But the outrage that greeted the revelation that the Prince of Wales was having an affair, especially when compared to the well-known licentiousness of the monarchs of the past, shows just how puritanical we have become in the 21st century, demanding that our rulers - even ceremonial ones - lead lives free from the blemish of sexual infidelity.
It was not always thus: A mistress-less king could be seen as weak or worse still, impotent. He kept one mistress, Henrietta Dowd, for twenty years, and when he finally dropped her, his wife begged him to reconsider, for fear he would go on the tear with a string of feisty new lovers, which he duly did, hanging a portrait of one of them at the base of his bed.
In fact, however, Henry was more of a serial monogamist than a philanderer. Henry came to the throne an year-old virgin, and was first married to the widow of his brother, Catherine of Aragon, and did not embark on his first affair until , when Catherine was pregnant it was believed that having sex with a woman while pregnant could cause miscarriage.
He swiftly made up for lost time thereafter, having affairs with several noblewomen at court, including Lady Anne Hastings, and Jane Poppincourt of Flanders, who was at the time also the mistress of the Duc de Longueville, who was being held hostage, in great comfort, within the Royal household. In his later life, Henry would send the artist Holbein overseas to paint portraits of prospective lovers and wives. Cheat Sheet A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know and nothing you don't.
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. It was not a case of like father, like son, however: There have been many gay Kings in British history. Richard never slept with his wife, unlike Edward II, who was bisexual, and produced four children with his wife Isabella of France who was twelve when he married her.
His gay relationships however caused his knights to revolt against him — he was forced to abdicate and then murdered by having a red-hot poker forced into his back passage.
Of all the sex rumors about the current British royal family, none had been quite so bizarre as that of Prince Charles's supposed gay affair with his valet. For several weeks in late , the British press printed banner headlines about a royal sex scandal but, conscious of Britain's strict libel laws, never came out and openly stated the accusations, instead, relying on hints and innuendo. This led to the strange phenomenon of the royal family issuing a statement denying allegations that had never publicly been made.
His first sexual experience at the age of 15 was a deeply Oedipal affair, taking place with his former wet nurse in the era before bottle feeding, a wet nurse was a woman employed to breast feed noble-born children. At 16 he fathered his first illegitimate child - who subsequently became a Jesuit priest. Pregnancy was less of an issue than syphilis, which could be fatal the disease killed the heir to the throne as late Her husband was created Earl of Castlemaine by a grateful King, and after she was discarded as a mistress, she retained her power and influence at court by managing a stable of young women for the King to sleep with throughout his marriage to Catherine of Braganza.
Charles was succeeded by his brother James II, who was even more promiscuous, and was said to have bedded over a thousand women. Queen Victoria was the mother of the new era of respectability, but her father Edward, Duke of Kent, had a mistress for 25 years. He was finally forced to marry another European royal to pay off his debts. When his mistress read of the impending marriage in a newspaper, she accepted her fate with equanimity. Seeing her for the first time on their wedding day, George winced in disgust, but the two came to love one another immensely and frequently - they had 15 kids.
His first sexual experience was with an Irish actress named Nellie Clifton, who was smuggled into his bed when he was on duty with the army at the Curragh. His taking up with Mrs Keppel was met with almost universal satisfaction. It was completely untrue, but she even managed to get the British government to investigate her claims, many of which are still repeated today.
Of the current crop of young Royals, Prince Harry is widely portrayed as a woman-chasing Lothario. However, as the example of his promiscuous ancestors shows, naughty Harry still has a long way to go before even being considered for entry into this gallery of Royal Rogues.