Conspiracy Theories About The British Royal Family

Considering the British royal family is simply a ceremonial institution that basically wields no direct political power, their lasting influence on world culture remains huge. World leaders from across the planet make royal visits the cornerstone of their diplomatic missions to the United Kingdom, while the royals themselves also tour the globe, building the British brand and attempting to improve relations with former colonies.

They are also arguably the world's biggest headline grabbers. From the sad deaths of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II in 2021 and 2022, respectively, to the ongoing relationships between the younger generation of Princes William and Harry, Catherine, Princess of Wales, and Meghan, Duchess of Cornwall, few families are afforded as many news segments or column inches ... or, indeed, guarantee as many viewers or readers.

But while the British royal family seems to be thriving in the modern world, their archaic traditions, immense wealth and proximity to power, and the darker aspects of their private lives have made them a target for countless conspiracy theories. From the widely believed to the downright insane, here are some of the most prominent conspiracy theories that have attached themselves to the British monarchy throughout its existence.

'The Queen was a Reptile'

The biggest conspiracy theory related to the British royal family is also the most fantastical: Rather than existing as a dynasty of super-privileged men and women of European descent, the family is in fact a clan of shape-shifting reptilians. That's right, not only do lizard people apparently walk among us, they do so in the full glare of the public eye and manage to make themselves soft-faced for the cameras using what one can only assume are supernatural methods.

The theory gained prominence in the U.K. in the late 1990s due to baseless assertions put forward by a man named David Icke, a former soccer player who penned some far-fetched narratives "The Biggest Secret" in 1999. Icke called upon various "sources" who claimed to prove his theory true. Rather than simply monsters, Icke's story goes that the reptilians are actually an alien race, one of many who have come to Earth over the course of millions of years. Icke's book also says the reptilians are immortal, and rather than dying, the Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother — the "Chief Toad" — live on in other forms.

The theory has, of course, been roundly debunked, but you surely didn't need us to tell you that. Nevertheless, it continues to be shared by fringe believers on various social media channels — The Guardian says 12 million Americans believe some version of the reptilian conspiracy theory – and Icke himself continues to attract a global audience.

'The Dracula family'

David Icke also claims in his book that the British royal family takes part in ritual sacrifice, which includes the drinking of blood. This disturbing conspiracy theory pairs well with other conspiracy theorists claiming the royal family is actually a family of vampires. 

These accusations of vampirism are in fact underpinned by some strange vampire-adjacent facts. For starters, it does turn out that King Charles III is actually related to Vlad the Impaler, the notorious bloodthirsty Romanian ruler who was reportedly the inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula." Moreover, there was a historical connection between British royals and cannibalism in some form. As highlighted by the academic Richard Sugg in his book, "Mummies, Cannibals, and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Rennaisance to the Victorians," medicines made from human viscera were offered to and taken by British royals. Indeed, Sugg notes that the remains of King Charles I himself ended up as medicine! 

Whether this fact has entered the popular consciousness and influenced the creation of the royal vampire myth is possible, though the fact was that corpse medicine was widely used in Europe for centuries, and not just by the royals or nobility. Regardless, in the wake of Princess Diana's death, the accusation gained traction after Mohamed Al-Fayed, the father of Diana's partner Dodi who also died in the crash, called the royal family a "Dracula family."

'Princess Diana was murdered'

Mohamed Al-Fayed's turn against the royal family in the aftermath of the 1997 car crash that killed Princess Diana and his son Dodi was largely based on another conspiracy theory: They were purposefully assassinated for the benefit of the royal family. 

Paul Burrell — the former butler of Princess Diana who made much hay of his experiences with her before her untimely death — claimed in his 2003 book "A Royal Duty" that the People's Princess had sent him a letter 10 months before her death claiming that there was a conspiracy afoot to cause her to be in a serious car accident to allow her former husband Charles to remarry. Burrell's book, however, redacts who Diana reportedly claimed would be responsible for such a scheme. The tabloid media in the U.K., especially the Daily Express, frequently made the conspiracy theory that Diana and Dodi had been murdered a front-page news story.

Though rumors have swirled continuously since the deaths of Diana and Dodi that the tragic crash was intentional rather than an accident, a definitive rebuttal to the conspiracy theorists ostensibly came in 2008 when the coroner for the inquest into the crash affirmed in court that there was no evidence of murder or foul play. An earlier French inquest put the responsibility for the crash in the hands of Diana's intoxicated driver, who also died.

'Meghan Markle is a robot'

Both Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — previously known as Meghan Markle — have been grade-A tabloid and gossip website fodder since the early days of their relationship. Sadly, however, not all of the attention they have attracted has been positive, with the Duchess of Sussex especially finding herself the target of ample vitriol from various corners of the media.

But the personal attacks against the Duchess of Sussex turned downright bizarre in 2018, when various online commenters took to social media to share their belief that Meghan was a robot, or, if not, a clone. The wave of conspiratorial thinking came as a result of several video clips that seemed to show the couple waving to the public, but with the Duchess' features eerily stiff and motionless, as though she were a doll. Or, indeed, a robot.

While a number of incredulous viewers were seemingly taken in by the footage, it later emerged that the clip wasn't of Harry and Meghan at all, but was of actors at the waxwork museum Madame Tussaud's, who were greeting visitors while wearing realistic-looking masks of the couple. In case it was ever needed, in 2021, the Associated Press fact-checked the rumors as part of their efforts to combat misinformation online. And yeah, they came right out and declared this one false.

Charles and Diana's 'secret daughter'

Most of the wild theories concerning Princess Diana and her marriage to Charles, who was then Prince of Wales, made headlines in the years following the couple's divorce and the former's tragic early death in 1997.

But there is always an audience for a strange Diana story, as was proved in 2015 when the U.S. gossip magazine The Globe ran a front-page story claiming that Catherine, Princess of Wales, aka Kate Middleton, had traveled to America to meet a young woman the magazine claimed was Diana and Charles' "secret daughter." As was later proliferated in various online gossip outlets, the story went that prior to her marriage, Diana was made to undergo a gynecological exam to assure the royal family that she was able to conceive children — an important thing for an institution based on heredity. During this exam, it was said that the doctor took an egg from Diana and fertilized it, without the future Princess' knowledge.

Though the story persists in certain corners, the fact that it has never been adopted by mainstream outlets — such as the British tabloid The Daily Express, which is obsessed with Princess Diana — shows that there is little evidence for the theory.

William and Harry are only half-brothers

While some outlets are inventing children that Prince Charles and Princess Diana never had, others are claiming that their two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, aren't in fact the legitimate children of the couple at all. Rather, it is claimed in certain quarters that William and Harry are merely half-brothers, with the younger Harry said to be the result of an affair that Diana had with another man.

The man in question, James Hewitt, was Diana's handsome horseriding teacher ... and the fact is, the pair did have an extended affair that was widely reported and which Hewitt himself later went public about. Hewitt claimed in interviews, too, that the two of them had fallen in love. However, as Hewitt and many of those close to the affair have pointed out, Hewitt and Diana only met each other for the first time two years after Harry's birth, eliminating the possibility of Hewitt being Harry's real father.

Prince Philip's secret affairs

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, were a couple at the center of British public life for more than 70 years. Known for serving primarily in symbolic and ceremonial roles, the public was traditionally afforded little insight into the inner workings of their marriage, their home life, or their romance.

But all that has changed in recent years with the hit Netflix drama "The Crown," a historical drama derived from the factual history of the British royal family, getting under the skin of their early courtship and marriage. But the show has drawn criticism from dramatizing rumors of an alleged affair on the part of Prince Philip, who was said to have potentially had affairs with several women he encountered over the years of his marriage to Queen Elizabeth.

None of the rumors in question — the earliest of which goes back to the late 1940s, shortly after Elizabeth and Philip tied the knot — has ever been substantiated, however, suggesting that the creators of "The Crown" were employing some creative license in their portrayal of the royal marriage.

Prince Philip was a vaccine victim

The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on April 4, 2021, can't be described as unexpected: He was 99 years old, and his health problems had been publicized all over the British media. But it still felt to many like the end of an era, the first loss in a generation of royals who had achieved notable longevity.

That his death occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has become especially memorable due to some famous photographs taken at his funeral, which show Queen Elizabeth II (pictured), dressed in black and wearing a black medical face mask, mourning for her husband of 73 years entirely alone due to the necessity of social distancing. And of course, with such timing came a COVID-related conspiracy theory: Prince Philip had died as a result of receiving the newly-developed COVID-19 vaccine.

The theory was one of many that circulated around Prince Philip's death, with Vice reporting on how the event had been co-opted by the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory movement, who also saw in it dates and details that they took baselessly as reaffirming their delusional beliefs.

King Elizabeth I?

In 1910, "Dracula" author Bram Stoker published one of his final works, a free-wheeling non-fiction book called "Famous Impostors." The final chapter, "The Bisley Boy," makes a somewhat bizarre suggestion: Queen Elizabeth I was, in fact, a man.

The basic theory goes that Elizabeth, the daughter of the tyrannical King Henry VIII, was made to leave London when she was 10 years old to avoid contracting the bubonic plague, which was rampant in the city at the time. However, while in the country, the Princess grew ill and died, leading her terrified nanny to search for a replacement rather than face Henry's wrath. To make the story more farcical, no girl matching Elizabeth's pale complexion and ginger hair could be found ... but the nurse did identify a boy, who agreed to return to London and serve as an impostor.

The story wasn't originally Stoker's;  it had been around as a fringe tale for centuries, but Stoker added another detail. The replacement was possibly also Henry's illegitimate son, explaining the resemblance between him and the deceased Elizabeth. Frankly, the story is nonsense — how could such a secret have been kept under wraps?

The BRF and the NWO

That the British royal family has powerful connections goes without saying: As one of the most prominent examples of a monarchy on the planet, King Charles III et al. have welcomed generations of world leaders and sit atop a hierarchy of wealth and aristocracy.

The royals exist as a powerful force in British diplomacy. As such, their proximity to global power has been another cause for conspiracy theories about them. One such theory claims they are instruments through which the powers that be might bring about the "New World Order" on behalf of those who really run things, known in conspiracy circles as the Illuminati.

Such theories take for evidence of the Illuminati's grand plan the existence of the Bilderberg Group, an "elite" collective of business people, academics, politicians, and so on that meet annually in Switzerland for a conference, to which members of the British royal family including Charles himself and the late Prince Philip have been invited. Since no minutes of the meetings are released and the subjects discussed remain undisclosed, many conspiracy theorists see the conferences as sinister and suspicious, though little suggests they are anything more than transnational debates.

Who murdered the princes in the tower?

One of the longest-running mysteries concerning the British royal family involves the so-called "Princes in the Tower," whose ultimate fate remains a point of contention among historians to this day.

The mystery occurred during the Wars of the Roses, an ongoing conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster over who had a legitimate claim to the throne. In 1483, King Edward IV suddenly died, leaving behind his son and heir, also Edward, who was just 12 years old. As was customary, the boy's paternal uncle, Richard, became his guardian and took control of England as "Lord Protector." However, soon after, word spread that Edward IV had a secret marriage prior to that which gave him his heir, and overnight his reign was declared illegitimate, meaning his children were too. The young Edward, along with his younger brother, were locked in the Tower of London. They were never heard from again, and in the 17th century, the remains of two bodies were discovered.

The received wisdom was that the evil Richard — crowned Richard III — murdered the children to secure his monarchy. However, more recently, historians have questioned this assumption, undoubtedly buoyed by Richard III's portrayal as a villain in Shakespeare's historical tragedy. Several other key figures have since been identified as the boys' potential killers, while some historians have alternatively posited that the princes were allowed to leave the tower and lived out their natural lives in anonymity.