exactly thrilled about the marriage, but she felt that she could make it work. All that changed when she showed up in England for her wedding. At the ceremony in 1795, her new husband-to-be was so drunk that he could barely stand. Worse yet, he wound up passing out on his wedding night, and the unbothered Caroline left him there and went on about her business.

It seems the disastrous wedding was just a sign of what was to come, as the two shared a loveless marriage and lived largely separate lives.[3]

7 King Harthacnut

Harthacanute – English monarchs animated history documentary

Not all royal weddings that ended in disaster were between a king and a queen. One royal wedding that ended in trouble was one attended by King Harthacut. King Harthacnut ruled Denmark starting in 1035 and took over the throne of England as well in June of 1040.

However, the king’s good fortune would end shortly after. You see, almost two years exactly after his coronation, King Harthacnut attended a wedding of one of his courtiers, the daughter Osgod Clapa.

During the wedding, the good king decided to give a toast to the happy couple. However, he never managed to finish his speech and dropped dead in the middle of the toast! Of course, the royal wedding of the courtiers was ruined, and everyone rushed to attend to the king.

Although no one knows exactly what caused his death, many suspect it was either an alcoholic-induced stroke or a fit caused by epilepsy or diabetes.[4]

6 Edward II and Isabella of France

King Edward II befell disaster when he chose to marry Isabella of France in 1308. At the time of the wedding, the young king was about 24, while his bride-to-be was half his age. The age difference, however, turned out to be the least of the problems at this wedding.

You see, it turns out that the young King Edward wasn’t particularly interested in women at all. Instead, he was much more interested in one of his knights, Piers Gaveston. At the royal wedding celebration, the young king kissed Piers in front of all his guests, much to the horror of his new bride.

The affair continued well after the wedding day, too, with King Edward continuing a lengthy affair with Piers throughout his marriage to Isabella. Eventually, Isabella had enough, however, and overthrew her husband and installed their son, Edward III as the king in his place.[5]

5 Prince Albert and Princess Charlene

The Truth About Princess Charlene & Prince Albert’s Relationship

Prince Albert and Charlene Wittsock are a more modern couple whose wedding was doused in disaster. Prince Albert is Grace Kelly’s son, while Charlene is a stunning South African swimmer.

Despite their good looks and handy connections, however, these two lovers had their fair share of marital woes. Just a few days before the two were set to be wed, Charlene made an attempt to flee to Monaco. Her reasoning was that it had come out that Prince Albert had just become a father to a third illegitimate child. Although she didn’t go through with her plan, she tried again later with a one-way ticket to France, although she was intercepted at the airport.

Eventually, the couple did get married in 2011. Despite the fact that the princess went through with the wedding, they spent their honeymoon in separate hotels. Still, they’ve managed to weather the storm and are still together today.[6]

4 Catherine the Great and Peter III

Catherine the Great: Russia’s Greatest Empress

Catherine the Great may have been excellent at ruling Russia, but her marriage was far from great. In fact, when it comes to her marriage, this poor queen got the short end of the stick.

Catherine the Great was set up in a royal wedding to Peter III Fyodorovich, which is how Catherine became a ruler of Russia in the first place. At the time of her wedding, Catherine was just 16, and her groom was one year older.

Although the two were cousins, even from the start, they weren’t particularly fond of each other. Catherine described Peter as a cruel, drunken partier, and it seems that their wedding was proof of that. Although the ceremony went just fine, by the time it was all over and time for the two to enjoy their wedding night, Peter ditched his new bride to party with his friends.

This was just the start of a tumultuous marriage, as Catherine and Peter had a rocky marriage until Catherine eventually seized power in Russia.[7]

3 P’u Yi and Gobulo Wanrong

The Tragic Life of China’s Exiled Empress | Wanrong

P’u Yi was the last Chinese Emperor and was told at the young age of 16 that he had to choose a wife for himself. His courtiers decided to help him choose one by showing him a series of photographs of girls to pick from.

P’u Yi, however, wasn’t particularly interested in marriage. He chose a photo at random. Still, his advisors weren’t satisfied with that choice and told him the girl he’d picked could be his concubine but that he would have to marry a woman named Gobulo Wanrong.

When the time finally rolled around for P’u Yi and his new wife to be wed, they had a relatively peaceful ceremony. After the ceremony, however, things started to go awry. The newlyweds headed to bed to consummate the marriage. Upon seeing his new wife waiting for him in bed, however, the emperor panicked and fled from the bed chamber, which started a slew of rumors about his being homosexual.

P’u Yi’s wedding disaster is one of the few that winds up having a happy ending, however. Despite their wedding being doused in disgrace, thanks to their wedding night, P’u Yi and Gobulo Wanrong went on to become friends and have a marriage with relatively few ups and downs.[8]

2 Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves

Henry VIII Anne of Cleves Married at First Sight!

Henry VIII is infamous for disastrous marriages, but some of his weddings were pretty awful as well. Perhaps the most notably terrible wedding was his marriage to Anne of Cleves.

Anne of Cleves was Henry VIII’s fourth wife, and for all intents and purposes, she was a mail-order bride. Henry VIII saw a portrait of her, and for him, that was all the information he needed to be able to marry her.

When Anne arrived in England, however, Henry VIII had a very abrupt change of heart. In the days leading up to his wedding, he made a desperate attempt to call the whole thing off and send Anne back. His attempts were a failure, and he wound up marrying his bride anyway.

According to King Henry, however, his wife’s appearance was so disgusting that they weren’t able to consummate the marriage that night. Apparently, it wasn’t the only night that happened. Just six months later, Henry got an annulment and was busy courting his next wife.[9]

1 Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great, Homosexual Relationship ? | History Channel

Alexander the Great is another great royal leader who seems to have suffered when it came to his love life. In 324 BC, Alexander the Great was all set to marry a woman named Statira in a double wedding with her sister, Drypetis, and Alexander’s attendant, Hephaestion.

However, the double wedding didn’t quite go the way the sisters had imagined. After the ceremony was over, Hephaestion and Alexander headed off to bed together instead of with their new wives.

Of course, the whole thing was a shock to the jilted brides as well as to Alexander the Great’s other wife, Roxanne. Still, the wives didn’t have to put up with these antics for much longer. About a year later, both Hephaestion and Alexander the Great had died.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen