Inside All Of The Conspiracy Theories About The Royal Family

Society is obsessed with the royal family. There is a seemingly endless appetite for stories about them both in the tabloids and on the big and small screens with projects like "The Crown," "The Queen," "Spencer," and "The King's Speech." 

The public enjoys knowing what goes on within the walls of Buckingham Palace so it should come as no surprise that plenty of fan theories about the royal family have gained traction over the years. In 2024, for instance, after Princess Catherine underwent abdominal surgery and retreated from the public eye, fans were whipped up into a frenzy as they speculated about whether the princess was missing. But that's only one recent royal conspiracy theory; there have also been theories about the late Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle, Princess Harry, and Princess Diana. 

Here are some of the most enticing (and ludicrous) conspiracy theories about the royal family over the years.

Queen Elizabeth I was rumored to be a man

In the Elizabethan era, many rumors swirled about Queen Elizabeth I. One of those conspiracies was that she was a man dressed as a woman. Those rumors continued in later years when some people argued that the only way she could have been so good at running a country was if she was a man. "An overwhelming amount of evidence declares this notion to be false and discriminatory," states the Royal Museums Greenwich.

This is one royal conspiracy theory we can rule out very quickly. Obviously, Elizabeth I was a woman. We can hardly say that we're surprised that some people couldn't bring themselves to believe that a woman was capable of running the country and had to concoct a conspiracy theory to explain it. If you look closely, you'll find that misogyny lies at the heart of a lot of conspiracy theories, just like this one.

One of the most popular conspiracy theories about Jack the Ripper involves a royal

Ever since the 1880s, people have been perplexed by the murders in London in which dozens of women were killed by an unknown serial killer who we now refer to as Jack the Ripper. One theory about his identity hypothesizes he was actually a member of the royal family. 

The theory comes from Stephen Knight's 1976 book titled "Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution." In the book, Knight states that the Ripper murders were actually committed by the royal family's surgeon at the behest of Queen Victoria. Allegedly, Prince Albert Victor, who was second in line to the British throne and Victoria's grandson, had married a sex worker named Annie Cook. When other sex workers tried to blackmail him, he and Victoria had them killed along with his wife. This theory has largely been discredited, but it certainly is interesting.

One conspiracy theorist claims that Princess Margaret had a love child

If you've watched "The Crown," you'll know that Princess Margaret had a number of lovers over the years. One of them was Group Captain Peter Townsend, played by Ben Miles in the series. 

But there is one man who believes the couple's affair resulted in a baby and that he is the love child of Margaret and Townsend. According to the Daily Mail, Robert Brown has spent £100,000 (around $128,000) trying to prove his theory. Brown believes that Margaret's pregnancy was concealed through body doubles and that after his birth, he was sent to Kenya and adopted by Cynthia and Douglas Brown. "I had a gut feeling that there was a royal connection, even though my logical side said there must be some other explanation," said Brown. 

Brown even petitioned to see Princess Margaret's will, but it was ruled to remain private. As a result of his investigation, lawyers for Margaret's will executor called Brown "fixated" and "deluded" (via The Telegraph).

A popular conspiracy theory featured rumors about Prince Harry's parentage

In the 1980s, several rumors swirled regarding Prince Harry — specifically, that he wasn't King Charles III's son. One of the most popular rumors claimed James Hewitt may have been Prince Harry's biological father.

Admittedly, the theory does have some legs. Harry does share similar physical attributes as Princess Diana's former riding instructor. Not only do the pair look remarkably similar, but Diana did have an affair with Hewitt. However, this affair allegedly began two years after Harry's birth. In 2023, Harry acknowledged the rumor in his memoir, "Spare."

"The rumour going around at the time that my real father was one of my mother's ex-lovers: Major James Hewitt," the prince wrote. "One cause of the rumour was Major Hewitt's red hair, but another was sadism. Tabloid readers loved the idea that Prince Charles's youngest son was not Prince Charles's son. They never got tired of that 'joke' for some reason."

There's a wild conspiracy theory that the royal family are lizards

Get ready for one of the weirdest royal conspiracies out there. Introducing David Icke and his truly bizarre lizard theory. Icke's theory has been around for years. Back in the 1990s, he claimed that the world was run by lizards which included the British royal family. Apparently, he is convinced that the royals along with other influential lizards, can shape-shift. Their goal? "Centralized global control — of all resources, of all businesses, of all everything," Icke told Newshub.

Although this theory is undeniably absurd, a surprising number of people believe it. As The Guardian reported in 2016, an estimated 12 million people in the United States believed in the lizard theory at the time. NBC News thinks that number might be even higher now. However, as one 2019 study noted, this number is still not that high compared to other conspiracy theories out there.

There were numerous conspiracy theories about Princess Diana's death

Princess Diana's death in 1997 was a tragedy that rocked the world. She and her partner at the time, Dodi Fayed, were killed in a car chase in Paris in which they were trying to escape paparazzi. Although most people have since agreed that her death was the result of a tragic accident, others are less convinced — some even think it was the product of a conspiracy.

Mohamed Al-Fayed, Dodi's father, was one of the people who insisted that there had been foul play. Eventually, this led to an investigation known as Operation Paget. "In essence Mohamed Al Fayed's allegation is that the 'Security Services' (unless otherwise specified, this is taken to be the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – commonly known as MI6) acting at the behest of HRH Prince Philip, arranged for or carried out the murder of Dodi Al Fayed and the Princess of Wales," read the report (via the BBC). The report goes on to explain how Mohamed believed that Diana was pregnant with Dodi's child and that British officials had decided to have them killed.

Although official inquiries determined that their deaths were accidental, many on Reddit still believe that there was a secret plot to kill Diana.

One theory claims that Princess Catherine's mother orchestrated her marriage to Prince William

We all know the love story of Prince William and Princess Catherine. While both students at St. Andrews University in Scotland, they formed a friendship. Then, William saw Catherine in a risque outfit during a fashion show and the rest is history. 

However, some conspiracy theories assert there was a little more to the story than that. As Tina Brown wrote in "The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil," Catherine's mother, Carole Middleton, may have influenced her daughter to attend St. Andrews just to meet William. 

"It is unlikely Kate would be where she is today without her mother's canny help in negotiating a royal romance," Brown wrote. "Whenever Kate was bloodied in the ring, she retreated to Bucklebury, where Coach Carole would dress her wounds, advise her on moves, and urge her to keep her eyes on the prize." Since the palace has never admitted to any of this, we'll never know the truth behind Carole's alleged motives.

One conspiracy theorist anticipated Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's marriage to be a threat to America

In 2017, after Prince Harry married Meghan Markle, a few royal watchers began to question their relationship — some even theorized that the wedding was part of a grand royal plot to recapture control over America.

Greg Pollowitz first brought up the theory on X, formerly Twitter, where he suggested (in a since-deleted tweet) that if Meghan and Harry's children were U.S. citizens, they could eventually run for President. "What if one grows up to be president and is in line for the throne at the same time? Brits are playing long-ball here, but it's a smart move," Pollowitz wrote (via Refinery29). "They want America back and this is how they'll do it."

This theory doesn't seem particularly robust now, especially after Harry and Meghan decided to step away from the royal family altogether. Although the duke and duchess' children reportedly have dual citizenship, we think it's pretty unlikely they're part of a long con on behalf of the royals.

Some people believe the royals interfered with the production of The Crown

Netflix's "The Crown" is one of the most popular and thorough fictional examinations of the royal family. However, as the series got closer and closer to the present day and began to retell recent stories, some fans noticed that the show seemed to sway more and more in favor of King Charles III, leading to a theory that the royal family was influencing the show.

"I'm halfway through the second episode of season 6 and it seems like even bigger ridiculous propaganda," one Reddit user wrote. "The older Fayed (who was a thorn in the family's side after the crash), is made to look like the instigator and villain. Camilla and Charles are made to look sympathetic. And now we're supposed to believe that Charles got a call from the queen one night approving of Camilla?" The Reddit user then referenced a 2023 Rolling Stone article about how the show had begun to sympathize with the royals.

While we don't know whether or not the royal family influenced the show's scripts, we do know that they sometimes stopped the show from filming in certain locations. "Whenever they can, they stop 'The Crown' filming in locations where they have an influence," royal author Tina Brown revealed to The A.V. Club.

Princess Catherine and Prince William's marital issues are at the center of one conspiracy theory

Rumors have been speculating for a while that Prince William had an affair with Rose Hanbury, one of Princess Catherine's friends. Eventually, the rumors became so widespread that press secretary Christian Jones "made it his mission" to stop them. According to royal author Omid Scobie, who covered the theories in his book "Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy's Fight for Survival," Jones even bargained with reporters, promising them other stories if they agreed not to publish the rumors.

Although Scobie reported on the rumor and how the press handled it, he didn't believe there was much truth to it. "I really don't see proof that there is more to this than just a tittle-tattle," he later told Entertainment Tonight. The very presence of these conspiracy theories about the couple is a sign of just how important their relationship is to the family. 

"The inescapable truth is that in the unlikely event that the Cambridge marriage [between William and Kate] ever becomes troubled, the whole Windsor house of cards could come tumbling down," Tina Brown wrote in her book "The Palace Papers." "Kate has become a cherished national icon of flawless motherhood." In other words, if any of these rumors did turn out to be true, it would be a huge deal.

The internet ran with a story that Princess Catherine got a BBL

In late 2023, Princess Catherine had what the palace called a "planned abdominal surgery" and canceled all public appearances until Easter 2024. However, in the weeks and months that followed, royal fans began to speculate that they hadn't been given the full story. 

Reddit threads and tweets about her "disappearance" quickly went viral. "You're telling me that Kate Middleton — the same woman who posed outside the hospital like a freaking supermodel mere hours after giving birth — suddenly requires months of recovery before showing her face? And the British press now magically respects privacy? This feels ... sinister," one person tweeted which racked up over 67,000 likes. Soon, fans were theorizing that Catherine had a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), a bad haircut, and a divorce. However, the palace press team soon tried to shut down the rumors. "Kensington Palace made it clear in January the timelines of the Princess' recovery and we'd only be providing significant updates. That guidance stands," read a statement that also noted she was "doing well" (via Town & Country). 

Speaking to Nieman Lab, former royal reporter Ellie Hall said that a lot of it comes down to trust. "I think a big part of this drama is that over the past few years, people have started to really distrust not just the royal family (as an institution/bureaucracy, not necessarily the individual members) but the reporters and outlets that cover the royal family," said Hall.

There were a few theories about why Prince William missed his godfather's funeral

Amidst all of the rumors about Princess Catherine being missing in action after her surgery in late 2023, other conspiracy theories began to spiral when her husband, Prince William, unexpectedly pulled out of an event in February 2024. The prince had been scheduled to attend a memorial for King Constantine II of Greece, who was his godfather and a close friend of the family. 

But when William announced that he wouldn't be attending the service due to a "personal matter," the internet quickly jumped to the conclusion that his absence must be related to the conspiracy theories about Princess Catherine.

Although there may not be any substance to the rumors, royal experts admitted that the turn of events was a little odd. "Constantine was his godfather and very close to all the royals, particularly King Charles, and he would have wanted William there as he didn't attend," royal author Phil Dampier told the Daily Mail. "William only lives a stone's throw away, so it's very concerning."

People protested that Princess Catherine was not the woman in the car with her mother

The conspiracy theories surrounding Princess Catherine in 2024 got even stranger when she was photographed for the first time since her surgery in a car with her mother (via Extra). While the paparazzi photo should have quelled conspiracies, it only made the public more distrustful. Some even theorized that it wasn't Catherine in the car. "[I don't know] who's that in that wig but that's not Kate Middleton," one user wrote in a viral tweet. Another tweet posited that the image was actually of Catherine's sister, Pippa Middleton. According to royal reporter Ellie Hall, the photo of Catherine "added a new dimension to the media control discussion." 

"Kensington Palace has let it be known that the photos were unauthorized and no U.K. media outlets have run the images, even the tabloids (although most have written up the fact that U.S. media outlets have published an image of the princess)," Hall told Nieman Lab. "Safe to say that the U.K. media response to the photo's publication isn't doing anything to dispel the 'Palace controls the media' narrative that's running rampant on social media."

The royal family were accused of hiding something in this Mother's Day tribute to Princess Catherine

Amongst the conspiracy theories about Princess Catherine's absence in 2024, Kensington Palace released the first official photo of the princess since her surgery on Instagram in March. The Mother's Day photo of Princess Catherine and her three children seems pretty normal at a glance. However, conspiracy theorists soon noticed signs that it had been photoshopped. The editing was so sloppy that many photo outlets pulled the image from circulation. Naturally, this only added fuel to the fire of the conspiracists. 

In a strange turn of events, Catherine then took to X platform to make a statement about the image. "Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing. I wanted to express my apologies for any confusion the family photograph we shared yesterday caused. I hope everyone celebrating had a very happy Mother's Day. C." Many people in the comments expressed disbelief and even concern for Catherin — clearly, this photo did nothing to quell the conspiracy rumors!