As much as we all adore celebrities, there’s really no comparison when it comes to royalty. The wedding between Kate and Prince William was watched by more than 2 billion people around the world! Which is definitely a lot more than anyone from the moms of Pregnant at 16 could ever dream. It’s like we all have this never-ending power source inside us that makes us want to know what certain famous or royal people are doing. Maybe it’s because their lives are something we can only dream about. A beautiful mansion, maids and butlers to perform all chores and duties, all the best merchandise (cars, clothes, jewelry and no fear of running out of it). Or maybe we’re bored.
Not all news is good, though. For thousands of years, tragedy has always been on the side of the fence. For every baby born, one dies. It’s a miserable circle of life and sadly, it doesn’t stop half-circle. In worst case scenarios, that baby was killed by a plague, or a greedy older sister that knows she will get the crown first. We all know that bad things happen which are unpreventable, but what surprises us are the ones that could have been stopped. The assassination of a king. The suicide of an empress. The disembowelment of a respectable knight. It’s the type of thing that shakes an entire nation. Forcing people to look at their own lives and be glad they’re not famous or royal. Then a few years pass and things go back to normal again. Even so, we never forget those brutal deaths that woke us in the middle of the night.
15. Princess Diana’s Deadly Car Crash
August, 1997, ended with the tragic death of Princess Diana of Wales. The night began at the Ritz Hotel. A decoy vehicle was sent out the main entrance of the hotel to lure the paparazzi and photographers away from the building. While Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, Trevor Rees-Jones (a hired protection to the Fayed family) and Henri Paul (the driver) fled out the back exit in a black Mercedes. The vehicle was racing at an estimated 65 m/hr when the driver lost control of the vehicle. It swerved into the oncoming traffic lane and smashed head-on with a pillar, then spun and hit a stone wall before coming to a complete stop. The driver died at the scene, Dodi Fayed died shortly after, and beloved Princess Diana was pronounced dead three hours after the accident in the hospital. The only one to survive was Trevor.
For years, people believed in conspiracy theories (and some still do). One being that the accident was actually an assassination. Another, that her husband at the time was suspected of tampering with the breaks (due to a letter Diana had written months prior). But after an 18-month long investigation, it has been confirmed that Henri Paul was intoxicated during the time the accident had occurred.
14. King Edward II of England – Hot Iron Up The B…
In the year 1327 at Berkley Castle, King Edward II was captured by his queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. His reign was a complete trainwreck. Between routinely putting all of England in debt and creating hostile relations with France, there wasn’t much standing in his favour. He was forced to resign his title to his and the queen’s son, Edward III. While his two captors took on the role as the new King’s guardians.
Once Edward II’s reign was over, the queen and her lover decided it was best to keep him as prisoner. It’s been said by multiple sources that Edward II suffered many variations of torture before his death. He had been starved and thrown into a pit with rotting corpses. The most memorable (and possibly the one that killed him) was the hot iron poker. Edward II was held down by a group of men and had a horn rammed into his anus. Then, burning hot iron was put into his body, melting his inner organs. It’s still unclear how soon after that he died, or if he even made it out of the castle, but let’s be honest, would you be okay after such a sick burn?
13. Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir – Beheading In The Modern Era
It was 3 years ago in the outskirts of Riyadh when Prince Kabir got into a righteous fight with a fellow Saudi citizen. The incident turned deadly when Prince Kabir shot and killed his opponent.
Flash forward to the present, Prince Kabir now pleads guilty in the supreme court for the citizen’s murder. He offered the victim’s family a large sum of money as compensation for their loss, but they have refused. To that result, Prince Kabir has been given a death sentence. Since the country follows a strict set of laws against criminal acts, the way of execution in the Islamic kingdom is typically beheading in the public square. It’s an extremely startling sentence for modern day times. The last royal beheading took place four decades ago, when Prince Kabir’s ancestor, Faisal, assassinated his Uncle, the King. As of today, Prince Kabir is dead, but whether a beheading actually took place is unconfirmed.
12. Claudia Octavia, Empress of Rome – Drowned In A Boiling Bath
There’s a lot of backstory to this one. Empress Octavia was born in Rome, AD 39. Her father, Emperor Claudius, had betrothed her to a future praetor (a commander or magistrate). Those plans changed when Octavia’s mother tried to murder her father, but she was caught and executed. Emperor Claudius then married his niece, Agrippina, who had a son named Nero. With her charm and manipulation, Agrippina got Emperor Claudius to agree to adopt Nero and change Octavia’s betrothment to him as well.
A year later Emperor Claudius died and Nero took to power. From this time on, Octavia was more unhappy than not, she was in a constant struggle for power with Nero and his mother. Nero became bored of her and would strangle Octavia on occasions. He even slept with other women and eventually got a woman named Poppaea pregnant. Nero divorced Octavia (claiming that she was barren) and married Poppaea within 2 weeks. He banished Octavia, which caused riots in Rome because so many citizens cared for the Empress. It was enough to make Nero consider remarrying her, but instead he signed her death warrant. When Octavia complained, all of her maids were executed. She was then killed the traditional way. Her wrists were bound and her veins slit. She was then drowned in a boiling hot vapor bath. Lastly, her head was cut off and sent to Poppaea as a gift.
11. Margaret Pole, The Countess of Salisbury – Beheading, Times 10
In the Tower of London, 1541, Margaret Pole had been improperly executed. In the beginning of King Henry VIII’s reign, she was in favour. She even became Lady Mary’s (the King’s daughter) godmother and governess. That was until Margaret’s son, Reginald, started speaking out against the King. It was enough to make Henry VIII change his entire opinion of the Pole bloodline. Multiple Pole family members were being arrested for treason and taken to the Tower of London for execution.
Despite Margaret being quite elderly by then, she was also taken to the tower and stripped of her title as Countess. There, she was imprisoned for two years before being given a private execution. Sources say Margaret refused to place her head on the block because she was not guilty. Therefore she had to be held down and the executioner had to go at her from an awkward angle. It took 10 attempts to finally execute Margaret. That means 9 hits to her face and body with a heavy axe before succumbing to death. Speculators say the first hit knocked a chunk off her shoulder, so you can imagine how much worse it got from there.
10. William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas – Stabbed And Thrown Out A Window
In the Stirling Castle, 1452, William was visiting with King James II. He didn’t know why he was invited there, but in a sense he knew it wasn’t for a friendly chat.
William was the most powerful magnate in Southern Scotland (which meant he was high-positioned and well-respected). He restored lordships by marrying his cousin Margaret Douglas and became highly favoured by King James II. He even got the King to disgrace the man who had murdered one of his ancestors, the 6th Earl of Douglas.
One day, King James II summoned William to his castle, where he randomly demanded that William dissolute his league with the Earl of Crawford. When William refused, the King stabbed him 26 times then threw him out a window.
9. Prince Sado – Put In A Box To Suffocate
One of the most successful and longest living rulers in Korean history is not Prince Sado, but his father, King Yeongjo. During his reign, the country had never been more happy and prosperous. He created a new, cheap taxation that reduced fighting among the different classes of his people. It probably made him very proud of his county.
There was only one thing he wasn’t proud of. His son, Prince Sado. The lad was a ticking time bomb. Always throwing tantrums and initiating violence. He would beat and kill his servants. Rape all the women of the court. He basically did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Quickly earning himself the title of serial rapist and killer.
King Yeongjo could not kill his son, so he had to be clever. With the consent of Prince Sado’s mother, King Yeongjo ordered Prince Sado to be locked in a crate used for storing rice, where he was left for 8 days. When it was finally opened, Prince Sado had died of suffocation days earlier.
8. Harold II, King of England – Chopped Into Pieces
After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, England lost the last Anglo-Saxon king to ever reign. Harold II was defending his country against William the Conqueror of Normandy when he was penetrated through the eye with a flying arrow, killing him instantly. They say the root of Harold’s and William’s hate for one another started back in Normandy. When Harold became shipwrecked and pledged to help William to claim England’s throne. Of course, that didn’t end up happening. Another possibility was that one of the battles Harold had previously won between England and Normandy was never forgotten or forgiven.
What happened after Harold’s death is what surprised everyone. Four knights had found his body, face down in the dirt. They had hacked the king into dozens of pieces. From his limbs to his head. There was nothing but bloody debris left when they were done. Harold was virtually unidentifiable. You have to wonder what made those knights so mad that they had to damage every inch of Harold’s body in order to feel some sort of satisfaction.
7. Queen Caroline of Ansbach – Spill Your Guts
The death of Queen Caroline transpired in 1737 at St. James’ Palace. There was no plot to assassinate her. She wasn’t brutally murdered or tortured. Queen Caroline’s death was due to the worst case scenario of a health issue. Like when you pick up a prescription and the pharmacist tells you possible side effects, starting with something simple (like coughing or itching) to something more severe (like bloody diarrhea or your skin burning). Queen Caroline’s was the latter.
She had become increasingly overweight and had gout in her feet (which is kind of like severe arthritis). Still, Queen Caroline was able to produce a child, but suffered an umbilical hernia (which is when the umbilical cord leaves a hole in the mom’s stomach, which causes her inner organs to try and poke through). Soon after, her womb entirely ruptured. Causing her bowels to literally pour down and out of her! She was operated on, but it didn’t help. Queen Caroline continued to bleed in horrific pain, completely bedridden until her untimely death.
6. King Charles II of Navarre – Burned Alive
They say the death of King Charles II, who was also regarded as Charles the Bad, was an act of justice by God. Throughout his life, Charles planned assassinations, attacked territories and tarnished any good relations he had with powerful nobles. Under his rule, many lives were lost due to riots and wars. He was seen as an embarrassment by all other leaders.
It was in Pamplona, 1801, when his death became infamously known. Charles had consulted a doctor to help with his weakening limbs. The remedy was that he be wrapped up from head to foot in a cloth that had been soaked in alcohol (typically brandy or wine). It was to be done every night. One evening, when his female attendant had finished sewing up his cloth attire, she had a long string left over that needed to be cut. Since it was so dark, she was too nervous to use scissors, so instead she reached for a candle. Within seconds Charles’ entire body erupted in flames. The attendant ran away terrified while Charles was left alone to burn alive.
5. James II of Scotland – Blown Up
The crown fell into the hands of James II the day his father was assassinated. He was only six years old (don’t worry, you’re not about to discover the gruesome death of a six-year-old). James II lived for many years. He was even dubbed the name Fiery Face due to a brilliant red birthmark on his face and for his hot temper. If you can remember, he was the one that stabbed William, the Earl of Douglas, 26 times and tossed him out a window. So maybe his death is a form of karma after all his wrongdoings.
James was extremely fascinated by artillery weapons. In 1460, he had multiple cannons imported from Flanders to help him with his attack on Douglas territories. While standing next to one, referred to as The Lion, the cannon went off with a bang. No, it didn’t launch anything towards Douglas. The cannon simply exploded! Sending shards and debris everywhere. The impact sent James to the ground, dying painfully, but within seconds. It’s speculated that his leg blew off at the thigh bone.
4. Andrew, Duke of Calabria – Strangled And Thrown Out A Window
Before Andrew was even born, all of Hungary was in fear of an invasion from Sicily. So it was considered too risky to give the throne to his father, who was only seven at the time. From then on, there was a lot of back and forth as to who would take claim of Hungary. Some thought it would it would go to Andrew’s father once he was older, but it was surprisingly given to a woman named Joanna, the heiress of Charles II of Naples, who wrote in his last will and testament that she would reign once he died. She also happened to be Andrew’s wife.
When this happened, Andrew couldn’t help feeling his life was in danger. He wrote to his mother that he wanted to flee the kingdom, so she came for a visit to reassure him. Joanna soon became ill and Andrew’s mother convinced the Pope to reassign Hungary’s rule to Andrew. Before he could be coronated, Andrew was sought out by a group of hostile noblemen who weren’t happy with the decision. Away on a hunting tip, Andrew left his room in the middle of the night and a treacherous servant barred the door behind him. Joanna was left inside helpless, as the struggles and cries of Andrew were heard outside the door as he battled with multiple men. He put on a good fight, but was ultimately overpowered. His neck had been strangled with a cord and his lifeless body was tossed out a window. Three husbands later, Joanna was also executed.
3. Valerian, Emperor of Rome – Force-fed Molten Gold or Stuffed With Straw?
In 260 CE, Valerian became the first Roman Emperor to be captured as a prisoner of war. He was taken by King Shapur I of the Sasanian Empire after the Battle of Edessa, where the two leaders were supposed to discuss a truce, but instead King Shapur had betrayed and imprisoned him. Valerian wasn’t the greatest emperor of the Roman Empire, but he wasn’t a complete disaster either. His first act as ruler was to make his son his colleague, later giving him the west side of the empire to protect while he went to the east (where he met the Battle of Edessa).
There’s a bit of unclarity as to how the following events occurred, but the most believed rendition is that Valerian tried to offer gold in exchange for his freedom, but King Shapur refused his measly offer. Instead, he melted a pot of gold and poured it down Valerian’s throat. He then used Valerian’s body as a mount for getting on his horse. However, another story claims that Valerian’s skin was flayed and he was stuffed with straws to be put on display. Whatever the truth may be, both options sound extremely painful.
2. Sir William Wallace of Scotland – Hanged, Disemboweled, Beheaded… It Goes On
Although he wasn’t technically from a royal bloodline, William Wallace was an extremely outspoken, respectable leader with thousands of followers. He certainly fit the bill for a royal. His story is vaguely retold by the 1995 film Braveheart. William only wanted to make Scotland independent, so that his country was no longer burdened by King Edward I.
However, his leadership came to an end in Glasgow, 1305, where he was tried for multiple crimes, such as murder and treason. Although William pleaded not guilty for treason, he was still sentenced a traitor’s death. He was strapped to a hurdle (like a frame) and dragged through the streets. At the gallows he was hung until nearly dead, and then removed, tied down, and had his bowels forcefully cut and yanked out of him before finally getting his head chopped off. As if that wasn’t enough, his limbs were quartered and his head was put on a spike to further humiliate him.
1. Cleopatra, Pharaoh of Egypt – Suicide By Snake Bite
Women of the past rarely got into power or had a voice, so they had to be cunning and use manipulation tactics. That was a big part of Cleopatra’s skillset, which was also what led to her painful suicide. She was exiled from Egypt around 30 BC when her brother took to rule. There, as she stumbled through the desert, miserable and alone, she met the powerful Julius Caesar, who instantly fell for her. She formed an alliance with Julius and reclaimed Egypt after her brother’s sudden death. Not long after, Julius was assassinated and Cleopatra fled.
She then met the Roman army General Marc Antony, who also fell for her charm. Unlike Julius, Marc was already married and had children. Still, he sent his family away and tried giving some of his Roman empire to Cleopatra, which outraged his ex-wife, Octavia. A war ensued between Octavia’s Rome and Cleopatra’s Egypt. Cleopatra lost, but instead of being taken as prisoner, she decided it was better to kill herself. After testing multiple different snake bites on her servants to see which ones hurt the least (which isn’t at all cruel), Cleopatra settled on a cobra which eventually dug into her chest and killed her.
To this day there are still conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Some say she was poisoned, while others claim it was a murder. The snake bite is the most suspected cause.